On the ECR

On Thursday we drove down the East Coast Road for the first time after the tsunami, and went to lunch at Temple Bay, a resort near Mahabalipuram. After you get out of the ugliness of urban sprawl, much of the road is flanked by the most typical scenery of this part of India: open land dotted with areca palms, cashew trees, casuarinas. If you continue south beyond Mahabalipuram, you begin to pass incredibly beautiful green paddy fields. On the ECR the ocean is visible most of the time – a long peaceful strip of blue in the near distance. Before the tsunami, from time to time you would pass a tiny cluster of thatched huts near the beach. Now we passed neat grids of tents and thatched tent-shapes, right up against the road. In one place where the village was larger, built around a clump of trees, and apparently intact, the tent-grids are still there by the road. The whole population seems to have moved back, away from the sea.

Twice we passed logs peeled and shaped for making new catamarans. Once there was a gathering of people under a cloth pandal, from which jutted out three new, brightly painted mechanised fishing boats, presumably being handed over to the fishermen.

Temple Bay itself was lush and beautiful, perfectly maintained. A conference was going on, Scientific Atlanta; people with southern American accents, presumably Atlantan, lounged by the pool. We had an excellent lunch, and didn’t want to return.

So I guess things are pretty much back to normal. But I was sorry to see those artificially tidy, fearful grids still pulled up as close to the road as possible. I hope they won’t be necessary much longer.

The pool at Temple Bay, and the ocean

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