I didn’t have any clue about Kovalam before I came. I did entirely zero research before coming here. Usually, I’ve read all I can about the country or city I’m going to before I actually arrive there. It’s part of the process, part of the enjoyment. I learn and then I see. This time, not so. No need, no desire. Take me as you will, do with me what you please. I want to fly on your wings or be munched under your feet, I don’t care. I just want.
Chennai was horrid and I needed to get out of there quick. A friend was in Kovalam and she said all I needed to hear: There is wifi, good food and foreigners. Okay. I’m not looking to discover some unknown territory here; I’m trying to work online and gosh, I dunno, learn about myself somehow. I guess. Maybe. Don’t ask. I’m not sure. Huh? I immediately booked a 16 bus (no more trains, not now, not ever, I’m absolute-ing everything these days) to the spot I’d later find out was deemed, almost unanimously by lonely planet forum frequenters a charmless, built-up, tourist-trap absolutely (there it is again) worth missing.
When I got there, headached from the bus (everytime! Without fail), all I could think and feel and hear and see was the water. The calming rhythm of the waves that teach me everything I need to know. The words tourist trap and charmless were not in my vocabulary. A feeling of gratitude for being so close to water – a big mass of it! – overwhelmed my body. Thank you. Ah. Yes, finally. Okay. This is okay. Things are okay. I’m okay. The currents pull every which way. Waves actually come back at you from the shore when you’re standing in the sea. Yes, sea. The Arabian Sea. Not the ocean. I called it the ocean for the first few days. The word conveys a sense of grandeur and that is what I feel from this sea, this ocean, this whatever. Water. Who cares. Semantics are meaningless in the face of emotions.
I am aware of Kovalam’s obvious shortcomings, before I read about them. It’s not rocket science. After the initial shock and awe of being near water wares off and becomes a part of my daily life (hurrah!), the issues with the place start to become pretty apparent. The tourist crowd consists primarily of middle aged Russians. The blonde-haired ladies with their see-through florescent beach robe things (these tacky pieces of fabric do not merit any better a descriptive word) and high-heels (at the beach – I will never understand and choose not to invest any time trying) parading around for I’m not sure who; and their male counterparts with the big bellies, loud voices and expensive jewelry.
The worst offense comes from the multi-coloured disco lights (in full strobe effect, no less) that one of the second-story beachfront bars insists on shining onto the sandy beach after dark. How dare they ruin the beauty of the beach with their crude day-glo lights on the innocent sand which does nothing but provide us a soft and comforting spot on which to walk in the water. The lime green, fushia and orange colours twirl around on the sand like a highschool prom on a cruise ship that got marooned on a beach populated with aging Russians. Blasting from the speakers, of course, is brutal club noise, the bass turned waaaaay up and without the necessary woofers to support it, comes out sounding like crackly thumps. Shudder.
I am grateful for everything, I am. Really, truly.