Monday, September 18, 2017

Infertility - A serious Human Issue and Some one writes about it.

There is very famous "Kahawat" (Saying) in Hindi, "Jake Panv Na Phati Bivai, Vah Kya Jane Pir Parai" - Here is the loosely reconstructed English version of it - The one who )does not have cracked heels) has never suffered not empathise with others (would never understand the sufferings of others).

Many a time from my childhood, I was witness to some ladies being chided by (surprisingly) other ladies (who I thought would understand the pain that they would suffer because of this stupid act) as "Banz" or a lady who has not produced a offspring. When such a lady was publically insulted, no regard was paid as to what exactly is the problem and who has or where is the shortcoming. After all, reproduction needs both partners to be healthy and having no medical issues, however, the blame always was placed on the lady and her own peers never let go any chance of insulting her.

However, except for having this simple knowledge that some ladies do not have any children of their own and that there may be many reasons for infertility, I had no knowledge about this matter. Since I have been a HR man for many years, I became aware of the human suffering and cost of this stigma, efforts that such couples put in to get over including very long drawn IVF treatments.

It is by chance that I landed up at the blog of Dr Amit Praksah on this serious issue. He has written a very informative post. This post has the potential to give hope to couples who have been suffering physically, psychologically and socially because of this (unwarranted) stigma.

The post is Titled - "A step towards making #Infertility Not A Taboo" and it can be accessed at

Do read and spread a word. We just don't know who will come out of the suffering by getting this information.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Essential Andaman in 8 night / 9 days - Detailed Travelogue - Day VIII

Day 8 - Baratang Island - Visiting Limestone Caves and Mud Volcano - The Final Day of Visit

Yesterday our tour operator had told us that tomorrow we have to start for Baratang Island very early at 3 am. Start at 3 AM, such a godforsaken time. That too when actual travel time on google is just about 3 hrs?

Despite our reservations, we gave up and got ready to move for Baratang at dot 0300. The car arrived slightly late and our journey started at 0330. As we progressed on this road trip we asked the driver, why we had to leave so early? His answer solved the puzzle.

During this Journey, we have to pass through thick Jungle which is inhabited Jarawa, once a fierce cannibal tribe. The Forest gate at Jirkatang opens at about 7 in the morning for traffic to pass to and from North Andaman.

The vehicles have to line up prior to the gate opening not because the gate is open for a short time. It is because most of the vehicles that are carrying tourists to Lime Stone Caves and Mud Volcano at Baratang island through Middle Strait have to make the return trip in the day light (before forest gates close) back to Port Blair and thus there is great hurry to pass this gate as soon as it opens.

Even after listening to this input from our driver we were still not convinced. Ok, so what, why one has to leave so early? We could have started at 0500, etc. We were in this state of mind till we reached the forest gate at Jirkatang at about 0530 and were shocked to find a large number of vehicles lined up before us in the queue. When did all these people start, at 0200 or thereabout?

Long Queue of Vehicles

And so many vehicles behind us
Our driver put our vehicle in the queue. There was nothing else but to wait. Since the queue had large no of vehicles in this morning hour, there was demand for Tea and thus there were many stalls selling Tea, etc. After having a cup of tea, I decided to venture towards the gate and see what all is there.

As I ventured near the gate I was surprised to see reasonably good toilet complex (another vital need in the early morning hour) and two three eateries which were full of people. After this small walking trip, I returned to our car as there were signs of the gate opening.

Once the gates opened, all the vehicles started off in the same queue (generally no one overtakes others in this forest stretch). After an uneventful journey through Jarawa Lands, we reached Middle Strait RO-RO Terminal by about 0800.

Two Cute Birds at Middle Strait Jetty

Waiting for RO - RO boat
The Strait
Mangrove Forest along the Shores

Taking an RO- RO boat we reached other side of the strait. Once there, we took a speed boat to go to Lime Stone Caves. The boat traveled through this strait which has Mangroves on the either side. The journey was fun. At the finish of the journey, the boats enter a thick growth of Mangroves and one gets a feeling of going through a channel under a cave of Mangroves.

Travelling Through Mangrove Forest Canopy  
At the discharge point, the guide took us on a walk of about one and a half kilometer, reminding us to finish the trip quickly (they ask you to complete the trip in ridiculously short time but they also know it will take at least one hour to do the trip even after brisk walking). After a quick walk of about 15 - 20 minutes, we reached the caves.

