N4 Beach in Kasimedu: a safe harbour

At eight in the morning, when the city has woken up from its slumber, a lone, ignored coastal spot in North Chennai, near Kasimedu fishing harbour, begins to stretch and yawn.

The cacophony of vehicles gives way to quietude as you enter this fishing harbour, a less glamorous neighbour of popular Kasimedu harbour, teeming with fish vendors. This port is more of a dock for all the boats.

Around 1,000 vessels, big and small, painted and unpainted, are anchored here. There is a roadway that leads from the entrance to the port mouth. It makes for a beautiful drive; on your right you see fishermen, lugging heavy nets out of their boats and cleaning them; and on the other, the endless expanse of sea with its low-tide waves.

N4 Beach in Kasimedu: a safe harbour

A speck of a motor boat appears on the horizon. A man in a blue lungi spreads a battered yoga mat and squats in padmasana, with his spine straight, to meditate. The day has begun.

Balai Rajendran and his fellow seafarers are mending their nets. “After a rough day, these tend to tear. Also, a lot of sea waste gets caught in the net. We clear it all out and dry the nets in the sun. They are good to return to sea again after a few hours of sun bathing,” he says.

They say the 61-day ban on mechanised boats has hampered business. “The Government has offered just ₹5,000 for compensation. How can we survive on it for two months?” he asks. They are happy to return to work. “We are back to earning ₹1,000 to 1,200 a day.”

S Charles, who sells garlic and tamarind in front of N4 beach says he comes here around this time to clear his mind. He comes here in the mornings as soon as he is done with his sales. Cops patrol the space constantly in the evenings; so, it is safe. However, after 8 pm, the place is deserted, there are no lights. Then, people usually avoid coming here, he says. The busiest hours are from 4 pm to 7 pm, when pani puri and ice cream stalls emerge. On Sundays, the place is milling with visitors.

The ride to the port mouth is windy — ideal for a diva moment, with hair on your face and your scarf swaying wild. At the port mouth, visitors take selfies and do wedding photoshoots. S Rajacharan, the shutter bug, is a resident of Rajakadai. “N4 is apt as a shooting locale. Many films such as Kaakha Kaakha, Vikram Vedha, and the latest Vada Chennai were filmed here.” The beach is a part and parcel of his childhood memories; he, along with his friends, would come here for a swim, followed by a stroll.

The beach’s potential to be used as a public space is still untapped, he says, adding that it is because of the stigma around North Chennai. “Not many people from South Chennai are aware of this beach. It has a lot to do with people’s mindset.”

N4 Beach in Kasimedu: a safe harbour

Writings on stone

You could sit here, gazing at the gentle sea waves splashing against the groynes, with meditative calm. And, occasionally, during a light moment, amuse yourself reading etchings on the rocks flanking the sea.

Lovers have penned their names on these and drawn hearts with arrows piercing them. Charles seems to enjoy these sights too. The man is less chatty now, as he sits at the tip of the mouth, staring at the horizon with a forlorn look in his eyes and states, “I come here for peace of mind.”

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 5:04:47 PM |

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