First thing in the morning – after the breakfast, of course – we went to the post office, to enquire feasibility of sending conches to Pune. It is located on way to Kanyakumari, right in the central area. The helpful lady there informed us that it was possible, however the packing has to be a proper tailor made bag, and not just duct-taped box. This was bit surprising, because surely I had received usual box packs from Indian postal service in the past. But arguing was not going to help, so we decided to first check the packing mechanism by visiting the tailor.
The elusive tailor sits in a hidden lane that can be hidden from your eye even if you are standing right at its nose. After a number of pacing of the road to and fro on bike, we traced the steps one at a time, and finally found the tailor sitting in his small shop. He seemed a regular in this sort of stuff, the way he handled matters. He gave us a large box to fill the conches in. The parcel had to be given to the parcel office before 2.00P.M., otherwise we would have to come back the next day. As we were leaving the next morning, 2.00 P.M. was a must-meet deadline for us.
We headed straight to the beach, to the sea-side vendors selling the conches and sea-stuff. The market is so magical, I never felt bored or ‘enough’ at any time. The rates are unbelievably low, and more so when bargained well. One could spend hours here without getting bored. Nandinee however differed on this opinion, and was seemed on a verge of a volcano blowing up when I suggest we take one more round of the market, now fourth time, the blazing sun not aiding her mood. I unsuccessfully tried to revenge this when she was buying sarees. The tale of my failure is a topic for a later chapter.
We bought this shell with our names engraved, in hope that someday our grand children will see it, and remember what it is to roam free.
We left the market with heavy bag and lighter pockets, and headed our room for packing the stuff well. It was already 12.45P.M. There was enough time to have the cover sewn for the box. Or so we thought. When we reached the tailor’s shop, it was wide open, with no sign of him. Fine, we’ll wait, we thought. Must’ve gone around to grab a bite of food. Let’s wait 5 minutes. 10…15…25 minutes, still no tailor. The clock slowly started ticking against us. A huge language barrier was standing between us and the neighboring shops to find his whereabouts. Finally after great theatrics, I managed to have the other shop owner ring his phone, and tell him two souls are waiting to be released upon his holiness’s blessings. Once he got to work, he was pretty fast.
Did the packing nice and tight, and we finally booked the parcel at 1.55 P.M.
After lunch, we went to see the Kanyakumari rock temple, where Swami Vivekananda reportedly meditated for 3 days. The temple is situated on an island that can be visited by boat alone. There is one more similar island, with recently erected statue of Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar. However, we limited our visit to only the Vivekananda island.
The boat ride was terrifying to say the least. We all were made to wear the life guards compulsorily, no elderly or non-willing spared. When the boat took off, it was more on the mercy of the sea than the power of the engines. Hardly a little distance in, we started rocking like crazy. Naturally, the kids and their moms started shouting in Unison. Had I myself not been shocked and scared, a film of that scene would easily sell as footage of some sad movie where poor immigrants are swallowed by the angry sea. Luckily our fate’s movie was not to end that day, and we reached the rock in a while. The journey is hardly 5-10 minutes, with more time spent in waiting for passengers than in commuting. But if the sea is in form, then those 5-10 minutes are nothing but a wild ride.
April afternoon is not exactly the best time to visit the rock, as we realized quickly. Having had to part with our shoes at the entrance, we soon started to find cool places to lay our feet on while walking. Being on the rock though is a calming experience.
There is a solar clock placed on the ground, with different markings. This was my second time seeing the clock, with five years spread between the two sightings. But yet, I had not become wiser about its working, and still am not. Maybe it will require one more visit with a knowledgeable person to understand it.
There is a small ‘Meditation hall’ on the rock. Last time I visited was in the heat of tourist season, and the meditation room was unbelievably noisy by people who had evidently confused it with chat room. However, this time it was very peaceful. The room itself is very dark, and an Om written in Devanagari is lit on the wall. Outside of that room, the sea may be roaring to glory, and children may be crying in full volume, but inside you don’t hear anything. All you hear is the speed of your thoughts, and wonder how you survive having such a fast restless train of thoughts.
After roaming around the rock, we soon found ourselves in line for boat to take us back to the lands. There is nothing else to see on the rock, except the Vivekananda temple, and the Kanyakumari temple, which houses a pair of footprints said to belong to Devi Kanyakumari herself.
The return journey too was matching to the first journey, but this time, we were bit experienced, and tried to enjoy it. We sure were glad to put our feet back on land though. Sea is a wild creature, at one moment it may play with you, and at another it will turn to take a bite off your neck. It surely wasn’t in any mood to play that day, and we decided to leave it at that.
After a snacks break, the last stop for today was Suchindram temple. Suchindram is located about 7 kilometers from Kanyakumari, on the same way back to Kerala. It houses a temple famous mainly for its musical pillars. There are 2 sets of stone pillars that are carved hollow inside. If you bang the pillars right, and place your ears on any of them, you will hear musical tones. Not rock banging, but actually musical tones. We arrived at the temple in the evening. Just prior to the temple, there is a small lake that houses the carved structures.
Goats were hanging out in cool evening on their usual spot above the lake.
The temple allowed no shirts inside, similar to other temples in the area. It didn’t allow cameras too, which had to be deposited outside in a safe. There was a large amount of local crowd that had come to take darshan. I hardly spotted any tourists though. It is a huge campus, with many temples situated within. I couldn’t identify some of the gods though, despite being of the same religion. It is said Hindu religion has 33 crore Gods, and the Gods I identified were seemingly a small set out of the population.
We saw some beautiful brass lanterns in the temple. Shopping of brass items in Kerala was on our agenda anyway. Upon inquiry, we found out that there is a village named Kottar, 4 kilometers ahead of Suchindram, that is the origin of these lanterns and other similar brass artifacts. As we had nothing planned for the evening, Kottar became our next destination. This is the beauty of travelling as single couple, that you are the only decision maker regarding your itinerary. Had we been in a group, then we had to explain and coax others to accompany, and had we been in a tourist bus, then there would be no chance of such sudden visit.
Kottar is a passing village on the Kerala-Kanyakumari road, which is easy to miss. A non-descript town, but curiously famous for its brass items, that too sold in a handful of shops. We roamed on the inner roads, away from the main busy street. Asking a simple question ‘where do we get brass items’ took about five minutes, and attracted a sizeable group of people, before we were finally ushered that way.
‘Pital ke diye kahaan milte hain?’
‘Umm… Where do we get dipam? Diyaa?’
It took a session of dumb charades, where I displayed a lantern with hand, and poured oil in it and lit it and all. Finally it dawned.
Luckily, the one word answer to our five minute animated question was sufficient, and soon we found ourselves parking in front of a brass shop. The owner there knew some English, so the matters eased then on. Luckily, he was the only brass shop owner that could manage English. The rest shops we visited were not understanding a word we were saying, nor us them. It was fun to bargain in broken English. No matter where you are, money speaks a common language, and soon we arrived at an acceptable figure for both parties. The shop owner agreed to parcel the stuff back to Pune for some additional cost. Paid the amount, and started back to Kanyakumari. The roads in south, at least to where I had been, seemed safe, and this road was no exception.
As the conches were packed and sent home, I didn’t have any to blow them at night. Nandinee seemed particularly happy about it. We hoped all our shopping done today, the conches and the brass items, would reach home safely.