It was quite an odd coincidence that I finished a book that has a lot of sea in it on the day of the second anniversary of the day when I finally realized a dream of living within half a mile of the sea. Today I finished Linda Greenlaw’s ‘Hungry Ocean’ which is all about a thirty day trip into the Atlantic Ocean as captain of a boat fishing for swordfish. It is a good book and I wished I too could go out on such adventures out on the sea. Exactly this day two years ago I set out for the Andamans for a three month stay. My family and friends wondered if I had gone mad when I told them I was going to the Andamans.
‘You must be out of your mind to visit the Andamans at this time of the year’, was what a friend said when I told him I had got a media fellowship with an NGO based in Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Contrary to his expectation that I would be back within the week I stayed there for the three months of the fellowship. Those three months were some of the most wonderful days of my life and I shall never forget the beautiful memories I gathered on my trips around the islands. The trip was a sort of a wake up call to me because I learnt so many things on that trip and also met a lot of wonderful people.
Though I am not connected anyway with the media, the NGO offered me a ‘media fellowship’ that was for three months. They took me on the basis of my experience in agriculture and my insignificant writing experience. I was glad I got selected because when I applied for it I didn’t even expect to be considered. But imagine being selected and told over the phone to come over in less than a week! It wasn’t even enough time to have second thoughts. Luckily, the bosses in the department where I was working were enthusiastic and let me go.
A week later I was in Port Blair hesitant and nervous about what would be waiting for me. I had learnt that Andaman was all jungle and nothing else. Well, most of it is jungle but it is a beautiful jungle with the beautiful, blue sea all around. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I haven’t been to Hawaii, the Carribean and all those beautiful islands that people go crazy about so cannot compare Andaman with those places. To me it is the most beautiful place in the world.
During the three months I stayed there I got time on weekends to travel and travel I did. I went to a new place every Sunday and returned amazed at the beauty of the place. Port Blair itself is a beautiful, sleepy little place with the Indian Ocean on all three sides. I lived in an apartment that was barely half a mile from the sea. The day begins at four am in the morning here and on some days I went to the Marina early in the morning. A beach is the most calmest and beautiful place to be early in the morning. Though it was peak summer and also the time when the monsoon rolled into the country there was picture perfect weather. It was sunny almost all the time though there were days when the rain simply fell down from the clouds endlessly for days together. One only has to experience it to know how it feels to be in a paradise.
The highlight of my trip was a solo twelve-day road trip across the Andamans. I went up north upto the tip of the Island to Diglipur. I cannot describe the many beautiful places and scenes I saw on that trip. I will write more about the trip in other posts. I made a lot of friends on that trip. I was the oldest person in that NGO that seemed full of young people in their twenties. A lot of them must have felt puzzled to find a forty plus bald fellow with silver beard in their midst. I had strange encounters and for the first time in my life I snorkeled and found beauty even at the bottom of the sea. This trip to the Andamans marked many firsts in my life. I will write about them in another post in the near future.