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Writers International Edition

Travel & Living

Little Anvik’s Endearing Journey through the Enchanting Water World of Froggyland

Water is the be-all and end of everyone’s life. Our life sustains because of this quintessential driving force. The sanguine presence of two moles of hydrogen and one mole of oxygen works wonders in our entity. The colourless, odorless, and tasteless liquid appears in myriad faces in our lifeblood in multiple phases. Who does not like being brimming with the serene flow of the water that lavishes the liveliness in any human being? The renowned Anthropologist Loren Eiseley’s words often reverberate in me with the real splish splash that if there’s magic on this planet, it is contained in water. The inchoate rhythms of my little one, Anvik Sujeeth aka Kunjapp started falling and feeling for the mystic marvels of the mighty life force. He is always ready to dive into the raptures of water bodies with his tiny body in the making. His Goan days as a diaspora have added a lot to his pleasure and passion for the wavy moments of the elan vital. One fine day, we decided to explore one such water sport far away from the sun-kissed and sandy beaches of the vibrant state of Goa.

Kunjapp and his mom have heard a lot about one such spot of rainy rhythms from Jeeth. He was so sure that Kunjapp would enjoy an adventurous spot like that. He has visited the water land recently on behalf of the department tour. Albeit our absence was visible in the photographs of the office people posing with families, I was all ears to know about the spot. From Jeeth’s words, I sensed that it was a destination worth visiting for Kunjapp. Jeeth’s video depicting the exciting array of slides and fun-filled moments with his colleagues made Kunjapp a little upset as Accha (Dad) did not take his little one. The childish innocent self was given the assurance that he would play there very soon. Jeeth’s words turned worthy in our next vacation days. It was a random decision one night to set off on a trip to the much-heard and much-awaited waves of wonder, the Froggyland. Jeeth has asked me to pack our bags with a pair of attire for us and three to four sets of shorts and t-shirts for Kunjapp. I did pack that night itself and looked forward to the morning of the fast-approaching day. We have made up our minds to start depending on the time we get up. It was already decided not to follow a conditioned and fixed clock alarm. We would get up ‘Apne Aap’ and gear up for the trip accordingly.

We started our journey after breaking our fast with idli and sambar. Kunjapp was literally thrilled to move out of the quarters and get a varied glimpse of the world outside. As Jeeth had informed us that the water park would be opened by 10:00 AM, we slowly started taking a move with our only handbag capable of possessing anything and everything of ours in its surface area. The location Nuvem was not that far from our quarters and we reached the water world well before time. By the time we reached, there were many inside and a few were waiting to grab their entry tickets. I could hear a few announcements and my enthusiasm prompted me to click a few snaps along with my little App and the froggy structures. Within a few minutes, we got our tickets. We were dressed up in water-friendly costumes and so there was no need to go to the changing room then. We kept our footwear safe and started diving into an ocean of excitement at Goa’s largest waterpark. At Froggyland Waterpark, there is something for everyone, whether you’re in the mood for exhilarating water slides, tranquil pools, or engaging water activities. It was time to get ready for an adventure filled with non-stop fun and excitement.

Kunjapp’s eyes have caught the attention of children playing and peeing in water unmindful of the rivulets of the liquid’s liquid movement. We chose to share some time at the children’s play area. The choice of sometime really went for some time crossing an hour. The splashing of water and its sudden overflow giving a shower’s impression made me sit and wait with Kunjapp just to feel that flow of water. It was a thrilling sight. We soon started playing in slides over there. It gave Kunjapp an impression of falling into the raptures of water. He loved walking through it making giggling sounds. His attention was altered by this from the whistling of children playing around a structure where water appears to be like the rhythm of rain. Kunjapp in no time began dancing in the drizzling background with his dad. We had a tough time convincing him to come out of the ecstasies created by the water rides and slides. We showed him some children playing in the distance. He was curious to see the way they walked through the Stepping Stones.

Stepping Stones test our balance and coordination as we manoeuvre across the stepping stones, strategically placing each foot to maintain stability and keep dry. This exciting challenge provides a thrilling adventure within this waterpark, pushing our agility to the limit. Kunjapp tried his best to walk and shake while walking through the stones. Jeeth was holding him tightly while Kunjapp made new steps. He lost his interest soon and started moving and playing in the water slides again. Jeeth told him there were some more playthings, especially a big slide. His curiosity took us to the other side. As the slide was too big, Kunjapp and his mom thought of waiting near the water pool to cheer Dad. As he has already become familiar with this through the big slide video, Kunjapp has decided to stand downstairs to see his dad’s performance. Jeeth’s slide movements filled him with scoops of laughter. He came in sometime. We could see the lazy river as well. The sunny day’s laziness made us relax for a while. Jeeth enlightened us about the rain dance.

We were eager to be a part of rainy musical movements. We heard an announcement mentioning the time of the rain dance. We started making a move. Lights became dim in the rain dance zone where lively water sprayed and energetic rhythms came together for an exhilarating dance experience unlike any other. Kunjapp was transmuted to a new world of watery vibes. People made steps out of their excitement and party feel. The feeling of the tummy’s need for the energy to dance made us reach the changing room within no time. As it was crowded, we took time to freshen up. We directed our legs to the cafe and snacks in the shaded relaxation area. By the time, Jeeth joined, I had already ordered tea and puffs. Kunjapp started munching it. What caught his attention was the kind of images and structures over there. The whole park themed around frogs was a new and riveting experience for him. Slowly, we started making a move from the froggy water land. Three hours passed like a smooth playtime in the water. Kunjapp has agreed to make a move towards the parking area of Baleno. We proceeded to Panjim with the hope of digging into Chicken Biriyani on the way. Kunjapp was loaded with water safari stories with limited words and powerful gestures. It was an experience we have never come across anywhere in life. The delight on his tiny face was priceless. The life-giving elixir of water can stir our mindset offering the profound realities of human life. Water teaches us and delights us freshly just like the unparalleled movements and uniqueness of this lovely liquid.

