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Friday, November 27, 2009

Havelock Island - ANI

This was the penultimate day of the tour and two very exciting activities had been planned - trip to Havelock Island during the day and the Awards Ceremony at night. The Group once again reached the Phoenix Boat Jetty and boarded a well equipped modern comfortable luxury liner. The sea was magical in colour when viewed from the window. The cruise was fine for a while after which the ship experienced severe pitching due to rough sea. Many of us enjoyed this unique experience but some unfortunates felt nauseus and rushed unbalanced to the wash rooms to throw up. The sea settled down after a while and the rest of cruise was smooth. We reached Havelock Island after about 75 minutes. Havelock Island is a very small Island and most of the population are Bengali settlers. The distance between Port Blair and Havelock Island is 54 kilometers. Havelock Island is famous for its pristine beaches, coral reefs and for a relaxing holiday.
At the boat jetty we were transported into buses & jeeps and we soon reached an exotic plush green resort with bamboo hut cottages, huge lawns and dotted with coconut palms. The crowd was once again treated to delicious refreshing tender coconut water. Some made a bee line towards a table laid out with choicest range of alcohol. While others went straight to the adjoining sparkling white beach where catamarans (also known as dugongs) carrying "Edge 2009" placards were waiting to take us to a faraway beach for snorkelling. The boat ride took around 30 minutes after which we arrived in one of the most magnificent and glorious beaches. We were in Paradise. The sky was clear and the weather perfect for snorkelling. Quite a few in the group changed to swimming costumes and ventured for snorkelling while others were content with taking rides in glass bottomed boats to view the most breathtaking view of corals at the sea bottom - such an amazing variety of colors, shapes & sizes. It was an awesome experience. The sea was so transparent and crystal clear.
We would have loved to linger on in this paradise for ever but we had deadlines to keep and we returned to base for a quick lunch and rushed back to the jetty to board the cruise for the return journey to Port Blair.
At night we were witness to a dazzling Awards Ceremony with plenty of entertainment in the form of crooners and comedy shows in between the Awards presentation.
The show was followed by dinner and that brought the curtains down on a very exciting and enjoyable day.




Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Cellular Jail - ANI

From Ross Island we returned to Port Blair boat Jetty and immediately proceeded to the Cellular Jail(also known as Kala Pani), which is historically the most significant spot to visit in Port Blair. The prison was known to house many notable Indian activists during the struggle for India's independence. By the late 19th century the independence movement had picked up momentum. As a result, the number of prisoners being sent to the Andamans started growing and the need for a high-security prison was felt. The construction of the prison started in 1896 and was completed in 1906. The building had seven wings, at the centre of which a central tower served as the fulcrum and was used by guards to keep watch on the inmates. The wings radiated from the tower in straight lines, much like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. A large bell was kept in the tower to raise the alarm in any eventuality. Each of the seven wings had three stories and a total of 698 cells. Each cell was 4.5 metres x 2.7 metres in size with a ventilator located at a height of three metres.
The Empire of Japan invaded the Andaman islands in 1942 and drove the British out. The Cellular Jail now became home to British prisoners. Two out of the seven wings of the Jail were demolished during the Japanese regime. In 1945, the British reoccupied the islands. Another two wings of the Jail were demolished after India achieved independence. The remaining three wings and the central tower were therefore converted into a National Memorial in 1969.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ross Island - ANI

