Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My most memorable holiday...

I know the title seems like the title for a school essay to describe your most memorable holiday. And I admit, it is exactly like that.
Yesterday, my friend called me to discuss and plan his family vacation down to South India, since I had already been to those places, where he is planning to visit. After talking to him, I went back to the memory lanes of that vacation of mine, by far the most memorable and loving.
We (I-ma-papa) planned for a 20 day trip in December, 2003 to Andaman’s and South India. You can get down to Port Blair (capital of Andaman’s & Nicobar) only from either Kolkatta or Chennai. So, we chose the former. Stayed over in Kolkatta for a day, visited few places and then set off for Port Blair flight (which was 8 hours late). The moment I stepped out of the plane, I had to pull off my jacket (it was a cold winter morning in Kolkatta) even before I stepped down the stairs. It was so humid. But 15 minutes after stepping on the island, I could feel better. Landed up in a decent hotel and in the evening were off to the “Kala Pani” jail. It was a horrifying trip there to see such small cells, in which almost 8-9 inmates were stuffed without letting them come out for as long as 4 days, not even to answer the nature’s call, the dungeon where they were hanged and where their bodies would fall, the oil grinding machine on which they were tied, with heavy weights around their necks, to crush the oil out of the seeds/coconut instead of bulls, the place where they were tied up and thrashed. Later, watched an amazing light and sound show. Was almost in tears throughout the show. Just walk down the jail to the vast water sports complex. The moment we stepped into the complex through vast gates, was welcomed by such cool and fresh air which had enough speed to blow off the empty chairs. Next day went in local sight-seeing. Went to watch the Chatham Saw Mill, Asia’s biggest saw mill. God, such a huge saw cutting such huge tree trunks!!! Then to the zoo, the coral museum and then the tribal museum. You click anywhere and will get the perfect scenic frame. In the evening, our driver, Ganesh, took us to Chidiya Tapu. A small beach, with such clean and still water, surrounded by full grown trees on 3 sides and the mountain on the 4th side. During that time, so many birds would gather on the trees (may be their home) and chirp continuously. Calm water with trees around and birds singing to mark the sunset. Perfect. Yet another day, we started very early in the morning to visit a far off island. Nothing great about the island but on the way to it, we could confront a tribe- Jharawas. Deadly and dangerous. Following the same life-style as we have read in our history books. Naked, self made weapons, hunt and eat wild animals (just for these tribes, hunting is legally allowed), dark and would attack you anytime. Our driver procured the special permission (which is mandatory for this trip) from the commissioner’s office and armed himself with lots of bananas. I asked him curiously the reason for so many bananas, he said casually, if attacked, I will offer them bananas and try to distract them so that we can escape. What???? Do we have chances of being attacked and killed by tribal family in the most ancient style of murder? Yes. That’s why all the tourist cars pass the area with police protection. One armed policeman in the first car of the convoy and the other in the last one. All the drivers are trained and have different types of horns in case someone have been left behind or have been caught by the tribal or got some problem with the car. We travelled by zig-zag road, throughout which policemen would stand guard after every few kms. Then loaded our cars on ferry boats (which can even load buses) and crossed the sea and back on road. But saw just one jharawa man, who was traced back into the forest by one of the policeman, as he was ready to puncture our tyre with his bow-arrow. Stayed overnight in a small village and the smallest hotel. Again started back to Port Blair and this time our car was stopped with a complete family. More than excited, I was scared. They looked so horrible. Since a policeman was in our car, so obviously, I was “legally” not allowed to click them but my driver tried to give me enough time but with a word of caution of not using the flash or else we will get in trouble. But I got so engaged to watch them that I could not handle my camera and I missed the shot. I know that was stupid of me. On our way back, stopped by to walk deep into a forest to visit the Mud volcano. It was still burning hot with bubbles and we were standing on top of it. Wow. Next day, we first went to a Botanical garden and then to one of the islands famous for viewing underwater life- corals. We are not allowed to litter any garbage there. We pay security amount for each plastic bottle we take and get it back when we show them; any one missing, you are fined. I swam in the Bay of Bengal (the divers took me, of course, I am not a swimmer) and saw so many beautiful fishes and corals. Such clean water, I doubted if I am in India.
Well, I can go on and on. Still the second part of my journey, South India, is left. But enough heavy dose for all of you.

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