17.10.2011 - 17.10.2011 -38 °C
17th October 2011
With a week to go before I fly out of Delhi, I decide to try and make it to the southern tip of India. The three oceans meet there, and it would be an achievement to say I've seen it. I wake early and say goodbye to the three girls I've been travelling with for the past week. My train is delayed, and I accidentally board the wrong one. After a frantic change at the next station, I jump on the right train and get told off for sitting in the air conditioned carriage: my £1 ticket is for cattle class. I make my way through and find a good seat next to the open door. For the next two hours, I admire the swarms of lush green palm trees, the passing waterways and the random, occasional rocky outcrop.
Eventually the train grinds to a halt and everybody disembarks. As I climb out onto the sandy gravel below, with my hefty backpack, I notice the train stopped half a kilometre out of the station. It is busy, and the town is awash with Indian tourists in the height of the season. Rooms are overpriced, but I manage to find a dingy abode that will do for one night.
I drop my stuff and head straight out. First stop is Vivekananda temple where Swami Vivekananda (India's Gandhi of the south) spent his final days meditating. I take a little ferry out the 400m to the rock. The ferry is like a dented metal box. Everyone is packed onto the boat and given dodgy life jackets. The waters are rough, I'm a good swimmer, but even still I mentally start thinking about who I would try to save if we sunk.
We approach the dock on the island and the captain (who must do this journey a hundred times a day) rams the boat into the concrete wall, almost head on, as he tries to change direction. No wonder the boat has so many dints! We finally dock and the ropes are loosely tied so that the tide makes it perpetually difficult to get on or off the boat. Once ashore I check out the temple and get a friendly looking Indian lady to take my photo. The sun is beginning to set, and the ferry crew are eager to get us back to the mainland. We're hastily rushed to the second island. Once I've walked around the monument, I jump back on the ferry. This time everyone is crammed on, regardless of whether there are enough life jackets. Thankfully, we make the journey safely.
The sun is starting to drop so I make my way to sunset point. On the way I pass a dozen tourist stalls, politely declining every shop owners invite to look inside their shop, even if 'looking is for free'. On the way, a beggar stops me to read my palm. He wants hundred rupees to cure me of "something that is stopping my true destiny". I politely decline, taking my chances with destiny, but I do pay him 20 rupees for the palm reading. He is happy enough, and I have plenty to contemplate. I walk away laughing and thinking of Julia Roberts in eat, prey, love.
At sunset point, a convenient lookout has been built. The only problem is that it vaguely resembles a concrete multi story car park, charges and slightly obscures the view if you want to stay on the mainland. I find myself an unobscured view point and prop myself against the wall to and watch and wait. As the sun descends, the few wafer thin clouds that hug the horizon turn burnt orange. Once the sun is out of sight, the sky lights up a deep red over the three oceans. It is stunning, moving in fact. I'm glad I made the journey all the way here just to see that.