A Hydrophobic's First Beach Memory - A Tale of How I Screamed at Water

My most memorable trip has to be the first time I went to the beach. It was around the hottest month in the city of Chennai, May 2012. My dreams of finally seeing and experiencing the beach were nearing, and I just could not wait!

My First Road Trip

Chennai Road Trip
The journey is always the best part
So the journey from Bangalore to Chennai was a road trip. The roads were pretty smooth and conducive surprisingly. The journey is always the best part of any trip. A vacation may paint the picture of a destination in your mind, but crossing so many other little towns and cities to get there makes the whole experience a lot more meaningful! Bangalore to Chennai is approximately a 6 to 7-hour drive, but since mine was a family tour, we sure did have a couple of stops in between. One for food, one for dessert and one definitely to attend nature calls with a couple more to adjust and swap seats.

Chennai Express - The only Express here, was our Body Temperatures.

A glimpse of the blazing city
Chennai is relatively hotter than Bangalore during the summers, and May was the most unfortunate time to touch upon this Tamil ground. But, a wedding within our closest circle couldn't keep us from the tan. Chennai did come, and so did my first beach memory. Touchdown upon the blazing ground was quite exhausting but exciting at the same time. Due to extreme weather, the heat emitting from the Chennai roads can get a little unbearable for a tourist.

Saying Hello to Heaven - A Highway to Hell

Since this was going to be a beach wedding, we booked a resort near the waters. The resort services are quite satisfactory; however, tap water would inevitably be salty if you would be choosing to stay close to the beach area. 

The wedding ceremony on the beach went quite well followed by a few hours of rest before we departed. It was then that I met the seas for the first time in all my life. A hydrophobic to begin with, and a child with serious trust issues, the beach was quite a jump. Despite the negatives that I had previously heard about Chennai beaches, this one seemed to be quite clean. Since this trip now celebrates its 9th anniversary, I vaguely remember the wedding and strongly remember visiting the beach, but I hardly remember the beach's name.

Sweet Emotion - With a Dash of DID Symptoms

A Hydrophobic's First Beach Memory
Waves of mercy
With the blazing sun over the glistening waters and the reception hall in the background, this was one of the most beautiful views I had ever seen. But, was I enjoying this? Not the least. That overwhelming feeling of budding fears you didn't know you possibly had was anxiety-provoking. But just as much as the waters frightened me, a part of me died that day too. Fear. The fear of control. When you come in contact with a beach, you are in no control of anything around you, let alone your thoughts. I was shaking uncontrollably, clinging onto my brother's lanky legs and weeping like a baby. Not because the waters were scary, but because this little teenager was now witnessing the most serene and ever-expanding view. I lived a life just like any other adolescent, fearful of pregnancy-inducing kisses and everlasting crushes on beardless boys. But what was in front of me now, was freedom. The freedom I was not used to and freedom I did not know. And so, I continued weeping, astonished by the majestic sight of the water gods. 

Straight Outta Trauma

We departed early next morning, however, without missing out on the then famous (not sure if it still is) Chennai Paper Masala Dosa. I still remember the dosa spanning across four of our plates, having the entire family gorge on it like a wholesome turkey.
Chennai Paper Masala Dosa
Close to the exaggeration, Chennai Paper Masala Dosa
This remarkable episode of my life personally stood out for me because what does a traveller need more than courage? The courage to discover your fears, the knowledge to understand them and the faith to let go of all of that frightens you. And my first beach experience in Chennai gave me that. 
Chennai gave me the best views, the best paper masala dosa, the best memories and courage to hold on to so dearly. Although almost nine years have passed now, this memory went down as a significantly life-changing experience and thus, still remains fresh. 

There's More.

The Aftermath

So, I did have a rather traumatising first beach experience that did kill the fear of control, but what happened when I visited other beaches, henceforth? The breathlessness when I first walk into any beach still persists, my anxiety of being washed away by an imaginary tsunami still persists and my phobia of sudden exposure to open spaces still persists, and they are all on the verge of mass extinction too, thankfully. 

A Hydrophobic's First Beach Memory
Life did move on, and so did my beach therapy
However, my takeaway from The Chennai Experience was definitely a systematic desensitising process towards achieving a healthy beach experience one day.

This post was published by Beaulah Sahana

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