Ordinary Sunset – Nitya AndrewJune 16, 2016
Back in 2012, I went away on a trip to a small coastal town on the Indian West coast. It was the first time I had travelled for the sake of travelling and all I wanted to do was to watch the waves.
My life was similar to most 20-somethings then. When work, friends or family did not occupy my time, I entertained myself with generous dollops of cynical, existential dread. I took myself to this beach town and did everything a tourist was meant to do, from popular local ice-cream shops to the ferry boat rides.
It was the evening of my 25th birthday when I found myself on the sandy shores of Thannir Bhaavi beach. Just an ordinary beach, with a sandy beige shoreline and foamy grey waves teasingly curling at its banks. On this evening, the sky slid off its blue blanket and brought out its mesmerizing garb of shimmering orange. The shoreline wooed the amber sun. Amid gentle evening breeze, the last rays of the setting star caressed my cheek before it bid goodbye for the day.
An ordinary sunset.
When I try to describe this moment of complete contentment, words slip away from my fingers like ebbing evening waves from the beach. And since that ordinary sunset, I’ve never questioned the need to leave life on pause, to travel. For someone who makes a living out of being a wordsmith, I’m surprisingly out of words if I ever had to explain.
There’s more to travelling than a picture perfect version of a marketed vacation – whether it’s rubbing shoulders with milling crowds at Thailand’s floating river market
or watching placid monks at Kushalnagar’s monastery take cover when you’re sopping wet.
or the time I spent my 27th birthday huffing and puffing 4kms up a remote Thai hill with crudely cut steps in search of a Buddhist temple or ‘thpone’ hidden in a cave.
I’m hesitant for this to come off as a transactional endeavour, but the payoffs are often priceless – like the time I got to play with baby turtles in a Sri Lankan rescue hatchery.
or when a hungry langur waited at our car door hoping for a quick snack, in Bandipur’s forest,
or the time a kind boatsman let us take turns navigating his houseboat on Kerala’s vast backwaters.
We must all be seekers. Seekers who refuse to settle for the lives that find you at your doorstep. Seekers who venture into spaces within our homes, lives, hearts and imaginations to find what is not found.Whatever we seek, we find when we travel. And we must travel to seek that ordinary sunset.
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