Where Three Oceans Meet
Rajani Larocca and Archana Sreenivasan
This story was inspired by author Rajani Larocca’s memories of a similar trip taken when she was a child.
Here, Sejal, her mother both USA residents, and Pati ( I think Sejal’s maternal grandmother,) who lives in India plan a trip to the southernmost tip of India, the place where three oceans meet – the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, and the Arabian Sea.
With their preparations and packing completed, (saris for Pati – nine yards long – and mum – six yards, t-shirts and jeans, with langas and blouses for best – that’s Sejal), in the girl’s first person narrative we follow members of three generations from Bangalore all the way to Kanyakumari, which Sejal refers to as ‘the end of the earth’.
They travel by car first to Chennai, where they sample the dosas, and then by train across the countryside of Tamil Nadu to Coimbatore where they stop to visit friends, enjoy a slow peaceful boat ride down the river, sip the water of tender green coconuts,
and wander in the colourful bazaars before moving on to Madurai with its amazing temple.
Finally they reach Kanyakumari, the place where three oceans meets, just like the three generations: ‘Pati, Mommy and me. One who lives in India, one who moved to America, and one who belongs to both … ‘ Three entwined as one, stronger than any alone.’
As well as showing how love transcends cultures and distance, and endures across vast continents, the author truly captures in words the assault on the senses that one experiences when first visiting India – all those wonderful sights, the gamut of sounds and smells in this story; while Archana Sreenivasan’s vibrant digital illustrations help readers feel they are right there with the travellers in this wonderfully warm intergenerational tale. I certainly felt as though I was right back on those sands at Kanyakumari that I visited way back on one of my many trips to southern India that also took in Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai. A memorable learning journey for one small girl, and for this reviewer, a journey down memory lane.
(There’s a map of the journey at the back of the book, as well as an author’s note and one from the illustrator.)