I was sat down and told there was something urgent to be talked about, that it couldn't be left for later, that it all began because of me, and the final decision was mine. The next day I was whisked off to paradise by a group of friends.
We drove the 5 hours to Gokarna, stopping only for breakfast at a little roadside restaurant to have idlis and sambar with septuagenarians after their morning walk. I missed the country music, but it was well made up for by metal and trance to keep the spirits going.
You really must stop when you're on the hill before Gokarna. The 'om' of the beach is quite clearly visible and you certainly feel you're a million miles from nowhere on the empty road. You know that feeling when you're about get some place with the anticipation of a good time, don't you? Well, that was exactly it.
We stayed in one of the many mud houses and shanties that dot the beach. The owners rent out more willingly to firangs than to locals, but speaking politely in sufficiently unaccented Indian English should do the trick. There's not much to offer on the menu other than humus, eggs and pasta, but you don't need much apart from a cold beer and a sandwich.
The sand was lovely to touch and the water a perfect 'swimming' temperature. The gentle waves grew in strength with the rise of the tide and I could hear them thunder all night long. Remember the time at Palolem when we were in class 5? The thatched hut, the cold night breeze, the smell of salt and perfect peace? It was a trip to the past and I wished you were with me, so I could share the wonderful solitude with you.
The great part about Gokarna is the three beaches connected and paradoxically separated by hills. We trekked around them to get to Half-moon beach and then to Paradise beach. I spotted dolphins and then the cheer went up as the others realised they weren't just a figment of my imagination. From way up, I watched mum reprimand a playful youngster as he swam dangerously close to the rocks. I know you'd have wanted to just jump into that clear blue water and romp around with them. I did too. It was sparkling with the sun at the farthest horizon you can imagine. I was stopped short by the sheer beauty of earth meets water meets sky. Mesmerising.
It's a hippie paradise, just the sort you like. Freedom to wear what you like, do what you like, eat what you like. Those Rajasthani lamps you thought would look great in your dream house twinkle all over the place. In the night, the sky is clear and you can find Orion and the dippers (at least what I thought were the dippers!) without much difficulty. It touched full moon when we were there. Lucky us!
I spent a lot of time alone, thinking of you, missing you and feeling close to God. You've read my post on Him painting the sky, haven't you? It's quite the same emotion. I walked on the beach, felt the sand sift through my toes, sat on a warm comforting rock and looked for shells the way you used to.
My friends gave me a wonderful birthday gift and I'm really thankful for that. I had a great time and want to go back there soon.
I know you're just the same as when I left you - confident, responsible and free. Me and my self rolled up in one.
Keep in touch
PS: The next time I go there, you're definitely coming along. :)