Monday, September 13, 2004

Evening at the Beach

There is no better place than the Marina beach to spend a Sunday evening. But! you've to be there early enough, umm.. lets say around 5: 00 PM to avoid parking problems. Ever since I was born and I could pronounce b e a c h, Marina has been the place, I've wanted to visit every Sunday. There is no better place for free entertaintment than good ol' Marina.

Ya! It used to be dirty. I have seen it pretty nasty during the late 80's and mid-90's but thats gone now. Ever since Sheila Rani IAS started the "Operation Marina" sometime around 1991, the cleanliness situation at the beach seems to be on the upward curve. Sheila Rani was quickly booted when the Govt realized she was committing a goodness.. or a neatness, whatever the crime was... it was considered worse than murder. The govt then decided to clean the beach itself; but there was a catch; not catch-22 by lets say catch-n. Anything the govt had to do, it first needed to postpone, whatever it had to do, by atleast 5-6 years.

Its mandatory!! In our country, no action will be taken unless that action had previously been contemplated and postponed due to administrative difficulties. If something has never been debated over and postponed indefinetly, then they will first postpone that activity so that the next time around, it becomes qualified to be implemented. These politicians have goodwill ..mind you. So dont mis-interpret them when they postpone seemingly logical things like "de-salination". they are simply following the rules. So Sheila Rani paved the way for the first slamming down of clean marina and 6 years later they genuinely made it clean. Now I am not saying its spic-n-span-singapore clean. But they really make an effort. This sunday I spent about 2 hours at the Beach, with my parents, uncle and other 'near & dear' ones. and I was thinking " boy! this is too neat to be free".

There is this really huge "Jumbo Jetron" Screen in the beach. They show Live Cricket games in it. I have seen games here and believe me the atmosphere is electric. I think people will come in ships and park it near the shore, this weekend, to get a glimpse of the action when India meets Pakistan on Sunday.

My parents have been visiting the beach for close to 27 years. When they are in Madras they spend 2 hours in the beach every weekend. Most of the hawkers know them, the lady who sells flowers is like a family friend. I, myself, have listened to some 'sad stories' and inside gossip from a guy selling 'masala bhel'. The 'masala' guy, as I call him, has told me numerous stories, some of which could be true, on police encounters, secret visits by VIPs in the night etc. Someday I'll document these stories and release it as a book :-)

Beach is a pleasant place for any conversation. Once you put a sheet and sit down with 5 people and start the 'gabber', 2 hours just pass by in a flash. You can see variety of folks there. My parents favorite past time is to sit on the pavement and comment about everybody who walks by. The fat wife and the slim husband, the couple with 5 children, the nagging mother-in-law accompnying a couple. The beach is a soap opera by itself. My dad spends his 2 hours weaving stories about various people. I used to love the stories when I was a little kid. I really thought they were true. Nowadays I know they aren't true, but I still love them anyway. Its kind of a test as to how much a person's imagination can run amock, by just seeing 2 people in the beach. My dad will weave a story just by seeing them. The story will contain an imaginary family background for these people and how unhappy they are after they've have had 5 children and how the girl is wishing away the nagging ma-in-law.

As the sun sets and dusk arrives silently, the beach becomes a delight. There is the red cut across the sky as if somebody had ripped apart the sky with a knife. The sun's fading light makes the clouds glisten until it dies down into darkness. It reminds me of my childhood days when I used to come to the beach just to spend time in the water and maybe buy a kite. As people grow older they stop going near the water. I spent almost an hour in the water a week ago with a friend and I remembered how good it was. Everybody should do this more often. Regardless of what anyone thinks about the beach the cleanliness, the jaundiced 'molga bajji'. the Marina Beach will always be Madras's treasure and Thank God for it!


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