The great Renaissance artist, Leonardo da Vinci’s words echo the voice of wisdom that in time and with water, everything changes. Kunjapp might have changed and grown up over the years and our next visit to Froggyland may offer new insight. I honestly feel that his passion for water will linger and this life matrix will offer new vistas of entertainment for him. It is time to change the backdrop of Goa from our lives. Still, we fondly cherish all the lively and lovely moments of this scintillating land. It is time for a change and another adventure.

Dr Aparna Ajith

Dedicated to Sujeeth and Anvik Sujeeth, the priceless possessions of my life who make me go ahead with all my daily delirium and creative lunacies. Love and hugs to my warriors!

PS: If your little one is curious to explore the untarnished beauty of the water drops and waves, do not wait for long to stop by Froggyland, the Water World. You won’t regret coming here as it’s children-friendly in all aspects. Let them dance in the revelry of the raindrops. Let them relax to the core unmindful of the external world. Froggyland forever remains special for Kunjapp. It is not just a destination; it is a haven designed with children in mind, where relaxation and fun go hand in hand. Your investment of time and money will be rewarded with priceless memories that will last a lifetime. Imagine the joy on Kunjapp’s face as he grows older, reminiscing about his carefree days in Goa. Let him grow a little bit to read my words and ask us to re-create that very old day of his Goan Childhood. Let the countdown to unforgettable experiences begin right here!

About the Author

Dr Aparna Ajith writer and her travel experience in goaDr. Aparna Ajith serves as an Assistant Professor in the PG Department of English at Sree Narayana College for Women, Kollam affiliated with the University of Kerala. She is the author of Musings of Venus, An anthology of poems. She is the recipient of the Panorama Global Youth Literary Award 2020. She is one of the recipients of the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy Research Grant 2020. Being a freelance journalist, she writes and translates articles for the Information and Public Relations Department, Govt. of Kerala. She is an avid reader and blogger who dabbles in the world of prose and verse. Having lived in four Indian cities and a quaint hamlet, she soars high in the sky of artistic imagination wielding her realistic and diasporic impressions. Her academic and creative pursuits bestowed her the opportunity to travel to 18 states and 2 union territories in the country and get a glimpse of their varied cultures. Beyond her professional pursuits, she finds joy in navigating the highs and lows of life alongside her beloved baby, Anvik Sujeeth, whose presence often breathes life into her poetic expressions.

 

Baratang Bliss: A Journey of Three Men Army Through Time and Nature Via NH 4

Nobody wishes to confine themselves to the dull and dreary rhythms of daily life. The monotony of life can make one go low and insipid. The general absurdities of life should give way to the unexplored vistas of the world. One should wake up and get ready for a takeoff from what makes life stagnant. The only constant of change beckons us to chill and feel good once in a while. It’s time to rejuvenate and recoup oneself from the pangs and pains of ordinary days. Who does not like to create extraordinary days of the real ordinary days? I sensed that echo in me – time to take a break for a week. Trips, travel, places, and people – all things afresh can freshen up the mind. Losing oneself to the legacy of travel destinations can arouse the creative rush of adrenaline. Kunjapp and family have made up their minds to explore the untarnished beauty of an unexplored island. Planning has begun and our master planner, Jeeth has already fixed the chart with Plan A and Plan B for Day 1 to Day 7. Finally, the time has reached our footsteps to dive into the wonders of the breathtaking Baratang Island. The last impression and the seventh day of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands created a lasting impression on us. Kunjapp and his mom were only new to the land as well as the island. Many of the roads and byroads remain familiar to Jeeth who is also a foreigner like us now in his best-loved destination. Islands are the reminders of arrivals and departures, as the axiom goes. A trip to remind our arrival on this mighty planet and to depart with the hope of arriving somewhere else. We carry the reminders of a dreamy land lying far away from the madding crowds and unfrequented locales of the pristine Baratang Island of the Indian Union Territory of Andaman Nicobar Island. For me, it’s Lieutenant Archibald Blair’s island, land of integrated tri-services command of the Indian Armed Faces. Above all, INS Jarawa, is a naval base based on the indigenous people of Andaman and Nicobar islands. Jeeth has already shared umpteen stories on his expeditions to the tribal land and Baratang experience.

Though we have to make our movements with a two-and-a-half-year-old baby, we have decided to set off to Baratang. The name sounded unique and Western to me. My curiosity prompted me to ask Google Maa. She enlightened me with her findings that it is the land of the big fig tree and the land where the wind blows. Jeeth’s typical explanation in his oft-comfortable Hindi Bhasha made me comfortable with his elucidation of Baratang as ‘barah tang’ meaning twelve channels. It is believed that the island is located in an area that has numerous channels that wind their way through the marvel of mangrove forests. Tucked away in the sapphire waters of the Andaman Sea, Baratang Island is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Journey through its emerald mangrove forests and witness the dance of nature as sunlight filters through the dense canopy. Wonder at the ancient limestone formations sculpted by time, and immerse yourself in the rhythmic beats of indigenous cultures that call this island home. Baratang Island beckons adventurers to unravel its secrets and indulge in the raw beauty of untouched wilderness.

