It is enchanting to see the sunrise. When it happens over the sea, it has an added charm. Many go to the Marina to watch the spectacle. A look at what else happens on the shore at the crack of the dawn.
Irked by power cut and sleeplessness, I decided to go to the beach for a stroll. Setting out at 5 a.m. from Mogappair, I headed towards the Marina, for some fresh air. Stunning was the scene that spread before me as I neared the sands. It was only 5. 45 a.m. and the Sun had already started spreading its orange strokes and a cool breeze brushed against my cheeks softly and soothingly. The lawns and sands of the Marina were filled with visitors — walkers, joggers, players, children, elders and parents or simply those who had come to relax like me. Hundreds of two-wheelers and cars from various parts of the city were parked right from Anna Samadhi to the Light House. Clad in tracks and buckled shoes, it was inspiring to see brisk people who started their day, even before the sun did. I was wondering whether it was the sea, the sky, the sand, the sun or the breeze, that brought thousands of Chennaiites to the shore as early as 4.30 a.m.
Parthasarathy, a 78-year-old boxing trainer, was teaching children as young eight years the art of blocking. “I have been teaching in the beach in the mornings for about 40 years now,” said the trainer of Santhome Boxing Club. When asked about the harsh sun, he said, “If you stay indoors, you cannot be a sportsperson.” When asked about any particular reason for selecting the beach, he said, “In Chennai, one cannot think of such a vast open area, fresh air and sun rays anywhere else.”
The assorted public were engaged in cricket, yoga, laughter therapy, photography, Kung fu and skating. Parents who waited on their children to finish their practice, had other parents for company. However, the skating rink saw parents acting as trainers, as there were no regular skating trainers.
After an hour of brisk walk, walkers slowed down their speed to have a chat. The topics ranged from politics to family issues. S. Murugesan, Markandan and other retired friends from Triplicane said that the need for fitness brought the neighbours together. “We have been coming here for years, to do exercise in the morning” said Mr. Murugesan.
Some settled for a chat over a healthy drink. Cashing in on the fitness regime, vendors lined up products that energised the players and walkers. Lakshmi, who opened her shop as early as 4.30 a.m. sold ginger-mint-lemon tea, ragi porridge, (mixed with pepper or honey), aloevera, vallarai and sembarathi essence that could be mixed. She also sold pomegranate, cereals, groundnut, sprouts, soya, amla in packets of Rs. 3 each.
“All the VIPs who visit the beach are my customers,” she said. Lakshmi of Ice House said that her husband Sathish, who sold juice and soups such as carrot, bitter gourd, arugampul, mushroom, amla, ginger, banana stem and butter milk was also making good business at a different spot.
At Gandhi Statue, a bunch of girls was seen sketching the sea. The students of Institute of Design were on beach as part of the crash course which equipped them for art-related entrance exams such as the ones conducted for Visual Communication, Architecture, Fine Arts and portfolio purpose. Nadeen (2823 0588), director, who was with his faculty members to give students a hands-on-experience in perception in art, said that the 24-day course taught them the basics. Pooja, who was sketching the sunrise, said that the best things about beach were sunrise, water, statues and the beautiful rays that fell on the water. Divya and Adhiti said that it was fun to capture scenes by observing varied people.
It was not all superlative about the beach, which had a downside too. One saw hundreds of people who spent the previous night on the sands. Vendors and people from nearby places occupied the beach from Kannagi Statue to Vivekananda House. And the sands were strewn with paper and other waste, while crows and pigeons fed on the left overs.
However, Neel Metal Fanalca staff and the Corporation van arrived at 6 a.m. and began the cleaning. Ramani, a staff, said that their job was to collect waste from the arterial roads from Santhome to Gandhi Statue with two members for a two-km distance. The sand area was taken care of by the vans.
As the police officers said, people started leaving the beach by 7.30 a.m. People who were sleeping had vacated, walkers returned, vendors shut shop and garbage was cleared.
As I returned, the hitherto deserted roads were busy with traffic. I promised myself to come back for the sunrise the next day, if not for a warm-up.