Journal

Andaman and Kerala trip

Exams are closing in, and I’m drawn towards frequent blogging once again. I’ve never thought much as to why this happens. Normally I utilize my time gaming and watching movies/anime, but during exams, I blog. Maybe it’s because one feels less guilty of wasting valuable moments that way. Yes, blogging is more ‘aesthetic’ than gaming.

I’ll talk about the last trip my family and I had. But this post is not a travelogue. I hate writing those. Rather, I’d be happy if this turns out to be one of those random and meaningless posts which would make sense only to myself.

Dad bought a new digital camera for the trip, a Canon Powershot, which meant my photography opportunities increased a lot. Previously I used to use crappy cell phone cameras. But it didn’t take me too long to realize that a digicam won’t do much to satisfy my needs either for everything was automatic. There was a manual mode too but it was too slow for all practical purposes, unless you’re aiming solely at scenery. Still, I clicked away. At the end of the trip, I had some 2000 pictures and 28 videos. Thankfully color and contrast could be adjusted within the camera itself. I hate the editing part which comes afterwards. Besides, writing ‘Riju Sarkar Photography’ on my clicks makes me feel a little weird, since I’m no professional photographer. Yet I do it. I don’t know why.

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Yes, I’m interested in photography, but not seriously enough to invest in a DSLR. Enough of photography now.

Andaman is a beautiful place. The wonderful plethora of blue and green amazes you each and every day of your stay. Mom and Dad used to live there before I was born. So this trip was actually a reunion-with-old-friends for them and a tour for me. I got to hear about the times when Dad used to work there. He and the branch manager would go out in a jeep, and would travel through miles of Jarwa forests (which were dangerous in those days) to the remote villages in order to give loans and collect debt from the villagers. That is how trivially the lone-branch in the area used to work back then.

Nowadays rules dictate that cars can go through the Jarwa area only in convoys. There are only four convoy trips each day, and naturally, hundreds of cars and buses line up for each. This is a journey of about 80km and takes 2 hours on an average. Once you are travelling with the convoy, you are not allowed to stop or take photos or lower the car’s window panes or interact with the Jarwas in any way. When I heard all these rules, my first and obvious impression was that Jarwas are violent. But that was not the case. Many of them passed us, carrying bows and arrows, but didn’t give us as much as a glance. On our return journey however, we saw some Jarwa kids begging by the road. But as you know, no interactions allowed. Their bowls were empty. Later I learned that Jarwas are not immune to some germs we carry around and die of sickness when they come in contact with us. Hence the rules.

From Port Blair, we flew to Kerala. While Kerala didn’t have the scenic beauty of Andaman, it had richer fauna. Especially at the Periyar Tiger Reserve. One thing I want to talk about is the home-stay where we rested for two days at Thekkady. The host was incredible. And I mean incredible. The house was a small two storeyed one and we were offered one of the two rooms on the first floor. The host’s family consisted of his wife, daughter and himself. He was an a man in his 50s with grey hair and a remarkably fluent English accent. His wife was charming and a perfect cook (exceptional, if you consider the other places we stayed at). But most remarkable of all… the daughter. She was deaf, and hence never learned to speak either. YES, this is EXACTLY the scenario from Chaman Nahal’s The Silver Lining. When I first discovered the situation, I didn’t know what to say. I knew that such issues are too sensitive to talk about and kept my mouth shut. I never got to meet the daughter actually. I was rather severely sick at that time and didn’t budge from my room during our stay. But the host would come up and converse with me for hours while my parents were away touring. Just to ease my boredom I suppose. Anyway, this is how I came to know a lot about the daughter. She could read lips and had no problem understanding normal paced conversations. She also came first in some important math exam in the locality just the week before. So she had already had the happy ending of the story. I’ve seldom been so glad in my life.

And as our wheels touched the runaway of Kolkata three hours before new year’s midnight, I planned to write a blogpost. And that plan was carried out today, after forgetting 90% of the incidents of our trip.

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