Last couple of months, in fact a year almost, I have been extremely busy. Every time my family or friends asked me out, I’ve always had some work or the other. Going out for movies, outings, vacations had become a a distant dream. And I was in desperate need of a break. So when Henry (my brother) asked me to join them for this trip, I just couldn’t say no for few reasons -
- He never got tired of asking me everytime he went out – be it some outing or a movie
- I was tired of saying no
- I wanted to get out of here for a few days and forget all about work
I didn’t even know who all were coming, until I actually left. I had to take a day off on Friday and when it did get approved, I was on the top of the world (all the more because my one-week vacation got approved just a week ago, so this was like a bonus)!
The plan was to leave on Friday morning (16th Jun) at 05:30 AM. the time I reached home after work on Thursday evening or rather Friday morning, it was almost 1:30 AM.
Since there was no point in sleeping past 2 AM and then getting up at 4:30-5 AM, I decided to do a night-out. So I sat watching lots of old songs…all thanks to 9X, Mastii and B4U Music
At 5:30 sharp, Henry came to pick us (Di and me) up. We went together and picked up Venkat and Rahul (friends) and off we went. We stopped at Tarnaka at around 6:15 for breakfast.
Half the time we debated on which route to take – Vijayawada Highway or the Nagarjun Sagar Road. Just as we reached LB Nagar (that’s where we need to take the diversion from), we finally decided to take the Nagarjun Sagar Road and off we sped.
Located at a distance of 350 kms from Hyderabad, Chirala is situated on the shore of Bay of Bengal. Chira means Sari in Telugu. Anuradha, a friend/teammate of mine, who hails from that place had told me that the Chirala is famous for the saris made there. Considering the fact that it’s a major textile hub, it’s not surprising that the town is named after the textile (Saris in particular). It was earlier known as “KSHIRAPURI” (“Here the sea looks as white as milk”) but later was renamed Chirala.
We randomly stopped at few places to stretch our legs and at Nagarjun Sagar to click few pictures. It was so windy there that we almost flew away with the wind.
We even saw a rainbow!
We reached Chirala at around 1pm. Vardhan and his friend Venkat (II) were there to receive us when we reached there. Vardhan is Venkat’s, Rahul’s and Henry’s friend, and now our friend too, who’s basically from Chirala.
There’s only one lodge in the town, Hotel Siva Hari, which is located exactly in front of the Railway station. We checked in there.
We freshened up and had lunch. Chicken Biryani there is – normal veg biryani sold with a separate dish of chicken. So we had biryani loaded with cashewnuts and chicken for lunch. And by the time we finished lunch, it was well past 4pm.
We set out for the beach next – Ramapuram Beach. There were around 10-12 people when we reached there. They left soon after and we were all alone.
It felt like we were on a private beach. It was just 7 of us on the beach at sunset.
Though the water wasn’t all that blue and crystal clear. It looked quite muddy in fact due to the rain and the sand blown in by the wind. But since it was sunset, it looked very beautiful. The color of the sky and it’s reflection were changing with the sinking orange mass of glow every few minutes.
It was so calm and peaceful. The only sound we could hear was of the splashing waves, wind and occasional chirp of a bird. And the view was just amazing.
Apart from playing in the water, the other thing I love the most about a beach is just standing still at the shore and letting the waves play along my feet. I love the sensation of water splashing over my feet and the sand moving underneath along with the water when the wave comes in and on its way back into the sea, the same water depositing sand over my feet, making me sink deeper and deeper in the sand. Though I am standing still I get that feeling of having travelled across the world….Main thehri rahi, zameen chalne laga wala feeling.
On our way back we went to Vardhan’s house, sat in the backyard in the open air, under the clear sky shimmering with stars and moon. We came back to our hotel at around 10. We had dinner and then sat down to collate the pics from all the cameras. We had around 850 pics! We had forgotten to take the (camera’s) cable so took out the memory card to copy the pics from our camera to the laptop. We had two laptops with us. The card got stuck in one laptop first but Rahul turned it upside down and kept hitting on the laptop and the card fell off. We then tried copying the pictures into the other laptop, so put the memory card in it and it got stuck there too. No amount of hitting helped in this case. Couldn’t find a pin anywhere. We found a nailcutter and tried to use the file to dig and get the card out but it was of no use. Next we bent the hook of my earring and tried using it as a safety-pin but that didn’t help it either. All of us tried our hands at it and finally Vardhan and Venkat managed to take it out with the help of the make-shift pin and when the tip of the card came out with the force of the pin, Venkat caught it with the nailcutter and pulled it out. It was a hilarious episode!
We somehow managed to copy the pics and by the time we finished seeing them all, it was almost 2:00 AM! We wanted to go to another beach at sunrise, so we decided to leave by 5:30 and retired for the day. We got up and left at 5:45 but it turned out to be a cloudy day, so there was no sunrise!
But that didn’t dampen our enthusiasm. We dived into the water and we played and played! We were neck-deep in the water and would jump with every wave that came and hit us…it was such an amazing experience. It felt like we were flying in the water. The name of this beach was Katarepalem.
