A night on a beach

by Payel Kundu on August 20, 2017

Have you been to a camping trip? You might have. Isn’t that fun? Bonfire with friends, lying under the stars, feeling the primitive excitement in your blood? Now imagine packing up your bags one morning and loading up your trunk with rented tents to drive off with no destination in mind and stop only when your heart wants to. That has an extra thrill to it for sure. If you have not experienced that yet, maybe you should. Here’s our story anyways:

It was a year ago, in May 2016, when we decided to do a camping trip of our own. The trip wasn’t impromptu, we planned ahead to not plan. So on the day of the trip all we had was a Zoomcar booking, cancelled at last moment, and a set of tents waiting somewhere to be picked up on our way. The car was quickly replaced with one of our own, a Honda Brio, in which five of us miraculously fit ourselves along with our bags. The tents were as promised, clean and ready to be picked up from the good people of “Camping Gear”. By the time we were done with both, it was already late morning and we needed to pick a direction to drive to. We drove towards Alibaug, for no particular reason.

First we drove through the city until the crowded roads and tall buildings started to disappear into smaller houses and greener avenues. Then we drove through the countryside. The roads were rough and journey was long. We reached near Alibaug a little after 2, where driven by hunger we stopped at a roadside dhaba. The dhaba was a small place with a thatched roof and no wall. There we sat surrounded by a small garden and strolling turkeys and finished our delicious meals.

After lunch, we started off again, reached Alibaug in some time and seeing the sun still brightly burning up there pressed on further ahead. The road ran close to the sea for a while, then turned inland following a backwater closely and slowly left both water bodies to run further inland. We drove on knowing somewhere ahead there was another beach called Kashid and we could reach there before sunset.

It was around 4:30 when we finally reached Kashid beach. On our way, we had looked at various spots by the sea considering them for tenting ground. But knowledge of Kashid and hope for a better place had taken us up to Kashid itself. The beach wasn’t extremely crowded, but there were sufficient people. There were a few shacks selling basic items and few makeshift cabins made for changing clothes. Few of us paid 10 bucks per head to change into shorts before heading for the sea.

We didn’t stay long at the main beach area. After a few underwhelming watersports experience we moved towards south end of the beach. There was a narrow lane leading from the road to the beach out there and we parked our car right where the road ended and sands begun. Only a handful of people tend to go towards that side of the beach and they too had been long gone by the time we reached there. So we hit the waves, played on sands and lost ourselves to the roar of the sea without a care in the world.

As the five of us sat on the sand soaking our feet with the inflowing waves and looked at the sky slowly turning orange, it finally hit us what we were forgetting. We had tents to set up and none of us were experienced in it. So we left the sunset with a sigh and rushed to the spot we had chosen on the beach, opened the offline guide videos and started our struggle in the falling light of the evening.

Pretty soon the darkness started to spread and all our phone torches were on. Getting hang of the process wasn’t difficult and soon the sticks were in place through on the clothes. But planting the tent in the sand was a little less than a war. Turns out tents are meant for hard ground and extremely unaccommodating when it comes to setting them up on soft sands. So we ended up involving many rocks and bricks along with the regular parts of the tents to finally make the two tents stand. And by that time it was night all around us. Afterwards we stood there in our wet clothes and sandy body and admired our work like we were the primates to invent fire or build a house for the first time. To be honest, it felt quite close to that.

The night had fallen and our little nest was ready. There was rhythmic sound of waves, cold sand under our feet and only souls visible on the beach apart from us were a few stray dogs. The setting was perfect. We picked up some snacks and drinks from nearby shops and gathered in front of our tents listening to the sound of night and celebrating our primitive freedom. The next few hours was a smooth journey through the night with a mix of excitement and joy, the kind you feel with friends, the kind you feel while sitting under the stars. We played dumb charades for hours, we shared stories, we walked into the night lulled by the sea, and we also fought off dogs trying to get to our food. Everything we did and had to do was fun, even finding the darkest corners of the beach to pee or changing clothes vertically inside a tent.

When we finally went to sleep inside, it was 3 am and the moon was shining bright above. We had used the tent cover for sitting on the ground and so were left with a semi-transparent roof. I couldn’t quite make out the stars above, but the moon was burning through the blurry cloth as I closed my eyes and lost myself to dreams.

The night was almost eventless. Except for a few times when a dog came and tried to sit on us from the other side. I woke up early as the daylight started streaming through the tent. Outside the sea was relentless and the beach was quiet. I left the others sleeping and walked up to the sea. I saw right and left and there was nobody visible for as far as the eyes could see. I walked along the sea for a while, sat on the sands and walked again. And waited for everyone to get up. Once or twice some local person would come and go about their way. Apart from that beach remained the same.

Around 7:30 people started to get up. Once everyone was up we got busy undoing the tents and packing them up. It was much easier than setting them up and we were done in 10 minutes with both tents. And so we said our goodbyes to the sea, which was brief given our urge to find a civilized washroom by then, and started off our return journey before anybody was up to see us leaving.

 

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