Sunday, May 29, 2011

Don’t Tell Anyone !

‘Are you sure that we have the correct address?’, I could not hide the hint of nervousness in my voice.

“Turn Laafft on Kalapana Road” , the much familiar GPS  lady’s voice crackled across the car. On our left was a thin winding road that cut its way through what looked like huge a coal mine spread along the ocean. 

Shiny black rocks lined the road and small thorny bushes occasionally erupted from the cracks between the rocks, accentuating the eerie landscape. On our right, the Pacific Ocean was fiercely splashing against the shore adding a somber soundtrack to the surroundings. The setting was quite a deviation from the huge velvety green mountains and lush green vegetation Hawaii is known for.  

“Drive 3.5 miles to your destination. On your Laafft” , the computer generated voice cracked again as I took the left turn.  On our left was an expanse of ugly black volcanic rocks. On our right were uglier black volcanic rocks that were being incessantly pounded into jagged shapes by the ocean.

 Anita had booked the accommodations on the Big Island of Hawaii. “It’s a surprise”, she had said with a mischievous smile. I am sort of a person who does not enjoy surprises - especially on vacations. After great coaxing and cajoling, she had divulged that we will be staying close to one of the best black sand beaches in the world.

And it was indeed a surprise. The drive along the road was like witnessing the geological evolution of the earth unfold in front of our eyes - the big volcanic rocks got small and smaller; making way to black soil that was ferociously claimed by lush vegetation.  Mangrove trees materialized near the coast and a lush green evergreen forest sprang almost out of nowhere. The road winded cautiously through dense canopy, as colorful ferns stood guard on the either side of the road and creepers with huge green leaves hung down from the branches of the trees.


“How did you find out about this place?”, the resort manager asked us as Anita elaborated on her goggling skills. “Kehana Beach is just across the road.  It is the best black sand beach in the world. ”, the manager said proudly, as Anita beamed a smile at me.

“The kids will love it !” , Anita said as we headed toward the famed Kehana. Rishi and Tanu follows us hopping through the ferns . The kids seemed much more interested in chasing the small frogs that sat camouflaged under the bushes.

‘Hurry up!’, Anita implored as the kids sat crouched next to a Ama’u fern trying to trap a small frog.
‘Why can’t  we just play with the frogs?’, Rishi complained as the small hopie frog jumped away , dodging the enthusiastic  admirers.

‘Don’t you want to see a beach that is black? Anita said widening her eyes and dropping her jaw wide to emphasize the wonderful new experience we had in store for our kids.

 ‘Where is the beach?’, Anita asked expectantly as we walked across the small parking area perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean. I had no idea. We were on a cliff that was at least a hundred feet over the ocean. Precariously balanced big boulders were scattered along the edge of the cliff, leading down to the ocean which was lashing itself incessantly on the volcanic rocks.

‘Let’s ask’ , Anita walked briskly to a woman who was walking towards her car with two toddlers in tow.
“They are so cute’, Anita pointed to the chubby two year olds, who looked like twins. Not identical though as one was a boy and other girl. We could tell.

‘Why are they not wearing their chaddis?’ , Tanu asked, tugging my arm for attention pointing at the kids walking in their birthday suits. ‘They must have wet them in the beach”, I tried to explain glancing at Anita who was having a conversation with the lady as she loaded the toddlers in her car. The car was covered with decals of all shapes and sizes.  After what seemed to be a very long conversation, Anita was back with directions. ‘That way’ , she said pointing to a narrow opening between the trees.

There was a narrow path that led to the beach, the path lead to a trail the made its way down the cliff. I offered to lead the expedition and we made our way down.  As we were climbing down the rocky path, the surroundings seemed familiar.  And then I made the connection as I recalled a beach Anita and I had visited when we were just out of college. 

It was a long time ago and that beach was in Goa.


‘I have to pee’ , ten year old Rishi, declared as we were near the end of the decent.

‘You can go in the restroom on the beach’, I offered.