We are about to dive into the heart of Baratang Island’s rich biodiversity, where vibrant wildlife and virgin landscapes create an impressive array of adventure and relaxation. Now, let’s begin how we began the journey. The seventh day of the trip has reserved a lot of anticipation and apprehensions. Above all, the feeling of the trip has come to a close. We stayed at Holiday Home near Chakkargaon of Port Blair. The stay at Holiday Home was quite homely with Malayali food and fun colored interactions. The owner of the Home arranged a car walla as we have already told him regarding our wish to visit Baratang. We have decided to go early morning along with the first visitors of the day to the channel. It was indeed a surrealistic journey for Kunjapp and his family. Jeeth has given a warning to Maa and Beta to be ready by 03:30 AM to reach there on time to have a glimpse of the Jarawas. It was not that easy for the goddess of the night to embrace us before the usual time. I am not sure when the night mode captivated us but the call of dawn approached us in a wink in the form of Jeeth’s phone alarm. As usual, he got up and started getting ready. I prepared myself to get ready at a dead slow pace. Kunjapp got up within no time and began muttering something or the other. As he sensed that we were gearing up for a trip, he cooperated with us in changing his diaper and attire. We were all set to go with our all-things-fit lavender sykbag. As Amma says, Jeeth has immense potential in packing things of elephant size at ease with the feeling of everything as just goat size ( mera left hand kaa kaam hei, as he says). All elephant-size items got to fit into my goat-size version bag. We came downstairs and started waiting for the gaadi. My prompt man rang him up to inform us that we were ready. His ambassador came within some five to ten minutes. Kunjapp slept off in my arms within no time. Albeit my curiosity prompted me to ask a few things to the driver, I too could not evade the serene call of the calm sleep. Kunjapp got up in between and giggled. I too got up in between and did not fail to fulfil my remaining sleeping time. We reached the Jirkatang check post well before time. We could see one or two taxis and the rest started coming one by one. By the time we got up, Jeeth had already sipped his tea after a short walk. He got a cup of tea for me. Meanwhile, Kunjapp got up and asked his dad to show him around. His eyesight fell on his favorite JCB. Dad could make him stand on it and pose for a pic. He was so excited to see a cow passing by. I was also feeling excited seeing his excitement but I was delighted to see something else. I felt like saying Ahoy, Convoy! For the first time in my life, I was going to experience a convoy journey, a sort of slow movement like a VIP I am familiar with via the silver screen. The convoy trip started on time at 06:00 AM and I was thrilled to see the taxis, trucks, buses, and cars going at a slow pace. It was already informed to us that the vehicle would be going at low speed and we could not click any photographs. After completing the formalities at Jirkatang Checkpost, we began our two-hour trip through the interiors of the reserve forest. The driver asked us to be alert so as not to miss the view of a Jarawa. Tribes are after all people like us. For a moment, I felt like asking myself how I would feel if people came to see me like a different species on the earth. This trip to Baratang turned out to be a divergent experience as I could not see any tribal folk as seen or learned in history books like uncouth and undressed vagrants. On the way to Baratang, we could see one or two Jarawa kids. The driver enlightened us with the fact that these kids go to schools and they do have an ICDS sort of scheme. The sense of shame has slowly started emerging in them and that is reflected in the way they cover some of their body parts. The shocking and harrowing stories made us cross the two hours. Jeeth informed us that it was time for the ferry trip and we reached some middle strait Jetty. The ferry journey started within no time and we occupied the last row of seats. The ferries there have the generosity to accommodate all vehicles like cars, bikes, and buses like passengers. The view of the mangrove forests gave a hint that we were about to reach Nilambar Jetty. It was time for us to refresh. As I forgot to take Kunjapp’s drinking bottle, we had to satisfy his thirst by giving him an ounce of water through the lid of our water bottle. It was time to catch the boat to unearth the mystic beauty of the real barah tang of channel-like mangrove forest. The warm and the tanned weather made us tired of sailing through the winding ways. The half an hour journey ended at Baratang forest division. We were given time to roam around for some time. As Kunjapp developed a mild fever by then, we dropped our plan to climb to the Limestone cave. We made him sit, relax, and enjoy for a while. We made good use of the relaxing time with pics, videos, and fun. Kunjapp’s fever started relieving him slowly. We were peaceful. We missed the view of Mud Volcano as the driver suggested. The boat ride for a few minutes through the entangled scapes of mangroves was astounding. I have nowhere experienced one such journey touching the waves of water immersed in the glory of the canopy lavished by mangroves. It was infact a lovely sight to dream and to recreate in the creative oars. The walk through the bamboo bridge was mesmerizing. We spent some time posing for natural and candid moments.When the boat approached, we went with our fellow passengers back to Nilambar Jetty. Our tired and starved selves were dying too much for something. Jeeth took us to a small Chai shop selling tea, hot vadas, and chutney. It made our day. We had to wait for half an hour to become a part of the return convoy. My drowsy self was all ready to enjoy the convoy journey for one more time. Our vehicle joined the convoy and started making a move. We were all carrying one set of stories or the others. In between, a lorry carrying Jarawa kids passed by. A journey that created countless queries and expectations in me and culminated in an unanticipated rain. Wow, what an auspicious design of the providence. That’s all I could say. The return journey ended up at Holiday Home by 15:30 hours. We straight away went to the room after settling the payment and expressing our gratitude to the Baratang gaadiwalla. We dug the interiors of the Chicken Biriyani after diving into the interiors of Breathtaking Baratang. We were captivated by the sleep that lasted till the wee hours of the next day. A day/night to dream and dive into that dream!

Walking is a vital travel venture. You never know where your feet will take you. Here, my warrior’s walk with nature’s rhythm hoping for fresh woods and pastures new with a murmur that long way to go and enjoy life to the lees. “Every island for a child is a treasure island” goes the dictum. Kunjapp goes in search of the treasures unlocked in the mystic action field of evolution carrying with him the reminders of arrivals and departures. It’s time to unfurl the charm of yet another untarnished island. Stay tuned!

Dr Aparna Ajith

Dedicated to Sujeeth and Anvik Sujeeth, the priceless possessions of my life who make me go ahead with all my daily delirium and creative lunacies. Love and hugs to my warriors!

