I often crave pitifully for another beach vacation, then make do by recalling the memorable ones I've had so far. This may be being fuelled by living far, far away from anything by way of a beach, unless you count the inaccessible shores of Ulsoor Lake. Anyway, there was this one family vacation when I was eleven, to a tiny beach town in Orissa.
We stayed at a delightful inn called the Mermaid Motel, run by a lively middle-aged lady and her teenage son. This son had a shaggy, round-eyed dog he’d named Jonga. The son and Jonga would fool around on the beach together for the most part of their waking hours, and for achieving this Zen-like state of contentment and the ideal life, I held both in rather high esteem. It was only later that I realized that at least part of their beach-time was owing to the presence of my striking 16-year old sister in her cherry-red bathing suit. Oh well.
We woke up and indulged in the luxury of walking straight to the beach while the parents labored over tea and Marie biscuits. We had amazing meals of rice and dal and fresh fish. We made friends with the weather-beaten fishermen with lilting accents and radiant smiles, who would keep watch on us while we swam. We accepted presents of shells and other priceless sea-treasures from the teenaged hotelier and his friendly dog.
It was a vacation to remember. A few months later, we read in the newspapers about a storm that had struck coastal Orissa. Immediate thoughts were of the Mermaid Motel and its delightful owners, and the unforgettable fisher-folk who’d held my hand when the waves got too strong. We could only hope that they’d come out of the storm and preserved that idyll. Maybe I should go there on my next vacation and see for myself, after all these years.