The ocean has always attracted me. The scent of the sea, the salty air which leaves you feeling slightly sticky, the sound of the waves, the texture of the sand, the very feeling of standing where the waves kiss the sand (and my feet) is unparalleled. Driving by the coast means driving with the windows rolled down to let the balmy air seep in. It is no surprise then that every road trip I take leads me to a beach.
Saurashtra was no different. While planning the trip, I excitedly marked the roads which were by the sea as “must drive on”. I must admit though, driving by the coast in Gujarat is not the same as driving by the coast in Maharashtra. In vain I stretch my neck hunting for a glimpse of the sea. If I could smell it, why couldn’t I see it? Shrubbery, and in some cases farmland, was the answer.
After the initial disappointment, I was anxious to head to the “Ilha de Calma”, Diu. Diu took me by surprise. I did not expect pristine beaches, and beautifully old Portuguese architecture. The city hides within it pieces of the Portuguese, in the churches, in the buildings in Old Town, and in its people.
In its beaches it hides another secret: it hides a slice of serenity where nothing else matters. It’s not like I needed more reasons to love the beaches, yet Diu gave me more. Sunsets on the beach are sublime; everyone knows that. Diu showed me how the sunrises are equally gorgeous.
We had to leave the town by noon, so we got up really early to begin our exploration. The roads looked different in the pre-dawn light, even the street dogs were sleeping. A stroke of luck led us to a section of Nagoa Beach which was really close to the airport. It was by no means popular: there were no signs of hawkers and the debris associated with tourists was missing. Instead, there was a temple, a dinosaur park (which consisted of two models of dinosaurs) and a deserted strip of a rocky-sandy beach. It was sitting on one of these rocks that I witnessed my first sunrise on a beach.
I stood there mesmerized as the sky changed colour when dawn broke, from the almost purple sky to shades of red, orange and yellow and finally the light blue that one associates with the sky. To add more drama to the scene, the water changed its hue in sync with the sky. I didn’t think of clicking pictures then, I doubt it would have done the scene justice anyway.
At some point, the temple priest started the morning prayer, and in unison our stomachs started grumbling. We drove away in pursuit of a breakfast. For the remainder of the trip, and many more months to come, the memory of the sunrise on an isolated beach in Diu stayed with me.