My Month in Mulki

What I learnt when I was supposed to be learning how to surf

Chapter 2: Opportunity

“Bhai, chalo, get up. We’re going for camping tonight, se we’ll all go to the beach and chill by the campfire.”

Khan is standing hunched over me, his hair lazily hunched over his face.

“Dude, I just got here this morning. Wasn’t even able to sleep in the bus. And lot of work was also there today na. I think I’ll just crash today. I’ll come next time.”

“Bhai, you’ve come to Mulki now. You need to take all the opportunities that you can get. Who knows when camping will happen next.”

My body screamed as I slowly rose. I didn’t have to reach for the lights as Khan’s grin lit up the room for us.

“Awesome. Chalo, we are leaving in five.”

It was the 31st of January 2021. I had reached Mulki a day earlier than planned. Sleep deprived from an ardous bus journey, and exhausted from a sudden burst of physical exertion, my entire being begged for some rest, but Khan and his grin had other ideas.

I dragged myself over to the boat, and plonked myself down. The wait was significantly greater than five minutes, as the boat slowly filled up with people and equipment. Just as we were about to leave, there was a scream from the shore.

“Wait wait wait wait wait

A heap of bags slung over arms and shoulders was heading our way. And a bright blue surfboard balanced on dreadlocks casually bouncing in the air.

As he noticed that the boat was indeed wait wait wait wait waiting for him, his pace slowed to a brisk walk. He took a couple of stops to adjust all his bags and arms and shoulders, and then sauntered over to the boat.

“Walter bro. Almost missed the boat…”

Walter would have shrugged were it not for all the delicate balancing of luggage and equipment his shoulders were already busy with. He carefully loaded his things onto the boat, hopped in, and we set off.

The air was crisp and cool as the boat whirred and puttered its way over the river towards the beach. The breeze blew away some of my grogginess as we reached our destination.

I jumped out of the boat, and splashed around a bit in the shallow waters. Before I could notice, a large sack of tents had been hoisted onto my back, and a finger pointed me towards the beach.

“Just place this near the campsite. Oh and you’ll need to help set up the campfire as well.”

We all scoured the beach for firewood and kindling, mostly for the bragging rights that come with contributing the single largest piece of wood to the campfire. The wood was soon piled up, and with a little help from petroleum and a matchstick, we had ourselves a campfire.

As the fire sputtered to life, and the moon shown down on us with all its glory, we all settled down on the soft beach sands. We scuttled slowly, forward and backward, trying to balance the chill sea breeze with the warmth of the campfire. Each of us in search of our own perfect pocket of cosiness.

With the campfire warming us up, and the conversations flowing in the breeze, I could hardly have asked for more. But the universe has its own ways of granting you the things that you never even asked for.

Turns out that Walter was actually lugging all that luggage around for a reason. As we were talking, he casually reached back around, and opened up one of his bags and took out a guitar. My eyes probably glowed brighter than the moon for that one instant. I discreetly scooted my sand-covered bottom and moved as close to him as I could. He spent a few minutes tuning his guitar, and just noodling about.

And then, it started.

There is something transcendental about music in my opinion. It has the ability to just lift you out of your present moment, and transport you to another time and another space. This is especially true of music being played in small and intimate settings.

There are some musicians who are performers. And then there are those special few, who are the curators of moments. Architects in space and time, who are not out to just play some tunes. They are trying to help construct a monument in spacetime that everyone present can return to. They encourage people to participate, and help build on those foundations. They move all their efforts away from playing well and sounding good, and towards constructing an instance that is special and unique, and a perfect musicial representation of what it is like to sit by a campfire on a beach in Mulki, look up at the stars, and be wholly and completely present in that given moment in time and space.

Walter was that kind of musician.

I would like to tell you more about that experience, but a moment that has already been musically captured cannot really be relived through mere words.

As we headed back by boat, it was as though a a permanent marker had drawn my smile.

“Kya bhai, was that better than going to sleep?”

The permanent markered smile was unable to change shape and form words, but I think Khan had his answer.

Over my time in Mulki, I went camping many more times. There were many boat rides and many campfires. But that first night will always hold a special place in my heart.

Lesson 2:

When an opportunity presents itself, it’s not too wise to ignore it. Who knows how many more monuments in space and time could have your name on them if you live with an open heart and an open mind. Treat all those opportunities like long lost friends, and embrace them before the slip away.

As recalled by Samarth Hattangady | List of Chapters