Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Get together in "The Andamans" - Volume 2

PS: This is lengthy as I want this to remain as something we could recollect when read after a while.

Chapter 6 : The Arrival
Day : 1
Date : 25th Jan 2011
It was around 10:45 AM and we were in mid air, most of us cursing Mr, sorry Dr Mallya for looting Rs 200 for a worth for nothing breakfast which we assumed initially was for free. I would like to let people who are reading know that my travelogue would always have huge contributions towards the stuff we ate, so please forgive me for the same. 3-4 cola bottle cap sized idli's soaked in sambar, 1/6th of a masala dosa and some fruits for just INR 200. Gopal's concern that we would always require snacks to eat during the trip was rightly experienced as we opened one pack of manoharam (muruku soaked in jaggery and rolled like laddus) and thatai in the flight which we purchased from Grand Sweets, Adyar.

Flight landed on time, Arun Raag asked a wonderful question, "Ask in which belt the baggage's would arrive?". In an Airport that had around 6 flights operating per day, having an automated belt itself was a luxury. Our agent Ashraf had informed someone would be waiting for us with a hoarding. Yes, there was someone and the hoarding read "Welcome Mr NK Arun". He was revolutionary, providing a guy his wife's initials after marriage, the first person to do it in the history of mankind transforming Arun DK with NK Shruthi's initials. His name was Anil and he seemed quite friendly. He was a mallu and when I wanted to intervene and showcase my expertise in Malayalam, he revealed he spoke good Tamil. I was shattered.

We purchased some bananas, boarded the ferry to Havelock Islands which was scheduled at 2PM. Ferry journey was quite boring except for the bananas and snacks and the fact that we had "Ace" photographers in Vijesh, Arun Raag, Srihari(to encourage him) and Shruthi(so that I don't face any consequences).
We enjoyed the photography sessions and then killed time playing UNO in the deck. It was 4:30 PM and Hevelock Islands welcomed us. Our pickup was ready in place by the Wild Orchid resort where we planned to stay located at beach no 5. We had some issues regarding rooms as the allocation was split into 2 rooms each at a distance of around 50 meters. Sun sets in the Andamans at 5:30, so we knew all we could do would be do have food and sleep.
Food was good. I saw a lobster dish for the first time after watching it in Mr Beans holiday ordered by the non veggies. We had Roti's, Briyani's, Rice, Dal and the special item of the day, roasted papad. During dinner we decided we would check out Scuba diving and inquire about the same. Day one was coming to an end.

Chapter 7 : Bikes and Vijaynagar
Day : 2
Date : 26th Jan 2011
I woke up at 6, got ready at around 6:45 and started calling the other folks. Me, Shruthi, Gopal and Aparna had tea in the neighboring restaurant. Always remember, in Havelock, just tea means green tea, not the milk tea. And if the tea is flavoured with tulasi, ginger or honey, it is definitely green tea. We inquired about scuba diving near the restaurant in an institute called Andaman Bubbles. Everyone else joined for the complimentary breakfast in Wild Orchid. Breakfast was good. Toasts, parathas and the highlight was banana pan cakes. Please never ever order pan cackes for breakfast in Wild Orchid resort, Havelock. Any guesses on who would have ordered it and who eventually liked it and finished it? Gopal and his wife respectively of course.

After breakfast we planned to check out two things. One was regarding Scuba diving in an institute called Barefoot scuba located at beach no 3 and two was to rent bikes. Me, Santy and Arun Raag took right from the resort towards Barefoot Scuba. It was supposed to be a 5 minute walk. Please note, never ever ask this question, "How much time will it take to reach that place?". Always ask, "how many kilometers that place is located from here?". We kept walking and walking and walking and after 10 minutes asked another shopkeeper who said, "5 minutes". And as we were leaving, I think he got some sense of telepathy from our pissed off faces that he called us back and said, "3 minutes, not 5". We reached Barefoot Scuba in next 10 minutes, inquired rates and were back in auto. Meanwhile, two other things happened. One, as I already mentioned, Srihari and Gopal took left from the resort to check out bike rentals. We rented 4 bikes, 2 Activa's and 2 geared bikes. We planned to rent another bike somewhere else as this shop had only 4 bikes available and we were 9 folks. Two, as we requested we were all shifted to the same block and we were no more having the 50 meter gap we had yesterday. Arun Raag said he would not join us in the bike ride and would spend time in the beach. When everyone were getting ready, Santy and Srihari collected cash and headed towards Barefoot Scuba to book scuba diving on the next day.

