Beautiful silk sarees seem to be the choice of beach-wear this year in Puri. You can hardly enter the water in them. It’s also rather stormy, with a chance of hurricanes right now. So the thing to do seems to be to amble on the sand and look for things to eat. The man balancing a whole lot of pans on his shoulder offered four kinds of Odiya sweets, including rasgulla. But I’d stopped at every sweet shop on my way down to the beach, so I gave it a miss.
I was very tempted by the heap of guavas. Nearly ripe guavas, sliced up and sprinkled with salt and powdered red chili is an all time favourite beach food. I’ve eaten it from Goa, down the Kerala coast, up the east coast from Madurai to Bengal, and further east to Myanmar and all the way to Vietnam. I smelt the guavas. Not yet ripe enough, unfortunately. There are some who prefer the fruit very green, but I’m not one of them.
But there was a life save: tender coconut. Just the thing on this hot and humid day. The vendor chopped off the top and gave me the water. Then he split the coconut into two to give me the gelatinous white flesh, still sweet and tender. You scoop it up with a piece of the shell. Very eco-friendly. No single use item there. Not even the coconut. After you’ve finished with it the shell and the coir are used. Perfect beach food for the day.
My needs are simple: a nice beach, good sun*, clean sand**, food and drink. Other simple needs include: being far from home***, a clean and comfortable bed to sleep in, enough plug points to charge my phone, laptop, and camera, a good breakfast, reasonable wifi****, fresh fish, good coffee, a nice aromatic tea*****, lots of water to drink. Simple really. That’s all. I do appreciate a lack of mosquitoes and other biting insects, a shower whenever I feel hot, nice people******. Not too much to ask for, is it?
But I would give that all up for an interesting photo. This shack on Dhanushkodi beach had nice coffee and great chiaroscuro. Later, walking along the beach I stopped at the play of light and shadow on a piece of driftwood. No crab poked a head out of their bolt holes.
(*) Remember the sunscreen.
(**) Hold the plastic.
(***) But with a comfortable connection without too many layovers.
(****) That can’t be hard, can it?
(*****) Make that hot, please. I hate cold tea.
(******) The kind who read, like, or comment on your blogs are the best
The little islands of Ritchie’s archipelago have small populations by Indian standards. Neil Island has a permanent population of about 3000, with about that many more tourists in peak season. A large fraction of the population runs restaurants. Signs such as the one in the featured photo were common. We also read one which promised "North and South Indian, Bengali, Continental, Chinese, Israeli and Bhutanese food". I had looked at these signs as indicators of where most visitors came from, but the reference to Bhutanese was a jolt. It is unlikely that there are many Bhutanese tourists here. Perhaps it is a nod to the fact that momos are popular all across the northern part of the country.
On our first day in the island, we came across this little stall on the beach. While we had a tea, the man told us about what he could get us for dinner. His recommendation was lobsters, and the price he offered was good. He insisted that The Family take down his phone number. If we ordered he would deliver the dish to our room in the hotel. Unfortunately, we never got around to ordering. There are too many walk-in options. What sea food we ate on the island was wonderfully fresh.