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Sunday, October 16, 2016

the lure of Bay of Bengal at Marina ~ dangerous swimming in the Sea

During a casual talk, a Coach was vociferous on the stress on the children by their parents.  He was describing the high stress that enthu mothers overbearing their children, expecting each of them to become Sachin Tendulkar or at least IPL star !!

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever ~ and one such is ‘Marina beach’ known for its  pristine beautiful sandy shores - that runs from Fort St George to Besant Nagar. The long beach with equally  long history, was conceived in 1884 and christened by Mountstuart  Elphinstone Grant-Duff, the then governor of Madras.  The sands of marina on the Bay of Bengal  is famed for the  ambience and rich eco system though it  stands a lot polluted now.  

Early morning the famous Marina beach offers intriguing things.  There are young, old, fast, slow, and varied people indulging in chit-chatting, eating and drinking the various health drinks ! that are sold on pavements.  You can see people walking, walking fasting, jogging, sprinting, skipping, doing physical exercises, yoga, laughing out loud – more – all law unto themselves – thinking and spreading that these are the passport to good health.

Nearer the sea, it is more enticing ! – one can hear the sea, the sound of waves, the  waves jumping and touching the shore and then submitting themselves to the shore but trying to comeback to conquer again ! would be very interesting sight  – One  can see monstrous  ships anchored in the middle of sea, some fishing boats and Sun coming out as a red ball from the Sea – all great sights to behold. 

Chennai swelters a lot and when Summer is peak - more people come to Marina to enjoy the natural cool sea  breeze……… during  summer vacation -  the Police control and regulate the flow of oncoming crowds by making beach road one way and by diverting vehicles at various points.  Police struggle to control another thing !

it is revellers – bathing at sea.  There are notice boards put up by Police stating that bathing and swimming at Bay of Bengal, in Marine is illegal as the undercurrent is very strong.  Sadly, we get to read news of young boys drowning in the sea also. During Kanum Pongal, Police erect barriers all across, preventing access to sea.  The spot nearer Anna Square, opposite to Ezhilagam is vulnerable.  Back in 1966, a ship SS Damatis sank off due to a cyclone.  In my younger days, remember seeing the wreck of this shop lying in waters, vaguely remember catamarans taking people nearer the ship too !! – deaths have been reported near this zone; understand that the remnants have been cut and removed and nothing is there at the spot now. 

Bay of Bengal (Vanga Kadal) is an enticer – one gets lost in its beauty watching the waves and ships.  Roughly triangular, the sea borders India on its Southern side and then Srilanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Andaman & Nicobar islands.   The sea occupies an area of 2,172,000 square kilometres (839,000 sq mi). A number of large rivers – the Ganges and its tributaries such as the Padma and Hooghly, the Brahmaputra and its tributaries such as the Jamuna and Meghna, other rivers such as the Irawathi, Godavari, Mahanadi, Krishna and Kaveri flow into the Bay of Bengal.

People love sea, waves and bathe in it.  It is not totally safe – the little swimming learnt on pools, will not be of use.  When news of drowning is heard, people allege alcoholism – which may not be the real picture. There is a different cause — rip currents. A rip current is one of the most dangerous natural phenomena one encounters at sea.  Often those caught, do not know how to encounter, especially the currents occurring in shallow waters with gentle sloping.  At sea, the waves returning carry more force and are dangerous.  Swimming at sea requires special skills, stamina and knowledge of the currents.  Of course fishermen are capable of swimming in strong currents – the number of traditional fisherfolk is dwindling as more of the newer generation are not interested in venturing into the sea.

This morning in my regular walk, saw something unusual.  Could spot a small wave of people, in fact children around 10 years of age – all swimming at sea. Understand that they are group of children learning swimming at Anna Swimming pool and were under the watchful eyes of their coaches and couple of others who were inside the sea, guarding them.

Training children in tough environments and making them reach higher levels is laudable, still, somehow I felt little nervy and uncomfortable – hopefully, lot of planning and safety arrangements had been arranged when such exercises are undertaken !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

16th Oct 2016.

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