This choice is mostly on account of its seasonal spirit – the shot was taken on the morning of Christmas Eve in Varkala, Kerala, India in 2012. That morning the beach was full of people, promenading on the sand, enjoying the sea air, and partaking in various religious rites. A local priest had set up a small shrine on the beach, the altar built atop a mound of sand, and some smallish painted idols had been placed nearby. Kerala has a large Christian community, courtesy of Portuguese colonialism, and it was interesting to see how Christmas celebrations were blended with more traditional practises. Some locals made offerings of rice and flowers to the sea, wading in knee-deep, though very few, apart from the local canoe fishermen, went further into the water.
The early crowd can be seen in the background; the stretch of beach on which the man runs was tidally cut off by a cluster of rocks, out of shot, and was near deserted. At 0700 AM, it was already warm and the humid haze can be seen building in the greyish sky. The water was a bath-like 24-25 degrees and remained shallow for almost a hundred metres out to sea.
This young man seemed a rare sight – apart from playing cricket, or the all too common back-breaking physical labour, it isn’t that common to see Indian people exercising in public. He had a real spring in his step and seemed quite delighted with his morning run. Whether he was a local or one of the many tourists who had come to spend Christmas at the sea, I’m not sure, but he certainly offered a celebratory spirit on that jetlagged first morning in India.