Nighttime is my favorite in Kerala. The bars and restaurants turn into an ambient lighting paradise, with thousands of fairy lights strung on the branches of trees that grow straight into the restaurants. Like tree houses for adults. Lounge music plays, delicate hints of Indian music infusing the rhythms, each place seducing me as I walk by.
I just can’t get enough of this Arabian Sea.
At night, the cliff side walkway is full of fish stands – freshly caught Marlin on display, slathered in ice, ready to be chosen for dinner. Chad tells me to look for clear eyes. I pick a Blue Marlin filet, tandoori style. My meal arrives, the fish cut into tender chunks. The texture is almost like butter. It melts in my mouth. Fish has never melted in my mouth before.
I leave the group at the table for a post-dinner solitary stroll in the moonlight. I walk along the path and look up through the palm trees to find the moon. Its light barely peeks out in between cloud cover, then disappears again. I see more evidence of it down below, on the water. The tide is out, and there is a huge expanse of sand to walk on. The moon makes a trail of glowing light from the shore to the horizon. I want to walk on that path until it ends.
We climb down the cliff steps to the beach, a precarious journey since we can’t see where we are going and tumbling down seems imminent. On the sand, bottles of Kingfisher that we open with a dinner knife, and Greg’s guitar. We sing “I’ve Had The Time of My Life” at the top of our lungs. Cliché? Maybe. Perfect? Yes.
I’ve left my sarong back in the room, so I sit directly on the sand, watching the waves crash against the rocks. The half moon illuminating the cliff and the large boulders that jut out from the shoreline, framed by withered but sturdy palms. They are just black silhouettes against the sky, backlit by the moon.
If you know me, you know I’m a big fan of “perfect moments.” Those moments when the Universe conspires to give you a moment so rich in happiness that all you can do is sit still and soak it up, afraid any sudden movements will make it disappear. Varkala gave me a perfect moment. And she damn well better have after everything we went through at the Kumbh.
I’m exhausted, but fight my fatigue. I need the bathroom, so I go down to the water behind some rocks. I stay there for a while, letting the water rush back and forth over my skin. It’s soothing. I smile at how second nature it has become to go to the bathroom anywhere. What men must feel like, I imagine. I wonder if it will be hard to adjust back to first world standards when I’m home in a couple of days.
But before that can happen, India has to give us one final gift: a 48 hour strike of all public transportation…