About the Author

Dr Aparna Ajith writer and her travel experience in goaDr. Aparna Ajith serves as an Assistant Professor in the PG Department of English at Sree Narayana College for Women, Kollam affiliated with the University of Kerala. She is the author of Musings of Venus, An anthology of poems. She is the recipient of the Panorama Global Youth Literary Award 2020. She is one of the recipients of the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy Research Grant 2020. Being a freelance journalist, she writes and translates articles for the Information and Public Relations Department, Govt. of Kerala. She is an avid reader and blogger who dabbles in the world of prose and verse. Having lived in four Indian cities and a quaint hamlet, she soars high in the sky of artistic imagination wielding her realistic and diasporic impressions. Her academic and creative pursuits bestowed her the opportunity to travel to 18 states and 2 union territories in the country and get a glimpse of their varied cultures. Beyond her professional pursuits, she finds joy in navigating the highs and lows of life alongside her beloved baby, Anvik Sujeeth, whose presence often breathes life into her poetic expressions.

column by dr aparna ajith

Anvik, Pariksheth, and Bhavishya: The Three Musketeers of Goan Childhood

Childhood days define and sustain the art of growing up. No passage of the biological clock can wither the shades of sanguine emotions etched in the rivulets of the heart by the innocent epoch. Nobody wishes to come out of the cocoon of the newborn days and the grandeur of warmth being lavished and nurtured from all nooks and crannies. It is right to say that “childhood is the one story that stands by itself in every soul”. One such story lingers in my recess for a long. In the medley of life, some threads shine brighter than others. Such is the tale of three childhood companions whose bond transcends time and distance. It is time to give life to that golden array of memories through my word smithy.

All of us were yearning to get rid of the impact it created on our subsistence thereby transforming 2020 into a futile year. When I look back at 2020 now, I have something to cheer and cherish. The lethargic days of lockdown impelled me to dwell deep in the wisdom of words. I began weaving words in my creative landscape. All things subtle and striking enthralled me. The euphoria of creation within me took me to a creative wonderland of mine. Anvik, my raison d’etre 2.0 has transformed my life into a new realm. Mewling and puking in my arms, I started feeling his serene charm and sensing his innocent gestures. His angelic smile makes me blissful; his charismatic vegetative sounds make me delightful. He has bestowed a new world of happiness and happenings on me. He makes me go ahead with spectacular expectations of a better tomorrow. His hearty arrival embellishes my horizon of hope. I cannot think of a day untouched by his touch and twitter. The whirlwind of agony and ecstasy, exhaustion and exhilaration could confine us to the walls of our home. Kunjapp’s world was crushed by the fear of coronavirus. The COVID time baby was forced to remain in quarantine. The world for him was restricted to the familiar three four faces.

The maiden flight journey in the month of eight has bestowed him with a world of wonders and marvels. Above all, the moments, and movements at a tourist spot like Goa bestowed him the vibrant hues to be beloved forever. Kunjapp who was struggling to achieve the milestone of crawling found comfort in, around, and within me. The safe landing at Goa’s airport followed by our Baleno journey culminated in the quarters where we had the first glance of the first floor and the immediate neighbours nearby our quarters. NandaKumar and family have become a part of the active vocabulary through the lovely portrayals Sujeeth has given by now. Nanda well received Jeeth, a newcomer in our absence by making everything handy and possible for a person in quarantine. We too were warmly greeted and received by Nanda and family. Jeeth has informed me that Nanda’s family would help me out in my process of getting acquainted.

Meeting and greeting are never new, but meeting Pariksheth was indeed a novel experience. His childish inquisitiveness prompted him to ask a lot about Kunjapp, who was sleeping then. It did not take much time for Kunjapp to develop a sort of giggling and shy-looking rapport with Pariksheth Chettan. He was curious to carry him like the way I carry Kunjapp and his broken Hindi did add to his conversation style. Pariksheth’s sister Bhavishya who was almost eight to nine months older than Kunjapp took time to mingle and share the toys with him. Pariksheth’s curiosity made him check the heights of both the babies and do pranks on them. The rapid flow of time like a smooth breeze made all three grow: Pariksheth became a schoolboy, Bhavishya turned two and Anvik crossed one. We have witnessed major milestones together. Kunjapp liked being in the company of Chettan and his cute calling of ‘Anvichu’. For Bhavishya, he was always ‘paappa’ ( the little one). Albeit his diction of words was in the process of maturing, he could recognize and express his liking with the facial muscles. Over time, their friendship grew stronger. Kunjapp’s love for the aroma of idli and sambar enhanced over time. Our exchange of curries and conversations with Kavita and the kids made our days pleasant at Goa. I still remember those days when Jeeth had to go for night duty and poor Kunjapp trying hard to part his dad. Kunjapp and his mom spent some time waving hands and roaming around the shopping complex. If Nanda happens to see Kunjapp, he makes sure that he asks something or plays with him so that Kunjapp feels better. For Nanda, Kunjapp remains Shaant beta ‘paapa jaisa shaant beta’. He never knows how naughty the wildness of imagination can take Kunjapp. Still, he remains calm and composed in knowing and unlearning things.

The passage of time and the hearty interactions took a mighty end by the heralding of transfer. We were sure that we would not be able to meet Nanda and their family for our next vacation. Their packing and preparation have started by then. We were getting ready to bid adieu to Kunjapp’s friends with a half-hearted mind. We handed over our parting gifts along with our wedding anniversary cake. I still cherish Pariksheth coming and handing over a ‘damru’ to Kunjapp asking him to keep it. The next day when his mom gifted him a pair of shorts and t T-shirt, he asked me to return the other gift and keep this. His childish innocence still makes me laugh. He came to me saying – “Aunty, only seven days, Anvi going. Shall I take him to my home”? Their moments of togetherness and childish talks remain afresh in me. The night before we were leaving, Kavita prepared us a casserole full of vadas saying she could make only that for Anvi. We still carry the warmth and fragrance of that love. As we had to catch the flight early morning, we started around 23:00 hoping that we would not get caught and delayed by the traffic. Nanda, Kavita, and the kids were wide awake to bid us tata, bye. I could still feel the vibration of Pariksheth saying not to go, Anvi. Later, Jeeth got to know from Nanda that both Pariksheth and Bhavishya cried saying Anvi would not be coming to Goa ……

Nanda and their family have gone to new quarters. Three more vacations came in search of our Goan days. New neighbours did occupy Nanda’s home. Nothing remained the same. Whenever we mounted the stairs and opened the door of our quarters, it seemed like an instinct for Anvi to run in search of Chechi and Chettan. It took days and new faces to make him realize that it was no more Chechi and Chettan’s home. Over the years, we move from one quarter to another, and we come across a place to place, face to face but Pariksheth and Bhavishya forever remain Kunjapp’s first friends. They are the tiny humans he has seen for the first time on his beautiful planet. They have opened new vistas of friendship, caring, sharing, ramblings, prattle, and giggles on him.

