Down by the Sea

Our next town was Daman; a resort town on the Arabian Sea. This part of the trip felt more surreal than any other to me. We were somewhat isolated and nothing had really been planned for us to do. We could rest, walk on the beach or stay in our rooms during the 2 days we were here.

To me, it was as if we had come at an inopportune time. The regular staff was unavailable, the hotel was mid-renovation, the weather was a bit chilly, the beach was littered and the water looked more like sludge than sea.

Our first night there, most of everyone in our group had some variation of a cold or flu. The weather was damp and chilly and the only available restaurant at our hotel had outdoor seating. There was nothing else within walking distance. The only other option was room service, but the hotel staff spoke very little English and understood even less. Room service conversations went something like this:

Hello, I’d like to order a pot of chai masala and two mugs.

Masala tea?

Yes, please one pot, two glasses.

Hello?

Hello?

Okay. (Dial tone.)

What we got was a surprise each time.

During that first night we were exhausted. We had just come off a 978 hour bus ride and all we wanted was to rest and maybe fall asleep early. The room was clean and overlooked the sea. It was lovely. We noticed from our balcony that the lawn below us was set up with banquet style tables, round decorated tables and a stage with a nice big couch and additional seating. We thought, ‘oh, maybe they’re setting up for Yogi Amrit Desai tomorrow?’ Au contraire. At dusk Indian men and women dressed in suits and saris adorned with sparkles and embellishments began to arrive. Then the music. Then the bride and groom. We had balcony seating to an Indian wedding reception. It would have been entertaining if the music wasn’t so unbelievably loud. It was like trying to sleep on the floor of a downtown nightclub. But sleep I did. At some point before the festivities were over I fell asleep.

The next day and a half I continued to look for points of interest and beauty where I could find them. This little resort town was not without its charms. There was a hawk that sat in the palm outside our window, searching the ground below for food and eyeing me and my camera; women in brightly colored saris – sometimes with heavy bales on their heads, sometimes frolicking as if on vacation – walked along the beach. There was a sweet Muslim woman who took her exercise out on the deck by the kitchen. It looked suspiciously like yoga.  A young girl lugging a nearly full trash bag – collecting, I suspect items for use or trade in her village; a crow pulling the husk off a coconut to feather her nest and boats marooned by a low tide that refused to come back.

Who’s to say if it was the place or me during the short spell, that led me to create neutral impressions of it at best, but in the end I was happy to have had the experience and the opportunity to be seaside in India.

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