Sunday, May 13, 2007

Of Kappa and Kappad Beach

The best way to get to Kappad Beach which is about 30km North of Calicut is by road. If you can get someone to take you pillion on his motorcycle like I did all the better for the feeling is indescribable. The wind on your face and whipping though your hair (my half hearted, I am ashamed to say half hearted, enquiries about a helmet was met with careless impatience by everyone – Amma, no one wears helmets in Kerala) cools and releases the sticky sweat that has been your constant companion all day and it is fun to speed through the winding lanes with coconut trees on either side and the occasional little brat yelling out “Saipu! Saipu!” “It is because of your short hair and cooling glasses” says Shajahan my “sarathy” for the evening shouting his laughing explanation over his shoulder with the wind. Soon you can feel and smell the water getting closer and closer –there is a sameness to the approach to the ocean from the inner land world over I think; the sharp turn from the main road, highway, freeway whatever you call it, the narrow bumpy almost mud track flanked on either side by little thatched homes , coconut trees and a multitude of urchins happy and free and oh so vociferous. Whether it to Kappad in Kerala, Uran or Alibagh in Maharashtra or Chichiriwichi in Venezuela this little stretch signaling the approach of the water is the best part , a kind of inexorable hurtling to the end of the earth and the blue-green waters waiting ….

By time we navigate the meandering mud track then it is sunset time and by the time we find our way to the famed rocky platform on the beach the sun is throwing its last orange lights for the day on the shimmering surface of the water ..I draw my breath at my first sight of the “Arabi Kaddal” this side of Marine Drive …the pure aquamarine is slashed with oranges and pinks , colours which in turn are re - reflected on the little grey clouds gathering slowly on the burning horizon .Finding a foothold on the rocks and looking at the sea on one side and the swaying palms and sandy beach on the other we could all well be part of Vasco Da Gama’s band of sailors who landed here on this now historic beach in 1498 ( there is a small monument en route to the beach commemorating that landing we would have missed if it had not been pointed out to us) - the band of seafarers all the way from Europe.

We threw ourselves down on those rocks .With me was the tireless band of volunteers who had worked hard to make the patient group meeting held earlier in the day a big success; now it was time to relax and continue with the bonding that had begun earlier in the day.

Soon of course, in spite of the feast we had partaken for lunch our stomachs began to demand something more substantial than a beautiful sunset and animated conversations. Sanjeevan came up with a wonderful idea which found support even before he finished voicing it –we were all to go to his home not too far away where his mother and sister would only be too happy to prepare a true Kerala style Meen Curry for us.

So once again we were all back on the road and before we knew it those dark clouds which just a while ago were looking so innocent came rolling down from the still red horizon. Big, fat, cool drops of rain fell upon us bringing beautiful relief from the oppressive heat and cooling the atmosphere. Soon the drops became a torrent but thoughts of the Meen Curry kept us all going and what was a little rain anyway.

In no time at all it seemed, we were there, it had grown dark as it rained and picture this as we neared the village. The earth all soft and wet, exuding the aroma of rain on mud, the coconut fronds still dripping cool water as they swayed this way and that, the banana leaves even more shiny and slithery , the breeze carrying excited voices of children playing and then all of a sudden poof ! The lights go off. Just as we pull up in the yard of Sajeevan’s house . But the bright smiles on his family’s faces is enough to light up the night for us and as we all troop into the verandah and into the warmth of his cozy house it really is as though we have come home again –to love and food and shelter –shelter from the storm . There is warm sweet water for us to wash our face and hands and feet before we sit down and with no further delay plates of the fierce red curry poured on beds of steaming hot kappa are brought in. This is not the first time I am having steamed kappa but I have also had it as an accompaniment or a side dish. Here now the “melt in the mouth” kappa ( Tapioca to the uninitiated) is heaped on the plate as rice would be and the generous portions of the fish and curry poured over it. Plate after plate of this manna from heaven is brought out from the kitchen where it was apparent Chechi and Ammai had begun preparations on a war footing to feed the battalion as soon as they knew we were heading their way.
The smell of the wet earth fought for predominance with the aroma of the steaming food and soon the only sound besides that of the raindrops on the roof of the house were the ecstatic ooohs and aaahs as the curry hit the spot .

1 comment:

Raji said...

What a lovely time you have had - it is so well written and also such lovely photos.