The sea and sand yin yang | india | Hindustan Times
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The sea and sand yin yang

india Updated: Jul 01, 2007 03:06 IST
Upala Sen

I am not sure what is the best part of a beach —- the sea or the sand? I thought I heard Best Friend chortle at the other end. “Do you know what I call a lady with such dilemmas?” What? “A beach,” he replied, and doubled up at his own witticism.

You too think I am being a bad philosopher, don’t you? But I am not. I just loooove water —- the sight, the feel, the sound … “But you would. You live in CR Park. Water is to you what the Martians are to us —- a fond myth, an exclusive.”

The point is that after several months in the parched Capital I got away to Mumbai by the sea. The sight of the anxious waves pleased the eye. And then there was the ‘spinking sky’ (sic)… Don’t know what a ‘spinking sky’ is? Well, when the Home Minister was honeymooning on some beach, her brand new husband said one romantic evening. “Look the sky is pinking.” PhD in English notwithstanding, Home Minister was impressed. She thought, “‘Spinking? What a clever word!” (according to, world’s top honeymoon destinations are by the sea —- Hawaii, Goa, Caribbean. Surely all the honeymooners don’t live in CR Park?)

So, in between work and my moments of ‘spinking sea-litude’ in Mumbai I surfed the Net for sea poetry. I found a nice one by Frost on But even then something seemed amiss. And then I realised —- it was the sand.

The beach at Bandstand is rocky. Glistening jet and charmingly slippery —- the lovers who slipped on them and over each other will vouch for it —- but I prefer the sand any day, thank you. Perhaps it has to do with the regulation trip to Puri from my childhood. In fact, when I look back at all that writing on the sand I can detect a chronicle of my growing up years.

At first, there was no writing, only sand castles. After that came the thrill of spelling out one’s own name with icky sandy fingers. And then one day you were tracing someone else’s name wistfully on the sand —- if the waters got to it later he loved you, they got to it sooner and he loved you not.

The last year we went to Puri I was 16. The most intriguing short story in the English text was by Marquez and it was titled ‘The Most Handsomest Drowned Man In The World’. I read it once again on It is all about a dead body the sea washes up to villageful of people. And then re-claims, but not till it has changed the emotional trajectory of the village folk.

Incidentally, the favourite scene from my favourite film (Nirjan Saikate) is also a sea-side shot. The timeline is the 1950s, four widows on a holiday and their young ward walking along the beach and talking about their lives —- the oppression, the abuse, the boredom. They talk about issues that are non-1950, real taboo stuff. And then they suddenly break into a song, “Emono chander alo mori jodi tao bhalo…” It seems as if the sea has loosened their inhibitions, seeped through tradition, filled them with the joy of living.

I think the best part of the beach is the sea-sand union. The sea will weather the rocks, and eat into the earth, but it can’t, won’t get the better of the sand. Caught in a perennial tussle, a jolly good game of hide and seek, ever squabbling, forever complementing, they are the original best friends.

It is all about a dead body the sea washes up to villageful of people. And then re-claims, but not till it has changed the emotional trajectory of the village folk.