On day two Bosch had arranged two major activities - Visit to Ross Island in the forenoon and the Distrbutors meeting in the afternoon session.
Ross Island: After a sumptuous breakfast we left for the Phoenix Bay Jetty to board motorboats that ferried us to Ross Island. Ross Island is about 2 km east of Port Blair and can be reached by a short boat ride.The island is controlled by the Indian navy and presently houses the ruins of old buildings. Till a few decades ago, this island was the seat of "British power." Ross Island was the headquarters of the Indian Penal Settlement for nearly 80 years. It had everything — bazaar, bakery, stores, water treatment plant, church, tennis court, printing press, secretariat, hospital, cemetery and what have you. Today only the ruins of these dilapidated buildings remain. The Japanese too left their imprint on the island - they built bunkers which were used as watch points to safeguard the Island from any foreign invasion. About nine months before the Japanese take-over Ross Island witnessed an earthquake. There were rumors that the island was sinking. Gradually people left and it became a deserted area. What was called "Paris of East" at its peak became a haunted isle with widening cracks and crumbling masonry in the remains of the structures. In April 1979, the island was handed over to the Navy, which set up a small post, INS Jarawa, named after one of the indigenous tribes of the Andaman group of islands. A local tribal woman Anuradha Rao was our guide for the trip. She was extremely passionate and and a hard core fanatic Nationalist. She gave a wonderful tour of the Islands and shared a wealth of information. She had the audience spellbound with her mysterious tales about the happenings on the Island.
Some of the memorable moments included photography sessions, deer feeding, tender coconut water to quench our thirst, delicious kulfis, the lily pond with ducks and the ferry ride. Overall a great experience
A spellbinding view of the sea taken while departing Ross Island. To be continued......................

Andaman & Nicobar Islands

18-21 November'2009:
The A&N Islands is a Union territory of India, located in the Indian Ocean south of the Bay of Bengal and East of the Andaman sea. The capital is Port Blair and population around 400,000. Bosch India had organised their Annual Distributors meet in Port Blair on the above dates. A large group pf around 350 strong including distributor principals, their families & Bosch personnel descended on Port Blair's Veer Savarkar airport in specially chartered flights - some flew in via Chennai & while others from Kolkata. The airport appeared ancient and archaic. In fact as we drove into Port Blair I got the feeling of being transported back 50 years into the past - the town was so underdeveloped, there were so few people - both locals as well as tourists. But the environment was neat and spotlesslessly clean,there was a freshness in the air.
There are no five star hotels in Port Blair and accomodation had been arranged in seven different hotels. Two luxury buses and around 50 nos Tata Sumos & Toyota Quallis had been engaged and totally at the disposal of the group for the entire 4 days.
We stayed at the Peerless Sarovar Portico - situated right on the shores of an exquisite and secluded beach. We were greeted with a welcome drink - fresh tender coconut water. This was followed by check in, then lunch and a couple of hours of well deserved rest. Bosch had engaged an event management team to manage the stay, logistics and for arranging all the events, meeting, cruises, sight seeing & e
xploration. A grand gala entertainment had been arranged for 18th evening - there were two expert MC's to regale the crowd. Dipak Singh of Jhalak Dhikla Jaa fame & Sunanda had been specially flown from Mumbai in to provide some beautiful well choreographed dances. This was followed by an Andamanese tribal dance. The high point of the evening was a fire dance and acrobatics by an energetic athletic young man, who apart from his fantastic performances also had everyone in splits with his own style of "Kitna asaan hai" brand of wit and humour.
History: Isolation studies point to habitation in the Islands going back 30,000 to 60,000 years, well into the Middle Paleolithic. There were 5-6 distinct indigenous groups numbering around 7000 by 1850 when they first came into contact with outside groups - mostly prisoners, indentured labours and British Troops. Today only around 400-450 of such indigenous people remain. In 1858 the British set up a penal colony in these Islands mainly for dissenters and independence fighters from the Indian sub continent. The British continued their occupancy until the Japanese invasion and occupation of the Andaman Islands during World War II. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose visited the islands during the war and hoisted the Indian Tri Colour.
The islands were reoccupied by British and Indian troops of the 116 Indian Infantry Brigade on 7 October 1945, to whom the Japanese garrison surrendered. ANI became an Indian union territory in 1950.
Geography: There are 572 islands in the territory, of which only 38 are permanently inhabited. Most of the islands (about 550) are in the Andamans group.The smaller Nicobars comprise some 22 main islands. The total area of the Andaman Islands is some 6,408 km2 (2,474 sq mi); that of the Nicobar Islands approximately 1,841 km2 (711 sq mi) ( To be continued)................................

Hi ! I am back

Thanks for your kind comments, enquiries and patience. I had taken a long break to set up a business venture. The project has now been launched and operational. Some of you were anxious about my health. I am in the pink of health. Thanks for your concern.
Now I am resuming my favourite passion - Blogging. My next post will follow shortly.

Ram