Sunday, February 1, 2015

7 Weddings and a Trip to St. Mary's island

I remember back in June of 2011, when me and Denver had planned to take a trip to Lakshwadeep, only to be notified days before that entry had been barred to the islands due to an on going conflict between the government and resort owners. In my list of things to do before I die, traveling to an island surrounded by crystal clear water on all sides, was a long pending dream.  To us, the only available options in India, were the Andaman's or Lakshwadeep. And unfortunately for us, both were not a realistic option due to the high cost involved and considering that we were both just college students at that time. The other options I could think of were close to mainland India. The closest to our place was manori, elephanta, kandheri, undheri etc.  There are no shortage of islands, when it comes to just visiting one. But none of them come close to the clear water I was looking forward to.

Me as the Best Man
In November of 2014, my long doubtful tickets to Mangalore were confirmed after getting the final confirmation that my exams were to end before my cousins wedding to which I was to be the best man. I've never been a best man at a wedding before. In truth, I rarely ever go for weddings. Upto that point, the only wedding I ever attended from start to finish was that of my sister.  In total, I may have only been to around 10 weddings in my entire life before. On the 15th of December 2014, the day of my last paper, me along with my cousins departed at 10pm from CST heading towards mangalore by train. It had been 4 years since I had last been to my village, and this time it was to be my longest stay ever, spanning an entire month. In total I had 5 Weddings to attend, although by end of the entire trip, I had attended 7 weddings,  6 race ceremonies and an engagement. Weddings in Mangalore are far more lavish than City counter parts. Here its all about showing status. I'm just glad, that i got a lot of free booze to drink. My village is situated North outskirts of mangalore city, in a place called Karkala, which translates to Black stone. In Karkala, there is a place called Attur, which is a famous pilgrimage area for Catholics due to the presence of the famous iconic Church of St Lawrence.  The last time I had been here, was during the Church Feast which happens in Jan every year. One can equate it to same grand scale as that of Mumbai s Bandra fair.

Overlooking the coastline
After an 18 hour journey to Mangalore city, it took us another 2 hours to reach my village.  My Brothers roce was scheduled for the next day of our arrival, so there was not much time to spare and preparations were already on full swing. It also happened to be the first time I ever sat for a roce. The next day we headed back to city as the wedding was to take place there. The next few days were spent attending the roce of the girls side, and the rest, me roaming the Bejai side of mangalore, visiting malls etc. The wedding day was a nervous affair for me. I was pretty much in a hurry for everything. And it took me almost an hour to open the champagne bottle. With the wedding ending, the rest of my days were all about attending other people's occasions. Everyone there was in some way or the other related to you. The girls here also marry at a younger age than compared to the city. I never really had a lonely day, as I was always either attending a wedding or a role, or going on long drives with my cousin. I visited 2 different waterfalls, the iconic Gomateshwara twice and almost everything around that area. This was also the trip where I traveled the most around Karnataka. The Weddings I attended were very far away each other, usually taking hours to reach our destination. Scattered all around the state of Karnataka. This was not only to be my longest stay trip but also my most travelling one.  Christmas and New year were also quite a grand affair. A celebration almost everyday, meant that there were extremely few days when I went to bed with my head not spinning around due to access of alcohol. There were times during my previous journeys to my village when I used to have a lot of time to myself. This time I really never had a moment alone.

The Island as seen from the Boat
When all the celebrations had ended, with just a few days left for my return, the extended family decided to go for a picnic to Udipi's famous Malpe beach. I have said this before,  and I will say it again,  Karnataka has some of the best and cleanest beaches in India.  The journey was quite far from our place but we had mini bus arranged to reach us to our destination. We first arrived at the port , where i was told by my cousins that we would be visiting St. Mary's Island. i had heard about the island from a friend before and I was excited to finally be going there. The journey to the island is beautiful, The water is clean, and there were a lot of Dolphin sightings. We need to change two boats to get to the island as the water is too shallow for the larger boat. It was quite visible at the island looking at the mess of garbage around that we humans are on the verge of destroying this beautiful place as well. The rocks at the island were volcanic rocks. We took dip in the ocean and it was one of the most amazing experience i ever had. I could see the waters on all four sides. My leg was deep in it yet i could see through the crystal clear water. It was definitely a dream come true. We spent a few hours on the island, taking a complete round of the 500m land mass. Later we headed to Malpe Beach on the coastline where we spent the rest of our day.
I'm glad i got the opportunity to visit such a beautiful place. One thing is for sure, i will definitely be returning with friends here. My Karnataka trip ended with 28 days of staying. This was the longest time i have ever been away from home.

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