I came back to Kovalam exactly by the scheduled time and met Amit who was staying at the same hostel. He was also traveling solo from Bangalore but hailed originally from a small town near Nagpur and was an avid history reader. So naturally, he made me feel bad about my history knowledge like not knowing what Savitri Bai Phule did, but talking to him made me feel great about how much I knew about the ocean. For the record, Savitri Bai Phule won right to education for women and we all should be thankful to her. Rest of the night was spent by the light house on the beach where the black bauxite sand was now glittering in the ambient light.
Just like how all plans end, my very much studied, researched and pre-pre-planned itinerary for day two was also a flop. My plan was to go to Ponmudi, a nearby hill station, by early morning bus, come back by noon, get Deo from Rajesh and visit Vellayan Lake and a couple other spots. But I woke up only to find out that Trivandrum is where I will be heading to get my now-dysfunctional phone fixed. Hmm, flashbacks came to me- clicking pictures in the rain, dropping it in the sea and million other times here and there. This is when one feels sorry and promises yourself that no matter what you will be careful from now on, but, how can one change our defining characters? So this sight-seeing day turns a bit too hectic. I was never able to get my phone repaired but I have now switched to the age old rock star of phones-Nokia 1100, good old days.
The good thing about this plan was my quintessential visit to the Padmanabhaswami Temple just to know what makes it the richest temple of the world. If being richest means charging Rs. 150 for special entry and honouring all sorts of donations, then what good is this wealth? Anyways, by the time my phone was being operated by the repair shop which I somehow found without knowing a thing about this new city I ate Kerala style meal and a paid a short visit to the fishing harbour in Vizhinjam, which I later found out was an international seaport. Rest of the evening was spent overlooking Arabian Sea from lighthouse, spotting the oncoming monsoon and finally being hit by the showers, those beautiful showers.
I knew exactly what I wanted for my last dinner in Kerala – Malabar fish curry and I knew exactly where I wanted to go- The Pizzeria, the name if you wonder comes from the famous coal-oven cooked thin crust pizza they serve in season mainly for their western tourists. Uncle Rajesh accommodated my request to get half a plate of curry, made extra spicy.
The next and last morning was spent overlooking the sea where I was mostly focusing on this girl who was trying to access the waves for surfing. Surfing was my hidden reason behind going to Kovalam but on my way, I found out from Kovalam Surf Club how they were closed for the season and I will have to come back again when the season opens in September. While I am busy contemplating my unfulfilled purpose of visiting Kovalam, I am woken up by a familiar voice saying, “Hi, Radhika! You are having rice this early?” Now, excited that I got to see Shahi before leaving I waved back with utter excitement while pointing towards my stomach and grimacing about how hungry I was.
Shahi, a.k.a. Shahjahan, was a local-born and bought up in Kovalam. I met him first when I was trying to find my way around the cliff, below the lighthouse. While am climbing my way up to the cliff he waves at me asking where did I want to go? I just shrug my shoulders indicating that I have no idea, just like that. He told me that I can climb but I shouldn’t go all the way around or to the lighthouse. I gave him thumbs up assuring that I will be safe and started climbing. After getting to the top take and in the breathtaking view, I rested my eyes on Shahi and another old man as they kept fishing by the cliff. By taking small and careful steps, I kept going around to get a better view of the sea and the fishermen. Shahi and the older fisherman were also intermittently turning back to observe me and smiling back to acknowledge that they appreciate I am listening to their advice. I really wanted to go down to the edge where they were fishing so that I could be closer to the sea but I found a comfortable spot up top and settled there to carry on with my observations. Next, the old guy lighted a cigarette and passed it to Shahi while helping him with the fishing line they were trying to untangle. Then Shahi looks back and asks if I would like to come down; I excitedly shook my head and started to make my way down carefully. I managed to go down and settle on a big stone right where the ways were breaking -ready to be splashed by the next big wave, but the old man asked me to move back and sit by the snake boats that were secured behind me. By this time Shahi was ready to throw his bait far behind the wave break. He threw the line and called it back within 5 mins. He tried multiple times before he came back for a fresh piece of bait. I asked him if he caught any fish yet, a stupid question as I could see he hasn’t but well this is how creative I can get with obvious questions. Shahi said, “One has to be patient”. Shahi then took out a previously caught black-colored crab, broke his leg and used that as bait on the line. When his line was ready he showed it to me and said, “Fishes love crabs” to which I said, “Me too!”, he chuckled and mentioned he did as well. I asked him if he was a fisherman, he told me how he loved fishing and would fish for his friends and family but sometimes if he had access fish he would sell it to the hotels.