It was dark. Moonlight and sodium lamps on Radha Krishnan Salai lit up the deserted stretch to the Marina Beach. The clock opposite the Gandhi Statue chimed eleven. For a bunch of youngsters who rode into the Beach Road, it wasn't going to be a ‘boys only night' like what it was some days back, as the mercury rising in the city had brought families with children to enjoy the night time breeze from the sea. People linger around the Gandhi Statue and walkers' path past midnight.

Marina sports a carnival look these summer nights. Mahesh Kumar of Anna Nagar, BPO employee, has been driving his family in their new Maruti Alto to the beach every night for the past few weeks.

“Going to the beach at night has become a habit for our little children. We love it as we get some fresh air and the cool breeze soothes our nerves. It definitely gives us the needed respite from our suffocating hot home,” said the BPO employee.

Cashing in on summer

For ice-cream seller Senthilnathan stationed near the Light House, summer means overtime. “ Sales pick up like anything as the beach is packed with people. Some days I am kept busy even till 1 a.m. Families coming in cars and motorcycles, enjoying the night at the well-lit area around Gandhi Statue add to my clientele,” jovially adds the ice-cream seller.

Food stalls and other vendors on the sands clearout sooner as per orders by the police.

Thankfully, police restrictions on the beach are confined to the sands and the inner road as they are devoid of proper lighting in the night. Therefore, the walkers' lane and the grass area, with good illumination, are preferred by families and other late night time beach-goers.

“We ensure that people vacate the sands and the inner road by maximum 11 p.m. in order to avoid any untoward activity. During this season we are a bit lenient with the timings as we are well aware that beach is the only place to get some cool air,” says a police officer on beach patrol.

The ones who enjoy the night at the beach seem to be children. “My two-year-old son gets very irritated at home during summer nights and simply refuses to eat. So we bring him to the beach and feed him,” avers Subhashri, a banker and a resident of Alwarpet, who is now contemplating buying an air-conditioner for her son's room. “Even though it's pleasant in the nights, coming to the beach every night with him is very difficult,” adds she with a chuckle.

Summer nights are also the time to cash in for some autorickshaw drivers on Kamaraj Salai near the Gandhi Statue. Instead of waiting near a railway station, a bus terminus or a cinema hall, the beach during summer evenings is the wise option to get passengers, according to an autorickshaw driver here. “Sundays in summer are the best days as we get savari of beachgoers even after midnight,” the driver adds.

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