6 Must go places in Andamans

1.Cellular Jail:

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Where: Port Blair
Why:
Cellular Jail, also known as “Kala Paani” (Hindi for Black Waters) served as prison used by British immediately after 1857 War of Independence.
Today, it serves as a National Memorial Monument.
What to do:
See the “Light and Sound Show”, exploration, photography

2.Carbyns Cove Beach:

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Where: Port Blair
Why:
Only local beach of Port Blair
A beautiful beach with mesmerising views and also a spot for some shopping of shells and other products.
What to do
: Water sports like jet ski, speed boat, surfing, swimming

3.North Bay Island

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Where: South Andaman
Why: 
The picture on INR 20 currency is the same beach and the lighthouse seen at          North Bay Island.
Famous for coral reefs.
What to do: 
Water sports like scuba diving, snorkelling, sea walking, glass boat ride,      shopping of pearls, sea shells, shell accessories.

4.Ross Island

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Where: South Andaman
Why: 
Historical importance; Ross Island served as Japanese Bunkers between 1942-1945, now under Indian Navy’s control.
Ross Island itself is Indian Navy; it was this Island that saved Port Blair from disappearing from map in December 2004.
What to do: 
Sightseeing, photography, knowing the stories of the past by the only lady guide there, be amazed to the sight of many deer and peacocks roaming everywhere.

5.Havelock Island

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Where: South Andaman
Why: 
Famous for beautiful white sand beaches and coral reefs.
What to do: 
Scuba diving, snorkelling, beach walking, spotting the sunset on Radhanagar Beach.

6.Chidiyatapu

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Where: Kodiyaghat, South Andaman
Why: 
Perfect spot for sunset view.
Home to various different species of birds. 
What to do:
Sunset viewing, bird watching

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Tips for traveling in Andamans

Itinerary:

  • There are a lot of trips that happen with a sudden plan, Andamans isn’t one of them. While traveling to Andamans, one needs a proper itinerary, without which you’d miss on a lot of fun like, unavailability of water sports slots, ferry connectivity to various islands, expensive tickets, expensive accommodations, etc.
  • Consult with a travel agent or check on travel blogs or quora or many other sources.
  • You cannot look for places to visit or contact numbers of agents once you are in Port Blair because of unavailability or improper internet connection.
  • Pre-book all your sports activities through tour operators in Andamans for like, scuba diving, snorkelling, etc and the ferry tickets for traveling to islands like Havelock, North Bay Island, Jolly Buoy, etc. Make advance bookings of hotels to avoid surge prices, especially during peak time.
  • If you are planning to rent a vehicle, make a booking for that too, because of limited vehicles and tour operators.

Permissions:

  • Foreign nationals need to have a permit from immigration authorities to enter the island.
  • As for Indians, permission isn’t required for entering Andamans. Proper permission from the government is required to enter the Nicobar Islands or other tribal areas which is rarely given to tourists.

Baggage Handling:

  • If you are carrying fragile items, do inform the authorities while boarding for Port Blair because the baggage authority at Port Blair airport is reckless in handling your stuff.

Transport:

  • Finding transport is not difficult here. The moment you come out of the airport, you can see a lot of taxis that can provide with rate cards for taxi rentals for your entire trip or on daily basis.
  • You can always bargain a little if you think the prices are skyrocketing.
  • The public transport like auto-rickshaws also run regularly. They can be used too if you are comfortable with the routes.
  • Self-driven two-wheelers are available for rent at reasonable prices through various tour operators in Andamans.

Data Connectivity:

  • Internet connection is a major issue in Andamans. All major telecom networks like Airtel and Vodafone works well for calling purpose.
  • 2G/3G is sluggish, WhatsApp might and might not work at times, uploading and downloading isn’t proper.
  • For safer side, try to carry printed receipts of your hotel bookings and other bookings for smooth travel.
  • Getting a wi-fi connection even in high-end hotels is very difficult. You might get it in Reception, but not in your rooms.

It becomes even difficult if you are away from Port Blair, like in Havelock, North Bat Island, etc.

No going Cashless:

  • Going cashless and flaunting all your pretty cards wouldn’t work in Andamans because of unavailability of internet connection.
  • Payments through credit/debit cards become really difficult even in luxurious places, you might have to walk miles to find a place where you could find internet connection and transfer the money online.
  • Cash sufficient amount of cash in order to avoid such situations.

