Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Scuba Diving: An Experience Worth Reminiscing & Sharing


There comes a time in everyone 's life when clouds of disappointments and doubts reign over your head. The same thing happened to me in Havelock,  the scuba diving destination. (Yes! You got that right. It has to do with Scuba diving).

To dive a few feet below the surface of the water,  the weather conditions should be ideal and high tides are an absolute NO. In my case,  when I reached the spot at the Barefoot Scuba,  the guy at the center informed that the conditions weren't ripe for dive. All my hopes were shattered in a flash of a second. It wasn't about the money at all. But, about the lost opportunity which I could experience only here (at least in India). The other popular scuba diving destinations are Australia of course with its shrinking Great Barrier Reef, Maldives, and Seychelles to name a few.

So,  after waiting for about an hour or so, he finally gave the costumes to change and the thought of diving reflected  in my eyes. At that moment, I was going through a gamut of emotions ranging from eagerness, enthusiasm, nervousness and last but not the least -  the shark attack. Yes! Even this thought did came to my mind because as a child,  I had seen the monstrous shark's Deep Blue Sea. Well, don't worry! I didn't mean to scare you because they don't take the beginners in such deep crevices of the water.  Since imagination knows no bounds,  this thought occurred in my head.

So,  we had a 45 minutes training session before going into the crystal clear warm waters of the Bay of Bengal. The instructor tells you about controlled breathing and the important signs to communicate with him under the water. Since  you will be tied to an oxygen mask cylinder, there is no other way to communicate than with signs.

After successfully learning all that,  he took some photographs for cherishing and then I was set free (not in the true sense because a trainer comes with you. So it is 100% safe and nothing to worry about your life) to experience the magical world beneath. Nature is bounty with such amazing flora and fauna that it is hard to believe and sometimes you feel like as if you are in heaven. It was truly once in a lifetime and an unforgettable experience to witness such a colorful and wealthy underwater marine life . Happiness comes in several forms and this was one for me.





In between the dive, another team member comes and ask us to pose so that you have something to remember and take back home the good memories of it. Finally, after half an hour, the session comes to an end and it is time to leave the place but not without a smile and a satiating  feeling.



The front desk operator, a foreigner handed over the video and photographs that were taken under water along with a certificate of completion.

The time came when we were to move to our next location, i.e., Kalapatthar Beach. Well, I had two options that time. Either to visit elephant beach or the Kalapatthar one and I chose the latter because my mother in law were all praises about this particular beach. On the way, I asked my Driver Ashish, why is it named so and what constitutes the black water in the middle of the all-green sea blue beach? Well,  he told me like the beach is aptly named because it has black stones and when the sun rays shone over them, it reflects black color, hence you see that color. And everything was clear after that.
I researched on the same after coming back and the black color was due to the black rocky limestone formation which juts out from the land towards the sea.




When we reached in the afternoon, It was practically empty (just what I wanted as I despise crowd and I avoid crowded places) with a few foreigners around tanning in the sun. We had plenty of US time to spend there. We loitered around and walked barefoot on the beach together holding hands and writing on the Sand gave us sheer delight.




After spending good 3 hours, we decided to retire to our hotel room and just chat. So,  after a hearty session of meaningful talks, we decided to take a stroll around the resort which had a private beach within its premises. Our resort had one beautiful thing which was its location. It was in the middle of the jungle and it gave me goosebumps at the thought of meeting a wild animal.

After making a way, we saw the sun setting in the horizon where sun and sea meets.  It was a truly incredible sight to behold. With no cell phones or cameras that one moment was precious and we were glad we did not take these things with us and just watched as the sun hid behind the clouds.

After half an hour or so, the weather changed and it started thundering so hard. Man, I got scared!  We were alone on the beach and had not a single soul. I recalled Bear Grylls' survivor stories. The beach was a 15-minutes walk from our room and we rushed from the place immediately. En-route, we lost our path a few times, but finally managed to reach the right spot - in front of the room.

We decided to rush to the nearest restaurant for dinner because our resort had no great vegetarian food and specialty was obviously sea food. So,  we walked and headed straight to the nearest restaurant and had amazing delicacies. Only the pizza was pathetic. Rest everything was edible.

On OUR return, It started raining and we were alone on the Road - Walking slowly and enjoying the feeling of getting drenched in the first shower together. That was another undefined feeling.

Until next time

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Travelogue Straight From The Havelock Islands


PART III - 

People reading this blog may find our journey quite hectic because it demanded punctuality. If we are to move around and see places, we need to get ready "on time". So, the third day was scheduled for a Makruzz Jetty Ride that took us to Havelock Island. The only mode of transportation available to reach Havelock from Port Blair was sea and both government and private jetties run on this route daily. 

The Government Jetties Stationed @ Phoenix Bay

Makruzz - Private Ferry Available From Phoenix Bay Jetty 

After going through the reviews on TripAdvisor, we picked the ride in a Makruzz which offered a luxurious and personalized services to its guests. The interiors were clean and during the ride, they told about the safety measures to be taken in an event of any mishappening. As we were faring in the gigantic Bay of Bengal, the safety precautions were a must. 

The engine of the cruise along with the tides of the water landed us at the Govind Nagar Island at 0930 hours. En-route, wherever our eyes reached, there was water all around us. It was such a heaven and I was wondering how would it be like living on an island. On landing, our driver was waiting to transfer us to the Wild Orchid & Beach Resort.

