I was studying in Chennai,(India) ( known as Madras , those days) in IXth standard, and even in those days, my appreciation for nature was in full bloom. I used to climb on the small hill near my house, which is the famous hillock ' St.Thomas Mount', where there is a church in the name of the apostle.
There, I used to sit on a rock and face eastwards and strain my eyes to find whether the sea shore ( which was hardly 15kms away) was visible. I used to imagine that I could not only see the Bay of Bengal, but could even hear the sound of crashing waves. My school friends agreed to my 'findings' and went ahead to confirm that the sound of waves could be clearly audible, on Full Moon nights, when they slept on the terrace !!Such was the fascination for the sea, I decided to cover the distance by cycle from my house to the beach and enjoy time sitting there !.
I set out on a Sunday morning , from my residence , and as usual, nobody knew my programme. By road, to reach the nearest beach, in Adyar was a cycling distance of 15 to 20 Km and it took almost 3 hours for me to reach the place. After the landmark, Theosophical Society, there were only Casuarina Tree plantation and the swishing sounds through the trees from the strong winds, where the road to the beach was deserted, was an out of world experience for me, and I was slightly frightened since no one was there . The famous beach of Marina was, in fact, close by, with the city buzzing nearby and Santhome Church , standing as its landmark.
But, the Adyar beach, which was famously known as the 'Elliots Beach', was less inhabited and no one used to go there , save for some fishermen hamlets. But my natural attraction for dangers was predominant in my spot selection. I reached the Elliots Beach, somewhere around 11 in the morning.
What a beautiful sight ! The roaring waves as they crashed on to the shore was a mind-filling sight ! I quietly went near a small building and sat down there and watched. Since I did not know swimming, I was very afraid to go near the sea. I enjoyed its beauty from a safe distance.
After , may be an hour, when I looked around, I observed that the small building was , in fact, a stone memorial . in memory of a Dutch Sailor ' Karl Schmidt' who lost his life, rescuing a drowning swimmer. The name of the sailor is not recorded here from my memory, ( I must mention here that I have found out his name from the free encyclopedia- WIKIPEDIA- today , to write this article ) though , I remember vividly that the building was a memorial for someone, who died in the sea, trying to rescue some one. There was also a warning note , nearby, cautioning all those who visited the beach, not to go for swimming inside the sea, due strong water currents. I returned back to my house, in the afternoon. Now the beach is overcrowded.
It is known as Besant Nagar, with a cluster of colonies and crowded houses and maddening traffic. No Casuarina trees and no eerie sounds !!.Today, I just remembered my trip to this beach and knowing the details of memorial, I thought that the gentleman who died in the sea must have been Mr.Elliot and the beach was named after him. I tried to gather the details, through Google, from the WIKIPEDIA , free encyclobedia.
I typed out the name Edward Elliot . ( where did Edward come from , in all this,is something which I cannot say. ) There were a few pages on this name, and I selected one.It read: SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF EVERETT EDWARD ELLIOT OF THE HEROIC CREW S.S. TITANIC, DIED ON DUTY, APRIL-15, 1912, AGE: 24 YEARS.
'EACH MAN STOOD AT HIS POST WHILE ALL THE WEAKER ONES WENT BY AND SHOWED ONCE MORE TO ALL THE WORLD, HOW ENGLISHMEN SHOULD DIE '.There was nothing else ! I had a premonition that this same Elliot should have been re-born ( I have a strong faith in re-birth) and came to India during British Rule and the name Elliots Beach should have some mysterious connection with this again !.But, when I searched, the name of Mr. Karl Schmidt appeared, but strangely, the memorial is for the same reason ! I do not read between lines. It is your job.Regards.
By: Ramani Iyer