For some people travelling in an intellectual pursuit. For many, like me, it is an instinctive one- because long before I knew it, it had become an intrinsic part of my life. When it comes to childhood memories of travelling and touring the country, the images are much unlike adult memories- no distinct picture of the breath-taking landscape, no exotic cultural insights. No, what does remain of those careless, lazy trips is the distinct feeling of unbridled joy- even pure ecstasy. When I was barely three, I’m told I had been a part of a journey to Kanyakumari. It must have been quite something- that trip. For my mother-a historian and an ardent admirer of Vivekanada’s philosophy, a visit to the Vivekananda Rocks and the Government Museum had been the highlight of the two-day stay. For my father whose passion for swimming is sometimes fanatical (I honestly hope he isn’t reading this) the deep blue sea whose waves hit the sandy shores incessantly, that must have been the one memorable point of the trip. For my brother, I guess it had been the three coloured sand and (being a factoid geek) the idea of standing on the southernmost point of country.
My memories, you ask? Well, the pictures tell one tale. That one is full of me slumping on the sand indifferent of its beauty trying to consume the inedible substance by the mouthful. Another tells me that I tried plunging myself in water only to come out shrieking. I had also, as one photograph asserts, stared wide-eyed at the gorgeous Gandhi Memorial temple, squatted on the staircases and made friends with another fellow underage human. Someone had also, at one point, propped me against the Thiruvalluvar statue to get a snap with a grand (and rather frightening- for someone sized as tiny as me) backdrop.
However, these are all chronicles of my kanyakumari visit as the pages of album tell it. What I remember are rather fragmented images of a world that might have been another altogether. My mother seems to think I have plugged in fantastical images in my head and supplanted them for the void that is only to be expected. What three year old could retain details and recount them at 20? I guess that’s true- but I have a distinct memory of bright lights that could very well have been the sunset and the sunrise experienced from the View Tower. That must have been my first clear view of the sunrise, being a city bred- and to this day, every time I witness one- I get a nostalgic feeling that I could not otherwise explain. Quite in the same vein, the feeling of sand beneath my feet and sand cascading through fingers is redolent of things long gone- things I cannot put a finger on, but things that bring back the vague feeling of being carried around on the shoulders.
Years later, things have changed- travelling now leaves solid impressions, concrete (almost evident) memories. However those fleeting nostalgic moments, those minutes of indescribable familiarity in the throes of nature are akin to those memories of childhood that have no evidence to back them up. Regardless of how much faith people put in the retellings of the tales from a three year old’s repository, the memories are not rendered meaningless for lack of faith. Perhaps those images in my head are only fabrications- based on what I imagine Kanyakumari might have been like. Perhaps the journey was in my mind more than on the map. But it was- in essence, in totality- a journey. My first taste of the intoxication of travelling. The beginning of all others.
Museum: Rs.5/ adult, Rs. 3/ child
View Tower: Rs.3/ adult, Rs.2/ child
Ferry Charge: Rs.20/ adult Rs.10/child
Total Cost: Rs.88 for 4 (two adults, two children) – Not including stay and food.