Foreign nationals especially need to carry Indian currency in order to enjoy the trip smoothly.

Custom Checks:

  • Custom checks might lead to issues while traveling back if you are carrying unbilled sea shells carried from sea beaches. Fully intact and unbroken shells can’t be taken back from the island.
  • If you are willing to carry such stuff, you need to buy it from the market and have a bill for them, which can be shown in case of checks.

Stay tuned for my next post on my blog: “Must go places in Andamans”!

Badrinath: An unforgettable experience

Since childhood, I have felt really connected to the mountains, not sure why!
But after a few moments, I found the answer to this attachment. My mom dad often used to take us on trips, from many holy places in the hills to beautiful green forest in the mountains.

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Badrinath is one such trip that remains unforgettable for me. I feel thrilled even today when I think of it. We suddenly planned a trip to Badrinath from Ghaziabad, India by our own car. When the first rays of the day came down, we had reached Haridwar. We relaxed for a while in Haridwar, had breakfast then left for Badrinath. Slowly the crowd of the city started to fade and the place was filled with lush green jungle. We crossed little towns like Narender Nagar, Byasi, Devprayag, Srinagar, etc. And reached Rudraprayag and decided to spend the night there.

The guest house we stayed in had a part of it still under construction. We could hear the sound of waves of the Alaknanda in the silence of the night. After some rest, we went to the famous temple of Lord Shiva, which was walking distance from our guest house. It was an ancient pagoda, far from the dazzling lights, very simple and calm.

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The above picture is taken from google, rudraprayag, the point of confluence of rivers Alaknanda and Mandakini.

The priest narrated the story of that temple to us; this is the same place where Narad Muni learned to play the veena(an ancient musical instrument) from Lord Shiva. I still haven’t forgotten the huge banyan that I saw there. I’m not sure if it was a banyan tree or some other species of trees because I could not see clearly in dark. Such a big tree at such a height! I could not take any photos because of darkness and rain.

After breakfast, early in the morning, we left for Badrinath. Pleasant winds were surrounding us, but the difficulties of the road were frightening the heart. On the way, there were many such mountain ranges which had the marks of the waterfalls, which no longer exist. We even saw many live waterfalls, some small and some huge.

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After about four-five hours journey, we reached Joshimath. Reaching Joshimath means you have almost reached Badrinath. From here, every vehicle needs to follow a line and a time frame because the journey of next 43 km is very difficult with narrow roads and deep trenches.

We had to wait for our turn till 4 pm. Then the unforgettable adventure of thrill and faith began. The dangerous paths and flowing water were making the roads even more vulnerable and we were trying to hide our fear by taking God’s name. In about two hours thirty minutes, we reached Badrinath Dham safe and sound.

Even in the month of October, we were welcomed by rain, the rain drops from the sky seem to pierce the bones. We checked-in to our hotel room and warmed ourselves by covering ourselves with several layers of blankets.

Next day, early in the morning when my eyes opened, I could feel the warmth of the sun’s rays from the window entering the room. From the balcony, I could see a huge waterfall, behind it was a snow-covered mountain peak. Soon we went out worship, the temple was a little far from our hotel. In the temple there is a hot spring; “Tapt Kund”, as the natives say and we know it. We visited the main temple and the places around; Sheshnetra charan paduka, Saraswati river, Bhim Shila, Vyas gufa and Mana village in our two-day stay.

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When winters are close, the place becomes less crowded because of which, we are able to offer prayers to god peacefully. It’s like losing your body and soul in the beauty of nature. It truly felt that it is a place where Narayan resides.

While returning from Badrinath, we rested in a beautiful town named Peepalkoti, a beautiful and tranquil town. Finally, we left for Delhi, with a wish of coming again.

Cheers to 2018

Hello Everyone!Happy-New-Year
Happy New year to all of you! I hope and wish that everyone had a great start to 2018, and will be have a great year ahead. Be strong, don’t lose hope, nothing is impossible. Even the most successful person sees a lot of ups and down, after all nobody rises without falling. You can do whatever you wish to; you just need to figure out what is that one (or more) thing that gives you immense happiness and pleasure. Once you figure that out, trust me, you will rock it!

