Soul and Surf

Sometimes you need to leave a place before you truly see its beauty, feel its value, sense the hole that it filled inside of you.

As the Rickshaw chugs and climbs its way up the steep, palm lined road, I catch the last glimpse of the home this place has become. Sunlight filters over treetops casting shadows over the stepped Ghats; pea-green ponds of cool waters, where people wash away their day and prepare for the night. The village temple, two thousand years old and rising, clings to the distinct red rock of Varkala, its gargoyles and gods and dogs watch with indifference as we go by and the house rooftops which shelter beneath the canopy of palm leaves seem to slumber as though we were never there, we were but a dream.

Last night I stood in the cliff top garden of Soul and Surf and watched my last sunset over the sea in that place, where the red kites fly and the giant bats haunt the night, where cloud city-scapes pass you by almost in hands-reach and where dreams breach the horizon, caught in the wild wind of the heart and imagination, where the surf sings you to sleep.
Energy collects around particular people-places, then leaves without a trace. The Cafe, now an empty shell, bare and broken down ahead of the monsoon looks sad and alone. I can still sense all the guests and staff busy at the counter, ordering fresh cake and coconut blended juices, yoga slices and fresh chopped salads. I can hear the Hindu beats and the chuckling, excitable singing of the Indian boys, unhurriedly cooking. The garden devoid of its sun-lounges has lost its purpose, lost its soul. The dinner tables, the breakfast bar, the hammocks removed, the reception area with Sunil’s funky, soul-music silent. The entrance where the surf wagon and rusty ambassador sit, the surfboard store-sandy-floor from the beach, clean. Kerala house with its high tilled walls and soft slap of echoing feet… empty. And the space beneath the fig tree where the yoga mats lay and the sessions held in the morning sunshine…

Breathe five; four, and three, hold the position, two, one… Breathe out. Bending, twisting, reaching for toes that no-one seemed to notice or care for before. They are now prizes at the end of the long race up my legs, just out of reach, yet close enough to not give up. Hold the position that would baffle a biologist… dedicate this practice to someone in your life… Knees drawn up, twisting, locking arms and facing back – these are the spaces where we hold our pain caused by others… breathe out… twist and bend… these are the spaces we hold the pain we have caused others… breathe… remember to breathe…

Why am I feeling this pain? It is not inside of me but is it outside of me?

I stood on the rooftop, remembering a dance by torchlight, of an angel moving in the shadows…
Now they are all gone it is as though the world is in a permanent state of dusk. As though denied even the splendor of the sunset, now left simply with the memory of its heat and the remanences of its dying light. Even the dogs sensed the change, becoming at once more irritable and needy by turns. Rupee, keeps the space outside my door warm with her body through the night, keeping others out or keeping me in.

After they left, I tried to summon up the motion to leave the now drab place. But part of me wanted to stay to, until even the locals had left for villages in the mountains out of reach of the floods to come, to become part of the grey, to merge into the rain-rotting furniture, to feel the jungle push through and escape the manicured lawn as the monsoon feeds it’s insatiable appetite, its creepers climbing my legs, passing through my parts, wielding me to the garden chair, keeping me there…

Yet life moves on and you and I must go with it.
India truly is the land of the heart. It beats triple time. Life refuses to be ignored, to go quietly about its routines and rhythms; there are no neat English gardens here. Life is oozing around you. Green and bursting. It flies in your face with a hum and buzz, crawls up your feet, crosses where the vain and bone meet and tickles and bites. Crumbs fallen from your mouth become mountains to be moved by hives of activity and rivers of ants of which a multitude of sizes and colours exist. A splash of honey exposes the addicts, stuck in the mud of sugary heaven, others clamber over the still live but petrified bodies of… friends? Every moment is a new discovery of a creature, insect and plant you’ve never seen or heard of, each as weird and alien as the next.

As with the small, so too with the big. Rivers of people like ants rush through the day, horns beeping, cars and bikes weaving a strange hypnotic dream, a health and safety nightmare. India is an around the clock show, tickets are free and non-refundable – whether you realise it or not, you are part of the exhibition. Hours are passed in the sharing of intimate moments of insight, self realisation. Hope is discovered in the crooks and crannies of each other’s-life’s dark corners. Meaning is chiseled out of the hard rock of our hearts. Every day is a chance to relive your pain and joy, to do it differently, to feel it again. Life is exploding here. It’s like god is ejaculating all over the place and we are swimming in the mess.

Love, it comes along in life, hits you in the stomach. Love comes along in life and punches your nose, love comes into life and twists your nipple and it feels so good but hurts so much too. Love comes along and smacks you in the chops. And you feel that love has had its way with you, Love has moved onto another, passed you by like a cloud. Then Love comes along, when you least expects it and kicks you, really hard in the balls… Bring it on life; let’s see what you have next.

India is Life and Life is love. If you want to know what India is like, it is like love comes knocking in the guise of a stretching wrack. Your pulsating heart is pulled and stretched with all it can take. It hurts, but the hurting helps you grow.

Sometimes you need to leave a place before you truly see its beauty, feel its value, sense the hole that it filled inside of you…that is true of people too. More so than the bits and pieces, the material things… energy flows where people grow, and India is growing inside of you.

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