Friday, May 27, 2005

Andamans

I had been to Andaman & Nicobar Islands once. It’s a beautiful place. So beautiful that it will remain on my psyche as a beautiful picture, a beautiful painting I must say, forever!! When I had got the first glimpse of it from my flight, I was stunned. The group of 360 islands was looking like a green carpet on the ocean. So enchanting was the view, that I never realized when our flight landed. The airport was a small one, encircled by mountains. It was a bright sunny morning. Andaman is said to have a moderate climate because of the sea rather a maritime climate. From there I took a cab and went to the hotel. It was rainy season. On my way, I noticed plants on both sides of the road wet with rain. The sunlight was creating a rainbow effect through the drops on the leaves. When I reached the hotel, the manager directed me to my room. The view of the island from the room was awesome. The hotel is situated on a hill top looking into the sea. So from my window I could just sea the sea and no land. It made me feel that the hotel stands on the sea.
At about 10 o’clock I decided to start exploring the islands. Well, then I was at Port Blair. The capital of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. It is also a separate island in the Andaman district. I went first to the anthropological museum. I had heard that in Andaman, there are many tribal groups residing in the different islands. Far, far away from human civilization. The museum had lots of information and rare pictures of them. There were the jarawas- who were famous for their poisonous arrows, which could pierce through one’s head and kill him. Their skin color is so dark and the fact that they live in jungles, make it very difficult to spot them. They however like red color and some of them could be befriended using a red cloth. It is really amazing that the color which means danger to the human civilization is a sign of friendship to them. I was told that while crossing their jungle area in the car, one needed to take the permission from the forest rangers who were posted there and also police escorts. Among the other tribes, there were Sentinalese and the Ongees. The Ongees were civilized to a certain extent.
Then I went to Ross Island. During the British rule in India, Ross Island was the capital of Andaman. The remains of the church, the building were still standing upright and telling the history that they have witnessed. The movie Sazae Kalapani was shot there. During the evening I went to the Carbyns Cove beach. Stretched from one end to the end that eye could see- was this beautiful beach. So calm and yet so dangerous. This beach is supposed to have sudden depth!!! Many parts of it have large amount of under water current. Yet this was a picture of perfect beauty- with tall coconut trees and mountains.
Next morning I boarded the ship from the nearby jetty to go to Havelock Island. At about 1:00 in the afternoon I reached there and on reaching I was informed that the ship would start again next morning at 9. I was given a cottage. These were called Dolphin Cottages. The door of the cottages opened to the beach. There was another beach for which this island was famous –the Radhanagar beach. This beach was long and the spotless. Not one black grain could be spotted on the beach. There were jellyfishes sunbathing on the beach. This place was preserved by the tourism authority with its natural beauty.
Next morning from there I went to Jolly Bouy Island. At a certain distance from this island, our ship stopped and we were taken in a glass boat (a small motor boat with the base made of strong thick high power glass). Through this glass we could see the deep sea creatures like the corals, fishes, octopus and weeds at an arms length. It felt as if we could just stretch our hands and reach them. That night while I was in my hotel room back in Port Blair, I was feeling bad that next morning I have to leave this beautiful place and go back, back home miles and miles and miles away.
But on 26th December 2004, Tsunami hit these beautiful islands and took away with her its beauty leaving behind sorrow and grief. The Island of Havelock with its beautiful Dolphin Cottages was totally destroyed. The island of Nicobar with its inhabitants was washed away. The roads cracked. No food no water. Only fear. The inhabitants had felt about 300 tremors a day after the Tsunami. I was told that such disasters are nature’s way to avenge herself but against whom???? Is it against those who inhabited her lonely island and preserved her with all her natural beauty? Or is it against those tribals who worship her as Mother Nature??

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