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Writers International Edition

Jab We Met @ Port Blair Spot

Travelling- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller”. Ibn Battuta, the renowned Medieval traveler, and explorer has exemplified his dictum by bestowing creative wings to the adventurous roads he traversed in his life. Well! I too have created the faint footprints I have already crisscrossed during the pages and stages of my life. I too have heard a plethora of stories ever since my childhood that fashioned wings for me to soar across the fictional sky. The serene phase of childhood thrills and chills our minds in multifarious ways. When we plan a trip with our cute Kunjapp aka Anvik, I do have a lot of anticipations and apprehensions. We must even think of the destination, weather, and travel routes we opt for. We have been yearning for one such trip ever since Sujeeth and I got married. The unanticipated mysteries of coronavirus and the unexpected family inconveniences took a heavy toll on our plan. It took almost four years to fulfill our auspicious trip. Jeeth was very particular in taking Anakha, my sister( Kunjapp’s Paapaa) to this desired destination as he felt that an anthropologist would explore the place much better than human beings like us. No need for too much of suspense. Let me come directly to this oft-heard and our much-awaited travel spot. For me, it was the land of Govardhan Menon’s and Parvati’s Kaalapani. My mind was always preoccupied by the black water sagas of the historical Cellular Jail. Finally, we landed at Lieutenant Archibald Blair’s Port Blair by marking our maiden steps at Veer Savarkar International Airport.

Keeping our fingers crossed, we kept waiting for the summer break. It was indeed a rendezvous with Paapaa and Unkil ( Kunjapp’s uncle) at Andaman and Nicobar Islands. We were loaded with expectations and anxieties as we were not even sure that we would make it. Finally, the much-awaited day since 2019 has come alive. Kunjapp, our little globetrotter is all set for an outing. His time to roam around and chill depends on the limited days his dad gets as holidays. Our Masoom beccha craves for his Acchaa days with Accha(dad). Jeeth, the master planner has planned the nine-day long trip to Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Excel chart incorporating our queries on how, when, what, and where of the islands with his explanations, clues, and bullet points. His surfing skills enabled him to find the best places to stay based on the reviews. Above all, the memories of his years in the untouched paradise of Andaman added to his zeal in planning and accomplishing the trips. When I show my prowess in writing through my word power, Jeeth proves action always speaks louder than words. His deeds did speak louder than my words. His plan A and plan B for the trip finally worked out. We began our trip to Andaman and Nicobar Islands from Kollam city via Chennai. It was a journey by road, air, and waterways. What more does Kunjapp need when his dad surprises him by bestowing an ocean of dreams navigating the limitless flavours of a trip by diverse routes?

We boarded the flight from Chennai International Airport the next day morning. Kunjapp explored Besant Nagar beach, horse riding with Dad, and the flavors of Chennai cuisine before beginning his real vacation trip. Airplanes and flight journeys were never new to Kunjapp. As Grandpa and Grandma say, even in his childhood days of zero to three years, how many flights and places he has seen? Now that his vocabulary has grown up, he has lots of stories to share with them right from the moment he started the trip to the day we reached home. Though the flight trip was not new, Chennai International Airport was something different. He ran around touching the temple model buildings, the statues of cows, man and all. We gave him candies to munch meanwhile. The two-hour-long wait was indeed a wait. Jeeth tries to move around with Kunjapp at his pace. He was talking, eating, and running everywhere out of excitement. Before we started flying, we got to know that they had already flown to Port Blair Airport from Hyderabad International Airport; Paapaa and Unkil. Our telegram beep messages and photos told us so. We have to arrive to fill the quorum.

