The condensation on the window this morning was probably the first clue.
It could have been the stars overhead in yesterday’s night sky, but we know how the weather can change before dawn; or the previous crimson sunset could have foreshadowed the next day, but a hint of morning red suggested another possible outcome, determined by the toss of coin.
Heads, we win.
As the morning grew, the prospect of a beautiful day became clearer. Normally during this quiet time I indulge myself with some reading, accompanied by a few cups of coffee. I decided to forego the last one and take time out from the next chapter of my book in order to drink in the warmth of the oncoming day. To the top of the main building I climbed, careful not to slip on the dew wet stairs, where the three quarter moon hung in the western clear blue sky and the rising east sun was beaming it’s welcome rays. The mountains in the north were clearer than any day so far, providing a painted backdrop to the lake’s green islands, while wispy clouds decorated the southern sky. For the first time this week, the cock trumpeted almost in time with the early morning music bouncing off the waters from across the bay while a flock of birds streaked through the picture.
The staff were busy making their preparations, arranging the lounge chairs by the pool, laying out blankets, fluffing up the pillows in anticipation of everyone’s hunger for the sun. The large, skittish fish in the ponds floated to the brightest corner seeking the warmth, no longer fleeing underneath the lily pads at the hint of a passersby, just to bask for another minute longer.
It was a perfect day for a fishing boat ride.
Rescheduled from yesterday, five people had originally signed up for the trip, which was reduced to three by breakfast, when two more abandoned ship leaving me with a solo voyage. Raju guided me down the steep embankment to the waters where my Indian gondola awaited. From a distance, I saw an old man hunched over in his vessel, biding his time till the passengers arrived. As I climbed in, my gondolier was a young twenty-something, steadying the boat and ensuring his cellphone did not fall off his seat into the rainwater of the hull.
He introduced himself as Goli (my spelling and probably my misunderstanding since I found out later it means bullet in Hindi, but we will go with that regardless), but did not speak any English. After some instructions from Raju, we set a sail. The boat was made of weathered, coarsely hewn planks; the oars were bamboo with a fan-like board as a paddle. We glided closer towards the bay with every pull on the oars, the view never changing but the particulars coming clearer in focus, a touch faster when the waters stilled even more.
My back was to the blazing sun as I watched Goli dressed in a thin, tanned faux(?) leather jacket over a yellow and grey checkered shirt and a white under garment. Combined with the fashionably ripped jeans the entire ensemble belied my notion of a local fisherman. I was perspiring with only a shirt; he could only be boiling in his outfit. Nevertheless, it remained on, intact, for the entire voyage.
As we floated closer, Goli kept looking over his shoulder, sometimes rowing with one hand, sometimes letting go entirely, scanning the water, peering deeper into the bay. Then without warning, three swift strategic strokes and we were heading back. This time the oars were dipped deeper, the back hunched a little further, the pull a might stronger.
The silent ride was broken by my request for a picture. When I indicated the need for two, he said “three” giving me hope Goli knew more English than originally thought. A follow up question about his home in the village was answered with a simple “uh” ending any further attempts at conversation. Never mind, it was a peaceful, scenic ride, watching a flock of birds fly directly overhead, and another couple battling over one fish, while monkeys played on one shore, and a butterfly floated past presumably headed for the other. We had a very pleasurable trip.
Back at our point of departure, a handshake, a Namaste, an exchange of smiles and Goli and I went our separate ways.
It was the most glorious day of sunshine yet.