Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rant of the day

"I am like this only"

And that very 'like this only' is the root cause for a lot of troubled times. You see it clearly, you realise it, you know for a fact. That. Is. The. Problem. But then, what can you do, 'you're like this only'!!

Why do some people love being unhappy? It's the easier way out sometimes, requires you to be lazy about your own life in some terms, but isn't it so much more difficult to continue to be in that state. It'll need effort to change that trait in you, that one thing that you realise is a cause for so many unhappy times. But then you would rather not. 'I'm like this only' qualifies as a reason for everything to stay the same today, tomorrow and forever. I hate how ubiquitous this sentence is.

Why is it so important that you stay the true you, even after you know there's a shortcoming. What does it even mean to say 'I won't be myself then’? It'll all be better for you!! Two extra steps and you would've reached the balancing point, you'll be a 'new' you, but still a 'true you' (whatever that means!). I can never get what’s the point in all the personality analysis, and knowing the real you, if someone can't work to overcome the shortcomings in themselves.

If you realise the problem, then why can't you solve it! At least try to!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Havelock 1

In some time I will forget how relaxing it was a place to spend the day sitting immersed in water, waiting for a crocodile. Can't recall any of what I experienced in the other places we travelled to. But before that time comes, will put in words, the experience that was Havelock. And no, there was no crocodile, just a lot of travelogues read during the planning phase of the trip that spoke of crocodiles, none that the writers had themselves seen. Of course the ones who saw it might not have been able to come back, tell the tale. Just that reading about so many people saying a crocodile ate up someone sitting on this beach and swimming in those waters, was a little scary. Not enough to prevent us from going of course. And then like ™ Ru, he read up all the negatives mentioned anywhere on the internet (which also included dogs growling across Radhanagar beach come evening), all this while I was happy with the first picture of the blue water I saw and was doing the ™ Ferret ‘excited but not showing it’. He spent some years in Port Blair as a school going kid, many years past. Now with these negative reviews and just being his usual self he said, “let's spend a lot of time in Port Blair, and go to Havelock and Neil islands as day trips”. Nothing was booked yet, apart from the flights to and fro Port Blair via Chennai. The itinerary was all up for grabs, but this was not what I could've settled for. So I had some arguments in my own mind, playing his part and mine. And then while talking about something totally unrelated with him for real, brought up the point of wanting a beach holiday and how all I will end up getting is looking at a town. Again, truly like ™ Ru, he immediately agreed to my terms and did all the travel research and booked us a fabulous holiday in Havelock!

We set out on a Wed night from Hyderabad, and our flight from Chennai to Port Blair was at some unearthly hour of morning. Going by how awesome the airports are now in all the cities that we have to frequent, we assumed that Chennai being a metro city was going to be no less. We planned to spend the 5-6 hours of the night at the airport itself. Sleep for some roam around for some, was the plan. I’ll just say it wasn’t the best of airports (or the best of plans). Have seen smaller towns with better terminals. We pulled up two benches closer together, put our feet up on the one in front and tried to fall asleep. Alarms set and strong instructions given to self, to not oversleep and miss the flight (Ru has done that in the past, sleeping through announcements being made for his name to board the flight. This story is as amusing to me today as it was when I first heard it. :) Oversleep, did I say! As I shifted from one position to the other, looking for a comfortable position with enough support for my back, it looked like Ru was sleeping peacefully. Only I’m not too sure that was possible, it couldn’t just be me not finding a comfortable position to lie between two chairs. As I had settled into one position, a gentleman came and asked me to excuse him for waking me up and demanding that chair opposite me, the one I had my feet perched on. With my eyes half shut, I looked around to find that there was not a single seat available for him, the floor was covered in some places too with people who’d come better prepared with bed-sheets, the security officials chairs were taken up too, even the baggage trolleys were all gone. Fine then! Of course we woke up to switch off the alarms well before they could ring, went and checked in as soon as they opened the counters. Slept through the flight, we’d taken seats separate from each other so we could both have window seats. I for one did not use the window at all. Woke up only when the flight was just about to touch the ground, and the lady sitting next to me showed me her house which was just next to the runway. I was half asleep, I hope I smiled indulgently enough.

Reached Port Blair (PB) early Thursday morning, got out of the airport, looked around for our airport pickup arranged by the resort where we were going to stay at Havelock. We’d also asked them to book us a ferry ride from PB to Havelock island. Ru had all the excitement on his face, pointing to me all the places and streets he could remember in PB. There was my school, there was the supermarket, there was the post office, there was the library, and so on. We’d got us a private ferry from Makruzz, very comfortable and well managed. But you weren’t allowed to go and stand by the rails, so no feeling the wind in my hair on the sea! That will have to wait for another cruise. The only other ferry that I’d ever been on was going to Alcatraz from pier 39, which was a small trip, but thoroughly enjoyable. This one, sitting in an a/c compartment that I was not to get out of for the two hours, was a damp squib only because I had lofty ideas associated to any ferry ride. It’s just a mode of transport on water that provides you a chair to fall asleep in when you have spent the last night trying to sleep on another chair.

