Postcard from Andaman and Nicobar
There is a god and he’s heard my prayers, or rants, you pick. Last week, I told you my being the travel editor who sits in office and never steps out, reading about other people going to exotic places and doing fun things.
But as I write this, I’m sitting in the middle of the Wondoor natural park in the South Andamans, there are trees all around and I can hear thunder rolling in the distance. Everything else is silent, and there is no signal on my phone. I’m exhausted from a day of tramping through a mangrove marsh, boating through a reserve looking for crocs, snorkelling on the reef, and hunting for mussels (which later became dinner). And tomorrow I will be traveling through the Jarawa reserve. I’ve heard stories of how they sometimes attack travelers with stones or arrows or even throw bones at them. We will travel through the reserve in a convoy of cars with police escort. However, I hear, that what I am more likely to see, is the Jarawas coming out to get a peek at me – for them we and our ways are as much a curiosity as theirs are to us.
I wrote that 10 days ago. There was no opportunity to post it sooner, because Internet access was hard to come by in the interiors of the Andamans. And besides, who had the time? When I wasn’t swimming in the blue, blue sea, I was trekking, snorkeling, or kayaking. But more on that later.
Now that I’ve been back for a couple of days, I’ve realised that the thing that I miss the most is the silence. Here, even at night, when I lie in bed, I can hear the occasional auto rushing by, the shifting of chair in the flat below, dogs barking and a million other tiny sounds. But there in the Andamans even the loudest volume of the music player of my phone, which is never audible here, seemed too loud. Speaking louder than a whisper seemed irreverent. It was possible to isolate every sound and pinpoint where it came from. The rustling of leaves was from over there, behind the bush, where there is probably a snake. And the bird I heard, it’s sitting in the third tree from the right. My senses felt sharper and keener.
So here are a few photos for you of the places my feet have been in the last fortnight. (Click on the pic below to see the photo gallery)
A new friend I made (Photo by: Neha Dara)
The friendly neighbourhood snake who hung out in the water tank right next to the picnic table where I ate my meals. (Photo by: Neha Dara)
The Radhanagar beach at Havelock island. The water was a blue so blue, and the sand, very white. (Photo by: Neha Dara)
This one’s taken sitting in a thin, long boat called a dunghi. It rocks wildly from side to side everytime someone so much as breathes. Can be quite scary till you get the hang of it. Then it’s fun. (Photo by: Neha Dara)