I would have continued staring out of the window had it not been for the out of place backpackers on the platform. Where else could there be so many backpackers in Kerala but in Varkala.
However, out of the train, into the spic and span platform and then out of the station, there is no other sign of conformity with the backpacks. Nothing else here adds up to it. Least of all Varkala Shivgiri – the name written at the entrance of the station in bold black Hindi.
Across the road is a market place of sorts with a huge chemist shop in one corner. Autos and tourist buses wait on both sides of the road next to the shop. A banyan tree provides some shade.
Here, I’m to meet my Instagram friend Hari. He’s a Changanassery boy who works part time so he could travel and make beautiful water colour illustrations during the rest. Another 90s kid with a plagued soul. Must. Do. Something. Different. Naturally, he is to make for good company.
Presently he’s suggested I take an auto till North cliff, some Rs. 40 for the 7 kilometer route from the station. However, the auto walas next to the chemist shop tittered when I mentioned the amount. It takes Rs. 100. And eventually, as it turned out, no less than Rs. 70.
The beach here is stunningly beautiful. It’s almost feminine in its charm after the rocky sharpness of the Kanyakumari and Muttom beach. In Varkala I can dare to walk close to the water and even allow the last remnants of that gigantic wave (which I was certain wanted to drown me whole) touch my feet.
It grows on you. The cool of the water, the sliding sand beneath. It means no harm. It’s innocent really but just don’t trust it ever because when you are not looking, a gigantic wave is indeed crawling ashore to crash on your face; just as you sit perched on a rock that finally seemed distant enough for sunset photography.
No, you can’t relax with the Arabic sea by your side. But you can walk on the cliff to the north (take a right from the helipad). Past the line of shops and cafes, leaving the tourists and the floral print of dresses behind, to a mellower route, one that’s marked by the distant gurgle of the ocean and the fluttering coconut tree leaves. You can keep walking all the way till Kollam, if your feet agree, looking on at the endless blue expanse on the left.
Yet, no place is deserted here. The entire sea front is dotted with resorts, each boasting a better view than the previous one. The route we have taken lies at the edge of the cliff (adjacent to the resorts), and are guarded by metal rails in part and tiled quite well.
Parts of the Varkala beach (in fact in quite a few beaches of Kerala) has black sand which is said to be that shade due to the presence of radioactive element Thorium-oxide. We had planned to stop and marvel at this. But at night one can’t quite make out the colour of the sand so we crossed over unsuspectingly and head further to Kappil beach at Edava. By this time, our feet started stinging, so we walked to the main road and found a dhaba with no name, serving beef masala, about half a kilometer from the Edava mosque.
A strangely bright shade of green mark the walls inside. Three black plastic tables arranged rather thoughtfully and a few scattered chairs. A wooden table painted a dark shade of plastic green shines horrifyingly under the tube-light. This holds plates, jugs, glasses and a basket of cut chillies and onions. The door is wooden and white and the length of the entire wall. It folds in two parts on both sides.
Chetta with his white mundu and shiny nose is sure you want only chicken, but when you utter ‘beef’ his eyes light up and suddenly he takes more interest in serving you and making sure you eat a satisfying meal. He’ll also take out a bottle of refrigerated water for you.
A confluence of raw onions, green chillies, paronta and the greasy, spicy, mouth-watering beef masala. Tear, wrap, munch and feel your tongue supply a profusion of saliva making the morsel disappear down your throat.