And then we went for a walk in the the direction of the wind, so that our clothes dry. We climbed on a harboured boat and posed for pics and almost got blown away. We were upto so much nautanki early in the morning that we got tired and finally dropped down on the sand.
We returned to the town for breakfast and found Pramod (a friend who had just arrived from Hyderabad. As he couldn’t get a day off the previous day, he joined us on Saturday morning) waiting for us. We quickly had our breakfast and went to Chirala port. This was crowded as it was the peak time. The fishermen were returning with their catches and auctioning fishes and crabs and prawns. It was so bloody cheap that I almost decided to quit my job and set up a sea-food stall there. They sold a basket full of prawns for 15oo bucks. If I had to buy that much prawns in Hyderabad, it would cost me over 4000. And crabs were 30 bucks each. My sis was saying they were selling crabs at 3100 each in Goa when she had gone there last month.
We went boating on a fisherman’s boat, sat on top of the fishing nets and had lots of dead fishes rolling all over our feet. We must have gone 1.5 kms into the sea. The boat would rise and fall along with each wave sparying sea water all over us. The saltwater would get into our eyes and we would just finish wiping it off when the next bout of spray would attack us. There was just vast expanse of water all around us, making us feel so tiny and vulnerable. The only sound we could hear was that of water, wind and the roaring motor. But once we reached a point, where the water was calmer, the fisherman switched the motor off and we were still and everything was so peaceful and serene. There was no other sound except for the occasional roar of neighbouring boats. And then there was a sudden splash. One of the fishermen dived and disappeared for a moment and resurfaced again. I just gazed at him open-mouthed. The way he dived and swam…he would easily give a tough competition to the world-champions.They know so much about the sea, storm and the techniques of swimming and diving. It’s a means of survival for them, through which they earn their livelihood. The sudden realization of that fact hit us quite hard. We spoke to them and found out that they are a group of 8 and with the fishes they catch in every trip, they make around 40K.
We all were so relaxed and at inner peace with ourselves that we didn’t realize the time slip away. And before long it was time to return back to the shore. How I wish I could have stayed there for some more time.
There were fishes being slit open, sprinkled with salt and put out to dry. There were so many people selling and buying them. The place was stinking of fish all over.
It was around 12:30 when we left the place. We were invited to Vardhan’s place for lunch but we had a tough task of choosing between lunch and going to Suryalanka beach. We finally tossed a coin and went to Suryalanka.
Suryalanka is the name of a beach in an adjacent town called Bapatla. It’s promoted quite a lot by AP tourism and they’ve even built cottages there. But I somehow didn’t like it. It was too crowded and being commercialized it was dirty as well. We just spent an hour there clicking pictures and left. Nobody (from our group) even dared to touch the water here.
Our next stop was Vardhan’s house where we had royal lunch of prawns cooked in coconut gravy and tangy fish curry made in local ishtyle. It was yummy!!! And we all ate so much that we were not even in a position to move once we were done. We all were high on food!
We went to see Vardhan’s family farm next. They have cashew nut plantation. There were lots of palm trees and cashew nut bushes and wild berries around and lots of cows and buffaloes. The way upto the farm once we left the main road had a freshness about it. We could hear cows moo-ing here and there, could feel buffaloes stare at us, few places smelt of dried cow dung..it had such a desi-village feel to it. There were still little children playing around in the sand, one pulling the other on a coconut/palm leaf. It was a picture of simplicity. Life now, at least in the cities have become so sophisticated that it was kind of fascinating to see the slow pace of life.
We went back to the hotel, washed away all the salt and sand and fatigue and went back to Vardhan’s place for dinner again. Had amazing dinner – chicken, rasam, rice, curd, fishes, prawns….We saw some old pics at his place, the real, physical photos like the good old days and finally left. We sat down to see the photos again once we reached our rooms.
We wanted to leave early next morning, so that we would reach back on time and take some rest. But uncle and aunty (Vardhan’s parent) wouldn’t hear of us leaving without breakfast.
So, we had a delicious breakfast of puri, chicken, aaloo ki sabji and semia. And we finally left at midday.
We gossiped all the way and reached back at 9PM and were dead tired and sleepy by then. The thought of having to go to work the following day was kind of depressing. But I must say I am feeling more refreshed and active active at work this week. So this proves that we all should take a break once in a while.
A big thank you to all of you for making this trip so memorable. You all were so sporting and made everything so adventurous – be it jumping in the water, or taking the local fisherman’s boat and just setting out into the sea or searching for the farm or burning the cashew nut shells where it was dangerous even to strike a matchstick. Special thanks to Henry – love you dear! I came for you and I had an amazing time. It was great knowing the rest of you.
It was a fun trip! And I really think we should get all those people we discussed about married. It would be so much fun to see them together. They make such perfect couples!
Smita already admitted on facebook after seeing the pics that she has realilzed what she missed. And Geeta, if you are listening, though you were not physically present with us, you were virtually there. Everybody was missing you so much! They all were feeling so bad that you couldn’t join in. Hope someday, we get to go to some place together
More pics coming up on facebook tomorrow