Freedom and Fear: Scooting around India

I woke up yesterday morning with a cold. By midday it was a full-fledged runny nose affair. When there aren’t trash cans and you’re lugging around a toilet roll in the rain, life feels hard.

Lucky for me, I live with a bunch of hippies and everyone’s carrying some natural remedy: a drink made with lemon juice, garlic and date syrup with some other mystery spices, Tulsi (an Indian plant that works for congestion and coughs, as well as general health) and Grapefruit Seed Extract (add to water, gurgle and swallow and it kills the infection). I’m not sure which one actually worked since I said yes to everything. Now I’m on the upswing. Oh, you can also put mint essential oil on your nose and it clears your pores and opens up the stuffed nose so you can breathe and sleep.

For Eco-film night on Friday, we watched the movie, “Forks Over Knives,” which I found to be a fabulous and enlightening documentary. It half-convinced me to include veganism in my life outside Sadhana…can I be a Monday through Friday vegan? I think I’ll need cheese on the weekends. In discussing the movie with Colin I found out there’s also a showing at Greens N’ Grains in Door County…what a wonderfully curious thing that two small and separate communities across the globe should be watching the same film!


Quiet Beach (the one we found only after the fact)

Saskia and I have a scooter! We celebrate this by taking it in the afternoon for Chai, even though it’s raining, even though I feel sick. We find that it’s a bit of a slippery adventure. The road out looks one big muddy mess and we crawl through it hoping we won’t tip ourselves straight in.

Nonetheless we make it there and have a good laugh while dodging cows, goats and humans. It feels freeing to get there and back so quickly. Like India suddenly became accessible…

We wake up the next morning to lovely sun and a nice breeze – reminiscent of early September in the Door. We are all oooohs and aaahhhs over the weather and we decide to walk to Koot Rd for a traditional Indian lunch (no midday meal on the weekends). We arrive at Sunrise restaurant 20 minutes later and all order a spicy Thali for a mere 40 rupees.

Thali consists of a large pile of rice, two spicy sauces, and two little side dishes (ours was a curried potato and a beet salad). It’s served on a banana leaf and eaten with the fingers of your right hand. Yum.

After that Saskia and I maneuver from Koot Rd. to Kulapalium on our new (old) scooter. We feel free. It takes a bit of patience, a couple of wrong turns, and lot of giggling to get there. We manage to make our way to the beach, over speed bump and around rubbish heap, over hill and dale.

We don’t know that there are two beaches down the coast. One, called Quiet Beach, is the nicer of the two, and the one we were trying to reach. The other, called Repos, happens to be loaded with poop and rubbish. We found the latter.

“Oh sand beneath my toes!” Saskia says. “Can you smell the ocean?”

We stroll down the beach, trying to hide our disappointment. We are determined to have a bit of sunbathing on such a gorgeous day. We reach an area that appears relatively clear and sit down.

Saskia lays down on the beach and says, “Oh god, it smells of poo. Really! It does. Can you smell it?”

Standing up still, I say, “No…not really. I mean, there’s poo here?”

She points to a giant poo pie right by her feet.

“That’s disgusting. That’s not human poo is it? Do cows roam the beach at night?”

“I don’t know. I’m just going to lay here and pretend I don’t smell it.”

“Do you think another part of the beach is better?” I ask.

“No,” Saskia says, “I think it’s all the same.”

I lay down and the poop smell instantly becomes so potent I can’t handle it.

“Oh my lord. I can’t lay here. I’m going to vomit.”

“Just pretend you can’t smell it. You can get used to it,” Saskia says.

“I won’t,” I say. “It’s making me nauseous.”

We move a bit down the beach to a less poo-loaded location. It’s only a little better but we pretend it’s paradise. The wind whips sand at us so hard the little grains sting our skin.

“That really hurts, actually,” Saskia says.

“Just pretend you don’t feel it,” I say.

We get completely coated in sand. When we try to swim the waves are huge and the undertow pulls fiercely against our ankles.

“I didn’t tell you, but I’m afraid of sharks,” Saskia says.

“Oh I’m afraid of them too,” I say.

“Do you think there are sharks here?” She says.

“I have no idea. They definitely can swim in shallow water, though…”

We both stare nervously into the murky depths. Why was I watching Shark Week from the 80’s before I came to India? Indian men gawk at us and take photos behind our backs. Saskia swears violently at them and shoos them away.

I decide to try driving the scooter on the way home. The first challenge is starting the scooter. I flood the engine and then we’re using the choke. It’s a bit of starting and stopping and then weeeeeeeeeeee we’re going.

Our horn sounds like the noise a duck might make if you stepped on it. I press the horn constantly to scare cows, goats, dogs and people off the road. We do eventually find the quiet beach, only 1km father up the road. It’s a little nicer, but there’s still quite a bit of trash on the beach.

An Indian man immediately attaches himself to us and walks up the beach with us. He speaks English well enough and seemed familiar with Sadhana. He also mentioned that he was unmarried and would like a German wife.

It’s getting dark by the time we are finally on the road home. My face feels like a windshield, getting pelted with bugs. I can’t talk or bugs will fly straight into my mouth and choke me.

On the dirt road to Sadhana, I discover that the headlight doesn’t shine unless you accelerate. This means that when you’re going downhill and want to brake, you don’t have lights. So I slow way down, then accelerate a little bit to get some light, than hit the brakes again. We whoop our way over speed bumps and dodge tree branches that try to smack us in the face.

Just another lesson in surrender.



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