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Paradise found on a Vanishing Land
by Pooja Amritkar

Growing up with a true Mumbaikar spirit, I have always been accustomed to the lively sounds and bustling crowds of the city. With all the expansive beaches enveloping this city, I quickly developed a fondness for the sea. Whenever we visited Juhu Beach, I would see children gleefully playing in the sand, families unwinding on a well-deserved weekend, couples strolling along the shoreline, young boys playing cricket and vendors eagerly offering ice gola or peanuts to anybody who would listen. And of course, let’s not forget the array of restaurants dotting the beach, serving everything from pav bhaji to ice creams.

 

It became hard for me to imagine a beach with no crowd, that would be a bit too fictional, wouldn’t it? As I grew older and travelled to different destinations, I came across some pristine beaches and islands but it wasn't until I set foot on Jarada Island, situated near Bahrain, that I finally realized how it feels to be on a beach without another footprint in sight.

 

Bahrain, a hidden treasure in the Middle East, is a destination I was confident would be worth exploring. So off I went and made a couple of friends along the way. Our charming local guide, Eman, originally from Egypt and now settled in Bahrain, led us on a tour of the local attractions but one of the places she was excited to show us was Jarada Island. She kept insisting that we would love it but having seen enough beaches, we were a bit sceptical. ‘How was this beach going to be any different?’ I thought to myself. Our original plan to visit the island faced a setback due to bad weather but the next day, luck was on our side. We woke up at 6 AM with a clear sky and we were down in the hotel lobby by 7 AM, everybody dressed in their prettiest beach outfits. One could see the glow and excitement on our faces as we indulged in a quick breakfast, grabbed our sunglasses and headed towards our car.  ‘Ready.’ Eman asked. ‘Always.’ We grinned back.

 

Reaching a small marina, we got into our speedboat and I could feel the shimmering sea calling to us. We wore life jackets, settled into seats at the boat's bow and clutched the rails as we started our journey towards the island, fighting the big waves of the Gulf. Every ten minutes, we would narrow our eyes and search the vastness of the sea, hoping to catch a glimpse of land that might be the island. Yet, all we could see was the endless expanse of water. The shimmering blue sea took our breath away until the colour changed to turquoise and the boat slowed down. I quickly stood up, turning my head around to see this legendary island but all I could see was a small patch of golden sand a white tower-like structure on it. Surely, that couldn’t be the island everybody is talking about. It is just so… tiny.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the boat anchor was put down, Eman grinned and pointed to the island – ‘We are so lucky, there’s no one here.’ And that’s when I squinted my eyes to scan the land properly and true enough, there was not a soul in sight. I gasped in shock, being from Mumbai, I had learnt that any place without a crowd was simply priceless. Eman further explained the significance of this island and what makes it so special - Jarada island is a vanishing island, a place that disappears under a blanket of blue waves during the high tide only to emerge during the low tide.

 

We gazed in sheer awe as the waters lowered, revealing more of its hidden land. The excitement only rose as we stepped into the chilly sea and walked the short path towards the island. The first step I took on the white sand, my feet sighed with pleasure at the softness. Each grain seemed to caress my skin and the sand moulded itself to the contours of my soles in a tender embrace, as if to say, "Welcome to Paradise."

 

The fresh air was a welcoming respite from the usual polluted air and the sun’s warmth felt relaxing on the skin. I’d get a tan but it was so worth it. As I looked around, I saw that a few of my friends had already climbed onto the white tower to take pictures. I grinned at their enthusiasm and ran to the other side, gazing into the infinite sea. I watched my footprints on the sand, the only ones on that side. It was such a surreal moment as if we were the island’s secret voyagers and with the next high tide, any evidence of our presence would have vanished.

 

We walked as far as the land would take us, stepping into the cool embrace of the sea and I could feel the waves washing away the stresses of everyday life. One of us did Kayaking while most of us lazily lounged on the beach chairs, basking in the tranquillity and sharing our life stories. What started as strangers when we first met, we were now wanderers happily isolated on an island. As we waited for the barbeque, we were offered Oman Chips and cold drinks. I tasted the Oman chips for the first time and instantly fell in love with the crunchiness. We raptly listened to Eman tell us stories about the history of Bahrain and its long-term association with pearl diving. She told us that along the shores of Jarada Island, nestled in the embrace of the Gulf, lie oysters concealing precious pearls. And although we didn’t get a chance to go hunting for them, I couldn’t help but wonder about all the treasures the ocean hides from us. Once the barbeque was ready, we indulged in chicken, vegetable salad, fruits, and sandwiches. We filled our stomachs with food and our hearts with engaging conversations. I could feel a bond forming around us, a string of an ever-lasting friendship between strangers.

 

 

 

Eman encouraged us to dance and all of us being Indians at heart, couldn’t resist the urge to do the signature ‘Kaho na pyaar hai’ dance step on the beach. We did feel like Rohit and Sonia, stuck on an island with no one else around.

 

All too soon, it was time to bid farewell to this serene escape and re-enter the bustling rhythm of everyday life. With a heavy heart, we got back into the boat and waved goodbye to the island as the tides rose and the island gradually vanished but its beauty forever remains etched in our memories, a reminder of the fleeting wonders of our world.

Jarada Island - The vanishing island during low tide. Photo by Pooja Amritkar..jpg
Bahrain Skyline. Photo by Pooja Amritkar..jpg
Image by Evie S.
Image by Kenny Eliason

Pooja Amritkar is a passionate writer, wanderer and content creator. She writes fictional novels, poems and travel articles with equal panache. She has a Master’s degree in Technology and worked in the IT industry for over six years until she decided to take a leap of faith and follow her passion. She now explores destinations, cultures, cuisines, and landscapes, capturing the essence of each journey through her lens and her pen. She lets her imaginative mind run free as she drafts compelling stories of wonder and adventure. She loves to doodle and needs a cup of tea every morning.

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