I wake up in that zone where you aren’t sure if you are dreaming or if its real, my GPS fires up, the brain engages and I begin to find my bearings. I can hear a crashing sound, then I realise, it’s waves breaking on the beach. Then I remember the period between my last sleep and now, two continents, two plane trips, five night time hours in Mumbai airport, taxi rides. I look at my watch and see it is 5.30am.
Although it is still dark I can feel the heat, I grab my shorts and walk the short distance down to the sea as dawn kicks in. The water washes away my recent travels and I am pleased to be here at last.
I have rented a battered old scooter and take it out on the Indian back roads at seven am, I meander down windy roads and tracks, I don’t know the area and I’m happy just to see where the road takes me, I ride down an increasingly bumpy worn out track and come to a dead end. Beyond lies a large meandering River. There is a small Hindu shrine next to the water, old stone benches and battered dug out canoes and fishing nets on the river banks.
Not a soul in sight. This seems like a perfect spot to simply sit for a few minutes and to take it in.
I sit quietly, doing nothing other than looking and listening. I hear the sounds of the birds, with their unfamiliar songs songs and the faint sound of chanting coming from the opposite bank of the river, this place feels very calm, I feel very calm here, I like the feeling.
A few minutes later an old local ambles down the track to the waters edge, he starts repairing a fishing net, a little later another two gentlemen of advancing years sit on the old stone benches. They chatter with each other and despite not understanding the language I know what they will be saying to each other. The story is always the same wherever and whenever men of a certain age sit and talk.
With other people the quietness of the place begins to dissipate and it vanishes in a puff of smoke, or to be more accurate an ill wind and a stream of spittle. One of the old fellows clears his throat in the way only an Indian of advanced years can, its a kind of throat gargling roar, that really you would not have thought possible given his spindly frame, he spits whatever he has summoned up to his throat into the gutter. Their conversation continues, the other fellow a short time later lets out a long and noisy fart. This is my cue to move on, my trusty, (slightly rusty ) Scooter fires into life and with it I take to the road.