Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | December 30, 2008

Beaches

Balcony View

Balcony View

I have never been fond of beaches. While in India, I have always preferred a visit to the Himalayas than any of the beaches. I always found sea very boring though my mother always has a different and logical opinion. According to her, very rightly sea signifies a movement which possibly mountains cannot. My stay at New Zealand where I cannot avoid sea have managed to change my attitude towards sea to a certain extent though I would continue to prefer Himalayas in India.

New Zealand is a conglomeration of two island – North and South. South Island, I hear is much more exotic. I have not visited the South cities of Wellington, Christchurch or Queenstown. North is not perceived to be as beautiful as South but New Zealand is so pretty that I can hardly judge. Auckland’s cosmopolitan nature coupled with the beautiful beaches and hills around for me is unique. At least, after a long stay in Delhi, we feel Auckland is heavenly despite it not being the most well developed city in terms of high house rents, telecommunication costs, relatively below standard public transport system, lack of tube rail and lack of huge sky-scrapers.

Auckland is beautiful because I find it easy to adjust to its ever smiling people. Further, the library, the art gallery, the museum and gardens are so accessible by feet that it does not matter if this resembles a suburb of a more developed nation. I never thought I could be in such a place and so I don’t want to judge Auckland in such minute details. I am happy with whatever I have got thus far.

If India’s metropolitan cities become like Auckland then I would gleefully accept them. Kolkata had the potential to become similar to Auckland because of its similarities but alas it is not so, much due to the tremendous narrow-mindedness of the Bengalis, who never accept that they are sometimes worse than the other Eastern neighbors whom we criticise.

Downtown ferry building

Downtown ferry building

Sea is part of Auckland life as there are hardly any house or apartment from where it takes more than ten minutes to reach a waterfront. Since, Auckland is surrounded by sea, I feel the beaches have been gifted to different neighborhoods. These gifts of nature then become responsibility of the people who along with the assistance of the city council maintain the beaches.

Our downtown apartment balcony overlooks the harbor waterfront. Princess Wharf as it is known as hosts passenger and cargo ships. The adjoining area is known as Viaduct Harbor which houses the ferry building. The downtown waterfront has a lot of eateries and even if one does not want to spend a lot on food, one can sit on the benches to enjoy the view of water. The waterfront cafes / pubs / restaurant are not unusually expensive and coffee here is so good (though Aussies say that Melbourne is better, but I cannot compare) that one would not mind one. Ferry building is an integral part of downtown public transport system.

Most evenings we take a walk on the harbour and sometimes we spend time sitting on the benches. Since, a sunny day at Auckland means that it would be bright till 9 PM, so other than the great North Shore bridge which connects the Southern and Northern Auckland, you can see people sailing on boats of different kinds. Auckland is known as city of sails and anyone who has stayed here long enough hopes to own a boat. I don’t have such a dream though as I am pretty content watching others sail. We enjoy whatever we see and sometimes I am reminded of Princep Ghat on the banks of Ganges. These days only photographers can make the Ghat look delightful.

Sea side exhibition

Sea side exhibition

It does not take much time to reach the other nearby beaches in Davenport, Takapuna and Mission Bay from downtown. I am not sure if this can only be credited to climate or people have some role to play but the color of water here is unusually blue. One can actually distinguish the difference in blue when one looks at the sky and sea simultaneously. Like Davenport, Takapuna and Mission Bay are similar in being normal neighborhood which assumes unusual status to my eyes for their cleanliness. Every beach has public toilets (actually there is one public toilet in every 100-150 meters in Auckland city) and because this is a small country you never find these beaches over crowded. Since, people here are addicted to food and adventure sports, one finds many people on surf boards. Unlike India, there are no shops on the beach. The eateries are situated on the streets and though people eat on the beach, nobody throws the waste on either the sea or beach. Yes, people do swim on the sea but it is different from bathing as can be seen in either Digha or Puri. I have always seen elderly people from India hated Western way of swimming on the beach because of swim wears that are worn or sometimes not worn. Having said that, even before coming here, I always wondered whether bathing in Digha and Puri wearing nightgowns and saree is dignified enough. I was surprised to see an art exhibition to be held on the beach, though it does not prove that people in NZ are amazingly interested in arts but it certainly proves they are inclined. Food and wine deserve a separate post.

Lastly, I wonder if I contribute some money in building a proper public toilet at Kolaghat or Mecheda, will that be properly used and maintained? Last year during this time I visited Digha and I was shocked to see the amenities. I could not relate to the fact that Digha is the sea shore nearest to Kolkata.

Sadly, I think we do not deserve dignity.

PS: Those who have not watched, I highly recommend watching the film Amu. Set on the backdrop of yet another incident which puts all of us to shame and exposes our hypocrisy as citizens of India. Just that we are perhaps the best living race who lives in denial mode and even dare not punish small offenders in our homes, because we feel it looks indecent. God may also give up upon us – I fear that day.

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Responses

  1. Amu had been one of the finest movies ever made in India. In fact, it is one of the finest I have ever seen. The importance of the movie is undeniable. i am glad that you have mentioned it. Do you have any idea where I can download it from? There is neither DVD not VCD available in the market. Where did you see it?

    I am glad that you are staying in a beautiful country where the people realise the importance of preserving their beauty. The sea side exhibition must have been a spectacular one. I wish I had been there and enjoyed the colours.

  2. The tree on the header of this blog is beautiful. Did you take it over there? Or did you get it on the net?

  3. Really picturesque description tamoyda!! Hills versus beaches-beaches comes first to me.A trip to goa and its beaches back in 98 is still etched in my mind clearly! It has been about 6 yrs now since I have gone out on a trip outside even kolkata! Neither have I ever spent 1 week out of home nor did i remain out of touch with internet connection for more than a couple of days since I got one at home.But this time the record has been broken.Its the third week here in Bangalore after I joined wipro.life has been hectic and homesickness has reached its extreme since then,thats the least I can say.I did’nt expect any different though in a IT company.Anyway,these 15 days stay so far in Bangalore has evoked mixed feelings in me.Just like you, I would really like to go visiting places here soon. I have not been able to add anything to my blog for about a month.I could’nt help it.sometimes,we have to prioritise things in life.But i will be back,as soon as i can.
    till then,don’t forget me.Wish you a HAPPY and PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR 2009!!
    And as a new year resolution I would like you to be a little bit less critical about india.just said what came to mind at this instant. A suggestion or an opinion,whatever you say! 😉


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