The Sun was about to set when I came across this small restaurant called The Olive in North Goa. Perched at the top of a small hill, beside a lonely and desolate trail, this came as a surprise. Far from everyone eyes it was an odd place for a restaurant. I had a feeling it won’t be much good. Out of curiosity, I decided to have a look anyways. But five seconds behind its gate, I was sure that I was going to spend my evening here.
It was an elegant place with a calmness that touched me at once. The restaurant’s perimeter was shaped in the form of a semi-circle with a spacious bar at its center. While the small tables for two were lined along the arc, the bigger tables were placed in two straight lines running parallel to the bar. This rendered a unique design to the place. A combination of symmetry of smaller tables along the arc and asymmetry of bigger tables dividing the sitting area in unequal parts. It pulled me in at once.
I walked up to bar and ordered a pint of Hoegaarden. As I waited I admitted to myself that the place was tastefully done. Cage-shaped wooden chandelier hung from the roof, with warm lights hanging within them. The soft Bach symphony streaming down from the Bose Speakers added to the elegance of the place. But it was the area on the opposite side from which I entered which caught my attention. Even though a few people were standing there, I could see the attraction. It provided a full view of the setting sun. It was perfect.
With the bottle of Hoegaarden in my hand, I stepped out of the bar, into the open area. I wanted to sit at the edge of the sitting area, to get an unobstructed view of the sunset. There was only one table there. A woman in bikini was sitting at it. I thought of looking around for another table. But then just at that moment, as if her movements were timed to my thoughts, she got up and left the table.
After waiting for a few moments, making sure that she is not returning, I walked up to the table and settled myself into a comfortable chair. Sinking into that chair I looked around. The ground was carpeted with pristine white pebbles with a bright green grass cover around it. A bamboo fence bordered the area on three sides — the fresh brown color of the wood providing a stark contrast to the cobalt blue sky over it. But it was beyond the bamboo fence that was holding my attention.
A pale yellow sun was hanging low in the sky right above the horizon. From it spread out a triangular haze of yellow which spread into different hues of orange and red until it merged into the fading blue of the sky. This play of light turned the thrumming surface of the sea, which was a mass of black liquid in the grey of the evening, into a bed of shimmering glass.
All of it combined to create a breathtaking view. The reddening sky and the setting sun and a pulsating sea below along with the perpetual symphony of waves crashing on the beach. So beautiful all of it was that it appeared a scene out of a painting of Picasso or Dali. I skipped a heartbeat.
There is something about sea that holds men’s attention unlike any other natural body. The view of the horizon — this place where an infinite sky meets a bulging ocean — has a mystic power over men’s imagination. Used to living in cities, in ghettos, most of us have lost the feeling of looking into the open skies. The houses and the buildings around us have bottled our view. So when we find ourselves staring into nothing but a vast sea and infinite sky, we end up being overwhelmed. Combined with this the knowledge that this vastness, that we are seeing right now, this enormity is not even a fraction of what is out there in this Universe. It humbles us.
This humbling fact arises a realization in our mortal hearts about the feebleness of our existence. That how small and insignificant we are in this vast vast universe. That this endless sky and bottomless sea has existed for eons before we arrived on this planet. And will continue to do so millions of years after we have stopped existing. It reduces our entire existence, all our hopes and desires, into a concept — a grain in the desert.
And this realization breaks something within us. It breaks that feeling of certainty that we have built in our minds. That feeling which makes us feel lords of our lives. That we know stuff, that we have control of everything out there. That we matter, a lot.
But all of this is a mirage, lies we tell ourselves. For the truth is out there, and we are nothing in comparison to it. And what surprises us is that this infiniteness breaks this foundation of our lives without even trying, annihilating it without even being aware of our existence.
But from this destruction does not sham us, it does not ridicule us. Rather it is uplifting. For then we realize we are part of this cycle, this endless process of creation and destruction. And this feeling opens us up to this realization that this cosmos which might appear intimating and alien the surface, is not different from us. Everything that exists out there is made from the same stardust. From the smallest of sand grains to the mightiest of planets. We all are made up of the same stuff, we all are connected.
As I was contemplating this play of nature, and sipping on a glass of Hoegaarden, a dragonfly appeared not far from me. It was a black dot in the grey light of the sky. I looked at it as it swarmed up and down and left and right, in frantic motions. It seemed to be drunk, zigzagging like that. Then, not far from the first one, another dragonfly appeared. Then one more, and soon a large swarm of dragonflies were flying above the bamboo fence.
Initially, the dragonflies irritated me. But then a realisation passed over me. What if these dragonflies, even with their fraction of minds as compared to us, the humans, are somehow able to appreciate this truth. This truth about the infiniteness of this universe. About the dwarfness of their existence. And about the cosmic connection that all things in this universe share. And with this awareness, however subconscious it might be, they come out every evening and dance in the celebration of this truth!
A pang of jealousy washed over me.
The dragonflies continued to swarm for sometime. Soon the sun dipped completely behind the sea, leaving behind a small red bruise at the horizon. The greyness consumed everything around me, and in few moments just like everything, even the dragonflies disappeared.
As I was getting up I saw the same woman in a bikini, sitting on the adjacent table and was gazing into the sky. The area was deserted, only she and I were sitting there. She had an intense look on her face.
Is she contemplating the same thoughts? I wondered.
The thought of talking to her passed over me. And I almost got up to talk about it. But then she turned her head back, right at that moment. As if it was timed, again. Someone had called her. The moment had passed. I smiled and resumed walking into the main sitting area of the restaurant.
I was feeling hungry.
Another story in Goa