The noise of the mobile alarm woke me up at 6:30 in the morning. The sky outside looked cludless and there was a chill in the air as I got ready to and went downstairs to join my classmates. We had decided to go to Pulict lake as decided the day before for a day trip. Ambika had a car with her so she had offered that we all travelled together in it.she came till 7:30 with her driver in a white sumo that was big enough to fir the five of us. A little drowsy we all adjusted ourselves in the car and the journey finally began.
To my delight I got a place at the window seat. Sitting at window seat seems like watching a movie on the rectangular screen. Only this time you happen to sit in a car onstead of a movie theatre and it happens to be a glass window showing you the world outside.
The town was already astir. Tea stalls were opened and people were sitting there having tea and breakfast. As my stomach made a grumbling noise Ambika told me that she had a bag full of snacks for us to eat. All of our faces lit up as if Christmas had come a month early. Munching the spicy aloo bhujia we talked about everything from Fantastic Beasts movie to how much we disliked the hostel food. And somehow I felt that we all coneected in way we hadn’t ever done in the class.
We reached the outskirts of Chennai and the buildings and houses were replaced by vast tracts of land covered with reeds and head high marsh grass. From the highway we took a turn to a dusty trail which led us to a narrow road. The road went further imto the interiors. There were lots of villages on the way. I couldn’t help but notice that they all had bright colourful houses , most of them two storeyed. Pink , yellow , blue it looked like one of those pictures of a Spanish town. As I wondered this aloud Ambika said “ the coloured paint costs cheaper , so most people in the villages prefer to using them to paint their houses .”
there were two banks on the way for the 10 villages we passed which had people waiting patiently in the long queue to withdraw money.
“ I think we are about to reach” , said Aditya glancing on his google maps , as Aihik and Annu woke up from their deep slumber. The Pulicat Lale was spread over a vast area and lined with coluful boats on its shores. The water in the lake was gleaming under the sun and it ws peacefull and was statue still. “look there are the migratory birds” , I exclaimed pointing towards a flock of long legged white birds whio were huddled in the marsh nearby.
Pulicat lake was famous for being home to hundereds of migratory birds every year who travelled thousands of kilometres from countries like Russia , Monglia, China. Hoping to take a tour of the lake we went and asked a short pot bellied fisherman who told us that boating was off for the seaon due to bad weather conditions. Crest fallen we went back to the car and ecided to go further down the road to try our luck . but all our efforts went in vain.
“ Is that the end of our adventure trip?” I wondered
“Or maybe it has just started! “ said Ambika pointing towards the sea beach.” Maybe we can go there and talk to the fishermen” she said.
We all agreed. Ahead of me the sea stretched as far as I could see. While I could taste the saltiness of the sea on my toungue , my nose was filled with the smell of fish lying in a nearby basket. A group of fishermen were folding their nets and I saw a young bouy who looked our age trying to catch fish from the sea using a long nylon rope. He tied stones to the rope to make it heavy along with the food to catch the fish.
Aditya casually asked the group of fishermen if they could take us to the sea on their piper boats and to our surprise they agreed.
“will it be dangerous”? “should we go?” we asked each other these questions.
“Oh what the hell lets just do it guys!” Aditya exclaimed.
So we all left our belongings behind and climbed on to the boat. The five fishermen pushed the boat onto the water and then climbed on it easily. They told us to grab rope tied in the middle of the boat to stop us from falling off it. As the water crashed against the boat it splashed on our faces and we were literally drenched within a minute. the boat went up and down against the tides as my churned inside. The fishermen stopped the boat after a while and pointed towards the flags which were floating on the surface of the water. “ these flags mark out our area of fishing from the others.we come here as early as 3 AM in the morning and then come back to collect the catch between 8 AM to 9AM” one of them informed us.
The boat stood there for a while as all of us sat in silence looking at how far we had come from the shore. It felt like all the worries, problems of life had been left behind, and this was a new world in its own. As loud and angry the waves sounded at the shore , sitting on the boat felt equally peaceful and calm.
While we sat there clutching the rope in our hands , the fishermen stood there on the edges withour moving an inch or so. What seemed as adventure for us was daily life for them.
It was then time to go back as some of us felt sea sick and a little queasy. We reached the shore as the tide rocked our boat forward and it landed on the beach.
A boy named Suriya then took us to see the catch they had made. He was a student of B.Com in a nearby college and worked as the fisherman to earn extra income.
We saw the them seperating the catch according to the sizes of the fish. “ The small fish costs Rs 100 / kg while the big ones here cost Rs 400/kg” he informed us.
He also let us hold a sharkfish(which felt greasy on the hand) whose mouth was sharp enough to murder someone. After seperating the fishes the job of the fishermen got over as the womenfolk came there to collect it and sell in the market.
“I read about a Dutch Cemetery located nearby, anybody wants to go and have a look there?” I asked.
Delighted with our short sea voyage we then left off to visit the cemetery.the Dutch were amongst the first settlers in pulicat ( earstwhile Pallicatta) using the lake as a means to transport goods in the 16oos. As we rached there I couldn’t help but notice that it had a very gothic look to it. Established in 1656 , the cemetery had Grey dilapidated tombs which lay there on the unkempt grass with wild flowers and shrubs in it as the crows cawed above our heads. There was a tall pointy structure built on the tomb that was supposed be the resting place of the prince who was buried here as he died on a sea journey informed Mr Hussain the caretaker of the cemetery.
There was also a tunnel opening that led a passage upto the castle but it now remained blocked. All the graves had engravings in Dutch with Royal crests on them.
As we left the cemetery I happened to glance at the entrance which had 2 skelatons carved out of stone maybe to make it apparent what the place was actually meant for.
The journey back was very quiet , as we were tired by the day’s activities and quite hungry too. Once again we passed the colorful villages , the bank lines were still in the same place so were the fields. Things outside passed in a blur as everybody sat in silence ,thinking about the day’s adventure I thought , or maybe just about food like me.