Wednesday, 3 December 2008

A New Day in India

We’re standing on a railway station platform in Madras, India, watching local women arrange their colourful baskets of flowers, ready to weave them into the hair of willing passersby for a few rupees
The platform is crowded. No-one takes any notice of the dead man lying in the corner, other than to step over him as the train pulls into the station.
On this day, life is cheap in India.
The train stops. First class is empty, second class quiet. The class with no name is overflowing, faces pressed at the bars of every window, hopefuls hanging out of the doors and climbing onto the roof. It’s a scene worthy of Michael Palin’s Around The World In 80 Days, only the book hasn’t been written yet.
We arrive at our destination. A beach hotel that we have swapped for three days in place of the crew hotel in the city.
We’re shown to our individual bungalows on the beach. The Indian Ocean is a stone’s throw away.
We’ve been told about the magnificent sunrise and decide to experience it. We order a wake up call for 3am and at 3.05am we carry some chairs down to the sand and sit.
We order tea and toast.
We sit.
The night is inky black but the stars are bright. It’s humid.
Our tea and toast arrives. The waiter seems unfazed by our choice of setting.
The sky is still inky black.
We sit.
We begin to yawn. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
And then suddenly like magic, a tiny sliver of light appears fleetingly on the horizon.
It disappears as quickly as it had come.
And then it happens. Little by little, more streaks of light, slowly at first and then spreading quickly.
The sun begins to rise, the orange glow becomes stronger by the second. And then we see them. The fishing boats on the horizon. Small wooden craft, manned by father and son. One navigates, one casts the nets.
And from silence comes the sounds of the fisherman, shouting, laughing, happy at their work.
It’s a gorgeous morning. We go to bed and sleep.
Later that day, we walk along the beach. A group of local children come over and smile. They walk with us. We wonder if they are looking for money.
They lead us up the beach to their families sitting mending fishing nets in the sun.
The children indicate we follow them into their small village on the beachfront.

People wave. People smile. Their life is simple and yet so organised.

They take us into their church. On a beach beside the Indian Ocean is the most exquisite little church.
They escort us back down to the waters edge. Collectively they grin, wave and are gone.

They just wanted to show us their world. And for that short space of time, there was nowhere in the world we would have rather been.

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