Even wishing to do something is getting as close as figuring out what you want.
2018, has begun.
We all have come a long way.

I hope everyone is back to their monotonous or maybe exciting lives and trying to stick to their New Year resolutions, some must be still working on their resolutions (haha! Like me), some must have given up on making any resolutions because they find it hard to stick to them.

This year don’t make resolutions to break them, make resolutions to stick to them! Get Real, Know Yourself!

 2017, for me was roller coaster ride. I saw a lot of things.

  1. I took a trip to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which I never even had on my bucket list. It was a major for me. That trip was a turning point for me. That trip actually gave birth to my hidden writer, photographer and an avid traveller.
  2. I resigned from one of the biggest MNCs of India. That was not a nice phase, I had different plans, but things weren’t going the way I thought. Eventually, I coped up with it.
  3. I travelled more, after I left my job, I travelled to Uttarakhand, India for religious purposes.
  4. I read a few books like, the eighth book of Harry Potter, I read Paulo Coelho for the first time, and fell in love with his writing and a few more.
  5. I realised even the closest person to you could hurt you in the most unexpected ways. At times, we need to around and be sure of the people with you. If you aren’t sure, just leave them and move on. It’s going o be difficult, but it’d be worth it.
  6. I started this blog in December, 2017 and I love what I’m doing right now.

I have a list of things that I have to stick to in 2018 and beyond; 2018 Resolutions:

  1. Travel more. I have already planned for two trips in February; one is in my country and one is International.
  2. I have to blog, a lot. I have a lot of stuff to blog, but I just need to sit and write.
  3. I want to read more this year. I’m still researching on to what I should read, so suggest me if anything if you want. I’ll try to read it.
  4. I need to work-out. I have to get a perfect physique, which is very difficult for me! I’ve tried thrice but I ended up paying money at gyms and leaving them. No more doing that.
  5. Be sure of the kind of people around me. Cut-off with the ones who seem to be a threat to my or my family’s happiness.
  6.  Make realistic goals.

As of now, I have all these in my list. The list might extend, if I remember anything else that I figure out later.

2017 was a year of major ups and down. I wish to make the best of 2018 and I’m working on it.

A very Happy New Year once again to everyone!
Happy first weekend of 2018!!

Travel bug and me:Happily Ever After

Are you an enthusiastic trip planner, like me?

Do you travel a place through pictures and internet before actually being there?
Is it only me or others too, who as soon as they come back from a trip, start to plan another or at least fantasise about another trip or can’t wait to pack their bags again just to travel?

Well, it happens to me every time. No matter how long or how good my last trip was, as soon as I come back I start planning other.

Even if I’m working and for a minute or two I open facebook or any other websites that has anything related to tourism, my concentration flies off to that beautiful place only through the pictures. Well, photographers do an epic task.

I feel if I’m able to travel a place by somebody’s pictures, they are photographers by heart.

I’d especially like thank such photographers through whose pictures I can travel to places where I might not be able to go for a long time, because my bucket list of “Places to travel” is really long. My bucket list weights quite a lot, mostly because of my list of places to travel and things to buy!IMG_0035

Speaking of which, I have two trips lined up in February 2018, back to back. Out of the two, one is an international trip. It’ll be my first international trip. Although, this country is very much in my reach as it’s very close to my home but I’m super excited, thrilled, elevated, electrified and everything that I can think of. I’m waiting for the day when I’ll feel butterflies in my belly, which will be 7th February 2018!!!

I’m browsing all the websites for accommodations, yet I haven’t decided on one. I’ve made a list of places to go, what to see, what to do, what to eat, the weather during the time I’ll be in that country. I’m not disclosing where I’m going because I will be blogging later. I might also post a vlog about the trip, but I’m not sure about it.
I have also made a shopping list for the trip. I need to buy a lot of stuff.

Trust me planning a trip is a tedious task for a person like me who loves to travel all the time! I try to cut down on hotels as my main purpose is to travel, explore and know the place. But yes, sometimes I even take on places with zero compromise on everything. I feel travelling both ways is important to realise its true essence.

I have been bitten by travel bug, and its incurable, I’d suffer with it happily ever after.
Would you?
Me and my travel stories <|3 live and will live happily ever after!

