The sand and salt are curling my newly short hair. My sunburn is pink and red in patches along calves and shoulder blades. The sound of the sea is full in my ears as I lean back in a wicker chair at the Juice Shack, perched on the cliffs of Varkala.
For the first time in two months I can’t hear the roaring of traffic or the shouting of people; now, it’s nothing but bird calls and the breeze blowing through the trees.
I never used to like the sea when I was little – I used to run away from the waves. But today I dived under each swell and relished the salt that stung my eyes, while it worked wonders on my mosquito bites.
The sun is strong down south. Everyone walking past is either smugly tanned or embarrassed of their burns. I find myself smiling so much more in this country. The hope is that more people will start smiling back – although most Indians do, it’s the foreigners who think they shouldn’t.
I’m not sure why.
It’s nine days until I say goodbye to this organised tour idea, one that’s seen me through my acclimatisation to this most complexedly wonderful of countries. I’m both eager and afraid to carry on; worried about my adeptness to continue on alone, with no support system to guide me.
I’ve met some truly incredible people over the last seven weeks, giving me even more reason to visit Australia, Canada, sweden, italy… My main worry forthis next section of my journey is that I’m going to be alone, without anyone to talk to or joke around with. My day to day self has got so much brighter and happier that I’m hoping people will be drawn to it, and want to stop and talk.
All I can do is be myself though, and have faith that India will work with me the way I want it to.
The sun is setting through the palm trees overhead. Newton Faulkner is echoing from the sleepy bar across the sand.
I can’t remember what it feels like not to have a film of sweat across every inch of my skin, to sleep wearing next to nothing and still be too hot, to reapply sunscreen to my ever burning nose every 10 minutes… And yet I feel so lucky to be out here, speeding through the country, and mentally taking note of these most wonderful little villages and larger cities that I know I’ll come back to some day.
And now I’ve that got two new months to discover a whole new India, up in the mountains where the air is cooler and the ashrams are beckoning, with meditation and vows of silence?
I can feel myself changing already.