02 August, 2011

Irish Dailyes

I was a very little girl when I met Ursula. A tall, slim blue-eyed Irish girl, in her mid-twenties who came to India on a holiday and allowed it to claim her. Wearing long colourful cotton skirts and carrying a beautiful hand-printed diary, she took leisurely notes as she explored the beauty of Mussoorie in the mist. She was my first exposure to Ireland and fueled my curiousity about a country I have wanted to visit ever since. 

All pictures courtesy the sunscreen loving Sahil
So when someone planted the idea of a trip to Northern Ireland, how could I refuse (yes, yes its not technically "Ireland" but why get so finicky)? And yes, I was in the midst of seemingly insurmountable deadlines, plagued by a particularly fierce form of lethargy and numbed by useless exhaustion, but since when did those be reasons sufficient to stop traveling? With all possible excuses successfully shelved, plans were hurriedly put in place, people quickly counted, tickets booked in the most unsystematic crazed manner possible over an insane Skype conversation, and bags packed haphazardly. 

After a night of almost-jaagran, the obvious culmination of an alcohol-fast well kept and inane jokes of whether Coke and milk is a real beverage or just an experiment gone terribly long, the trip began. Driving  across the breathtaking Irish countryside, we waged a constant battle with getting the music right and trying to make the uncharacteristically quiet GPS Aunty (rechristened PhoneWati to honour our strong Bollywood roots) talk and finally reached Castlerock, our romantic halt for the weekend trip.

Polka dots make me smile : )
There are some places you feel for, fall in love unconditionally, without a hint of hesitation. Downhill Hostel is that and a bit more. It was the colour of cleanliness: white with neat blue edges and William was its welcoming owner. Inside, this cosy house the drawing room was filled with records (Simon and Garfunkel, U2 and Abba rubbing shoulders with Dire Straits and Led Zep), books (the much loved Oscar Wilde comfortably nudging books of ghost stories), board games from Scrabble to Monopoly and friendly couches around a fireplace. But this was not what Downhill was about. Its claim to fame was these gigantic windows, each opening onto the sea: grey and blue, grim and gay, silent and cacophonous. From our room we watched the wave caress the shore, each ebb playfully frothing up before it receded. 



I have never understood the sea vs mountains question. It is like the Bombay vs Delhi delusional choice. If the mountains are mighty and proud, the sea is humbling in its vastness. If the mountains rise up and challenge you with their imposing strength, the sea awes with its potential to calm and wreck, its profound extremities. It always wraps itself around my consciousness in an uncomfortable silence, urging me into alleys I have long ignored, calming and upsetting me with careful precision, managing to eat into my calm and soothe me into a gentle oblivion all at once. And so as we explored the beach, scanning for shells and interesting sea life, it was pleasant to hear the moist breeze sing mellow tales. 


Giant's Causeway
 The next day we began the coastal walk from The Giant's Causeway to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. While the hexagonal volcanic columns were stunning in their geometric precision and the lovely view of the sea they offered, the 10 mile walk away from it proved to be one of the most stimulating experiences I have had in a long while. Walking along the coast among wild flowers and heather to the sound of waves crashing far below, sheep sternly looking your way and clouds flitting by across the mirror of the sea, perfection is redefined at every step. Towards the end it began drizzling, proving that sometimes beauty is only skin deep and my much loved polka-dotted raincoat was as water proof as a sieve. Carrick-a-Rede didn't provide the adrenaline rush we expected but it offered another stunning view of Rathlin Island and the Irish Sea. 




Along the beautiful Coastal Walk
The holiday had the slow charm of a cool long evening after a summer day. Humour reached alarmingly low depths at the hands of the boys (which they will vehemently disagree with!), meals of fresh seafood were relished with some delicious champ and our limbs ached with the pleasure of a walk well loved. 


Till the next trip, I remain
Strapped to my chair. 



5 comments:

  1. Abhijit11:38 PM

    :)

    p.s. It hasn't yet been proved conclusively that it's an experiement gone wrong, not until you've tried it! :P

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ha ha with two crazy people to vouch for it, I don't have much hope for the experiment!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Combination of humour and the beauty of nature made the trip joyful :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice..

    actually beauty is in the eyes of person(here in yours), also in the words of the portrayer. Words can make it prettier, can also make it ugly...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Aah more anonymity :| but thank you for stopping by :)

    ReplyDelete

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