We have promised that we will meet them at their new place… Though the promise has not become ancient, we fulfilled it without taking a year. We met them in their hometown. It was indeed a journey to see Kunjapp’s childhood friends who are now familiar only with the photograph images. His limited vocabulary asked me a lot of queries and the revisit did satiate his innocent mind. It was a surprise trip to the outskirts of Chennai. As we landed at Chennai airport after the week-long safari to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, I planned to drop by. After picking up our Baleno from Chennai City, we proceeded to Arakkonam. On reaching halfway, Jeeth felt like calling and asking Nanda whether they were available. He rang up some time later and asked us to reach home saying he would join us. He sent the location too. The air and road journeys have made us tired like anything still the zeal to see his childhood friends made all of us remain renewed. Meanwhile, we had a late lunch with tea and moved along with the moments of Baleno. Our car deserves special mention as no stories of our real-life roots and routes are complete without the four wheels on course. We reached as per the Google map timing. Pariksheth, Bhavishya, Kavita, and Nanda’s mother were all set to greet us. Nanda as promised joined in sometime. The unexpected visit did not restrict them from offering us home food. I was wondering how my little one would respond. He was running around and behind them as if he were playing there for days. Pariksheth did not fail to check the heights of Kunjapp and Bhavishya. They have only a slight difference now! His exclamation still reverberates in me. Time flies and how fast these cuties grow! This is all we could say. We did not know Nanda and their family were gearing up for the housewarming. In a way, we turned out to be the first visitors to their new home. As we got a gift for them from the islands, we handed over it as a housewarming gift. We hope that they have found a place for it in the new home itself. The time for stories, selfies, and delicious dishes will take time for me to pen the next story. Hence we took leave albeit they told us to stay there that night. As we had plans to meet and make surprise visits, we had to tell them bye with a remark that we would come again soon after bidding farewell to Goa.

The canvas of life is beautified by the patterns played and colored by the people whom we treasure and cherish for a lifetime. “Happy times come and go but the best childhood memories stay forever” remains true to the core. The friendship and affection that flourished over the limited period will be cherished for a lifetime. Kunjapp’s Goa and Goan days are colored by the cuteness of these cool friends. Nanda and family will be remembered and cherished for what and how they are… Of course, the triumphs of the trio and their bonds of friendship.
Years may pass, and distances may grow, but the bond they share remains unbreakable. For in the hearts of these three friends, the spirit of childhood lives on, forever carved in the pages of their shared story. I wish my Kunjapp write the rest of his childhood stories about his first friends very shortly. See you soon, Kuttippappas.

Dedicated to Sujeeth and Anvik Sujeeth, the priceless possessions of my life who make me go ahead with all my daily delirium and creative lunacies. Love and hugs to my warriors!

Dr Aparna Ajith

About the Author

Dr Aparna Ajith writer and her travel experience in goaDr. Aparna Ajith serves as an Assistant Professor in the PG Department of English at Sree Narayana College for Women, Kollam affiliated with the University of Kerala. She is the author of Musings of Venus, An anthology of poems. She is the recipient of the Panorama Global Youth Literary Award 2020. She is one of the recipients of the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy Research Grant 2020. Being a freelance journalist, she writes and translates articles for the Information and Public Relations Department, Govt. of Kerala. She is an avid reader and blogger who dabbles in the world of prose and verse. Having lived in four Indian cities and a quaint hamlet, she soars high in the sky of artistic imagination wielding her realistic and diasporic impressions. Her academic and creative pursuits bestowed her the opportunity to travel to 18 states and 2 union territories in the country and get a glimpse of their varied cultures. Beyond her professional pursuits, she finds joy in navigating the highs and lows of life alongside her beloved baby, Anvik Sujeeth, whose presence often breathes life into her poetic expressions.

Dr Aparna Ajith, writer about Goa

Au revoir, Our Queen’s Kitchen

No parting in life is pleasing like shaking hands. When you have to bid adieu to someone and something best loved by you, how will you take it? Many a time, I put pen to paper to weave patterns for my random goodbye tale. I could not. I had to put it off for something or the other. I don’t know the reason behind this ridiculous procrastination. The resplendence of a New Year has given me the urge to pen my passionate goodbye story after a couple of months. “It’s not the days in life we remember, rather the moments” goes the saying. The plethora of pleasing experiences and the treasure trove of priceless moments take me back to the shadow lane of Goan memoirs. Yes, once there lived a mom and baby as Diasporas. Indeed, in the Portuguese city of Goa, I was fortunate to see, feel, hang out, and move around with my munchkin. His maiden flight journey to meet his dad began when he was 0.8 albeit he started travelling while in liquid form to have a glance at his dad in uniform. Oh, the story is getting lengthy. No more spoilers… Let me come straight to the Momos Queen.

No stories of our Goan days would be complete without the mention of the fleeting presence of the two smiling souls we came across at Porvorim, Goa. The much-awaited journey was delayed by the layover of the connecting flights from Goa to Trivandrum. I fondly cherish the Indigo team for offering assistance in carrying my baggage and all as I was juggling with my little human who was only a handful of months old then. The journey from 08:30 almost ended at 18:00 hinting at the landing sirens and conveyor belt rush of the Defence protected Airport of Goa. As usual, my prompt man was all set to carry and keep us safe on the Baleno. Of course, the baggage too. From the oft-heard stories of the Goan life, we have decided to head to Delfino’s from where Sujeeth, my man normally buys essentials and groceries. The occasional cook in Jeeth never fails to explore the nook and cranny of the supermarket. He waxed eloquent on the Malayali shop selling yummy Appam and stew. The mom and baby gave it a try. It was indeed relishing. No wonder! He introduced us to the juice shop as well.

