The sea, stirred up by the monsoon, has swallowed the beach, but there is no stopping the beach-goers. Shanghumughom remains as crowded as ever, the retreat of choice for the denizens of the city, even as treacherous breakers pound hard at the pavements. The beach seems to have acquired a dangerous appeal as many come to take a look at the encroachment by the unruly sea. Rajesh, his wife, Mini, and two children were there staring at the choppy waters. But the more adventurous older boy, Akshay, was not content with remaining at a distance.

“It is quite a sight, but we used to love letting our children run around and play on the beach. Now, we hold on to them, as it is not a safe place for children,” Mr. Rajesh said. The family from Malayinkeezh visits Shanghumughom often. Aji Kumar, an ice-cream vendor, dismisses any suggestion that fewer people are turning up because of the weather. “It was a packed Sunday as any other, as people come to see the violent sea,” he said.

But the nights are different. The poor lighting keeps crowds at bay. Four high-mast lights stand tall, but whether they flicker to life is an ongoing bet among the regulars here. “The last time I remember the beach being lit was when the Chief Minister came for a function,” Aji said. The lifeguards, on their toes to discourage adventurous characters from entering the waters, said they had complained about the defunct lights many times. “In a way, it is good that the lights do not glow because everyone stays clear of the dark mass of water at night. If there is light, there will be people trying foolish antics such as entering the water. It is easier looking at it this way,” a lifeguard said.

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