‘Why can’t I go right here?’, Rishi  insisted “ I need to go bad ‘

‘You cannot do that type of stuff in public … in America  ... ‘ , I tried to explain.

This was not the first time we were having this conversation. Rishi had this knack of springing this surprise at the most inconvenient locations like the top of a crowded trail end or in middle of the lake on a fishing boat.

’Why can’t I go right here”, he would say on these occasions. 

'No indecent exposure... you can get arrested' , I would joke , as we would hurry towards the closest  restroom.

My eyes were searching for the restroom as I was the first to step off from a big boulder into small makeshift steps made out of rocks, on to a beach that was jet black.The secluded beach was guarded on all sides by towering cliffs and the only access was the narrow winding trail that we had just descended from. Soft black sand stuck on my toes as I helped Rishi down the rocky stairs. 

Then I noticed something unexpected as I glanced along the expanse of black sand. We were on a nude beach.


There were several  stream of thoughts that ran through my mind as I realized that I was standing on a nude beach with my ten year old son who was desperately looking for a place to pee and my wife and five year old daughter would be joining me in the next few seconds. 

‘Look at the black sand!’, I said widening my eyes and dropping my jaw wide. The decoy did not work.

‘Dad there are naked people on the beach’, Rishi remarked almost as casually as he was commenting about a hopie frog.

Anita and Tanu had descended down the stairs. Anita’s expression changed from the feeling of awe (seeing the black sand) to surprise  (seeing the bare bottoms on the black sand) to worry (seeing her kids standing next to the bare bottoms on the black sand).

‘The best black sand beach in the world!’, I remarked, smiling sheepishly as Anita stood still, fumbling for words.

‘I cannot see a rest room ‘, Rishi’s voice was surprisingly contained as his sister Tanu pulled his arm and said something in his ears giggling incessantly.

‘Can you see that bush?’ , I asked pointing towards a grove towards the back of the beach – just where the cliff started. ‘Do it there’.  Rishi gave me a smile and walked confidently towards the grove to relieve himself. For once I was not worried about indecent exposure.

We took a few pictures of the black sand cinematographically editing out the occupants and headed back up the cliff.  


Anita and I had climbed down a similar cliff several years ago.  Along a winding path through rocky ledges to a secluded beach in Goa in India.  One of my friends had recommended this place.

’ Calangut and Bagha beaches are for tourists – if you want to see the real stuff, go to Ozran’, he had said.
‘Where are we going?’ , Anita had asked we drove along the winding roads on a rented Enfield  motorcycle.  ‘It’s a surprise’, I had said.

 We had parked the motorcycle on a parking lot at the edge of a cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea.  A narrow path had wound down from the parking lot, makings its way to pristine white sands. That morning, Anita and I had descended down that path to right in the middle of a nude beach.

‘I swear – I did not know about this’ I had tried to explain with a sheepish smile.

‘Who are you kidding!’, she had responded mischievously.


The kids were once more busy chasing the hopie frogs as we walked towards the resort from the beach. Anita and I sat down under a mangrove tree watching them. We had not spoken to each other since our recent adventure unfolded. 

Anita looked at me and started laughing. I joined her, our laughter echoed along the deserted Kalpana road, interrupted by excited squeals of children who had just caught a frog.

‘We are even now’, she remarked, catching up her breath,  ‘and about this Kehana Beach adventure … Kisi se nahi Kehana- OK! ‘  

‘Kisi se nahi kehana’: ‘Don’t tell anyone’ in hindi.  


triloki nagpal said...

Good one - nice and engrossing.
By the way the switch between names (Sidhhant & Rishi) - is it intentional?

Rachna said...

Loved Rishi's attitude and glad Anita got even. Nice story. Beautiful describing.

Varsha said...

Interesting! Your adventures and narrative are very engrossing.

Dev said...

Ha!Ha! very funny.The kids go back to the frog while the parents reminisce...

BEG said...

Enjoyed the vivid descriptions.. Felt like i was there.. imagining conspicuous white bums on black sand.. Kids attitude was cute :-)
Good going..

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