Last Day in Andaman’s

It’s my second last day in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. I have to check out from my hotel in Port Blair and check in to a resort in South Andaman so I can just relax for a day and then leave for Delhi tomorrow.

I have reached my resort in South Andaman, The Oceanus Resort.

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“A beautiful and serene resort, away from all the hustle and bustle of the main island city. A perfect place to relax after a long trip.”

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I’ve checked in, and now I’m in my cottage. A cute little wooden cottage with all that’s necessary. Like my cottage, there are around ten more cottages. Here, it completely feels like living on an island. The Indian ocean touches the resort’s boundary with it’s small and big waves, splashing crabs of different sizes on the coast rocks, watering the tall coconut and all the greens around.

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Many people from different resorts come here for fishing, which is organised by the resort’s helpers.

Its 3PM IST and now I’m leaving for Chidiyatapu (If we convert it in English, It means Bird’s island) to witness the best Sunset of South Andaman. A lot of people also come here to find different and rare species of birds.

I have reached Chidiyatapu, sunset point, it’s always better to reach early and take the best spot because as it gets closer to the time of sunset, the place becomes crowded.

A lot of beautiful birds are flying over, but I’m not here for them, but many people like bird watch too.

Past 5PM IST, I start to see the clouds, the sun, the hills, the ocean preparing for an enchanting view that I’m here for. As the sunset affair starts, a small fishing boat comes in line with the sun’s rays on the ocean surface.

Ultimately, everyone comes to a standstill when the sun has conspired with all the divine entities around us to enchant everyone like never before.

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“ When the sky seems to glow,
when the ocean seems to sparkle,
for the sun is setting in the hope of a brighter day,
when it comes back again next day,
defeating darkness.”

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I witnessed the best sunset in my life so far. The sun has set, and I can still picture it in my eyes, that picture will stay in my heart forever.

I’m back to my resort, lying on a hammock, having fresh coconut water, the breeze is pleasing, thinking about the beautiful sunset that I witnessed a few hours ago. I’m taking in all that I have experienced here for the past three days. If I get a chance, this is one of those places I’d love to come back to.

Tomorrow is my last day on this alluring island. I have no plan for tomorrow other than boarding my flight on time and take in every part of beauty that the island shares. I feel a part of me will stay here at Andaman that will make me want to come back here soon!

Goodbye until next time!

Ross Island: The Island that stood still

I see a lot of dual tone cars these days on roads, how would it feel to have dual toned skin types??
Think, think!!

Post scuba diving, I have to change; now I’m wearing my hot pants! Seems cool, well I’m shocked because a very prominent line separates my tanned skin to my normal skin!! Well, I take it as a mark of scuba diving. I’m still rocking in it!

I have to board M.V Saroj again, which is arriving to pick us and take us to Ross Island which is the second island I’m going to visit.

I’ve boarded and I’ve got an amazing seat. Front seat, extreme left. Best part of this seat is that you can actually feel how fast the vessel is moving, and it feels like the vessel is swinging sideways (because of waves perhaps), and every now and then ocean water splashing on to passengers. It’s a great experience.

I can see Ross Island now.

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Ross Island, once served as Japanese bunkers from 1942-1945, is now controlled by the Indian Navy. Also, the colonial capital of Andaman and Nicobar during those times.  It was this Island that took on harsh Tsunami waves of December 2004 and saved Port Blair from almost disappearing from the map. So, Ross Island is itself Indian Navy in a way!

I’m at Ross Island now. I have collected my entry tickets, and I’m starving. I located a food joint and had some light snacks. I’m a vegetarian so I had, samosa and tea, a lot of people are having fish that’s looking really good to me but I can’t have it..oops!
Let’s move now. Happy tummy, happy me.

I’m walking now, and wait .. what??? I see a deer! In open, nobody said it’s going to be a safari. Duh? Oh wait, there are a lot of deer. I have never seen deer in open ground. Island can have them though, and they are friendly, if you don’t mess with them.

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Now, I’m seeing peacocks, a lot of peacocks. Candy to my eyes.

