The beach was unusually empty this Thursday morning. The laughing yoga gang was there, as usual, right in the middle of the promenade. Every day their laughter feels more manic than before. Part of me finds the sight quite sad – at the fact that they need to join a support group to learn to laugh. It makes me want to believe that they never do it otherwise – when they get home, I can see them answering the worried questions from their wives, “How did you laugh today?” and them grunting, “Yes, I laughed well, where’s my breakfast?”
Its great to see men and women sit under Gandhi’s statue doing hatha yoga – facing the sea, worshipping the sun. Even the little family of dogs I pass do a full stretch facing east. I cross the long littered beach, heading to the water and have the privilege of witnessing many a hairy bottom by the sea-shore. Fishermen – perhaps just returned from a morning’s expedition out to sea and too lazy to head home to the toilet, are pacing, getting ready to squat by the water to defecate. Why is it on busier mornings, they don’t seem to be there?
India, to state the obvious, asks a lot – tolerance, acceptance, indifference but doesn’t offer too much by way of answers or solutions. When the status quo is the happiest place to be, however rotten – things don’t need to make sense. More walkers like me turn up and the lungi-clad men whose communion with nature is now truly disrupted start walking back, and look dejected. Some still hover – they look hopeful and dare I say defiant? For them – it would be an awful gentrification of their beach, if it became a no-shit zone, I realise.
The sea hasn’t looked this tranquil in all these weeks – muted pink light rests on the quiet bed of greyish green water. I find it difficult to appreciate this – there’s a gentle breeze blowing on my neck that seeks to soothe, but I look around – I realise I’m sitting in the middle of so much filth. The two boys near me have headphones on and continue to talk noisily. The man on my right has just sat down with his radio blaring. Soon, I imagine, this might be impossible. This litter-strewn open space could turn into a landfill site in the not too distant future and the sea that looks relatively still could soon grind to a halt – completely clogged up by all the rubbish, and toxic waste, unable to rejuvenate itself. And the Bay of Bengal could become an extension of the stinky Buckingham canal nearby. I get up and start my walk home – and pass more people taking exercise – some playing football and volleyball. Life seems to tick along just fine, I thought, as I headed home.