Being Gokarnised

23rd Feb 2017
Photo of Being Gokarnised 1/6 by Harsh Agarwal

It had been just a little over a month that I had returned from a long travel only to realize that I was failing to find a repellent to the bug of wanderlust. I have been so strongly bitten of it in last two years that now the idea of travelling in my head was taking a different shape. Travelling is now not just an escape from the daily life but it is becoming a part of that everyday life because it is no more symbolizing a vacation for me. It is giving a meaning, which is much more beyond that. A meaning that is finding it’s own way aligning to my situations and circumstances. A meaning that is involuntarily coming my way only to hit me with the larger picture of life. A meaning that is revolutionizing what I seek from life. A meaning that is pushing me for a better change. A meaning that is turning every mundane thing into a fascination. A meaning that is changing the way I perceive the world around me. A meaning that is making ugly book beautiful. A meaning that I want to capture because I love photography (pun intended). A meaning that is starting to give meaning to my life. To highlight one element, travelling has changed the meaning of photography for me. Photography is not just clicking that is already beautiful and scenic but clicking everything that I eye beauty in. Images are what I look for while travelling.

As the dawn was cracked upon, the twilight left the golden spark on the beach sand and slowly the light was spread. Kids were learning to surf on the beach. A camel was standing tall with the sea waves in the background. Men wearing their colorful lungis with batik patterns and women wearing traditional sari being an unstitched drape walking back from the sea catching fishes. A rudraksh mala lying on the brown painted floor next to a white seashell. An Italian couple sitting in a French café sipping their morning coffee. Meditating in all quietness against the sunset. Two boys staring at the sea waves and listening to it throbbing loud. A long road with almost no one on it leading to the bazar with low mountains on the left and right and some trees showing spring signs. And then pundits in the temple forcing people to buy belief in Shiva.

Photo of Being Gokarnised 2/6 by Harsh Agarwal

There I was in a small temple town of Gokarna on the western coast of India in the state of Karnataka. I reached there by hopping on an overnight bus from Pune. I did not plan a single thing on what to do, where to eat or whom to meet. I just let the moments flow in it’s own way. And it was the best way to let experiences happen to you. I found myself making friends with random strangers at the same accommodation, hiking down to the beaches, strolling around the local bazar streets and bargaining at the shops for “om kurta” just because I wanted to wear it to feel hippie and be part of the culture there. Quite interestingly, in one of the conversations struck up with a traveller from Delhi, I found out that his roommate and I call the same place our hometown. Just imagine. I, going to this new place, meeting someone I have never met before and discovering one common thing with his life. That’s what I love about travelling. It allows you to be free, talk to new people and form connections. At the same time making you realize, how small the world is and you’re just starting to crack upon it. And that’s what keeps the hunger of seeking going on. And that is exactly why travelling is just like a casual part of everyday life.

For one night I stayed at Zostel, a new culture of stay amongst travellers these days in India. Zostel gives you opportunity to share space with other travellers just like you. It is a wonderful experience to be surrounded by people who are also viewing the world as you are. So I walk into my room only to find out that I am sharing it with a guy from Quebec, Canada who had been travelling in India for over three months now. Interesting because I was exactly there two months back. And he was just coming from Rajasthan, my hometown. Indeed our exchange of stories was a never-ending thing. It felt so good to relive my memories by sharing it with a local of that community. And hear his experiences of my state from an outsider’s perspective. Just saying it again, I am only letting things happen and not planning anything.

Photo of Being Gokarnised 3/6 by Harsh Agarwal

I found Gokarna to be a very pristine place overall. This place has two sides to it. One, where it is known for Mahabaleshwar Temple where the original image of Lord Shiva’s linga (Atmalinga) is housed. This temple is mostly popular amongst south Indians. And another, its beautiful untouched beaches. I learned that, it is only foreigners who have explored these beaches and they have been coming to this place from last forty years whereas Indians have just started to explore it in last five- ten years or so. It is amusing to know that, people from other countries are popularizing a place in a country other than their own and giving it the importance it deserves. I met a German couple while hiking my way to Om Beach from Kudle Beach and what started conversation between us was, the surprise on the German lady’s face when she saw a young Indian lady picking up a filled gas cylinder on her head and hiking down the rocky terrain. She was absolutely taken aback and said, she can never ever imagine herself doing this. And so she was appreciating the hard work of Indians. So we continued on the hike together then and they told me that, they have been coming to Gokarna for many years now and they definitely visit here if they are coming to India at all. I also learned from them their fascination for Bundi town in Rajasthan for it’s blue aesthetics. I am from Rajasthan but never realized Bundi could be so beautiful. And now their perspective and stories makes me want to go to this place, which I did not know of in my own home state where I grew up and I belong. This small conversation on a 15-minute hike left me with so much food for thought, that I couldn’t stop wondering, where do I actually belong, where are my roots, what are my life-choices a result of, what place should I call home and so on. This chain of thoughts was possible because I did not have any inhibition to struck up a conversation with them or because I didn’t have anything planned ahead that due to which I would have thought of a slow hike as time wasted. These random conversations and encounters are what enrich the experiences of life.

Photo of Being Gokarnised 4/6 by Harsh Agarwal

Along with all other experiences, my journey with money in Gokarna had been quite adventurous too. I carried little cash relying on pulling out from ATM later when needed but that idea failed only when I realized sitting at a café on the beach that, ATM is just way too far from here and it is not just accessible by walking. I would have had to spend 300/- just to get to the ATM. At a few places we happily used Paytm feeling all pepped up about cashless economy but then it wasn’t the way out at all the places. So my friend and I figured out a solution by making friendship with a café owner and transferring him money in his Paytm so that we could get cash from him and be on move seamlessly. Another good thing happened as a result of not planning too much.

I spent a lot of my time just meditating, sunbathing and mud bathing on one of the beaches because I wanted to pause in life, reflect on myself, connect with nature and feel earthed. Gokarna has so much positive vibes that, it is so easy to get influenced by its magic and aura. Or should I rather call it, the hit of casual millennial realization, where I am afraid of permanency because I wanted to just be there for longer but I couldn’t as there were many other commitments which I had to come back to. Gokarna was an absolute treat. I left with the thoughts of thinking life is a beach. The gorgeous sunsets seen said that, do all the good you want to now without thinking there is a tomorrow. The good things will always come to you as powerful waves from the sea of abundance, and like it seeps in sand, take as much advantage of the good things, soak each moment and don’t be afraid of good things leaving because they are leaving only to come back.

Photo of Being Gokarnised 5/6 by Harsh Agarwal
Photo of Being Gokarnised 6/6 by Harsh Agarwal