We started from Wild Orchid at around 12:15PM in our bikes to beach no 7 which was located at around 15 kilo meters. The journey was enjoyable and before that we also checked the counter to booked return ferry tickets. It was lunch break in the counter and we were getting hungry. Even the bikes sounded hungry when we reached beach no 7 in next half hour. We were not sure of making it back with just one liter of petrol we had filled in each bike; we had earlier neglected Gopal's warning that the quantity would not suffice. We had lunch in a small mess. INR 50 for a thali which served rice, dhal, soya curry, potato fry and appalam. Charges for Roti was extra and we had them too. I should say, for the money we paid, the food was excellent.
The afternoon and evening were spent in beach no 7 and 5 respectively. We somehow reached with the same amount of petrol. Beach no 5 was called the Vijayanagar beach and our resort was located there. We took some amazing snaps in the beach, thanks to the photographers again. We played the double passing ball game here. For rules, please contact me offline.

The moment we saw roasted papad in today's special menu, we decided we should be eating outside given that we still had the bikes. For future travelers, bike rental is INR 250 for 24 hours with INR 1000 as deposit. We had dinner in a restaurant of Symphony Palms resort located at beach no 3. This time I will skip the list of items we ate as it was more or less the same. During dinner we played a game that has to be the part of every trip, Dumb C. Highlight was "Letters from Iwo Jima" which was written in text and given for enacting by Abi and no one knew until she revealed Iwo is pronounced as "Aiyyo". We went to bed early that day after returning the bikes as we planned to catch up the sun rise and get ready mentally for scuba diving.

Chapter 8 : PADI and Radhanagar
Day : 3
Date : 27th Jan 2011
Sunrise at Vijayanagar beach was fascinating. The moment it looked like it would disappoint, a reddish ball of beauty kept rising and we were overjoyed. Again, great pics. Vijesh got himself a Polish friend; Abi, be careful. For breakfast everyone had toast, Gopal and Shruthi wanted corn flakes eventually eaten by Aparna. Yes, both of theirs, after they complained lack of taste and had the anger of getting served with cold milk. We left the luggage in Wild Orchid reception before breakfast. We reached Barefoot Scuba, like Vadivelu says, "Ellaru kannuleyum kalavaram therinjudhu", as scuba diving was no child's play. We signed documents, where I read almost in 10 places the word "death", somehow took courage and managed to sign.

Scuba diving is an interesting and fascinating learning experience. Please do not miss this even though it costs you INR 3000-4000. And to sustain the suspense and thrill, I would not elaborate at all on the experience of a lifetime I had. I finished my session and was out of water to see a guy, a friend of mine, wearing a yellow tshirt, sitting as if somebody has offered him a banana leaf south Indian meals. His name is Gopal and he was enjoying the beauty of the island and the calmness of the sea. Of course, like everyone else, he got the certificate from PADI(Professional Association of Diving Instructors). To be fair, he did what he required to do to get a certificate. We were served pasta in the boat and we headed back to check-in Barefoot at Havelock resort.

Beach No 7 is called the Radha Nagar beach and the only private resort available is Barefoot. Awesome place, location and mesmerizing beauty. We reached the resort at around 2:30 PM. We came back for lunch and snacks. Food was awesome, Avarakai poriyal was the highlight. Evening was spent in the beach. Radha nagar is the most exotic beach I have ever visited till date. My fingers are paining while I mention this again, but the photographers did not feel any pain in their fingers. Snaps were super good. After the beach session, we had an amazing and hilarious time during dinner and then we were off to bed. Oh, I forgot, we had another time pass friend, his name is "Talking Tom", he just used to repeat whatever we said. Thanks to Arun Raag and his phone.

I was sitting in my rooms veranda before dinner with my wife thinking of the fact that we would be checking out tomorrow and would be leaving this beautiful island. But somehow, the amount of fun and happiness I was carrying in my heart didn't make me feel bad, it rather just made me look great. After completing college four years ago, after some of us got married, and after settling down in different cities, we still managed to do this. No words. Get ready Cellular Jail, I will meet you by dusk tomorrow and you will really feel like you got an old prisoner back and almost goodbye Havelock.


Vijesh said...

Great again!

Srihari said...

nice writeup, very detailed one... keep it rolling.. Volume 3...

Arula said...

nice.. Waiting for 3rd part..

damodarakkannan a said...

kalakkal 4 - "Welcome Mr NK Arun"

ah i missed the UNO and dumb c