Neil Island – last stop on our Andaman itinerary. It’s almost like a drop of land in the big wide ocean. The island is about one fifth in size compared to Havelock and it sits right under it in map. There are ferries connecting these two islands, as well as connecting Neil to Port Blair. We arrived from Havelock in the boat Green Ocean 2, on a Friday morning at 10:30 AM. The journey had been smooth and shorter than our previous voyage to Havelock. The jetty was relatively quieter and less crowded. Late morning sun was already quite bright and under the shining dome the sea looked incredibly green. The water was calmer here and it seemed even clearer than what we had experienced so far, if that was at all possible. Probably the reason that tourism had extended to this tiny piece of land, was man’s everlasting desire to explore the unexplored, which eventually Havelock would have stopped satisfying. Aside from that, the landscape remained quite similar to Havelock and the activities designed for tourists were also quite the same.complete article
Havelock Island – probably the most sought after location in Andaman. It’s a place with promise of undisturbed green water, blinding white sands and plenty of indulgence. A destination for a perfect vacation. It didn’t go missing from our itinerary either. On day five of our trip we finally headed for Havelock Islands (Now changed to Swaraj Dweep).
Reaching there was quite easy – easiest part of the trip in fact. The island is perched in the northern east corner of Port Blair around 50 km of oceans apart. The only method of transportation is ferry, which is available by various operators. The cheapest option is government boat with less than 500 Rs. per ticket. But based on advance ticket booking facility, we chose a private operator called Green Ocean. It was 1,250 per person and with that we had booked seats in their ‘Luxury’ class, middle slab of their three classes (Economy, Luxury & Royal). complete article
The day began bleakly, as I woke up inside the wooden cottage cooled by AC and oblivious to the outside world. The cottage was neatly decorated with wooden furniture, all in the shade of chestnut brown, which were gleaming by the dim light seeping in through cracks in the blackout curtains. The room, in general, reflected of adequacy and not luxury and gave an impression of a beach hut rather than a resort cottage. This surely didn’t nullify my gratitude for having a comfortable bed to sleep on after a long terrible journey, which was whole of yesterday.complete article
The room was mostly dark, except for one little light shining directly above the couch where we sat with our bags. At the other end of the room, a staff leaned over the reception desk trying his best to look awake and waited patiently. I felt a pang of guilt at that, somewhere probably in a deep untouched corner of my heart. But apart from that, I mostly felt worried and frustrated. Time was ticking away, quite literally and louder than usual, and the car was running late.
This was a day of travel for us. A long undesirable journey. The main island of Andaman stretched for a little over 300 km and we were going to travel the whole distance in a day. Months ago while planning, this didn’t seem much. I had travelled more than that in a day and with quite an ease. But only when we started to research on rental cars few weeks before the trip, did we realize how much time that meant in the island. With couple of boat rides across rivers, driving in a convoy through a reserve forest area and long patches of extremely poor and narrow roads, it was expected to take us around 15 hours. Lucky for us though, they were all ready to start early. Way too early.complete article
My heart sank as I looked out of the flight window towards the land that we were descending at slowly. It was a gloomy day with a shade of grey across every other colour. The morning sky was full of darkened clouds and the ocean below reflected the same dull mood. Where was the deep blue sea and the bright green lands bordered with white sand? Where was the sunny day that inspired tinted glasses and airy summer dress? Where was the magical land that I had been looking forward to for so long? Four months of anticipation, rigorous planning and this is where we ended! Talk about bad luck!complete article
The sun was bright in the sky and the rippling water reflected it beautifully. The old cottage stood behind me giving a bit of shade from the scorching day. The grass felt soft under my palms as my hands rested on the ground, and I looked out in the distance across the lake. On the other side the hill loomed with thick forest all over it. On top where it was a little less dense, I could spot a few animals standing and chewing on grass. I could barely make out their shapes from that distance. But I knew that they were bison, I had seen them through binocular earlier. A little diagonally from me, a patch of grassland cleared off of any trees sat next to the lake. A group of deer and wild boar roamed that land mingled into each other with a mix of harmony and indifference. There was also a lonely stork sitting at a little distance from the group. I couldn’t tell if it could fly, because it had barely moved from that spot in past one hour. But then again, so had I.complete article
So here we go again – 2019! Another year has come. Another 365 days, another set of same old festivals, one more cycle of going through the motion of life. Usually it’s a joyous time, for me, for everybody. A new year means new promises, hope for endless possibilities. And even though these hopes are broken more often than not, it’s only humane to resurrect them every year and let our heart fantasize for the best and the most exciting. And why not! What’s the point of life without hope!
But this year’s a bit different for me. It’s been hard to say goodbye to 2018. The year had been kind to me. It was year full of changes, excitements and exploration of so many unseen before. I think the best times are the ones that are fastest when it’s present and yet lingers on the longest afterwards. And I had plenty of those this year.complete article