It was a windy evening at Gokarna. Sitting with my feet up on a plastic chair, taking swigs of beer, looking at the sea and daydreaming, I didn’t even notice them until Aishani poked me in the ribs.
“Did you see those uncles?” she said, in a hushed voice.
“Huh…whaa?” I mumbled, rubbing my side, rudely brought back to the grainy, uncomfortable chair.
“Arre those men sitting at that table. They’ve been staring at us,” she said, clearly annoyed.
“Can you blame them?” I smirked.
“I’m serious. I’m not liking it, ” she grumbled.
“Okay, okay you want to sit upstairs?” I said, pointing at the upper floor of the deck.
“Yes. Let’s do that.”
We climbed up to the next level, which was pretty empty and occupied the most coveted corner seats – the ones with the best sea view. The waiter hurried up after us, with our beer bottles and fries.
“Better?” I asked, settling down yet again in a grainy chair, facing the sea.
“Yaas,” she grinned.
Gokarna happened on a whim. One fine day I woke up and decided to go to Bangalore to visit Aishani, one of those rare gems I can hold a conversation with without zoning out. After the initial screeches of joy, she suggested we go to Gokarna. So after an overnight bus journey, here we were.
Gokarna is a small temple town on the western coast of India in Karnataka, about 583 km from Bangalore. It is primarily known for its beaches, the most well-known ones being the Gokarna main beach in town, Kudle beach, Om beach, Half Moon Beach and Paradise Beach. Gokarna is the more laid-back and less commercialized version of Goa. The crowd it attracts is mostly the ones looking for a low key, relaxing beach holiday. At least for now.
Initially, we put up at the Nimmu House, a homestay near the main Gokarna beach, which is a pilgrimage area, frequented mostly by priests performing last rites. And just like any other self-respecting holy place, this beach was DIRTY. One look at it, and we knew we had to change our accommodation arrangement. So after a quick lunch, we took an auto to the other beaches and settled for Namaste Cafe, which is right on the Om Beach – apparently the most “happening” beach of them all. Since it was September, the off-season, rooms were available and that too at pretty cheap rates.
Om beach is named so because it is shaped like the auspicious Om (ॐ) symbol. The beach is quite rocky and the sea is not that rough either. We were there in the middle of the week, so we had the beach almost entirely to ourselves. It was clean, serene and free of the “woo-hoo” crowd you usually have to bear with in beaches. A mass of green bordered the entire area. There were massive sea stacks all around, which were the most popular selfie spots out here.
We spent the morning lazing on the deck. Then later in the afternoon Aishani and I went for a bit of frolicking in the sea. It was raining as well, which made the experience even more fun. There were around 10 to 12 people on the beach at that time.
After around an hour in the sea, we came back & freshened up. The rain had stopped by then, and the sun was out. Which meant, selfies.
And other pictures, of course.
Our favourite place was, without doubt, the deck of our resort. Because, beer and food. And we were merrily stuffing our face until those uncles created the aforementioned disruption.
So, once upstairs, we continued what we were doing downstairs – ordering items off the menu and gossiping our hearts out, with the sea breeze in our hair. It was around 8 pm and the ambiance was magical, to say the least.
And then, we heard the heavy footsteps, sounds of chairs scraping and behold – the 5 uncles had taken the table right beside ours.
Personally, I couldn’t care less. I had the sea, beer and an entire food menu to keep me occupied. There were plenty of other people on the deck now along with the staff– so all we had to do was quiver our lower lips, look helpless and point at the uncles. I communicated this to Aishani, and it did seem to help because she was rolling her eyes and laughing again. Until –
I looked up, my mouth full of prawns. One of those men, in a striped tee, with a big mustache with what looked like bits of fried egg dangling from it, was speaking to Aishani – who was sitting with her back to them.
Aishani looked at me and then turned and gave him a curt nod.
“Where are you from?” he continued, undaunted.
“Bangalore,” said Aishani, now stabbing at her prawn.
“We are from Hyderabad.”
“You know, we are having a party later. In our room. Would you two like to join us?”
Aishani gave me this livid – I can’t f-ing believe he said that – look.
Chewing on the prawns, I glanced first at the man’s paunch, then at the other 4 sitting with their mouths open, looking hopeful, and reached for the menu once again – trying hard not to laugh.
“No, thank you,” she told them.
“But it’ll be fun. Come no,” he insisted.
I promptly stuffed my face with a handful of fries, to muffle my snort.
And then Aishani gave me the look which meant finish your food, we’re leaving. I sighed, annoyed for the first time that a bunch of idiots with their mid-life crisis were ruining my prawn-by-the-sea moment. We finished our food, paid the bill and walked downstairs. Not wanting to go back to our room yet, I managed to convince her to at least take a walk on the beach right in front of the resort – which was a well-lit area. We sat on one of the smaller sea stacks and she lit a cigarette, finally calming down. The cool sea water was caressing our feet and we were having a nice introspective moment, when –
Same word. Different voice. This Hello had become the bane of my life. Aishani promptly stubbed the cigarette and walked into the resort without a second glance. Glaring at the man, I followed Aishani up the trail that led to our room.
“Check once, if they are following us,” she said, walking towards our room at top speed.
“I wouldn’t worry about that,” I said, trying to keep up with her.
“No really, you don’t know such men.”
“Yes, but I know their paunches by now. If they tried to follow us, at this speed, they’d drop dead, from a stroke or something.”
We went into our room. She shut the blinds, double checked the lock and latch, and then went off to sleep. I cursed those idiots once more, before resigning myself to sleep as well.
Next morning, we went up to the deck for breakfast. It was devoid of uncles. It was then Aishani remembered hearing the guy mention to the waiter last evening, that they’d be leaving for Goa the next day.
“Good riddance”, she said, happily diving into her Nutella pancake.
Hello Goa, I thought, looking at the sea and smiling into my coffee.