" Trees are Earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven." ~ Rabindranath Tagore

My Friend the Ocean

Shyamala Sathiaseelan reflects on what the ocean means to her, retracing her steps back to the age of one.

The word Ocean means to me a huge body of water covering two thirds of the earth. Why do we have to call the ocean by different names in different places? Is there any natural line that separates them? These are questions that I am yet to find answers to.

My first memory of the ocean is as a one-year-old, standing at the beach facing the Bay of Bengal and shivering in the cold. Since then going to the beach every weekend had become a ritual which we followed faithfully till I was 15. Another ritual was to go to the beach on every full moon night and have a picnic dinner there. For some reason watching the full moon emerging from the water thrilled me, and it still has the power to thrill me as it did twenty odd years ago.

The Spell of the Sea
The Beautiful Beasts   of Nagarhole
Paradise in the wild
The Ocean:Conquest
A Source of Solace
Sighting the Ocean
The Ocean in Verse
A Childhood Dream   Relived

Adventure activities
Rock climbing
Scuba Diving

As a child I never had any fear of the ocean, I only loved it. The huge waves trying to swallow me while I struggled to get out of them was a feeling so great that I would give up anything to go for a swim in the sea. As I grew up the weekly swimming sessions were reduced to merely getting my feet wet because as a girl growing up in the city, I never learnt to change in public places.

Thanks to my Dad's transferable job we moved to Kochi when I was 12 and I had to forget the beautiful Bay of Bengal from Marina beach, which was really beautiful then, though now grown dirty. I had to get used to the Arabian Sea. When we moved to Ernakulam from Chennai, going to the beach meant travelling a lot so I had to satisfy myself with the backwaters. The school that I studied faced the backwaters. Later on when I stayed in the hostel, just sitting at the windowsill and watching the ocean gave me all the peace of mind that I wanted. By then I had formed a new ritual: watching the sun set in the ocean. It fascinates me to see that ball of red fire silently going off to sleep in the cool waters and then waking up with more energy the next morning. I always feel that the Ocean is the sun's bedroom, where the sun goes to sleep after a hard day's work.


Going around places and seeing the vast ocean called by different names set me wondering. When I went to Kanyakumari and saw the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea meet at one place, I wondered who drew the line that claimed this is the Bay of Bengal and that the Arabian Sea and there is the Indian Ocean.

I fell in love with the ocean for the nth time when I saw the Bay of Bengal in the Andaman islands. It was a very beautiful unpolluted expanse of ocean. The colour of the sea was different from what I had seen till then. It was a lovely blue tinged with a very light shade of green. I liked it all the more because this was the first place that I went snorkelling to see all the underwater life forms.

After I grew up and shifted to Bombay, there were only weekend breaks once a month spent at the beaches of Madh Island. We could never go swimming there because of the shifting sands. But the long walks on the shore from Hotel Retreat to INS Hamla collecting shells was something to look forward to.


As we all know change is the only constant in life. Life changed once again for me when I reached Dublin. By now I have become very friendly with the ocean. This sounds strange isn't it? It is, but you will soon know why I said that. When I am happy I just run along the shore, with the ocean teasing me with her waves. When I am sad, I go to her and drown my cries in her voice. Angry, I shout and drown my rage in her. And when I am lonely I just go and sit at the beach and the ocean is the best company that you can have. After all a friend is someone with whom you can sit for an hour without uttering a word and then get up and walk out feeling as though you've spoken volumes.

All I can say is that every person should at some point of time in life see and feel the ocean. I am sure it will change their lives in some way. And as a friend of the ocean, I have one heartfelt request to make. Please do not pollute the ocean in any way.

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.