There is a place called ‘Thaneer Bhavi’ in Mangalore. Translated from Kannada, it means ‘cold-water well’. I do not know how this name has come about… In Konkani, we used to call this place ‘Thantrebail’. I do not know what that means, either. But, I know this much: it is a beautiful beach!
My earliest memory about this place was going there with my parents when I was very small. There was no direct access to this beach. We would first go to a place called ‘Sultan Batteri’. It was a small, ancient fort built by Tipu Sultan on the banks of a river. From this spot, a local boat had to ferry us across to this little island-like place – ‘Thaneer Bhavi’. No beach in Mangalore is safe for swimming, including this one. But, I still remember I would simply jump with joy whenever I was around this place.
The locals were mostly Christians from the fishing community. A small church stood right in the midst of those windy beach-trees. Wow! That quiet beauty! This church would come in my dreams, so often, later in life. So, after several years, when I had been to Manglaore this time, I told Joe to take me there. He took me by the broad, beautiful road that they have now built to reach there. Presently, the place is a tourist attraction. The church is now renovated… The majestic wind-trees are cut to make more open space for the church. However, when I stepped outside the car, I got into the old-theme… Christmas was just over… The stars and the crib were still there to welcome us… The little local children played cricket inside the church compound. We went inside the church and spent some quiet moments. I allowed myself to pass through the images I would see in my dreams… till the tears in my eyes dried up.
When we came out of that silent church, the young parish-priest came out to take us inside his room. There, I shared with him the reason why I was there. “You must me the hundredth person to tell me that,” this young Father told us. “I some how have this strong feeling that the Grace of Mother Mary is acting upon you.”
I do not know, whether miracles happen that way. But, something was always calling me there in my dreams. I went. I sat in that quietness. I prayed. I cried. If that was Mother Mary’s Grace, so be it. Thank you Father, I am touched, blessed!
Two days later, my younger brother, Vivek, took me to one of his friends’ ‘mansion’ on the waterfront right next to ‘Sultan Batteri’. It was late evening; the Sun had had already gone home… and the vast lush-green expanse of this ‘mansion’ looked like the magnificent Taj Mahal on the banks of river Yamuna. To me, it was even more stunning as it stood, gloriously, right facing the river… and then you could see the little strip of the island and the roaring Arabian sea.
This man is young and has made lots of money at an early age. He has built this house and lives in it with his wife and two children. The house is like a palace…and it is fortified. A guard would peep from his security cabin and decides to allow you in or not. A handful of bodyguards keep an eye on everything that happens around… There are cameras capturing your movements … Two boats are anchored in the jetty, specially erected, right outside… A beautiful 40-seater boat and a state-of-the-art motor-boat can give you some joy ride. There is a BMW, an Audi, a Merc and a couple of fine SUV’s. There is a sports bike… and they say it has cost him close to twenty lakhs!
When you enter the king-size drawing room, you feel guilty to step on those ultra-luxurious floorings… even to sit on the ultra-fine sofas. You can see the finest brands of spirits here in that bar, if you haven’t seen anywhere before.
I had always dreamt of this place.
I had dreamt of a small house
that quietly faced that river,
the island and the sea…
Of sitting in my easy-chair
and watching the glorious sunset…
Of falling in love with the silence,
the incredible ambience.
I had always dreamt of such a setting
to write my poems…
my beautiful stories…
Wow! Wow! Wow!
So, when I visited this place, I felt extremely jealous of this young man. “Mother Mary, why have you not blessed me with such a place to write my wonderful poems and stories?” I asked Her angrily.
I received no answer!
“Give us our daily bread,” Her Son had taught us to pray, long, long ago.
Today, when I write this – my daily blog – I can sense the power of that simple petition to Our Father-in-Heaven. And, I can feel in my soul Her Grace…
She has been calling me, for years, so that I could write about it, today!
The image used in this Post is by Ashok Ahuja. He is a professional Photographer and a very dear friend of mine. He is also one of the founder members of The Dawn Club, and, along with his gifted-artist wife, Sudha, has been helping me, and the Club, right from its inception.