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So, I see this old lady, who is the only guide of Ross Island(make sure you find her and listen to her if you want to know everything about Ross Island) , who is telling about it’s history.
Interestingly, she once as a child lived here; it was her home during 19th Century.
You know what’s more interesting? One of the many peacocks, I think the most beautiful one is familiar to the voice of that lady, it actually follows her wherever she goes.
She basically, talks and feeds all the animals there and the animals, listen to her and love her.
I managed to follow that peacock, and click a picture with it, yaiiee!!

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Now, I’ve walked like 500 meters on an inclined plane, and there is a huge church, ruins of a British Church. The church once had a big bell, the sound of which was so robust that it could travel all through the ocean till Port Blair. But, today, all remains is a herculean building standing tall telling stories of the old.

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There’s a little beach on the backside of the island, which is absolutely picturesque, do not miss this. There are a lot of trees as old as fifty decades that have now spread their roots to a few remaining walls of the island, looks like an absolute masterpiece.

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The sun is about to set, and the vessel is honking for the passengers to board so it could drop us at DSS.

A day well spent. I have a lot of things racing on my mind, I’ll jot it down in my travel journal.

I have something for historical places. When I reach such kind of places, I can feel the story of that place flashing in the back of my mind, it’s a great feeling. It makes me want to time travel and see everything, being a part of all the stories. It happens to me always.

I have never asked anybody if they feel this way, or how they feel. I’d love to know how others think about it.

Dive to Discover

It’s my second day in Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar islands. Today, my plan is to go for scuba diving. Disclaimer: “I CANNOT swim at all”. I’m really scared to go for this. I’m still thinking if I did the right thing to book myself for scuba diving. I’m scared to death, I’m thinking if I’ll be very scared, I’ll drop the plan and get my money refunded and will leave to the professionals and strong heart people. This is my way of calming down. Also, I’m a much pampered child of my parents and my family, so I don’t want them to be anxious about this. Another way of calming down.

I have left from my hotel in Port Blair, and riding to DSS (Directorate of Shipping Services), Port Blair. Here, I’ll meet my booking person who will hand me my tickets for the ship ride to two islands and my scuba diving pass too.

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DSS provides ship services to nearby islands like Ross Island, Neil Island, North Bay Island, Havelock and a few more. It also provides shipping services to Chennai, Kolkata and Vizag (also known as Vishakhapatnam).

I’ve met my person who has handed me my passes for the ship and scuba diving. I’m going to Ross Island and North Bay Island. I’ll be scuba diving at North Bay Island.

There are a few islands which provide scuba diving, like Havelock, North Bay Island, Neil Island; I’ll be scuba diving at the North Bay Island.

Why I chose North Bay Island?

  1. It’s Historic: Observe an INR 20 currency; the picture that’s printed on the note is that of North Bay Island. You also see a lighthouse on it, which is there!
  2. Crowd: This Island has low crowd as compared to Havelock and Neil’s.
  3. Corals: It has better corals than other islands, and that’s why also known as the coral island.

Its IST 8:30AM, I’m about to board my ship, M.V.Saroj (The name of my vessel, a smaller ship I think).
There are two floors on the vessel, but there is seating only on the lower floor, nothing on the roof. I really wish they could allow seating on the roof too!!

My vessel has honked, and it has started!!!!!

Initially, it moves quite slowly, but then it takes speed. I haven’t got a good seat right now.
Go for a seat in front two-three rows on the corners, if we want to enjoy this ride, but, you will get some amount of sun. The ride would be pleasurable though.

The vessel is going to deck up at North Bay Island first, where I’m going for scuba diving. Oh, my heart’s still racing, but I’m enjoying the view.

Ocean is so beautiful from above, different shades of blue, darker when it gets deep, lighter when it gets shallow. I wonder, if it’s different shades beneath too!

I have reached the North Bay Island. Basically, here, one can go for scuba diving, snorkelling, sea walking, and glass bottom boat ride. I only chose scuba diving as all the sports were similar with different processes so I wanted to go for the best.

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I completed filling up my form, which clearly states that if any kind of mishap happens, I’m responsible for the same!! This was the second time I filled something like this, first was when I did white water rafting at Rishikesh, two years back.

I’ve finally decided to go for it; I’m going to do it.

I’ve suited up! I don’t like the colour of my suit though. But anyway!

