Reflections on the Ocean
"Papa! Look at that big boat," said Guddi to her father who had brought her to the beach, "It's going to fall when it reaches the water's edge."
"No Guddi, there is a lot of water beyond; what you see is only the horizon. Come on, enough now. It's getting dark. Lets go." With this, an unwilling Guddi left with her father.
Paradise in the Wild
A Source of Solace
Sighting the Ocean
The Ocean in Verse
Hunt for Indian Tiger
Behind them, the sea continued its eternal caressing of the shore. For this was its way of breathing. Every minute, it would drink in, exposing fresh frontiers of the shore, and exposing, along with it, the tin cans and plastic refuse dumped there by beach goers - our way of expressing gratitude to this spectacular show of mother nature. And when it appeared that the sea would hold its breath, it would burst forth, urging along its army of waves to recover lost ground, when every wave had finally submitted itself to the wet sands, the sea would withdraw again, this time whispering `see you soon' to the drenched shore.
What a marvel of nature! Awe-inspiring - in more ways than one. To the casual beach goer, the sea is an unending source of fresh breeze and of course the source of water to cool one's heels - literally! To the morning beach jogger, it is the fountain of energy for it overwhelms and fills you with fuel for the day. To the silent meditator, it is one vast, serene hall accompanied by the eternal chanting of the waves. To the die-hard swimmer it is a challenge. To the artistically inclined, the ocean has remained a favourite source of inspiration through the ages. There is something fantastic about this surging mass of water that has time and again brought out the best of human endeavour.
To a diver, the ocean offers an experience not unlike `Alice in Wonderland'. The more one delves the greater the wonder and discovery. And yet, back on land it all seems like a dream. The diver is not to blame though. The contrast between the harmonious existence of thousands of species underwater and the acrimonious existence of our own species on land is too stark to accept.
To the fisherman, the ocean is both provider and tormentor. The sea could be bountiful one day but the very next day it could just gobble him up in its stormy waters. Twice a month cupid strikes the sea. On full moon days the sea is overjoyed to witness its lady love in pristine glory. On new moon it grows restless when she fails to turn up. Either way, the result is the same - spring tides.
The battle of the civil engineer against the salty water of the sea is a saga in itself. Many are the ships whose hulls have been gradually eroded and destroyed by seemingly harmless waters. Why ships, even piers for oil rigs have crumbled under this saline onslaught.
So much for us on land. But for those innumerable inhabitants of the sea, its waters are the omnipresent ether. It is their life support as they glide their streamlined bodies through them. They know of no land other than the seabed and therein lies their bliss. Of late though, these creatures too have had to contend with our callousness, and have had to pay for it with their lives. For, now they do not know whether the next morning would find them swimming in clear waters or struggling in a murky oil slick. As if it was not enough for them to be on the lookout for predators, they now also have to steer clear of our `black gold'.
The shark for its part, has less to fear. The waters are its kingdom. Hardly anyone can dare to question its movements and actions. Of course, the shark does pretend not to look if it sees a whale or that nasty stingray around. It seems to have learnt a lot from American foreign policy.
The oceans represent a rare combination of power, splendour, enormity and tranquility. They are as vital as the sun is in supporting life on earth. And where the ocean meets the sun, the beauty of union is consummated. Who has not experienced that heavenly feeling of fulfillment after witnessing a breathtaking sunrise or sunset? Perhaps this synergy is nature's way of teaching us that strife need not always be the result when two giants come face to face.
There is great potential in unity. After all, the mighty ocean itself is, in part, the result of the union of thousands of streams, hundreds of rivers and tens of seas. If their union could be so magnificent, so could be the union of humans speaking thousands of dialects, living in hundreds of states and practising tens of religions.
Oceans are perhaps the most dynamic constituents of nature. The shoreline is ever changing. While we do witness the daily changes on account of tides, permanent changes are being effected on a much larger time scale. Going by what experts on `global warming' say, it won't be long before people in island countries like Maldives and Madagascar lose their lands to the oceans. Where the sea meets land, a metamorphosis is always underway. If there are cliffs, they become overhangs. Low-lying lands just disappear over time. Of course, islands also sometimes spring up in the middle of nowhere from the bowels of the ocean. This continuous activity is perhaps in assertion of the all time paradox - `Only change is constant'.
The mystique and grandeur of the oceans has captivated mankind since the dawn of human life. We have no right to abuse nature's bounty for our short term gains. Each one has inherited this earth for the period of one's life. Let's pass it intact to posterity.
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.