We accidentally and incidentally came across a shop near Delfino’s. We were unsure as we didn’t know whether it was a separate shop or not. In the “Queen’s Kitchen”, lies a display of snacks – varieties of momos. “Eat delicious momos, fresh homemade momos available here”. My appetite craved for them be it veg or non-veg. I have been suppressing my hunger since morning. Lil Kunjapp aka Anvik who is in the phase of developing taste buds too munched a little. I could see a giggle in him. The little mind is mastering the art of exploring the wonders of the newfound land. Of course, he started putting himself in tune with the munching crunchy momos with time.

The first impression of Momos and the queen instilled a good impression. It did not take much time to develop a company with the Momos King and Queen. Kunjapp’s taste buds were favored by the fragrance of the Momos. He has fallen for momos from the land that has taught him to crawl and fall and walk like a homosapien. Kunjapp’s active vocabulary remains as a platter brimming with Malayalam, English, and Hindi coinages. The first City he learned to utter was ‘Govaa’. For him, Goa means ‘Accha’ (dad), beaches, shack, and the queenly momos. Whenever we got to grab two to three packets( one packet will make us go for two or three normally) of Momos, the Queen asks whether I have come on leave and how is everything. These pleasant exchanges make the Momos and Queen’s kitchen experience exceptional and memorable for us.

The days and months-long Goan stay came to an end all of a sudden. Kunjapp has made remarkable milestones in his life. Although we were mentally preparing to bid adieu to the quarters on the banks of river Mandovi, I never thought I had to rush home with the two-and-a-half-year-old kid due to hospital emergencies back home. The colourful days of Goa prompt us to remain crazy but we have to accept the harsh realities of life. Jeeth with a positive and unexpressive persona, booked the tickets and packed our baggage within no time after working hours. I tried to make up my mind that Kunjapp and I would not be Diasporas in Goa anymore but tourists for sure in the future.

I had a swan song for my glorious Goan galore of emotions. I just wanted to go to Delfino’s and assured that we won’t delay and miss the flight. My auspicious desire was materialized by my better half. Jeeth’s expertise in riding took us within no time. Kunjapp as always was curious to go for a ride and chill with us in his ways. I purchased a bag for myself and asked Jeeth to bring it home safely on his byroad journey. While getting down at the parking itself, I saw the queen, waved my hands, and went straight away to her. I ordered the momos. While exiting Delfino’s, I rushed to the Queen’s Kitchen. Jeeth was indirectly hinting at time with his facial gestures. I collected the order, paid the money, and expressed my deep sense of gratitude for making my baby’s Goan days singular and noteworthy with her Godly sent momos. She found it hard to digest that we are leaving Goa forever. I promised her that we would revisit Goa once our Anvik grows. She hugged me out of affection and said – “Wherever you are, God bless you. Take care, Ma’am”.

Her words mean a lot to me. My little globetrotter in his three years has marked his presence at Chennai, Bengaluru, Kodaikanal, Hyderabad, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Kolkata and what not but he has never come across the flair and flavor of momos from the Queen’s kitchen. Even if I try to order and get from costly and high-rated shops, nothing can parallel the quality and reasonable rate of queenly momos. Thank you for making a few pages in the life story of Goan days truly astounding. Feeling a sense of riveria sublime. For the time being, let me say Au revoir to our Momos Queen team. “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” The dictum exemplifies my love and longing for the Portuguese marvel of Goa. Accha’s Goa is always Accha for Kunjapp and his mom. We will come again someday nearby, someday far….. Countdown begins!!

PS: If you plan a trip to North Goa, never miss to slow down your vehicle for a while to munch some mouthwatering Momos! You won’t regret taking a short break near Porvorim. This small outlet at the Delfino’s Courtyard is a must-visit to try the delicate momos with the perfect mix of minced chicken, garlic and veggies served with scrumptious sauce and chutney. The Momos Queen’s delightful exchanges added a special touch, making each visit memorable for us. Kunjapp’s milestones mirrored the colorful days of Goa. The flavor of Goan momos remains unmatched as we venture into new destinations. To future travelers, a pit stop near Porvorim for delectable momos is a must. The appetizing aroma of the gorgeous filling is all set to entice you in the joyfulness of Goa.

Dedicated to Sujeeth and Anvik Sujeeth, the priceless possessions of my life who make me going with all my daily delirium and creative lunacies. Love and hugs to my warriors!

Column by 
Dr Aparna Ajith

About the Author

Dr Aparna Ajith writer and her travel experience in goaDr. Aparna Ajith serves as an Assistant Professor in the PG Department of English at Sree Narayana College for Women, Kollam affiliated with the University of Kerala. She is the author of Musings of Venus, An anthology of poems. She is the recipient of the Panorama Global Youth Literary Award 2020. She is one of the recipients of the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy Research Grant 2020. Being a freelance journalist, she writes and translates articles for the Information and Public Relations Department, Govt. of Kerala. She is an avid reader and blogger who dabbles in the world of prose and verse. Having lived in four Indian cities and a quaint hamlet, she soars high in the sky of artistic imagination wielding her realistic and diasporic impressions. Her academic and creative pursuits bestowed her the opportunity to travel to 18 states and 2 union territories in the country and get a glimpse of their varied cultures. Beyond her professional pursuits, she finds joy in navigating the highs and lows of life alongside her beloved baby, Anvik Sujeeth, whose presence often breathes life into her poetic expressions.

Modi’s Vision for Lakshadweep: Charting a New Course in Global Tourism

In the recent sojourn to the enchanting archipelago of Lakshadweep by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the world was treated to a visual symphony of azure waters, coral reefs, and untouched natural beauty. This idyllic destination, nestled in the embrace of the Arabian Sea, possesses a geography akin to the renowned Maldives. However, despite its comparable allure, Lakshadweep has yet to unveil its full potential in the realm of tourism.

