Sunday, July 18, 2010


Sorry guys, been really late in publishing this trip plan. I had lost the piece of paper where I had written it down, now I have found it and it is going online.

Trip Duration: 11 days (2 days transit – 9 days action)

To Andaman: Train from Goa – Bangalore – Chennai. Flight from Chennai – Port Blair.
Return: Flight from Port Blair – Chennai. Train from Chennai – Goa.

Within Andaman: Hire a cab. And where required – Cruise Ship.

Day 1: March 11, 2010

1.Cellular Jail – The symbol of British tyranny and the undying Indian Freedom Movement spirit. Huge structure, cut off from mainland India by more than 150 nautical miles. Standing in the center you’ll surely get an eerie feel of our forefathers still being there. A definite must is to visit VIR SAVARKAR’s prison cell where he was kept for 10 years. It is a pilgrimage for any one who thinks he/she is an Indian.

2.Followed up by a Light and Sound show which is narrated by the solitary Peepal Tree standing tall in the compound for over a century. ( the original tree was uprooted in the tsunami recently but it has been restored and replanted)

3.And round up the day with a sumptuous dinner courtesy our great tour planner – Nitiksh Srivastava.

Day 2 & 3: March 12 & March 13, 2010

1.Havelock Island – India’s best beaches can be found there. Pristine blue waters, so clear that you can see the ocean floor. Just like a swimming pool. Very low salinity in the water so eyes also don’t pain.
a.Radhangar Beach – Adjudged the world’s 2nd best beach. And it is almost deserted…very few tourists do it doubles up as a private beach. Great sunset.
2.Elephant Beach – Was wrecked by the tsunami but what was left behind, dead tree stumps…those add to the beauty of the beach. Snorkelling there is a must…the most beautiful corals you’ll ever see.
3.Barefoot Lunch – A pizza place run by a German lady. Amazing ambience, with a lot of coloruful posters dating back to 1930s Coca Cola posters. The DIAVOLO Pizza is my personal favorite there.

And let me add that we celebrated Pooja’s birthday at midnight on March 12. She was celebrating her B’Day in the Eastern Most part of the country. Nice way to surprise someone who’d never expect a celebration so far away.

Day 4: March 14, 2010

1.Water Sports at the Naval Complex – We had a guided tour of Indian Navy warships and then had a free run at the water sports facility in the Naval Complex. Had I and Nitiksh not been MBA grads, we would have got an Olympic Gold for India in Kayaking. For our kayaking exploits…ask the others on the trip.
2.Ross Island – Seat of British power in Andaman Islands. Overlooking the Cellular Jail but separated by a sea in between. What irony – on one side they tortured Indian Freedom Fighters and then came home to the other side and had a luxurious life. Today Ross Island is a national heritage island and is home to a large population of deer.
3.Chidiya Tapu – Close by to Port Blair is the Chidiya Tapu, another beach famous for sunsets and also a lot of bird sightings. But you have to be patient to see the birds ( We didn’t see any)

Day 5 & 6: March 15 & March 16, 2010

1.Baratang – Following the Jarwa Tribal trail, we took a 120 kms ride through a protected reserve where the last of aboriginal tribes are surviving in their natural habitats.
2.Mud Volcano – This is something you’ll rarely see anywhere. But yes, mud volcanoes do exist and they spew out…mud! Just like lava, they spew out mud and are hot..not as much as lava but yes, the mud bubbles.
3.Parrot Island – Ah, beautiful. Waiting in the middle of nowhere for parrots to flock to an island…known as the parrot island. We were thinking we were duped by the boatman but in just about half an hour easily 1400-1500 parrots descended on one island! It was cacophonous!
4.Limestone Caves – Wow! Saw Stalagmites and Stalactites in geography books only. Now saw them first hand and it was amazing. The caves remain closed during the rains as they get flooded and when the water recedes then the stalagmites and stalactites grow.
5.Mt. Harriet – Highest peak in Andaman Islands. Check out the Rs. 20 note. The picture at the back shows a lighthouse. That picture is shot from Mt. Harriet. It is a national reserve and has a variety of flora.

