Patnem Beach Road is somewhere where nothing really happens, the narrow road leading between the main road, itself a small road, and the steps down to the beach. A place for tuk tuks to wait for people heading off to another beach or into nearby Chaudhi for an ATM or a pharmacy. But, the more you walk up and down this little road, the more you notice and the more that does actually seem to happen in a very small understated way.
Early morning, it’s more or less all closed, just an optimistic tuk tuk driver or two hoping that you want a tuk tuk in the opposite direction to which you are walking. Sleeping dogs. There are always sleeping dogs. The little shops which have evolved along much of the road are still closed, covered up in heavy duty plastic sheeting, often bright blue, the occasional flower garland or lime and chilli combo hanging from a rusty nail, vibrant in the early morning sunshine and against the blue plasticised background. The shopkeepers will remove the plastic later, also then beginning their almost constant task of sprinkling water on the road in front of their establishments to reduce the sand and dust. One or two of the posher shops have hardboard doors instead of plastic sheeting or even some windows.
Sometimes, the laundry/tailor opens fairly early and the tailor always has time to look up from his sewing machine outside and say good morning to any passers by. His wife, the launderer, decorates the threshold each morning with a ringoli, first of all chalking an outline of the pattern for that day, then neatly dropping differently coloured sands into the correct area to form a beautifully complex patterned graphic on the ground, all from sand and swept away at the end of each day. She is such an artist, so modest about her creations too. I always intend to make a photo collage from ringolis across the years when I get home, but just never seem to get around to it.
And this year, for the first time, a fruit shop too. Two actually. One is more of a stall than a shop, but its entrepreneurial owner offers a sideline in laundry. The shop further along the road makes its entrepreneurial statement with a juice extractor to supply ready whizzed concoctions to those who have become too beach lazy to peel their own fruit or to eat it whole.
On New Year’s Day morning, I noticed one of the traders burning a lamp just opposite his shop, part of a religious ritual and not one that I had come across previously. He was quite happy for it to be photographed.
And the bigger tailoring shop closer to the beach steps has a quite scary display collection of dummies dressed in examples of the available tailoring. Some of the clothing would not look out of place as stage costumes in a retro 1970s pop opera, pure Jesus Christ Superstar or Hair! Still, there must be a market.
And some evil road potholes, a fall into one of which caused me to fracture my ankle. Boo hoo.
But, otherwise, nothing really happens here, nothing much at all.