Day 15 Tues March 28 Sangam
Waking up to the brightening room I opened my curtains, I could see we were on the beach of the Arabian Sea. In the distance I could see the low tide, the sea was calm with gently rolling waves lapping the shore where the beach edge was scattered with people walking and dogs were romping with their owners. There was the remains of a party from the night before, beach patio being hosed off, stacks of chairs and tables and decorations were being taken down.
I quickly dressed, grabbed the camera and left my room.
It was so warm outside, but I couldn’t really smell salt air like I usually can. I had been using a salve in my nose to combat the dry air from the plane. As I descended the stairs towards the beach I could smell the strong odour of urine. India where any wall or tree is an opportunity for relieving oneself.
The wide beach had lovely lighter sand and I saw evidence of crabs, the sand piled high at the entrance. Continuing towards the water I had to dodge dog doo doo and stepped over the high tide deposits of garbage consisting of organic waste and the odd plastic flip flop and water bottle. Maybe they will clean up later, after all, this is a beach resort. There weren’t any swimmers, just people walking at the waters edge, I had to try it too. The water looked clear but there sure wasn’t any blue to it. I was really surprised at how warm the water was! Like a bathtub! I have had my feet in several salt waters, the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, North Sea, Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea now the Arabian Sea.
After a super breakfast I needed rupees. Several of did actually and a couple of us set out on a blind journey to find some. Receiving directions from the concierge, we were assured it was safe. I always ask people along the way and I always find that locals sometimes don’t even know but they send you in a direction anyway because they just want to help. Their innocently misguided directions being wrong, sometimes take you through the strangest areas. We ended up in a small alley where the thick black dust of the dry season covered everything. Shop keepers were wiping fruits and vegetables and displaying them beautifully in circular patterns on cloths and baskets. Others were scrubbing out their tiny cement entrances with soapy water which made mud beyond the cement at the edge of the street. No sidewalk, you had to step in the mud to continue walking. I was wearing sandals, so was careful to walk through the mud, not the puddled soapy water.
I began to ask the question ATM to several people and they pointed one way or the other. Many really didn’t know, they likely just deal with cash. An old man heard us and corrected the woman who had told us the direction but signalling us to follow him. He led us right too it. With a Namaste we thanked him.
Crossing the super busy 4 lane road with a cement foot high partition was challenge, but patience allowed us to cross safely. Success! I had 10,000 Rupees in my hand, approximately 200$ Canadian dollars.
Back at the hotel several others needed cash so we went back. Many debit cards didn’t work but my BMO card did, it used Cirrus and Maestro network, same as this ATM.
Boarding our bus a little after 11:00 we set off to Pune where Sangam, our second world centre stop will be.
Crazy crazy crazy is all I can say. I’ve driven in Montreal and people have told me they would never do it, but India is a whole different ball game. I’d be dead in no time!
After a 4 hour or so drive, we entered the gates of our home for the next 6 nights.
Again with the tears. I love this place! The staff took over and ushered us through stages of briefing then allowed us to unpack in our assigned rooms and told us to meet at 4:30 for Chai, followed by an event schedule meeting.
We were the only event group here! It was disappointing to many in our group, but with an international staff and several people staying a day or two we would have opportunity to meet other people. Also another group was coming in 3 days.
Later after a vegetarian meal that seemed sparse, we assembled in the breezeway in full uniform for our welcome ceremony in Lady Rattan Hall.
It was a lovely ceremony with the friendship lamp being circled in front of us, kum kum and turmeric applied to our foreheads and sugar and coconut eaten. Hugs of welcome and photos followed. Exhausted we all went to bed.