In this exploration, let us embark on a journey to decipher the untapped possibilities that lie within the heart of Lakshadweep, envisioning a future where it stands not only as a rival but surpasses the Maldives as a premier global tourist destination.

The Unexplored Charms of Lakshadweep

Lakshadweep, with its pristine beaches, vibrant marine life, and cultural richness, holds the promise of a paradisiacal escape. To harness this potential, a comprehensive strategy is imperative. Here are some innovative ideas to propel the tourism sector in Lakshadweep to unprecedented heights:

1. Sustainable Tourism:

Embrace a model of tourism that harmonizes with the fragile ecosystem of Lakshadweep. Implement strict regulations on waste management, promote eco-friendly accommodations, and educate both locals and tourists about the significance of preserving the archipelago’s natural beauty.

2. Cultural Experiences:

Enrich the tourist experience by offering immersive encounters with the unique culture of Lakshadweep. Organize cultural festivals, traditional dance performances, and artisanal showcases to provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the rich heritage that defines the islands.

3. Adventure Tourism:

Leverage the natural assets of Lakshadweep for adventure enthusiasts. Facilitate activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and water sports, transforming the islands into an adrenaline-seeker’s haven. Establishing world-class diving schools can further attract enthusiasts from across the globe.

4. Exclusive Retreats:

Introduce exclusive, high-end retreats that blend seamlessly with the unspoiled surroundings. Private resorts that prioritize privacy, luxury, and sustainability can appeal to discerning travelers seeking a unique and serene escape.

Facilitating Easy Access to Lakshadweep for a Tourism Renaissance

To unlock the full tourism potential of Lakshadweep, it is imperative for the government to prioritize and facilitate easy access to this enchanting archipelago. Here, we delve into the reasons why a concerted effort in this direction is not only beneficial but crucial for the flourishing future of Lakshadweep as a global tourist destination.

Lakshadweep’s geographical remoteness has been a double-edged sword. While it has preserved the islands’ natural splendor, it has also deterred potential visitors due to the perceived difficulty in reaching this idyllic destination. Recognizing this challenge is the first step towards devising a strategic plan for improved accessibility.

Key Considerations for Easy Access

1. Transport Infrastructure:

Develop and upgrade transportation infrastructure, focusing on both air and sea connectivity. This includes enhancing existing airstrips, increasing the frequency of flights, and improving maritime transportation facilities.

2. Airlines Collaboration:

Encourage collaborations with airlines to establish direct flights or convenient flight connections to Lakshadweep. Streamlining air travel can significantly reduce the perceived difficulty in reaching the islands.

3. Maritime Connectivity:

Strengthen sea routes and explore the feasibility of introducing regular ferry services. Improved maritime connectivity can cater to a broader demographic of travelers, including those seeking a more leisurely journey.

4. Tourist-Friendly Policies:

Implement policies that promote tourism-friendly practices, such as simplified visa procedures, reasonable ticket pricing, and incentives for travel agencies to include Lakshadweep in their itineraries.

A Glimpse into the Future

As the wheels of change begin to turn, Lakshadweep has the potential to evolve into a tourism haven that outshines even the most celebrated destinations. The path forward involves a delicate balance between economic development and environmental preservation.

In the coming years, envision a surge in global interest as Lakshadweep emerges as a symbol of sustainable and responsible tourism. The islands, once hidden gems, will take center stage, drawing visitors from every corner of the world. Through strategic planning and a commitment to preserving its natural allure, Lakshadweep is destined to carve its niche as one of the premier tourist destinations on the global stage.

In closing, let us embark on this optimistic journey, where the untapped potential of Lakshadweep blooms into a flourishing reality, setting the stage for a new era in global tourism.

ELEFSINA: Article by Despena Dalmaris

Elefsina or Eleusis (Greek: Ελευσίνα), a small, seaside township, only 21 kilometers from Athens in the Thriasio Plain, is rich in history and mythology. It is the birthplace of the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus as well as the Eleusinian Mysteries, which are connected to the goddess Demeter (Greek: Δήμητρα) and her daughter Persophone (Greek: Περσεφόνη). 

Aeschylus (Greek: Αισχύλος, born c. 525BC) was an ancient Greek tragedian, and is regarded as the father of tragedy. Only seven of over seventy plays have survived. Besides “Prometheus Bound”, there is also the trilogy of “Oresteia” made up of “Agamemnon”, “The Libation Bearers” and “The Eumenides”, as well as “The Persians”, “The Suppliants”, and “Seven Against Thebes”. He won many first prizes in the Dionysia literature competitions held in Athens in honour of the god Dionysus of wine, merry-making and the theatre. He was also initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries, and it is said that an attempt was made on his life because he revealed a secret of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Demeter is the Olympian goddess of the harvest, agriculture, the fertility of the earth, and sacred law. The story of the abduction of her daughter, Persophone, by Hades, King of the Underworld, is told in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Demeter searched everywhere to find Persephone until she was finally informed that Hades had taken her daughter to the Underworld. As a result, the earth was plunged into a deadly famine, where nothing would grow, causing the people to die. Zeus ordered Hades to return Persephone to her mother to avoid disaster. 

However, Persephone could only stay with Demeter for half the year as she had eaten some pomegranate seeds, the food of the underworld. This myth explains the seasons, where spring and summer signified the six months when Persephone, also an agriculturally based goddess, returned from the Underworld and was reunited with her mother. The earth again flourished with vegetation and colour, but when Persephone returned to the underworld, the earth would again become a barren land. 

Persephone was united with her mother near Eleusis, as Demeter in her search, had arrived there and had been made welcome by King Celeus. To acknowledge this hospitality, Demeter revealed her secrets to him, which guaranteed agricultural prosperity. A temple was built by the spring of Callichorus where Demeter established her mysteries.  The Eleusinian Mysteries (Greek: Ελευσίνια Μυστήρια) were initiations held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone, which began around 1500 BC. They are considered the ‘most famous of the secret religious rites of ancient Greece’ based on an old agrarian cult, taking place in September, and lasting for nine days – the time that it took Demeter to get Persephone out of the Underworld. 

