Hotel Sea Princess is a charming and elegant hotel on the Juhu beach, offering me a scenic view of the Arabian Sea. The vast expanse of the light blue waters merging with the sky on the horizon, and the diminishing wetness of the packed sand on the beach is a natural Prozac to a weekday. The Juhu beach is littered with children, young and old- playing cricket, watching the waves in a meditative silence, and old and new friends catching up over packets of chips, bhuttas, or the omnipresent chaat.
An argument breaks out between the players of the Juhu Beach XI, over a fervent run-out appeal. In Indian gully cricket, the services of an umpire are rarely required and used. Instead, appeals are made to the fair-mindedness of the individual players- resulting in complicated negotiations, reminders of past events of ‘cheating’ which were overlooked, “c’mon man” or “chal na” depending on which region of India- an escalating situation ensuing in the match being halted for a few minutes, decisions being taken by senior players overseeing the goodwill component of each game, and play resuming as normal after much swearing and protestations on either side.
It’s easy to spot the health-induced visitors to the Juhu beach- clearly set apart from the rest by their dogged refusal to enjoy the scenic sunset for more than a few seconds. By now, the sun has begun changing colour from bright yellow to a cooler shade, glistening on the water and the wet sand. Soon, it commences its inevitable march towards the horizon, inching below for another night’s rest- or more- appropriately, turning cooler (or redder?) as we turn our faces away for yet another night.
The vista is quite ideal for all kinds of observation and contemplation- palm trees waving gently in the background, a murder of low flying crows looking for delicious leftovers on the beach, a multicolour hue of sarees, shirts and even nighties out to enjoy the cool breeze, children yelling out “Ball!!” to any kind bystanders or grandmothers tugging their 45-degree slanting grandchildren from embracing the sand, entreating them with a balloon. A soothing mixtape of life, a day out at the Juhu beach is a break from the hamster wheel. As I watch yet another flock of pigeons take off with a loud flutter and catch the peals of laughter from the Juhu Beach XI, I am reminded that life, and its untiring spirit of joy, healing, and passion, goes on.