Thursday, December 17, 2009

Marooned......

There is a soul stirring song by pink floyd (division bell)- marooned, since i have been hearing it for past so many years, it always sets a mood for being in solitude, in the middle of no where, and at peace with oneself. 
What we choose so well, that kind of happens to us at some point in time, When i went to andaman islands- i got that serene marooned feeling which i had been searching for so long. There are innumerable islands which constitute andaman and nicobar, one of them is called baratang islands- these are extremely famous for the mud volcanoes (perhaps the only volcanic activity attributed to india- the last activity in 2005), and also amazing stalagmite caves. 
The journey takes a long time from port blair, taking almost 5 hours by road- traveling through reserved forest areas- which holds one of the rarer aggressive tribes of andaman (these people were not in outside contact till a decade back, and they only started interacting due to increase in illness among their children- taken care by doctors in the reserved forest areas), the jungles are deep and i got to see the tribals in many places, mostly onlooking us as we were staring at them. 
The journey ends with us taking 2 ferry rides to reach the baratang islands. the ferry rides at are so relaxing, with backwaters seeping in from the ocean and thick jungles on both side for quiet comfort. the un inhabited islands (and so many of them)- are mesmerizing, it feels so out of the world, to come to such places- where there might be still unexplored and hidden natural mysteries lurking. 
After 2 ferry rides, the authorities (forest officers)- set people up in little boats which take them inside the mangrove ridden forest cover- to these islands hidden for ages from sight of the modern human being. I had a gala time, entering and walking 3 odd kilometers to the site where beautiful stalagmite caves are present for time immemorial. 
The thing that happened while our group (consisting of around 20 people) where checking out these caves, is the tides receded suddenly and way off, leaving the small boats which had brought us deep inside baratang, completely useless. We were stranded, marooned and how!
No food, no water, no cellphone and definitely no housing, our group spent some 5 hours in the middle of baratang, which was almost 7-8 hours from port blair which was so far away from my home in delhi. It was a wonderful feeling from inside, i tell you. for no one to come and rescue, no one to do anything but wait for the tides to come back and put water beneath the rudders of the boats!
The time to be spent while waiting was for most of desperation- families and older people, were desperate, the thing is, the forest reserve road through tribal areas is closed at nights, and if someone doesnt make it through by sunset to check post, then one has to spend the night near baratang- which has no hotels, and very few eateries. 
I didnt think much, and spent much of my time exploring this hidden world, its a pain in the sun i admit, especially tropical sun, but i loved it none the less. the feeling coming back... of being alone, no technological and human interference, and mostly no mundane tasks to be held. Freedom had a new name in me; down in andaman with the blue blue sea :)
We did manage to reach back by late night to port blair; the tides helping us, the guides and the forest officers helping us (i managed to help some in my group as well, without sounding too modest!), and i had a gala time. Something which i felt for, all through this "ordeal" was for the forest officers, i interacted with them loads and found out that they lead a meager existence without food all day, helping tourists and such to come to baratang. They were not even provided walkie-talkies, which could have been life savers of sorts that day. But all said and done, even they like us, were exasperated with the events. We at the end of the day, had a good laugh and shared food with each other (when we reached the mainland), and forged strong bonds- with each other (not only the guards, but with each other- in the group as well)
I strongly recommend, going all the way to islands beyond horizon, plonking oneself in the middle of the Indian ocean and watching the serenity each and every day. 


Peace

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