Thursday, 20 September 2012

Romancing Ross in the Andamans

    Blame it on this languorous weather that Delhi is slowly drifting into. Or the lull in my comfort zone that is making me romance Ross Island in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands all over again.

A view of Ross Island as the ferry neared

     An island is an island. Period. Stretches of blue and green shades all around with a beach or stoney shores thrown in....or so I thought.  I was definitely not prepared for what Ross Island had in store. A ten minute boat ride from Port Blair (wherein I was fighting my own battle of motion sickness) landed us at Ross.We were told Ross was least affected by the Tsunami due to its orientation. Thank God for it! Or else much of its beauty would have been lost.

 As we walked into the island, it was like Time had taken over the relics of human settlements.
A British Administrative head-quarter  during the Raj days, Ross had everything in it. From the barracks for the soldiers, a bakery, church, market place, officers' quarters, Mess, Press, Chief Commisioner's House and even a de-salination plant!A major earthquake in the 1941 destroyed much of it's structures.  But they all stood there mutely and stoically as Nature slowly took over, engulfing them in her fierce embrace over the years.

De-salination Plant
Remains of a Church

A structure taken over by a tree as the sea watched
"A Terrible Beauty Is Born" - YB Yeats

     I remembered vaguely, a poem we had done in school " Ozymandias" by PB Shelley. Ah! The futility of man's egotism and also the cravings of permanence...Let me refresh the poem to go with the snaps:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Huge Trees

   As we walked around, Ross offered us peace and tranquility with huge trees, glimpses of the sea through the thick foliage and herds of deer. We had to be careful with our packed lunch as we seemed to have contenders. The deer were making a go for it the moment we sat down to eat. They had to be shooed away like the cows and dogs. Lunch was such a hurried affair, I still don't remember what was in it.

Local Inhabitants

    We lazed around till it was time to leave Ross behind and carry our memories back. Revealing only a hint of the life it had witnessed, what stories did it guard? Stories that would be lost forever... As the boat left its shore, I wondered what drama Ross unfolds after everyone has left for the day? Do the Officers and the ladies have midnight picnics? Does the chimney of the bakery smoke with fresh bakings? Is the market place buzzing with the natives and soldiers oblivious to the gizmo driven world?....


Nearest Airport- Port Blair
Ferries- Water Sports Complex
Time required- Half a Day
Accomodations- At Port Blair to suit every pocket
Best time- November to March

Refreshed the Poems courtsey:



Friday, 14 September 2012

"Magic is in the Monsoon!"

  Most will agree with me when I say, there is something Magical about Monsoon. Well if you must look at it with rose-tinted glasses- all the dust is washed away bringing respite from the treacherous heat, the fresh new greenery etc etc...  Before the onset of Monsoon, there are speculations  everywhere, " Will It?...Won't It?" Just like the Shakespearean Prince who couldn't decide with his " To Be Or Not To Be..." , the Rain Gods keep everyone here very much on their toes.  Right from the hapless farmer who searches the sky with shaded gaze, to the Government in the Parliament who searches for some semblance of support and civilized gesture from their counterparts, just incase it does not meet  "average of  average rainfall".( I am still trying to figure out that googly)

                                                          Courtesy Google Image

  With bated breath  all eyes and ears are then trained on the poor Met Department whose calculations and predictions most often show the opposite result. Quite like the mother who declares at her host's place,"My Chunnu never touches anything ..." And the next thing you know is a crashing sound of a valuable curio in pieces. And the Sonu in question with a poker face says, " I was just looking "...Leaving the mother red faced and the host seething. And so the smart Met Department, drills its excuses before hand, till even the rickshaw puller has terms like El Nino spewing to justify his extra charge.And then to appease the Rain God, there are donkeys being married off to trees and solemnising beleagured frogs matrimony...poor creatures wondering what the fanfare is about as they would have mated in any case. Ah...but there IS Magic!
                                                  Courtesy Google Image

  After all the West has looked upon India as the land of charmers and Magic! And it exists to this day! How else can anyone explain the traffic lights blinking off the moment the drizzle starts? Or the solid roads melting into gushing streams, leaving the vehicles stuck and the pedestrians fumbling for solid ground ? Hah! And we consider ourselves an evolved civilization! Even the fossilised skeletons of  Harappa and Mohanjodaro of Indus Valley fame, must be kicking themselves into a raucous clanging laughter!
   The other day a news in the Times Of India caught my eye..."Mahipalpur hunts For Rs 2 crore Missing Road". If any of you has seen Mahipalpur, it is not some God forsaken area on the fringes of Delhi. It is right next to the IGI Airport, a busy area with alleys snaking in and out. And the last I know the residents of Mahipalpur are still looking for it...They will probably find it in some dusty old file forgotten under some Babu's table ( probably dropped there when something heavier passed hands under that hallowed table ). However I'ld like them to take a lesson from the Naga Blog who led a movement that laughed all the way to the concerned peoples' attention. People's imagination ran amok when the roads disappeared. They planted paddy with signposts put up "Drive slowly, Men sowing the road", went fishing , went Titanicing..with John Lennon's song becoming an anthem of sorts, How many roads must man walk...Friends you just have to read the full account of this Magic taking place in Nagaland here. It turned out to be delightful as I was browsing through the emagazine The Thumb Print.