The Welcome View @ Govind Nagar Island, Hacelock

Resting Huts at Havelock



We were to spend the following two nights in the Havelock Island which is more popular as the Diving Destination. After resting for a while, our driver picked us up right at 1300 hours from the resort. We were about to relax furthermore at Radhanagar Beach which lies on the South Coast of Havelock Island. The TIME Magazine has rated this beach as one of the best beaches in ASIA. So, we already had that information and were damn excited to see what the beach have for us. To me, it was a little crowded, but if I go on defining its beauty, words will definitely fall short. Let the picture speak for it. 

   
@ Radhanagar Beach

The beach was surrounded by dense forest and there was a little Shiv Mandir but that was a little off-located and you need some guts to travel in an unknown place like that where a few tribes of aboriginals are aggressive. So, I and Sachin decided to follow the marks and thankfully we reached the right spot. The temple wasn't grand and since we had no guide, we did not know why it was located at such a secluded place. There was not a single person around to ask for the directions if we would've lost our paths to the beach. But, I suppose it must have been constructed post the devastating 2004 Tsunami.



By the time we finished splurging in the cool blue water it was dawn. So we decided to make way for the resort. En-route, we stopped to have the local fruit chaat. As the vendor was sprinkling lemon, I noticed a huge sized lemon thing. On asking , he said that this is what they reap after growing lemon in the fields. Thus, I had the opportunity to taste the 'real', organic and chemical free fruits and lemon. Living in such a place has its own hassles and advantages, but I would see more advantages than difficulties on living on an island like this. 

The Lemon

Fruit Chaat Made From Locally Procured Fresh Fruits
On our way back, I initiated a conversation with our driver Babul who was a young, energetic and an enthusiastic man in mid-20s. I asked him about the local culture and faith, the native language (which is Hindi) that people use. Their mainstay is Tourism and export of Supari. The Supari trees can be found in abundance here. 

He also told me that they don't throw the cover of the coconuts. In fact, they make use of the same in making bus seats out of it. These people try to recycle everything till the time it is of no use. While discussing the tribals, he informed that they do come to their homes to eat sometimes, but they do not harm them. This shows two things - First, the apathy in which these aboriginals are living in without food and secondly, the peaceful co-existence of the modern and indigenous man. Babul was telling all this with great interest and he even said that there are certain Out Of Bound Areas in Little Andaman where more dangerous Onges and Nicobarese tribes live. Both these tribes are known to attack the outsider and that is why entry to the Nicobar Islands is strictly prohibited. 

There are over 570 islands in Andaman itself, but only 30 are inhabitable and the remaining islands are under government control. Since the driver was so co-operative, we asked him to take us to the local market instead of the resort to have a local fruit for our memory. He took us there and we first had a natural freshly made ice-cream at Amore and later bought Chakotra. That was a sheer delight for me. I love trying everything local. The fruit belonged to Orange Family and was sour in taste. 
Chakotra - Native Fruit
On our return from the local market, the driver was fined for parking at the wrong side. So, we paid for it because he stopped the car for us. After much reluctance, he finally agreed to accept the money.

That's how the venturous second day ended in the islands. More to follow. 

Until next time! 

FADED MEMORIES & TRAIN JOURNEYS

As a kid, I’ve always had a fascination to travel in train. As I crave travelling (which is of course deeply entrenched in my genes and over the period of time, the craving just got deeper and deeper to the extent that I aspire to become a globetrotter... God save you Sachin Aggarwal), summer and winter vacations used to bring us a respite from the monotony...

Mumma made sure that we visit nanaji's house (maternal grandfather) at least twice a year during summer and winter breaks.

Before my marriage, my longest train journey used to last just three hours..(post that it's 13 long hours.. Just a single 1 is added though). But those three hours meant the world to me and I used to eagerly Wait for the station Master to give the green signal to our train. Another reason for my excitement was the bookstore at the station.. Papa made sure that we had a copy of champak, twinkle or Amar Chitra Katha .. I'm sure these names doesn't sound alien to the majority of the kids from the 90s.

The fascination to grab the window seat hasn't gone still and the situation was same then. It used to be the window seat that offered me glimpses into the world and path that I had never seen and trailed before. The lush green, yellow - mellow fields , cows, buffalos, and kids bathing in small streams , hut houses, the vast expanse of land lying idle waiting for the seeds to be sown , the sound of another train passing by, the black long tunnels, public chatter , and what not. Have you experienced ever when the sound of train changes Whenever it rushes overhead a bridge? If you haven't, listen to it carefully, I love that sound and I'm sure you'll love it too..

Wheel of time spun so fast (faster than the speed of light) that I didn't realize I've grown this big. Studies, more studies and even more studies and later career kept us so busy that the journey which once used to give me immense pleasure, faded from my memory completely .

Today, As again I am Walking down the same lane, Memories gushed from the eyes. This was my imagination of heaven . The abandoned places, trees, shrubs, parched lands, cows, buffalos, surreal sunsets, exotic sunrises. WOW

IT WAS IN THIS MOMENT, I REALIZED THAT WE SHOULD KEEP REVISITING THE GOOD MEMORIES FROM OUR PAST TO STAY ROOTED...
SOIL IS OUR IDENTITY AND ONE DAY WE ALL HAVE TO DISAPPEAR IN THIS SOIL.
Until next time.
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