Posted by: Laxman | March 1, 2009

The Turtle Walk and the Terrace House.

Reader, the last couple of Saturdays have been somewhat of an experience. On the night of February 21, I started to walk a stretch of beach from Nilankarai till the Eliot’s Beach, an approximate coastline distance of 7km.

Walking with me were three other friends and scores of other such volunteers. Directed by scouts, who inspected in a certain way a turtle nest finder is supposed to inspect the sands, we walked along the coast accompanied by an army of sideways crawling arachnids.

The walk was both tiresome and pleasant in a queer way. A large party was there for the heck of it. A few gentlemen had imagined that they were on a date; while their dates were relishing their selves being sought after and cashed the poor bastards’ unpaid escort otherwise unavailable to them between midnight till dawn when and whether they chose to walk but for the turtles’ sake. Whereas the crowd itself escorted the dates from their gentlemen.

One of my friends was a budding expert, a final-year zoologist, walked with the scouts. I was there for the sound of the sea, the howl of the wind, the chit-chat, the sheer exhilaration and excitement that date but a night safari and of course lending my support to our amphibian friends who carry their mobile homes all the way back to where they were begotten with them, to respond in kind to their ancestors.

There were also other affluent families who thought that Turtle Walks were an upper class expedition in Chennai because that is probably the only time they walk apart from other walks to save themselves from heart diseases. Also because the fishermen had to fish and the beach vendors had to vend. All and sundry rallying around for an environmental cause, and I had no complains.  

The turtles, however, were discouraged by many effluent streams making the beach unfit to take a dip in, let alone trace their way past the pollution to the shore. Sadly, they quite don’t have that sort of a choice and unlike human beings they have to live their life in an order.

We were lucky. We found one nest right at the end of our planned walk. The experts did what they know to do best; and we did what we know to do best. We walked back to the bus stop and had our deserved early morning cup of chai.

On February 28, by 1740hrs, I was walking around a square at Royapettah. I was evading a typical Chennai traffic that lacks all sense of direction but works a weird design that audaciously challenges Newton’s Laws, the Law of Averages apart from other unimportant Laws and Traffic Regulations of the land.

At 1745hrs I reach what is know as the Madras Terrace House – an old building refurbished with a certain taste that its white walls were equally decorated by colourful paintings and kites, windows painted green and bordered by gold, chandeliers depicting lamps and lighting bright, the place was a total misfit like an engaged ring finger in a neighbourhood of sore thumbs.

I walk in and try to fit in. Deflecting stares and glares at my laymanly appearance topped by a dishevelled hairdo, I wait for the gathering to discuss what I was there to participate in. The chief guest for the evening, walking into what I have come to term as the “reading room” in a bright orange saree, Mrs. Vasudha Prakash seemed like she had walked out of the walls of the colourful House.

The book under review is Mark Haddon’s prize winning debut venture, “The Curious Incident Of A Dog At The Night Time.” A story from the perspective of a 15 year old Brit with Asperger’s Disorder.

Mrs. Prakash is the founder of a school in Mandeveli for children with special needs. The discussion is largely about autistic and dyslexic children. We all say what we had to say. We disperse by 2000hrs, two hours after we gathered. I reserve my verdict and leave the place with an ambivalent satisfaction.

Two Saturdays and two very distinct experiences. Good causes, I thought, but somewhat with deflated purposes. But, reader, here it only serves fair for me to mention that I am quite an optimist. I only saw the bright side of affairs. The curious case of a people searching turtle nests at night time; and the curious case of a people socialising an evening searching for insights into a rare adolescent condition.

Good causes, I thought, and I had no complains.



  1. Hi,can you give me some more details on the turtle walk??I have been wanting to do this for a very long time!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: