By John Pothala.
A random encounter led me to some of the most untouched waters in India, while I was on a dream ride to explore India and Nepal.
Following a hearty breakfast of Biryani at Padukkotai (that’s right, you can find biryani at 10 am on the coast of Tamil Nadu), I head out onto the east coast road eager to reach Rameshwaram, which is 280 kms away. 30 minutes into the ride, I catch my first glimpse of the ocean after Pondicherry. A huge fan of the ocean, I decide to get down and shoot some footage, when suddenly kids from the few huts that make up a village come out to investigate, followed by a couple of fishermen.
|The kids of Kalmugnda Fishing village.|
I talk to them in English / Hindi / sign laguage, whichever works, and they offer to take me out into the middle of the ocean for 100 rupees worth of diesel. I immediately say yes! Before I know it, I’m crossing a swamp to a really authentic looking fishing boat, and heading out to sea with 7 other fishermen. 70 minutes on, we come across a huge log which came in from Sir lanka during the Tsunami. Marimutth, the man who seems to be in-charge, tells me that we are 17 kms from Sri Lanka, and that the log is stuck on a submerged island. The fishermen start insisting that I dive first, so I throw off my shirt and take the plunge, Johnny Depp style.
|The submerged Island Log.|
|Weighing anchor, notice the depth here?|
|Diving into the Indian Ocean.|
I don’t remember many times that I’ve forgotten everything else in the world, but sitting in knee deep water on a submerged island in the middle of an ocean can do wonders; I can’t help but forget everything and smile. Marimutth and the other fishermen seemingly happy with my presence, jump in and take me over to the log. I try to climb on top but get gashes on my toes from all the coral on the surface, to which Marimutth says no problem, and starts rubbing deep into the wound. ‘No tension, salt do magic, no tension, full relax’ he says, and starts commenting on how delicate us city boys are and how he had an iron body. I laugh with him and jump back into the water. My new friends and I spend over an hour there relaxing and playing with the occasional crab. It is an experience that I will remember as the most peaceful of my life. I wonder what city life and my IT job have done to me, so much that as a bachelor at 24, I’m starting to feel so strongly about peace and tension. Good thing I quit my job and bought an Enfield.
|Trying my hand at navigating the fishing boat.|
|17 km from Sri Lanka, this log.|
On the away back to land, Marimutth tells me that I am the first outsider to come to this village in years. That doesn’t surprise me too much, given how everyone looked at me the way you’d look at a plane if it was parked somewhere it shouldn’t be. I am invited for drinks and fish back on land. No way can I say no to that, so the guys take me to one of the ponds where people bathe; every village along the coast of Tamil Nadu has a couple of these ponds. Refreshed and clean, I go apply some Betadine on my toes and head over to party with the fishermen and spend the night sleeping under the stars. I ride only 20 kms that day.
|My faithful enfield parked in Kalmungda.|
Getting there: Take the ECR from Pondicherry, toward Adiramapatanam, which is 200 kms away. Upon reaching ask for directions to Kalmungda village.
Author Bio: The author is 24 and hails from Hyderabad. In February 2012, he quit his job as a salesman for a major IT company, to go out and explore life. His first adventure started on 4th March 2012, and took him and his bike 13,000 kms around India and Nepal. Follow his journey on www.indiabybike.com.
For more stories off the beaten path in India, visit www.indiauntravelled.com or join India Untravelled on Facebook and Twitter. To contribute guest posts / photo essays to this blog, please send your story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.