Day 7: March 17, 2010

1.Jollybouy – Another good place for snorkeling, the beach is okayish. But for me it is special as Lisa taught me how to float in water...both face up and face down. So now I know, I won’t drown…just need to learn to swim.
2.Wandoor Beach – Great place for photography. But was saddened by the chopping off of so many trees simply because a helipad had to be constructed for Mrs President!Duh!

Day 8 & 9: March 18 & March 19, 2010

a.Marina Beach – India’s longest beach. Take a morning jog or a run there.
b.Dakshin Chitra – amazing place! A collective display of the culture and arts of the four southern states. A them park based on culture. Great place for bangle shopping, artifacts and a lot of activities too…like pottery making, silk weaving etc.

This has been the best trip till date for me as I went to an unknown, mystical place (at least for me it was) and had an amazing time. Some of the most beautiful memories are connected to this trip and I will never forget this trip.

P.S. This is just what we did and where we went…there are many more places to go but we chose to leave out some places to cover as much as we could in a short span of time. Else any one planning for Andaman should also include Neil Island in the trip.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Maybe goodness hasn’t died as of yet

It’s strange. Sometimes things happen which make you take a step back and wonder – was that for real? In today’s fact paced world where people don’t have time for themselves, leave alone anyone else – how can someone come around to help you and not ask for anything in return?

It has happened twice till the time of writing this piece and I’m still amazed.

I was going to my office (Wipro Depot) from Durgapur and it was a slightly overcast day. As I got into the bus, it started raining but I thought that’s ok as the journey was 2.5 hours so the rains would subside by then. I reached Kolkata and from there took a second bus to Majerhat (where the depot is situated). From there on it is a small walk to the depot but as I got down, I saw the whole road submerged in water. Actually there is no road, it is a dirt track which was now muddy with water and people were wading through the water with shoes in one hand and trousers rolled up to the knees. I stood there standing, not able decide should I also do the same or should I do something else?

I decided to take a rickshaw across the water but couldn’t find any. I saw a car approaching and asked to take me across the water but to no avail. I tried flagging off a number of vehicles but none obliged.

Then a man crossed the water with his bicycle and turned around and asked me, “dada, oi side jaabe?” (You want to go that side?). And I hopped on to the bicycle and crossed the water logged track with ease. Once we were on the other side, I asked him how much. And he said, not a problem - just help someone when he asks for help. With this the man went back and I was left standing there, wondering if people still help strangers without anything in return.

The second time it happened recently when I was in Bhubaneswar and wanted to call my friend, but my phone balance was running low so I came out to find a pay phone. It was late in the night and no pay phone shop was open. I was just thinking what to do when a man asked what my problem was. I told him I was searching an STD booth and he said you won’t find any one open at this hour. He offered his phone to me and I was taken aback. How do people get so friendly? I used his phone to make an eight minute STD call and when I asked him how much should I give him, he just said – “koi na, kabhi hum Bangalore aaye to jagah ghuma dena”. (No worries, if I come to Bangalore sometimes, just give me a tour of the city). I was again dumb struck with the simplicity and geniality of the person.

These incidents show that no matter how cynical we become, how much profit centered our lives become, deep down inside each one of us is still the good human which God created in his own image and if we all can bring out that good human outside a little more, this planet would be a much better place to live on.

That's Life

Hits & misses, stolen kisses
That’s Life.

Skipping a beat, spotting ‘the one’ across the street
That’s Life.

Waking up from a bad dream, only wishing you could erase the dream
That’s Life.

Hoping and waiting, waiting for a miracle to happen
That’s Life.

Waiting to break free, ready to push the reset button
That’s Life.

Looking towards a better tomorrow, a lot more joy and a lot less sorrow
That’s Life.

Going through a lot of storms, but finally knowing what really matters
That’s Life.

Leaving behind friends, no idea when and where; but when you are all alone, you turn back to see them still here
That’s Life.

Wiping the dust off the mirror, and finally meeting the real you
That’s Life.

In the end shedding a tear, but ultimately being free of the fear
That’s Life.