The Mysteries enact the abduction of Persephone by Hades in a cycle of three phases: the descent (loss), the search, and the ascent of Persephone, and the reunion with her mother. The rebirth of Persephone also symbolized the eternity of life, which flows from generation to generation, and the rewards in the afterlife. The Eleusinian procession towards the Temple of Demeter in Eleusis began at the Sacred Gate (Greek: Ιερά Οδός) in the Kerameikos, the Athenian cemetery of the time, which can still be visited today.                                                                                    

As a result of this rich history, Elefsina had been named the European Capital of Culture for 2021, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, became effective in 2023. The celebrations began on 4th February and will continue throughout the year with 192 Greek, as well as 137 international artists putting on a variety of events, centering on the theme ‘Mysteries of Transition’, which focuses on the three Axes: People – Society / Labour / Environment. 

The idea for the European Capital of Culture programme was put forth by Greece’s former Culture Minister Melina Mercouri and her French counterpart, Jacques Lang in 1985. Since 2010, the European Commission has honoured the memory of Melina Mercouri, who was at the heart of the programme, in the form of a prize presented to each Capital of Culture. 

Despena Dalmaris

 

THE CHURCH PANAGIA KAKAVIOTISA

Lemnos is the 8th largest Greek island located in the north Aegean. The position of the island is quite important as it is opposite the Dardanelles, Turkey, and between Mount Athos and the islands of Samothrace, Imvros and Lesvos. It has always been a stopping place from antiquity for those sailing in the north Aegean. 

Lemnos, the eighth largest Greek island in the north Aegean, has many landmarks. One of them is the church of Panagia Kakaviotisa (Greek: Παναγία η Κακαβιώτισσα), the only church to be found in a cave in the whole of Lemnos and Greece. It is found east of the village Thanos in the area called Zematas, in Mount Kakavos from which it is named after. It is only 4 km from the capital of the island, Myrina. 

The church was first referred to in monastic scripts in 1305 as a dependency of the Monastery Agia Lavra on Mount Athos or Holy Mountain (Greek: Άγιο Όρος). The church has a low, white-washed wall built around it, but without a roof. It is said that every time the church-going villages of the area tried to put a roof over the church, the next morning when the work had been finished, the roof would have caved in. This sign showed that the Holy Mother (Greek: Panagia – ‘all Holy’), wanted as a roof, the ceiling of the cave, the middle of which has a small opening in the shape of an eye that the devout church goers named the ‘eye of Panagia’. Throughout the year, even during the summer months, water drops from the roof of the cave. These are referred to as the ‘tears of Panagia’.

This unique sanctuary was founded by six monks, who came from the small neighbouring island of Agios Efstratios to escape the raids by Turkish pirates. Both islands had ties with the Byzantine Empire and Mount Athos. They built the chapel under the rocky ‘canopy’ of the cave to perform the divine services for their religious needs. An old stone well below the chapel indicates that the area was also farmed by the monks. On the levelled area of the hill, there are remains of old vineyards dating back to the 1950s. 

Unfortunately, when the monks passed away, other monks did not take their place. Therefore, the last monk decided to leave the area and go to Mount Athos. It is said that as he walked towards the coast of Zemata, he met a local shepherd from the neighbouring village of Kontia. He entrusted the shepherd with the icon of Panagia ‘Amaranth Rose’ (Greek: Παναγία ‘Ρόδων το Αμάραντο) and asked him to place the icon in the chapel on the Tuesday after Easter Sunday and hold a liturgy in her honour. The monk then entered the sea, opened his garment, which took the form of a boat, and in a miraculous way, was lost from sight. Mount Athos is opposite Lemnos and can be seen from many parts of the island, especially from Myrina, the capital of the island. 

From that day onwards, the icon of Panagia ‘Amaranth Rose’ is celebrated in the chapel annually on the Tuesday after Easter as well as the last Saturday before the Assumption Day of Virgin Mary on August 15 (Greek: Κοίμηση της Θεοτόκου). Pilgrims from all over Lemnos attend the services and worship the icon. The ‘Amaranth Rose’ never withers. It symbolizes the purity and fragrance of the Virgin, which will remain alive into eternity. 

The chapel is at an altitude of 260 meters. It has become a hiking destination for many visitors to Lemnos. Once you leave the asphalt road, it takes another twenty to thirty minutes of hiking along a dirt track through the hillside with low bushes and pockets of wildflowers before reaching the foot of the hill where the chapel is located. The serenity of the place is in accord with the natural beauty of the mountain area. Besides the small and large caves that can be seen all around, there is an impressive view of the sea in the distance. At the chapel, candles are available for the visitors to light in honour of Virgin Mary as well as seats and tables to sit at for a snack before the return walk. 

Despena Dalmaris

4 MUST-VISIT PLACES TO REDSCOVER IN MEXICO

Take it from us, the “been there, done that” adage really doesn’t apply to Mexico. It’s one of those holiday destinations that get under your skin – a single visit just doesn’t cut it.

If you’ve holidayed in Mexico in the past but are keen to rekindle old memories, let us tempt you with these four must-visit places to rediscover.

VISIT LOS CABOS

Tucked away at the southern tip of Baja California, Los Cabos is the collective name given to two of Mexico’s most prestigious resorts, Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.

Once a sleepy fishing village, Cabo San Lucas now hosts much larger vessels as the primary cruise ship terminal for the area. Despite its relatively late development as a tourist hub, the natural landscape is beautiful. This is where the desert meets the sea.

UNESCO recognises the rugged terrain of the Sierra de la Laguna. Hikers who reach its highest point are rewarded with extraordinary views out over the ocean. The sea too is a major draw. On land, the rock pinnacles of Lover’s Beach and the dramatic wave-cut arch at Land’s End are a reminder of the force of nature.

Out to sea, humpback whales and whale sharks entertain visitors; snorkelling and diving are popular pastimes here. Sportfishing for marlin and tuna is another reason to make the trip.