The waves ran back and forth caressing the wooden hull, swaying it ever so slightly. Within the enclosure, my eyes grew heavy, lulled by the silent whispering of the sea. The wind came as a co-conspirator, making me sink deeper into the blankets. On my first night aboard Samaira, the houseboat that we had picked up a few hours earlier at Alleppey in Kerala, I slept like a kid, unencumbered by any thoughts.
The next morning, the sun peeked through the slight gap in the curtains, bringing in the sight of the unbounded sea. Soon, I was running outside to the baithak (low sofa) on the side, which I claimed for myself. I sat there for hours, staring, playing, peering at the sea, which silently bore my transgressions. Coconut trees were everywhere you looked, the algae forming a deep mesh in certain patches. Thoughts came and went like the waves, some keen to come back and wash me over with the memories.
The ride seemed more personal than aboard a ship and more intimate than a ferry ride. It was a trip of many firsts – the first time on a houseboat, the first time I put the bait and spent hours fishing and the first time I steered a boat. For once, I was the fisherman I spot steering the boat everyday near Vashi bridge from the train. It was a simplistic life, with no distractions, only an acute contact with oneself.
Besides the silent contemplation, there was the food. The scrumptious Kerala cuisine, with the papadam, steamed banana, chicken curry and the tiny little fishes we caught. But the best dish was crispy fried prawns, which were freshly caught and put in the fryer. All meals were topped off with coconut water ofcourse.
If I were to draw a panaroma, it would be an amalgamation of little moments, of tiny firsts, but which on the whole created a terrific long view. In patches, time stood still and then moved on in drones, till our time was up and we had to leave – the silent lullaby still ringing in our ears.
Ps: Houseboats at Rs 10,000 a day are not cheap but an experience. As for me, I wish I could buy one to keep – it would be more useful than the BMW, which comes for the same cost.