 

I’ve got my instructor, I’m following him to the ocean, I mean the coast. He is instructing me, telling the basic sign language for under water communication – four major, ok, not ok, go up, go even down. He is telling me about increasing pressure that we’ll feel as we go down the ocean that will cause certain kind of sensation in my ear, like ear paths closing; he tells me how to solve it! Seems pretty easy. He tells me about all the other equipments that we are using.

Shall we go now? He asks. I remember god and say yes, let’s go.

We(me and my instructor) are going further in the ocean, I’m actually floating, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Instructor asks me, “chale?” (Shall we go?) I took a deep breath and say yes!

My head is completely inside water, no man, ocean water! We go down, even down, even down, as of now I’m scared I can’t see anything; I signed my instructor to go up. I’m back on the surface!

Instructor: “kya hua?” (What happened?)
Me: “Phatt rahi hai” (I’m scared)
Instructor: “Fir chalo, ab observe karna ass pass” (Let’s go again, this time, see around)
Me: (deep breath) ok. Let’s go.

This time, I really want to do it. 3..2…1… underneath the ocean surface. This time I’m not scared, I have nothing in my mind, my mind is void, unable to think anything. I don’t how deep we have come, but now I see yellow and whitish striped fishes around me. I see beneath me, I can see the ocean bed. Now, I know I’m somewhere around 30 ft beneath the ocean surface.

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I see the beautiful corals beneath my feet; I see so many of aquatic animals around me. I spotted the “Finding Nemo” clown fish, only in a different shade, and the Aquarium’s gang leader, Gill, exactly the same fish. I spotted many small fishes, a few of the larger fishes, I also spotted something like a snake perhaps on the sea bed, I don’t know what it was exactly.

These were the things I spotted, but the feeling!!

Actually, it’s really difficult to express how I felt under water. It’s a complete different world, so far from what we live in. It’s like a void feeling. It’s peace. It’s the realisation of how important each and every life is. It’s like meditation. It’s the only time, I didn’t think about my workplace, my new project, my family, my credit card bills, my salary, anything. Complete happiness, complete peace.

I’m back to the surface of ocean. I could feel a few tears in my eyes, I love it. I want to go back!

Scuba diving is one adventure sport that frees us from whatever we are holding inside and shows us absolute beauty of the world that we are far from.
I could spend a lifetime diving!

I have heard people asking a lot of times, what’s peace to you, what gives to peace. I proudly say scuba diving. I find peace in scuba diving. For me, when the mind isn’t racing towards “how am I going to do this”, “how am I going to earn money”, “how am I going to buy this or that”, then my friend, I find complete peace.

When I’m able to admire everything around me, including me, is Peace.

Chilly Winters not so Chilly

I’m really disappointed with winters this time in Delhi. It is after five years I’m here at my home, still waiting for the real winter chills, uncontrollable chattering teeth and all the beautiful things about winters.

Remember “Pyaar mera dilli ki sardi”(Delhi winter is my love).

Remember touching your pal’s cheek with your ice cold hands, pulling the sleeves of your woollens in order to cover your fingers too, because wearing gloves wasn’t in fashion, getting scared of even the thought of bathing early morning to get ready for school, sitting on the ice cold lavatory’s throne, washing your hands with cold water when you forgot to turn on the geyser…??
Well there are so many things that I can keep going with but would leave on you to think for now!!

Remember being happy to a be cloud-breathing dragon in early mornings of winters while waiting for school bus, competing with friends on who is better at being cloud-breathing dragons.
Cloud-breathing dragons, like when we exhale and see vapour coming out of our mouths!!
Remember a group of guards and other people on road taking warmth from the little fire they just made. Thinking if we can do that too. Well, I did. Ever seen a desi Indian fireplace or I should call it an “angeethi” (a traditional brazier)? It was the time when the temperatures got as low as 10 degrees perhaps in Delhi during winters, and electric braziers or heaters didn’t work, my superhero, daddy darling got a traditional brazier and wooden coal. We started using the brazier then. “Ahh”, so warm it was!
I don’t feel the need of that anymore, nor do I see it being used in future!

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A lot of things have changed.
One thing didn’t change though….bathing rules! Alternate days bathing system! This rule varies with different people.

I miss my winters.

I miss my rain.

I miss the old Delhi.