Thursday, October 04, 2007

I didn't know better. So I looked. And I found this place. Great for killing the better part of an afternoon. And some trivia.
Another place I went to maybe completely NSFW and all, but fun all the same.
And while passing, the page that Dhoomketu showed us returned two of my mugshots with slightly different tilt of the head and only a wee bit change in lighting with two completely different similarity reports. Exzibit(who?)-- 59% and the other, Beneccio Del Toro-- 63%. I'll try with other shots tonight and see which one Gets Antonio Banderas.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

What was it that helped India beat the world at Twenty-20 and what is different now that the Aussies are toying with us? The point can be argued all night. Easier, a finger can be raised at Sachin Tendulkar. But a keen observer will notice a character on the field who we so often overlook. That's odd, considering his unique appearance and the absurdity of Ramesh Pawar as an international cricketer. Is he a joke of some sort his uncle, the venerable BCCI president has been playing on us all along? Talk about cruel jokes. And him, at the cost of R.P or Rohit Sharma, the two stars of last fortnight ? I better stop watching cricket again. Sorry Mahinder.
By the way, somebody sent this to me last week. Save the atrocity of language I found it funny. Especially the punchline.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Been to the Havelock Island lately. Now, you can read about the place here, here and here, but nothing you'll read can prepare you for the experience.
I wonder how many of you have watched the 2000 movie The Beach, which was expansively shot in the Koh-Phi-Phi island in Thailand. Ever since I watched that movie, I wanted to visit Koh-Phi-Phi. But then there came the 2004 Tsunami, and the island was all but destroyed. Petra Nemkova almost died at the island on that fateful boxing day.
Then again, you know, such exotic locations can be quite expensive. Me, I'm ever the broke. Some friends mentioned the Andamans and Havelock in particular as a potentially exotic but way cheaper option. I was sceptical to say the very least. Thus it happened that when I stepped out onto the Radhanagar Beach on a spectacular sunset I had to pinch myself and murmur a prayer.

But theosophy will have to wait. To put in perspective what that sunset really looked like, here,s a photo :

Get niceties out of the way
Every year, about 2,19,000 people come to The Andamans on vacation. 95% of them are Indian PSU employees ( the largest contributor, perhaps, is the steel authority). AVOID these tourists at all costs for they are the absolute dregs who will visit the islands only because it's about the only place they can fly to on leave travel, expenses paid. Thankfully they rarely go to Havelock and even if they do, it's on a day trip. AVOID Radhanagar beach between 11 AM to 2 PM because that's the day tripper slot.
I wouldn't mind leaving Port Blair early, as early as the second afternoon. The first evening was spent at cellular jail. It's okay, everybody does it. Another morning for Ross Island, a nice little place with dollops of history on the side. We took the afternoon boat to havelock curiously named MV Chouldhari. The kids seemed to find a lot of amusement in that name.(Actually the name's after a tribe of aborigines). One must always take the afternoon boat. Wiki calls it tourist special. Normally full of European tourists. These fellows prefer not to linger around Port Blair an extra hour. Smart blokes!

The Havelock certainly deserves a lavish film to be shot here. In beauty of landscape alone, it will rank right at the top of the heap of island gateways around the world. Like many other Indian destinations, what it lacks in is infrastructure. Thank GOD for that. Imagine planeloads of spoilt American tourists flying in from Phuket and junking this heaven. Phew! Not my words. This, from the poetic, almost effeminate Canadian gentleman who teaches English in Taichung, Taiwan and travels Asia on sabbaticals. We met him here.
The tent
Where will one put up at Havelock is one's own choosing. For choices, refer wiki. But as a shoestring affair, this place, the tents at Radhanagar, right smack at the middle of the action, takes the pudding. That of course, is my opinion. In the midst of a tropical rainforest, directly in front of the breakers rising a mere 100 meters away, and the beautiful beach in between. But words keep failing me. Here are more photos.

The red topped tent is your basic dwellings. The powder blue shack in the back is the attached(?) toilet. Surprisingly clean and usable, save the nuisance of sand, which is, well, everywhere. But we'll live.
The Bar To enliven the place and lure customers from nearby Barefoot jungle resort, ANIDCO had opened a magnificent bar in the neighborhood.
Due to prohibitive prices or whatever reason, the bar didn't run and had to be closed down. The structure still stands. It's a thing of beauty made of log. The freezers well stocked even now, the parquet floor shining, the throw cushions strewn all over the place. Two full time employees sleep on the plush sofas in the afternoon. Their job it is to stop you to climb the stairs, to prevent you sitting atop, taking in the view and enjoying your own drink.
Yes , we tried. We took our Bacardi to havelock. From Port Blair. @ Rs.300 a bot. It might get dearer on the island. Below is the view one can take in from atop. Those sinful caretaker fellows! I'll never never forgive them.

The motorcycle diaries

We needed wheels. We took them on rent. @Rs.100 a day. Spurious petrol @Rs.50 a liter.And this is supposed to be subsidy territory.The traders profiteer.Petrol is always in short supply here. So far so good. But the fuel is frequently stolen. Beware. As a result, we ended up on the middle of a lonely road when darkness was falling and the engine died coughing. No sweat. Buses ply. Motorcycle stranded by the road. No cry. Nobody can take them away. Board the bus, listen to Dhoom2 on the onboard speakers and arrive at Radhanagar. Enjoy the fish grilled at Mashimaa's shack in the evening. Wash it down with bacardi in coconut water. See pic.

Boatspotting is big at Havelock. The best time is early morning.

See pics.
The first one reminds you of Harry Belafonte ( Come mister tally man and tally me banana).You could also spot many a bird dripping in suntan oil and carrying a suntan mat and scuba gear in tow if you got lucky, but then, I'm getting carried away. The accompanying photos were taken in the morning sun near a decrepit nullah near the the beach.

Travel some
You want to get around. Can do so hiking, biking and stuff. We stuck to our rented machines. It's but a small isle, 8 miles across. One can go Vijaynagar, near the Dolphin resort or Wild Orchid and several other shanties of all descriptions.Or to Govindnagar, to the jetty and the market. And look for lobsters. Hard to find.
Find one can a glass bottomed boat custom made for coral viewing and fitted with a sturdy outboard engine. The corals can be viewed thus.
One thing must be said about network, though. Exactly at the moment we were viewing these corals, nearly a mile from shore, close to a small
uninhabited isle, madly clicking away and secretly wondering if the glass at the bottom of the boat might not give at any moment, my wife's phone rang. Who else but mommy dearest? What followed was 15 minutes of running commentary. And we were roaming!