The two most relieving vacations of school life are those that follow the horrendous 10th and 12th standard public examinations. If there are no picnics and tours planned during these periods, even the holidays become ireful. My 10th vacation still remains memorable for quite a few reasons. Firstly, I travelled by air for the first time ever in my life. Secondly, this flight was none other than the one directed to Port Blair. Yes, we were at the Andaman and Nicobar islands, not before clicking randomly at the blue horizon from the window seat and munching the snack provided.
However, our entry started off in a disastrous note as some higher official at the Veer Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair. Later, we came to know that the airport and the surroundings were under the control of the Indian Military and trespassers were prohibited from clicking pictures. We had to pay the fine but thank god, our photos weren't deleted. I still recall this negative yet hilarious experience with laughter.
Since we had planned our tour through makemytrip.com, our agent was promptly waiting at the arrival junction and picked us up. We put up at the luxurious Islander Inn, one of the most extravagant lodges of Port Blair. Our debut flight had made us totally exhausted but there was no relaxing. Two hours was all we had before visiting Corbyn Cove beach, which was some 20 kms from our place of stay.
There were various kind of trees lined up on both sides of the roads and the most interesting thing to note importantly about A&N is that there are no political parties involved in chaotic clashes, which means there are no party offices, no banners and no cut - outs. Being a union territory, the Lt. Governor is at the helm of affairs with only one Member of Parliament having the authority to represent a particular party. The second reason for unnecessary buzz, film stars, are also not concentrated in and around that region and hence the city of Port Blair remains pure and holy.
Coming to the Corbyn Cove, the beach was different from what we witness in our localities. The water was exactly the blue which we usually bring up by adding various effects in Adobe Photoshop. Chemists can easily cheat a layman by saying it is just copper sulphate.
There were no plastics in that zone and it was strictly monitored. The back and forth motion of water readily invited us but for the hard sand, we didn't venture to get in there, content with wetting just the legs. There were peculiar shelters made by some anonymous insects, which were more perfect than the arcs drawn by using the compass and other geometric equipment. Two eyes are surely not enough to witness the concentric semi - circles sculptured by those insects.
Our agenda for the first of five days was over and we had a nice dinner out there. There were many more to follow in the succeeding days. The next day, we visited Ross Island, which had been a noteworthy city during the reign of the British. On our mere stepping in, I couldn't resist admiring the constructional and architectural beauty of the place. True! Everything was organized in a well - planned manner. There was a bakery, a cathedral, a party hall, a relaxing lounge and more which the Beans had built for their comfort. These, albeit becoming old, still reveal the marvelous, intelligent brains behind those brick and mortar structures. The cathedral was entwined by the branches of banyan trees, which looked like garlanding the strong, religious building. Call it illusion or hallucination, the bakery seemed to emit the smell of cakes and buns though there was nothing practically.
Following it up was Viper Island, where a boatman explained the people with sheer patriotism and brimming emotions, how Indian freedom fighters were hung to death cruelly by the Englishmen. His speech moved the visitors to tears and I was weeping for 10 minutes even after leaving the spot. The hanging spot, whose roof stretched to more than 50 feet, signified heights of sacrifice done by the patriotic nationalists.
The evening was lighted up with the Light Show at the Cellular Jail, where the greatness of the Indians who were ready to shed blood for our nation were brought out effectively by the various lights juxtaposed with deep, coarse voice playing in the background. The best way to make someone patriotic, irrespective of their nationality, would be to make them hear and watch this show at least once in their lifetime.
The next day, we had to go to the Jolly Buoy Island, which is very famous for coral reefs and is one of the very few beaches where diving and ferrying are allowed. We had to sail in a mini ship, which was called Mac Cruze. It was a two - hour long travel in the shopping mall - like atmosphere, filled with various stalls of entertainment and food. Viewing the blue waters from inside the cruise was again a blissful experience. The water here was the alter ego of copper sulphate, too and numerous jelly fish could be spotted. The mere touching of their sponge - like body made me feel the cold douche of water. Theirs was the softest skin, beating that of a new - born baby. It was a treat to watch these bubble - like creatures floating here and there in the water surface. The safety of visitors was given due preference as everyone who wished to dive and explore the unexplored was provided with oxygen masks, cylinders and accompanied by a guide, who had the expertise of the underworld. This took our entire day off but it was worth to have spent a day in an oblivious kingdom.
On the fourth day, we went to the Cellular Jail, about which I had studied in books. However, being there personally was different from what I had read earlier. There was a Jyoti, a fire - lit lamp, which natives said, would be burning 24*365 to resonate the remembrance of the countless lives, who left this world after going through untellable sufferings. The only admirable aspect about the British throughout the tour was their architectural prodigy and it continued here also. It was an asterisk - type construction with six different arms protruding along different directions. Each one of these arms had a particular point from where the whole view could be seen. But, my adoration for the Whites soon disappeared as my heart was increasingly becoming outrageous and scornful.
Each cell was about 6 feet in length and 2 feet in breadth and there were stories of 8 - 10 people being forced compulsively to stay in a single cell without any toilet facilities. This meant that they had to excrete, eat and take bath all at the same place. I was clenching one of the rods of the cell door as I read this unable to imagine and visualize their agony. There were also other forms of trouble, where a single person was asked to extract 80 to 90 pounds of oil from sesame seeds while the strongest cow, which was normally used for this purpose, could muster up only 16 - 20 pounds. However, failing the target would mean more cruel punishments. This was not the Do or Die situation. More than that, this was Die Doing It or Die By Not Doing It.
When we boarded the flight back, I was filled with fun - filled and thoughtful memoirs of the island territory. This is only about the few islands of just Andaman. Going to Nicobar would span a separate schedule, which was beyond our budget and time.
P.S.: A&N is a conglomerate of 540 + islands, both inhabited and uninhabited.
Visit To Ranthambhore National Park
Living Life Off The Coast!
Kallanai - The Dam Of Pride
Venice Of The East
Marvels Of Mumbai