We heard the announcement at the waiting gate. We joined the queue and proceeded to our seat numbers. The journey of multiple flights and their high /low movements motivated Kunjapp to grab his seat at the earliest. Yeah, he too had a separate seat. He was curious to occupy the window seat and view the world sights offered by the tiny transparent glass. His naughtiness made him giggle and wave his hands at the passengers seated in the front and back rows. He watched cartoons for a while and slowly slept off. The flight started soaring to make us reach our destination on time. It was not a tiring journey but our tummies announced their uneasiness in remaining empty for long. We were almost sure that we would reach the venue on time. Time gently took us to the final halt. Kunjapp got up by my alarm that we would be reaching soon to Paapaa Unkil. We landed at Veer Savarkar International Airport. It appeared to be smaller and we could wait only for a few minutes to catch our baggage from the conveyor belt. We hired a taxi and proceeded on our trip by cab to Sandhya Residency. We reached the Residency in some time. Before checking into our room, we showed Kunjapp another room. He started disturbing the already disturbed sleep of Paapaa Unkil by calling out their names loudly. An excited Paapaa within no time opened the room and hugged her little App. He ran near Unkil to ensure his presence. Unkil’s ‘Hey, Kunjapp with that typical smile’ sums up his cheerfulness in meeting Kunjapp. What surprised them most was the vocabulary and the formation of sentences with his tiny lip movements and that too in a gap of two to three months. We ordered Port Blair biryani and a special homemade fish fry for Kunjapp soon. We finished everything except the plates in no time. After chit-chatting for a while, we decided to rest for a short break. Jeeth managed to arrange via an old friend of his. Our car and the stories surrounding the car deserve special mention in lot many ways. As planned, we started in some time and moved our body along with the movements of the four-wheeler to Corbyn’s Cove Beach. The fellows in yellow, Kunjapp, and Dad started playing and walking in the water while talking. We posed for a few pics. We came across the hatching of tortoise incidentally. Kunjapp was surprised to see that new creature. We observed the tortoise gang for some time. They were soon taken away by some forest authorities. It was a first-hand and unique experience for all of us. We spent some quality time over there chilling and made a move to the renowned Flag Point. We enjoyed some running around with Kunjapp click pics. The cravings from our stomachs directed us to a small hotel near the roadside. We thought of giving it a try. We ordered a few things while waiting on our chosen table. The dinner was so special that the uniqueness of the lobster and the penny we paid for it remain with us even now. This was followed by Chicken, mutton, and the edible menu of Kunjapp like an omelette and roti. After making sure that our hunger was fully set, we started walking towards the park nearby. It was a real fun time for Kunjapp. We tried hard to exit there as Kunjapp was reluctant to come out of the slide. We sipped glasses of coffee meanwhile and told him a lie that it was the closing time for the park. With a heavy heart, the promise of coming again the next day made him go back to the hotel. Though we were tired and had to start early for a tiring journey to another island the next day, we were loaded with the vigor to watch a movie and have some quality fun time. Jeeth and Unkil Das managed to bring the beds together in one room, fix the TV, connect our speaker and internet, and we watched the funny flick, Romancham munching Hyderabadi snacks. Kunjapp’s deep sleep was unaffected by the heaps of laughter and disaster dialogues. Once the movie was over, we thought of sleeping for a while hoping and planning lot many things for the next day. We realized that the first day was over and we just began our trip. Our inquisitiveness and interest were above par. With the delightful and well-spent debut day at Port Blair, our hopes really doubled to make a bash at the heaven of Havelock, our next destination. The journey is on and so does the story…. Stay tuned…

Once again, I realize, my best-loved writer, Jhumpa Lahiri lives within my recesses and those pages of her dearest novel Namesake keep on appealing to me with the time-tested dialogues of Ashok Ganguli, the Protagonist. He says “You are still young, free. Do yourself a favor. Before it’s too late, without thinking too much about it first, pack a pillow and a blanket and see as much of the world as you can. You will not regret it. One day it will be too late”. His wife Ashima, the one without any boundary (without any Seema – Aseema in Malayalam) also remains special to me by the way she redefined the boundaries of the world by being a part of two different lands, accustomed and unaccustomed. One should always come out of the comfort zone, and get in touch with the varied frames of life, language, culture, and customs. It’s time to travel because I feel I am also young and free enough to see and feel the world like my darling Kunjapp expecting the varied joys and irritations of life. Oh, yeah. It’s time for Havelock, the Heaven now…..

Dr Aparna Ajith

Dedicated to my family crew- Sujeeth, Anvik Sujeeth, Dr. Anakha Ajith and Yesudas Thomas. Love you, my peeps and yearning to be a part of our Team Travellers! I miss our pranks and the endless stories!

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.

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