193 – Wondering what this number indicates? There are no facts and trivia attached to this number over the internet other than it’s mathematical nuances. I am not sure if the governing body will approve the below fact as trivia as well. But I am glad that 193 will be remembered as the number of days it took for me to do what I do best – to travel.
Simply because you’re cleared to travel doesn’t mean you can go about business as usual once you reach your destination. You need to have all the safety measures handy. I did have a face mask on right from the start, hand sanitizers were regularly pumped each time we closed and opened the car doors, no outside foods or unnecessary stops mid-way, and most importantly social distancing from everyone possible. Yes, this is the new normal.
Around 2 PM we set out to enjoy a car ride and where else can we head to if we are in Chennai. ECR is the most relaxing spot for most of the people of Chennai. The drive was peaceful, the traffic, as usual- yes life is getting back to normal. Except that there are few protocols to be followed for your good.
My history with Akkarai beach goes way back to 2015 when it wasn’t the most happening spot in Chennai. It used to be very remote, less crowded, and pretty spooky if you aren’t in a group. Somewhere between 2017-19, the beach gained popularity and it used to be so crowded that you would find it difficult to even park your vehicles. There are around 3 to 4 narrow roads that lead to the beach This time around I was happy to see the beach, I felt I time-traveled back to 2015.
The below picture would be a testimony of the social distancing norms that were in place. Pretty easy to achieve when you pick an isolated spot as the destination. The weather around this time of the year is pretty lovely as seen in the pictures.
The view was different from the one in 2015. It looked like I might have to cross this narrow patch of water to reach the beach. Yes, there are patches of water in Besant Nagar beach as well, so what’s the fuss all about Akkarai. The ones seen on other beaches don’t appear like a trench. How did this appear here all of a sudden? I know 193 days of human absence isn’t the answer. But whatever caused it did provide a unique experience. We had to walk along the trench before stepping foot on the beach.
It felt really good to feel the ocean caress our legs. The cloud cover did enlighten the atmosphere, the waves were rhythmically filling our ears with the sound of it’s landing and few ambitious fishermen constantly employing simple techniques to catch as many fish as possible from the shore.
It was a serious business, simply because it was a win-win situation for them. They only had to invest time and hard work in it and if it hits a jackpot they can make money or at least be self-sufficient with the small fishes they catch. I was curious with their efforts, I kept reminding myself to have an eye on them not because I doubted their techniques but curious to know if they are cutting corners.
I have always enjoyed being on the beach. Have been there all around the clock. But haven’t seen anything like this before and to be honest, I thought these guys are going to settle for small fishes.
I doubted myself when my wife tried to show me a small tortoise that came close to an arms distance. I turned back to have a look at the fishermen, I told myself “these guys mean business”. And suddenly there was a significant change in their body language, something was happening, I could sense it from nearly a few meters away. I rushed to see if their cutting edge technology did reap dividends.
By the time I reached the stingray was gasping for its last breath. I couldn’t get any closer to the fish as each time I see a stingray I am reminded of the legacy of Steve Irwin. I maintained the social distancing norms from the dying stingray as well.
Gallery – Finally to the story I fail to put in words.
I have seen turtles on the shore, stingrays near the shore during their feeding time in the Maldives. But this is the first time I have seen a stingray gasp for the last time on the shores of Tamil Nadu beaches.
We share this planet with other species, for ages we have been using all resources as our own. This trip made me realize that at least for a few months the other residents of this planet enjoyed what was rightfully theirs, without our intervention. Yes, the lock-down did change the perspective of how I look at things now. Hope the change is for good.