How do you chase a sunset?

Watching the sun go down (or watching it rise) is something that is sought after and deeply satisfying, no matter what part of the world you live in. In India, I would often go to the terrace of our duplex on my day off, and watch a flaming, obese sun go down in a sky interspersed with electricity wires and cables and rooftops of duplexes and shops, and watch it being calmed and lulled to sleep, as the sky gently smothered its anger.

I remember going to Mt Abu on a work trip and being at first, hesitant about visiting its famed sunset point. Too many crowds, I thought to myself. It was indeed crowded – honeymooners, lovers, families, tourists – taking up every possible inch on every little boulder or rock to catch the sunset. And even though I had resisted going there, I was mesmerised when the sun decided to go down. I don’t know if I have a picture of that sunset. I don’t think I owned a mobile phone with a good camera then. But I still remember the moment. The moment when the sun went down and sky put on a spectacular show.

I do own a reasonably good mobile handset now – one that has a very good camera function. And it has come in handy. For after we moved to Dublin, and to our rented apartment, almost every evening, I have revelled in the sunsets and taken numerous photographs.

These photographs also set me thinking about the numerous sunsets over the years that have captured my imagination and found a permanent home in my memories. The photographs are amateur and don’t capture the wonder and the awe and the magic of those sunsets. However the mind is a different matter altogether – it has faithfully recorded these memories, and like a personalised playlist, it plays these songs on demand.

The sun sits on the rooftops, Ghent, Belgium, December 2015

So you can’t really see the sun setting here or the sun itself. We had just stepped out of a cafe and I saw the rooftops bathed in a beautiful golden yellow. For a minute, I was startled. I remember being taken aback, caught in the beauty of the moment. Why is that, I asked my husband – pointing to the golden rooftops and the Ferris wheel in the distance . It’s the sun setting, Prerna – what do you think, my husband laughed. I think I will always remember Ghent that way, bathed and enveloped in a golden embrace.

Muted and mellow at the Trevose Lighthouse, Cornwall, December 2016

We were wandering in the vicinity of the Lighthouse at Trevose, and the sun was due to set. There were no bold colours. It was muted and mellow. But there was a most tranquil quality about the way it chose to go down, as if stooping down humbly to kiss the waters, almost like saying – ‘I need to go now, my love, but I will see you tomorrow.’

The last bus home, Gozo, Malta, March 2018

We had spent a delightful day in Gozo and had just gotten off the ferry at Cirkewwa. Next, we had to catch a bus that would take us home to our Airbnb at Birkirkara.

We were on a tight lease. When we alighted from the ferry, the crowds at the bus stops were swarming. They seemed to grow and like a murmuring, changed shapes and directions as people ran after an incoming bus only to find out it was the wrong one and then ran back again to reclaim their spot in the crowd awaiting the next bus.

Suddenly, my husband asked me to look at the sky. It was nearing sunset and the sky had turned up the magic. Over the sea, the oranges and reds and yellows floated and merged into one another. They teased the sea – here, we are ready to dive in, wait, we have changed our minds! He wanted to run across the road and find a footing on the rocks. But what if we missed the last bus back home? We will do something, he said, and asked me to hurry up.

Did we miss the bus? More here:

The sun never sets, Stockholm, Sweden, July 2018

It was summer in Sweden and we (a girlfriend and me) had taken a taxi to go to the Fotografiska museum in Stockholm. Located in an historical industrial building at the harbour of the island Södermalm, it had beautiful views of the sea and it was open till late in the night. The friend and I thought this was a good way to spend our evening/night since we were not interested in night clubs or dancing. Since the sun set pretty late in the day – about 10-ish in July in Stockholm, I was in for a treat. The sunset stretched late into the night and I remember it being a very unusual experience to be in a museum during the night-time and to be able to take in the sunset over the sea while being there.

Moving in sunset, Dublin, Ireland, December 2018

We had just moved to our rented apartment in Dublin after living for about three and half weeks in a service apartment. It was our first or so week at our new digs. And just as a welcome home present, I saw these colours. It was to be our first taste of things to come. Because the views from the balcony in our apartment, especially of the sunsets, are amazing.

Here are some of the pictures taken over the past year.

The sun is a tea bag – dipping into a clear sky, Reading, United Kingdom, May 2019

After about five years of living in Reading, UK, we moved to Dublin, Ireland in 2018. I miss Reading with a fierceness that I cannot articulate or understand. I always thought that home is Baroda, India. I didn’t know that my heart had expanded to include and love Reading as much as I loved Baroda. There have been so many times that we forget we live in Dublin now, especially while returning home from a holiday and we say, oh god, it’s so good to be going back to Reading – only to realise we don’t live there any more.

This photograph was taken on a visit to Reading this year, from our hotel balcony. It appeared to me as if the sun was like a tea bag, dipping into the clear skies and letting out a shriek of oranges and reds.

Between the balloons and over the sea, Goreme and Uskudar, Turkey, August 2019

Chasing sunsets is my husband’s favourite thing to do on holidays. No matter how many buses we miss or how many steps do we need to climb in order to get to the viewing point, he would always chase a sunset, with me in tow. I am not complaining, not in hindsight at least. For because of him, we get to experience and capture some beautiful moments. Here are two from Turkey. The first is from a local park in Uskudar. The second is from Goreme, Cappadocia.

I have also realised in hindsight that the bit that is so magical about sunsets is also what happening around us, and not just in the skies. People returning from work, families laid out in parks and beaches, mountains and boulders on holidays, moments of leisure, of stolen kisses and romances, the sound of the evening bell from the temple… Of the boiled and salted peanuts enjoyed on a vacation while watching the sun go down, or a relatively dull day lifted up by the sheer brilliance in the sky, and the sense of community, a sort of shared experience that we get when you find that many other people are enjoying and rejoicing, sharing a similar pleasure as they watch the sun going down.

Here’s to the sun going down, and rising faithfully the next day – every day.

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