‘Tuck me in’ – is what this town must have said to the lush mountains and the ocean as it came into existence. Imagine being greeted by the tropical scents, the deep green mountains on one side and the clear blue waters of the Andamans on the other. This place (like a few others) makes you pause, pause to take a deep breath at the wonder this life holds for each one of us. A wonder that many of us see virtually, some of us as we dream, and a few of us who engulf themselves in the reality of it.
As I took my pause, I realized the significance of ‘being basic’ yet again, the dimensions to which were multiple - much like the beautiful shades of blue that the ocean seduced me with. I began with feeling fortunate about the decision to drive instead of flying. More importantly, I stopped to fulfill an important need of a long drive – to pee. No debate on how basic this is…
The experience of this drive elevated me to a level that no flight ever has or will. Here’s why - the ‘vibe’ of the place was calm, was comforting. All that there was, was a couple of two wheelers passing by every ten minutes. I have no recollection of seeing the ‘4WDs’. For as far as I could see (and remember) – all that there was ,were maybe 11 people. This when I could see 500 meters of the road I had travelled on, and a never-ending one that I could be on, ahead of me. The mountains on my left and the ocean on my right, of course were constant companions – all this on a narrow road.
Done with my ‘chore’ – an exploration to eat the street food began. This 53-year-old lady was making and selling ‘rotis’ popularly known as ‘crepes’ – fresh off the pan. Alongside was another stall that sold local, ‘on the spot made’ drinks. I had a version of ‘bournvita’ made with cold water, loads of ice and condensed milk thrown in a ‘garnish’. Cliché as it sounds, the two items are on top of my ‘memory list’ for this trip. Upon chatting a little more, I realized that the lady running this stall was a single mother - her husband had passed away a few years ago.
In peak season, she would make 7000 Thai Bhat/month. That’s a mere 200 US dollars. With that she ran a life, a home, and the responsibility of bringing up 3 kids. As one her daughters came out to make the drink, there was an infectious happiness she brought with her, much like her mother. ‘Ah! Child labour’ I thought till I was told she was 22 – yes 22! Maybe the divinity came from the fact that this soul took birth in Mecca – something the mother shared with a lot of fondness and pride.
On the outside, the family did not have a lot of you and I do – a sizeable income, a complete family, just ‘one small’ car, an internet connection or a mobile – nothing. But what they had instead was eternal – an office with a view almost none of us will ever have, and a sense of ‘unconditional happiness’ that all of us ‘must’.
As I left, cherishing the 30 ‘most soulful’ minutes of my life, what travelled with me was this …maybe its more about ‘what’ I make of ‘how much’ I make’.
…basic, isn’t it?