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Havelock 2

There we were, in heavenly Havelock as they say. We were going to be staying at the Eco Villa Palm Beach Resort, and waited for someone to come and pick us up from the jetty as promised. Called them up, and then someone rushed to get us. And it took them all of a few minutes to reach us, because it was just about 2 kms from there. We should’ve just walked! We reached the resort in another few minutes and met the very friendly owner of the resort, running the whole show with a 4 member strong team. The owner, his sister and her husband, a cook, and a cleaner. An affable crew that managed everything super-efficiently. This resort was chosen over the other ones that Ru and I had looked at, because this one had rooms closest to the beach. Ru took my ‘beach holiday’ wish a little too seriously I guess. We were staying in a duplex non a/c villa which cost us about Rs. 3000/- a day, which was much lesser compared to the other ones that we’d considered. The whole resort was built totally in natural material, the tv and fridge in the room really seemed anachronistic. (No, anachronistic is not the word, that’s something from the past, isn’t it. What’s the word for something that’s from the future? Anyway, you get the point, it was out of place!) We’d gone in the end of March, and we never even needed to switch on the fan while sleeping under the blanket. And then from all the travel we’ve done, we do realize that spending on stay is not the best use of money. The room is hardly ever used all day, for anything more than dumping the bags. Which we did, dumped the bags, went for breakfast. There was a TV in the restaurant, along with some books to choose from. And the TV sat there neglected. We went into our room after breakfast, and even for the lazy bums that we both are on any regular day, felt fresh and ready to explore here today. The beach was just twenty steps away from our door and I couldn’t resist. Ru got his camera in hand, not yet ready to touch the water and I got into the sea drenching in the warm crystal clear water, breathing in the beauty that surrounded us there. I think half the relaxation in a holiday is when you stop to take a deep breath while taking a mental picture of a sight. Ru joined me in some time, and we sat there for a long time, appreciating the thoughtfulness to have some nice music playing non-intrusively all along in the resort.

We had lunch, clicked pictures of the cat and dog playing with each other, and then set out on the two-wheeler they’d already arranged for us. Took a map of the island, booked a scuba dive for the next morning and headed to the Radhanagar beach. I haven’t seen any of the other 9 best beaches in the world, but this was definitely one of those top ones. Ru walked around with his camera and a squinted eye, I kept my camera in the bag and looked all around me. Of course it’s his pictures that we look at upon returning, but I don’t like the camera much. I remember in our first couple of holidays together, it used to bother me no end. I would say, “I feel like I’m on a holiday all alone, only I know it’s not true!”. But we’ve found our peace. Now, we make sure to have a camera each, ‘coz he doesn’t like to part with his camera. And when I come back, I’ve got some pictures too. Just to show that I wasn’t there alone getting my pictures clicked on burst mode :) Coming back to how beautiful the beach was, I’m no wordsworth, can never describe something as subjective as beauty in more words than one. And this one was every bit as gorgeous as the word is supposed to describe. There were hermit crabs making starry patterns on the beach, people jumping in with the waves, pulling others into the water, lying on the sand, reading a book, staring into the sky while holding a book up to read, running on the beach, walking on the beach, just there on the beach, as the waves came and went by in a rhythm. The sun was beginning to dim, so we could look at it now. We were walking across the beach when we saw Rajan, who is sort of the unofficial mascot of Havelock, popular for being one of the few ocean-swimming elephants. Love them elephants, and this one can swim, double the love! But he’s old now and is not taken into the ocean anymore, he was just being taken for an evening stroll and the mahout made sure to take him away into the woods before a crowd could gather. We got our pictures though to cherish. Customary sunset pictures taken, although it was clouded by the ,,err clouds, still beautiful colours in the sky. Out came the dogs now that Ru had warned about. And although I’m ok in the company of friendly dogs, these dogs were anything but friendly. And I’m sure they can sense fear, which was when they started growling and almost charging to scare us even more. And because I wasn’t being the fearless tigress that I imagine myself to be, Ru took the guardian’s role. We picked up sticks and walked back as calmly as we could.

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Havelock 3

We had barely started from there when it started raining, and there my holiday became as perfect as it could. One of my most favourite experiences, riding a bike in the rain. Ru hid his camera under his t-shirt and shielded it as long as he could. Then we put the camera in the under-seat space, and rode freely. And then it poured so heavy that I could no longer see anything, we took shelter in a building. Kids played around in the parking lot where we stood, there really were no rules to what they played. It was like Calvinball, and they did not even have a ball for that :) It didn’t look like it was going to stop raining, so we left the moment it seemed to get a little better. Dried ourselves up and ready for dinner at our resort. There was only one cook, who would cook it fresh from start when you ordered something. There was no pre-cooked stuff handed to you from a microwave. It took time for the order to come to your table, but then it didn’t matter so much, the time. Ru even ordered mutton biriyani, and got it in a very reasonable amount of time, tasting good enough for him to finish it off. Ru did his part of prepping for the next day, emptying the memory card in his camera. And we were looking forward to the next day more than any other, because we were going scuba diving!!

