Despite myself, here I am sharing my travel experience. It’s a first, and I am more than glad that I am finally doing it.
My hubby and I with a couple of friends left from Nagpur on the 1st of July, 2017, for Port Blair via Kolkatta. Nagpur is still developing as a metropolitan city like Mumbai, Bangalore, and Kolkatta. But it will take a while. The city is quite populated but rather not properly connected with most places of India by air. Leave alone major cities globally. Hence, Kolkatta has become our hot spot destination to travel to other places.We took a train journey to Kolkatta from Nagpur and from there we flew to Port Blair.
This was the first time I flew with Air Vistara airlines. I am not going to say I enjoyed my flight experience quite as much. Not my kind of airline, not that I would be recommending it to anyone. I fail to understand what is with airlines these days? Flight seats have become congested and crummy. Free meals tasted like feet. The stale, sickening smell of paneer tikka churned my stomach. I guess they served veg cutlets with them. Equally, foul tasting. I gave up and asked for a non-veg meal instead, being a little hopeful. But out of all the dishes, they could have prepared from chicken they decided upon serving chicken samosas! For heaven’s sake. I survived. Washed it down with milk-powdered, lukewarm tea.
Airlines really upset me with the way they package meals in fancy, over the top, cardboard boxes. Which in comparison to the food that is served, makes me internally abhorrent. Instead, if they could have invested the time and money on preparing better meals for their passengers, it would change how people thought of flight food.
Anyway, surviving flight journeys felt less stressful in comparison to what had to be faced in Port Blair. I was being crazily meticulous about the entire trip of seven days to Andamans; partly because my hubby and I weren’t soul searching together and also because both of us had taken responsibility for hotel bookings, cruises, activities, and finances. Not that I didn’t like the idea of being in charge of logistics, but socializing kind of gets on my nerves.
Abi (My hubby) knows this about me. I have always had a different take on relationships and friendships and people. Just that most of the time, I prefer being alone with any given place.
I had priorly booked with an agency to travel places in Port Blair. For car drives, pick ups. We were eight of us. Including Abi and me.
July is probably not the best season to travel to the islands according to many websites. Heavy rains on the island can get in the way of peaceful loitering and comfortable beach visits. Unlike other tourists, this was the best time for all of us, and we thought we won’t let the rains affect our travel plans. Luckily, downpours didn’t happen much. The very first day, we visited two museums. Samudrika Naval Museum and Cellular Jail Museum. Later, that day we stayed back at Cellular Jail Museum to watch the light and sound show.
The first day was also the day we landed in Port Blair. We were tired.
Samudrika Naval Museum is a small, cottage-like museum housing a variety of fishes and sea creatures we spotted later while snorkeling. The museum displays artifacts of corals and tribe culture specimens. We finished our walk through in less than twenty minutes. Cellular Jail Museum had more history to share with us. The tour guide brought chills down our spines with stories of prisoners and the atrocities they faced.
Many souls suffered on this island which floated inconspicuous for many years, far away from the mainland of India. The energy and aura of Port Blair still stay affected by it. On most of my travels in various cities, I have experienced different kinds of energies. Like the air that lived in harmony with the city; was its greatest tour guide. I have breathed love, money, buzz, intellectuality, race, happiness and a combination of all these factors. But Port Blair felt gloomy and melancholic. My spirits weren’t in the right places.
The Light and Sound show at the Cellular Jail Museum made it even worse. The minute it was over I was relieved to be done with it and to be headed for dinner. I was glad most of my friends could doze off through the entire show. Lucky them. I feel most people’s minds have unique unconscious shields which protect them from negativity and unpleasant emotions.
Next day, we were scheduled to visit Ross Island and North Bay Island. In the evening, spend time in Chidiatapu to view the sunset. Cellular Jail Museum’s visit had equipped my sensibilities so much so that Ross Island’s histories and stories of colonization did very little to affect my psyche. I let my mind focus on ruins and island leftovers of decades (still preserved by the government of India) fill my eyes; the colors, the ancient trees, and animals, the worn out buildings crumpled and fallen, habitat growing upon civilization and conquering it…peacocks and deer and rabbits and birds…It was surreal so to speak.
North Bay Island is overspread with vegetations, trees, and wild green outgrowths. The island is used dominantly for water activities and cruises. We split our group up; some went for sea-walking, others like me indulged in snorkeling and dolphin cruises.