   Well! The Monsoon this year still heartily pours down showing up with thunderous laugh all the holes , pot holes and the loop holes...However, the farmer is a happy man till the next Monsoon cycle.So is the aam admi who toils day in and day out looking for a restful sleep at night without having to battle the power cuts. The Opposition has one issue less to stage a  walk- out on and the Government is breathing easy and tasking the spin doctors to concentrate on  the other scams. The Met Department is the happiest of the lot, going off to a deep slumber until next time. So you see, there IS Magic in the Monsoon...

Some More Posts:

Making Homes Out Of Nothing At All      A Morning Walk...And A Lesson

Thank you to :

The Thumb Print

The Times Of India

Naga Blog

Saturday, 8 September 2012

I almost got a Taj Mahal...

   It took Shahjahan 20 years to build his Taj Mahal for Mumtaz Mahal. It took my husband 12 years to give me mine. Only, that the Emperor was building a mausoleum for his beloved wife and my husband was trying to provide a roof over his only wife, after years of nomadic life.

   Booking for an apartment 12 years ago, at Dwarka, a sub city of Delhi, we never realised it would be a long agonised wait.We paid every instalment and waited and waited and waited...With each wait, the builder's demands for more finances grew and our hopes gradually gave way to despair. The battle between the builder and the members of the apartment, is another story.

 I'd almost begun to believe that the builder had a mausoleum in mind for the members.  And finally, two days back my husband brings home a bunch of keys in a ziploc bag," Keys to our Flat!" In a ziploc bag? They should have come in puja plates, complete with Band, Baja and Baraat! Er... not the Baraat.

 Now we are on an over-drive to make the place liveable. You can very well imagine our joy, sudden burst and clash of ideas. Its now a battle between practicality and aesthetics, requirements and finances,working out the nooks and niches, optimising space...but its a battle that's making us smile. As a couple of families have already shifted into our building, they give us an insight into the teething problemsof a yet-to-live apartment. I wonder if this is how the first settlers of any place shared their concerns and arrived at solutions...

   For hours together, my husband studiously studies the monitor that searches for his product information till late night. I'm sure he has never burned the midnight oil in his entire student life, painstakingly jotting down information. Armed with this, he literally interrogates various vendors, till the vendor is probably contemplating change of profession and I'm  squirming in my seat.

  Wherever we go, unconsciously we take in the details of smart optimising techniques of other homes. On our morning walks, our gaze is mostly drawn to the high rise apartments to see if we can spy on something useful. This invariably has us stepping on pet dogs' poo. Now, thats another pet peeve of mine- pet dog poo on public pavements...

   However,still jumping over poo , with rising costs and over- shooting budget, we plan to move in, in a couple of months with our sanity intact and marriage still in one piece. Friends! Please feel free to drop by at our abodeand bless this mahal of mine, I mean ours...  

Some More Posts :-

No TV           No Horn Please!


Courtesy Google Images

Saturday, 1 September 2012

A Warm Window

Looking for door and window solutions for our new apartment led us to a basement shop which we missed the first time around trying to locate it. There was a lone tailor deeply engrossed in his work. His employers were not in. Just as we turned to leave, a very graceful lady in her late 60s at the doorway said," You must be looking for my husband".

She proceeded to advise us on the particular brand. With salt and pepper hair hurriedly tied behind and a twinkle in her eyes, she dropped several household tips.There were  beautiful blinds made with old scarves of hers. "Never live in a city after retirement. No vegetable costs less than Rs 60 per kg." She had just  come back grocery shopping from a mall... In between, she managed to call her husband and his partner," You have clients  waiting..." We agreed to wait for them since they were on their way.

 On learning we were from Assam, the lady turned dreamy eyed with a hint of a smile lighting up her face. "I love that place. We spent 17 years of our life there...The people are so simple and charming.The lush greenery around.Oh! Those were beautiful days..." Well, this just made me swell with pride (what with the recent spate of violence) and connect with her. She went on about how they spent their days in Digboi since her husband was with the erstwhile Burma OilCompany (BOC),now Assam Oil Company (AOC). Their recent sojourn to the state, for Burma Oil's centenary celebrations at Digboi , thrilled her as she met many who still remembered her.

However, we were still waiting for her husband and his partner to arrive. This time, she hollered into the phone,  "Their kids are coming back from school. Where are you? They are getting late!" Ten minutes later two smart elderly gentlemen walked in. As we were introduced, she happily announced," They are from Assam." Her husband broke into a gentle smile,"We have warm memories of that place. I have travelled that region extensively." Our conversation turned to the present strife gnawing at the state and its people...of its causes and possible villains...In between, they obliged by talking business, the very reason of our presence there. However they seemed happier when talking about other issues.

As we drove back, I couldn't help feeling warm and snug. Three complete strangers had so effortlessly coccooned us with their advice and memories of days gone by...offered us a peek into their lives, their children with rich anecdotes. We came looking for window solutions and were thrown open a window that took us back in time...a time we forgot had ever existed.