A few months ago I had the opportunity to be associated with an organisation that promotes and teaches digital art, photography, and other artistic skills to school children. We Make Wonders (WMW) is a relatively new establishment aimed at helping underprivileged children get exposed to the wonders of technology and its artistic possibilities.
Located in Kovalam, Tamil Nadu, the organisation is hosted by a small number of talented artists. The organisation is currently associated with Polaroid University and the award winning photographer Marc Serota.
I was invited to work with the organisation as a photographer for a short while and enjoyed every bit of it throughout my stay. Our residence was a villa community, which was just a kilometer away from beach.
While at WMW, I and a few others would explore the town of Kovalam. It is a very small cluster of settlements with a main junction in the middle of it. Towns like this can be found everywhere in south India. It usually involves a main road and a junction, where all the important stores, ATM’s, hotels, bars, barber shops, medicals, street vendors, and such can be found.
Being remote and small, the village plays host to beautiful and calm beaches. There is a small fishing community settled on the beach with their boats and nets ever ready to catch some fishes.
The beaches also have a few surfing clubs and resorts along its shores. The clubs teach and practice surfing and also attracts a different crowd, contrasting to the landscape of Kovalam.
On a Sunday we headed to the surfing club early in the morning and witnessed a blissful horizon. The locals were fishing and the surfers were enjoying the high tide.
We went into the club and borrowed a few kayaks to try out at the Muttukadu backwaters. The instructor gave us details about the wind directions and the high and low tides that come with it.
After reaching the backwaters I was really excited to kayak for the first time in my life. It so happens that these backwaters were actually connected to the sea and we had no idea how that would matter.
Usually backwaters are relatively calm and without any major waves as such. We started with each having a life-jacket and a paddle, with two on one kayak, as they were two person kayaks. The sport is really accelerating as you don't feel the presence of the kayak too much as it’s built is very minimal, so you feel like you are floating on the waters.
Initially it was going great as we gained some momentum and started feeling the flow of it. Small fishes were jumping just above the waters alongside us and the scenery was just amazing.
After a while as we were excited about the fishes and the scenery, we also started experiencing some roughness to the water, it was not calm anymore. We were being rattled by some serious waves. We did not think much into it until the waves got bigger and stronger. All the while we were lost with excitement, we never noticed that the waves had taken us at least 300 meters from the beach !.
The waves got really scary and knocked one of the kayaks over. I was still not able to understand the seriousness of the situation and started laughing at the ones who fell off their kayak. Then another kayak went down, still not serious and trying to ride the waves. Finally my kayak was thrown upside down and let me tell you once you are inside the water and especially that deep, waves take you for a ride and you lose perspective of what is up or down.
I lost my paddle as soon as I went down. When I came up I could see all three kayaks upside down and all the others struggling to stay above the wavy waters. Everyone tried and reached the shores barely and thankfully some of the lifeguards spotted us. Two of us lost our footwear, one lost the paddle, and everyone just looking at each other plainly.
After gathering whatever was left, we left for the surfing club to return the kayaks and pay for the lost paddle. I was left speechless, thirsty and tired. It was a stupid thing to do without practice and caution.
So that's how my first Kovalam/kayaking experience went, all the photos were taken with a Sony Alpha A6000 attached to a 16-50mm and a 35mm lens.
Do like and share it, also comment or start a discussion. Thank you for being a part of my experience and hope you enjoyed this piece from my travel stories.