I’m still at the same level of swimming proficiency as a year back, which is the “I won’t drown immediately” level. Ru can’t swim, has no interest in learning to swim, if he could swim naturally he would probably like it, but he can’t spend effort on it! So we were resigning our lives to the instructor, when we signed that procedural declaration. All instructions taken very well, Ru as usual had a dozen questions for every word the instructor uttered. Got into the body suits, with the flappers, and mask in hand, I was super-excited. I wanted us to go at the same time, but then there was only one instructor available at that time, so we had to go one by one. Ru went first, because I didn’t want him to be out alone thinking up another hundred questions and possibilities! So there I tried to swim in the shallow water, while Ru was down under much deeper somewhere. I was really glad that he’d agreed to go, he’s not one for such activities, so I waited patiently. And then he came out after about half an hour maybe, we had paid for an hour. It so happened, that he saw all the corals and fishes around him and was mesmerized by the beauty. Since he has to express a thought as soon as it hits him, he opened his mouth to say ‘WOW!’ Out went the breathing regulator, and there he remembered the lessons he’d just learnt on scuba diving :) He came up, and then it was my turn. It was just WOW WOW WOW, thankfully I say things in my mind before uttering them out :) The instructor kept pointing out directions to look in whenever something exceptionally lovely came by. He made me reach my hand out to touch a tiny little fish and it pecked on my finger and went away :) I was wary of touching any corals or plants and would try to fold up my legs whenever we got close. Oh so weightlessly drifting away among the colourful fishes, it was awesome. My head started aching in some while, and I asked the instructor to go back up. We were far from the shore when I came up, he said we went about 8 metres deep. That was an experience of a lifetime there, and I want it again!!

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Havelock 4

We headed out from the dive club, and we had to leave the next day. So we set out aimlessly, on a road that we hadn’t taken till then. There are only three roads in Havelock meeting at a point, of which we’d already seen two till the end of land. Went far into the direction the road took us, and then it started to well up in the skys. We thought better to stop at a café, so headed back to a German one we’d seen on the way. Verily so, it started to pour as we stopped our bike at the café. Watching the rain is such a joyful thing to do! Headed out as the rain stopped, and went to the Silver Sands resort café for lunch. This was one of the other options that we’d considered for our stay, and as beautiful and comfortable it looked, it seemed like any other textbook resort with made up beauty, now that I’d stayed at Eco Villa! The lunch was good and one of the restaurant staff came to ask us how we liked the food, and where were staying. Got chatting a little and he told us he was here from the past two years and used to work in Delhi earlier. When we asked if he liked this place, he said ‘it’s nice, but then there’s no night life’. As romantic as the idea seems when Ru says that he wouldn’t mind working from Havelock if his office would let him, I’m not sure he won’t find things to miss about the city life. We checked out a few shops on the way back from there as we’d been asked to get jewellery from andamans, didn’t find anything worth buying glancing across the stores.

We went back to the resort to do our favourite thing, sit on the beach. Packed up, for we had to leave the next morning. I was once again super-excited, as were leaving from Havelock to go to PB. But this was no ordinary departure, we were taking a sea-plane!! We got onto a motor boat and reached that platform in the middle of water, where our plane was waiting in the sea!! Our pilot Wendy had come from the US, and was flying the 9 of us to PB in style!! I’ve finally seen a cockpit and there’s another item ticked of my list (after having been driven around in a limousine). We landed in PB, the nice gregarious family that was with us in the plane, gave us a drop to our hotel. We checked in and set out on foot to go pay homage to Ru’s school and all other memories. There were board exams going on, so we couldn’t go inside the school, but I clicked him standing like a school kid in front of the entrance. We walked around, went to the Annapurna café, where they would come as kids, the Aberdeen bazaar was explored a bit, jewellery bought, lovely corals and stones were there to choose from. Went back to our hotel and then again headed out to go see the cellular jail sound and light show. Stopped by at the Carbines Cove beach on the way, which was filthy, we’d just come from the pearly white beaches of Havelock! The tides were growing stronger and stronger and we ran back to our auto as it started to pour again. The sound and light show was cancelled for the rain and we didn’t want to go back yet. So we asked the auto driver for what else was there to see, he took us to the naval museum. I was disappointed to see the sea horse in an aquarium, it was really tiny. I always imagined sea horses and penguins to be as large as horses and humans. It’s such a letdown that I can’t hug a penguin or ride a sea horse. The museum store had similar kind of jewellery available there as I’d bought. Ru bought some information CD pack about the Andaman & Nicobar islands. It was still raining when we hailed another auto to go back to the hotel. Got talking to the auto driver and he said we must visit the government Handicraft shop. Of course, we’d completely forgotten about the handicraft suggestions we’d read about. Went there and saw a lot things that we’d seen in Dilli Haat. Bought some of the things that we’d left behind at Dilli Haat.

Ru came back with a resolve to go back to Havelock for a longer holiday, when we’ll do nothing other than laze around on the beach. Our plans always involve us lazing around somewhere :) But I do like my holiday to be eventful, this one offered me a new excitement every day, loved it! Hoping that we do go back there many years hence! Till then, looking forward to many more such destinations!