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Into the depths

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Swarming along the sands, untainted waves broke themselves along the shore. The sky was filled with a riot of orange, yellow, pink, purple and the crescent on the west side gave way to the looming night. The landscape was relaxed by a gray stroke of crows heading homewards. As I watched the sundown, my siesta was disturbed by two school going boys. “You must not wait here after dark. These coconut trees, these beetles and the sands tell a different tale after dusk.”  Dumbfound, I packed and set out to explore these tales when I encountered a group of people, playing volleyball, drinking beer and having a gala time at the Bhuigao beach. Curious as a cat, I introduced myself so that I could know more about the ‘tales’. That’s how I met Clince.

        Clince was born in Kannur district in Kerala. He recalls Kerala 20 years back as a mélange of Indian and Portuguese culture, discipline loving and orthodox. “Nobody stayed out after dark. My home was by the sea where the waves eternally played their own music at the background. Now that I am in Mumbai, I am one of the lucky few who have Indo-Portuguese culture, the sea and a beautiful home amidst; unbound by time and space in Vasai.” Clince has a home in close proximity to sea. The paths leading to his home takes you the depths of Vasai.

          The trail along the Bhuigaon beach and surrounding areas was unexplored, untouched and uncharted; until the past few years. “Lying by the sand, I can see the starry night minus all the man-made glitter. My hometown where I can stroll, stride, sprint; where I can inspire and get inspired; where music comes to me with an ease and flourishes across every border.” ,says the rock star Clince Varghese. Bhuigaon beach boasts of lining with ‘suru’ trees. The slender, tall, prickly trees stretch as a buffer between the sea and the village. Clap! A sharp sound in the silence and flutter of butterflies flap their flamboyant wings and throng, ornamenting the green-brown vegetation. It is like a national geographic video clip; crisp, colorful, breathtaking! The suru trees are a treasure house of hundreds of species of butterflies.

           I then questioned him about the ‘tales’. “Oh! The tales are the defense tools of the people near the beach. With increasing discontent, lack of satisfaction and stressed lifestyle of the Mumbaikars, hungry souls come searching for peace and solace. They are too busy relieving themselves that they forget their responsibility towards nature. ‘Our’ shore gets polluted. We would go up to any limits to safeguard the gifts of nature. We created the fictional ghosts and gave them haunted homes. We nestled white cloths over the spikes of Suru making them spooky. We made the visitors relate the shapes of moon to paranormal activities. Luckily we have a crematorium by the sea!!! That is the least what we could do to restrict exploitation of our nature.” The tales were nothing but scarecrows!

         The sea narrates its own tales. Through summer, winter and the monsoon… through dawn, noon and dusk, it is ever changing. To explore this change, Clince sails with the fishermen and climbs the ‘maad’ (tree) to gather ‘taadi’. He learns how air pressure, temperature, water temperature, rains, storms, winds and moon affects the fishing patterns and how  drinking stale ‘taadi’ gives you a kick. “I went fishing with a group just an hour after it had stopped raining few days back. Oh! The meal I had that afternoon. Some of the best fish had sacrificed themselves for us, I must say!” He never stopped learning from the sea. From music to fishing, from conserving to utilizing, the shore has immensely contributed to what he has achieved.

           With his own band, having travelled across the globe and hosting and winning shows on MTV, Clince continues to mingle within the Suru trees, the butterflies, the carefree people and golden sand of the Bhuigaon beach.

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The People Place Project is an initiative to chronicle the life and times we live in. Through a lens of people and places, we hope to pin together the narrative of how we have come to be here - our language, our thoughts, our attire, our structures - everything that defines us. The Project will travel through cities of the world to unravel fresh individual narratives that add to the whole. Started in 2014 under the title People Called Mumbai, the project now aims to travel across the prime cities of India and the globe. 

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