This was my first time snorkeling. And man! what I felt. I had seen pictures of the activity and had read definitions of it over and over again in my head, but to experience it was beyond words. Mostly because I saw so many corals and fishes. To view, a habitat existing in the sea was phenomenal. To have felt the slimy, soft and transparent body of jellyfish in my hand. To have fishes swim at the surface of the water while I fed them food granules. I had an out of the body experience. I wanted to rant with jubilation for hours.
Good things come to an end very soon.
Chidiatapu in the evening kept Abi and me relaxed and in a trance. We uncoupled ourselves from the group and lay on the sand, holding hands…it was magic. I felt a sudden rush of guilt pass through me; I realized I wasn’t giving Abi his share of time, love and presence. I didn’t fathom till then how caught up I was with the trip to flow smoothly; in the buzz of it all, I didn’t seek out and cherish his smile, his innocent, baby eyes, his ever-changing mature face, his long, sophisticated fingers. I missed him. His aura. I wasn’t doing justice to him.
How could I afford to get distracted with trivialities, I wondered. And here, all this time, for the past two days I had his piercing, worried gaze telling me to take it slow, to calm down and seize the day. Not that I wasn’t having a good time, my emotions and mind were a pickle. And I could see it in his eyes, delight that I had finally realized what he wanted me to understand.
Abi doesn’t nag or hover. He won’t be chummy with me, especially when with friends. But, he worries way too much about my happiness. That is more than I deserve in this relationship. Probably, this is what makes it even more unbalanced; I feel I am not worthy of him.
After a decent dinner that evening, we slept peacefully. We had to wake up early as our cruise was scheduled to take us to Havelock. We reached Havelock in about two hours. Havelock is BEAUTIFUL. It takes the eyes some adjusting, when at the dock, at the entrance of this magnificent island you get a fill of lush greenery, bright skies, and clear beaches. My heart throbbed uncontrollably and that moment I wanted to soak it all up. I felt I would just need a day or two to adjust my receptiveness to the beauty of this island. The back of my mind was angered with where I lived and what humanity had done to existing landscapes with infringement.
We stayed for two days at Havelock. We explored Radhanagar beach, did some trekking halfway to Elephanta beach. Spending an entire day at the beach, playing with waves, jellyfish, and seashell, I did get some sea rocks back home. It did take a toll on my body, I was tired by sunset and so was Abi. I had booked bamboo shack-bungalows which faced the sea and broken down, withered trees.
I was beyond ecstatic to be staying so close to nature in a minimalistic shack; the bathrooms didn’t have roofs, but some sea and forest creatures lodging on the walls and floor of the bathroom. For the room we had bamboo lamps, mattress and blankets….there wasn’t any TV or AC. But I loved it. I won’t say Abi was very glad about sleeping in the same room with mosquitoes, lizards, and spiders. I had one of the best sleep in those huts, which will last in my heart forever.
I went for an early morning stroll on the beach that faced our shacks. Watching waves crash my feet and break and then go back to sea and start again looked hypnotic. Life like the cycles of time, days, weeks, and months keep working in monotony, forever seizing on growing out or disappear, leaves us humans at the mercy of aging. I was suddenly very jealous of the sea and its permanence.
Later, after breakfast, Abi and I with a couple of friends left for the diving center. It was time for SCUBA! Again, this was the first time I would be underwater completely with an oxygen cylinder and gears; I was way too excited to see the stories that lay hidden underwater to make me anxious about breathing and drowning.
What happens when you do SCUBA diving? My family asked when we were back. I don’t think I did a fair job explaining correctly what I felt and what we did. It was like visualizing heaven, to say the least. I didn’t realize our time was up till our trainers pulled us out of the water and I loathed them! I wanted to go back in, and see and be, for hours and hours. The sheer charm of existence underwater. The colors. The creatures. And corals. Oh! CORALS!
That evening we left for Port Blair. We stayed a night there. In the morning next day, we visited the Anthropological museum. Well, Port Blair doesn’t have many souvenir shops. The market place is similar to those across India. Cluttered, mundane and selling everyday essentials. But we found one at the museum and it geared up my friends. I picked myself a ship with a caption ‘BELEM’, blue in color.
We flew to Kolkatta that very same day spent most our day trotting in one of Kolkatta’s opulent mall and left by the night’s train for Nagpur.
This is the first time I am writing about my travels. I haven’t done a decent job writing this. I might have broken many rules of travel writing here. Not my forte. I shall tell you this- you won’t find a travel guide description of places visited, just my experience and emotions through my travel in this blog.
I hope you enjoy reading it. I am not sharing pictures. They are personal and more so, my reader, I would love for you to visit the extravagance, charm, and serenity of islands through your own eyes to cherish it.