Walking Down to Lime Stone Caves
Entering them through a narrow pass between two limestone rocks we got into the cave. There were unique rock formations from the roof of the cave and also from the bottom up from the base of the cave. Sometimes these kinds of structures also met creating a column.

Almost There

The caves do not have lights hence the guide uses his torch. There were different formations and the guide kept telling us various names of these formations based on how they looked like. It was a different experience. The Lime Stone rock formations were very interesting.

Here on  - Various Rock FOrmations inside the Caves

Yours Truly inside the Cave

All about Lime Stone Caves

It may be noted that people with difficulty in walking would find rushing to caves difficult, though there is a need to take the repeated reminders of the guide to "hurry up" with a pinch of salt. After visiting Lime Stone Caves we returned to Middle Strait Jetty by the same speed boat with fun on the way with speed boat doing real high speed.

Once we were back to Jetty, it was then a turn of a road trip to Mud Volcano, a unique geographical phenomenon where mud seeps out of the earth. Once out of the vehicle at the entry point, it is a walk of about 500 meters to the site of Volcano.

Heading towards Mud Volcano
If the visitors go there with a mental image of Volcano Spewing lava with a plum, etc, they would be disappointed (some of our group were) but the Mud volcano is worth visiting for a different sight. In an enclosed area fenced off by a simple fence, we get to see mud spewing out very softly from some holes and soon cooling down. It is said that Mud Volcanos are indicative of Hydro Carbon deposits under that place.

Mud Volcano 

One More


After this visit, it was time to have Lunch in one of the few small eateries on the Jetty and then the trip back to Port Blair after crossing the Strait by the same RO-RO boat which keeps sailing between two shores. After a three hour Journey, we reached Port Blair. Since we had some day light still available, we roamed around the Aberdeen Bazar area (The main bazaar of Port Blair). Post this visit we returned to our Hotel.

All that was left was to pack and sleep. Next day we had our return flights to go back home.

P.S. We visited Andamans in Jan 2017 and the Blog is getting over in the month of Sept 17. I have taken a long time but that was due to various preoccupations. I did not want to abandon this blog because abandoning meant two things. First, I would not be able to make those who can not visit Andamans for some reasons take a virtual tour of Andaman and Second, I would not be able to aid those who want to go there and are looking for information about the trip.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Very Informative Blog on Ancient Indian History - Most of it Unknown to us

By sheer chance I stumbled upon this blog titled by Meenakshi Saran.

She covers often unknown part of Ancient Indian History and many other things.

Do read it yourself and enjoy. Posting a link to one such post

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Essential Andaman in 8 night / 9 days - Detailed Travelogue - Day VII

Day VII - Ross Island, Chatham Saw Mill and Chidya Tapu beach

On this day our schedule was visiting Ross Island, the oldest penal settlement, and seat of Andaman's British Administration of British India (Till Cellular Jail was built) and Chidiya Tapu Beach.

Starting the day peacefully, we got ready and reached Water Sports Jetty (the same one which we had used earlier to go to  North Bay island) which happens to be right opposite Ross Island. This time we had time in hand. We decided to use it to explore the Jetty and do photography. First important landmark we stumbled upon was Sunami Memorial. It is a memorial built to honour those who got killed in Dec 2004 Sunami.
In Remembrance of those who died in Tsunami

After visiting this memorial, we went to jetty and we both young couples decided to do little more photography.

On the Water Sports Jetty

 We got into the boat around 0930and by 0950 we were at Ross Island. Ross Island is under the administrative control of the India Navy which maintains a very small detachment of sailors on the island for administrative duties.

Arrived at Ross

Ross is where first British formal settlement was built by prisoners. Once the settlement was built the prisoners were transferred to Viper Island (Viper was the name of the British ship that got the first batch of Prisoners to Andamans).

Ross island was what a best small city could be. Chief Commissioner's Bungalow, other bungalows, accommodation for subordinate staff, A Church, Bakery, clubs, Tennis courts and above all a heated swimming pool, all this is in the era of around 1857 and thereafter. It was known as Paris of the east (should have been called little Paris though). While the jail moved from Viper to Ross to Cellular Jail, Ross remained administrative HQ till 1941 when an earth quack struck that area and damaged the buildings, after which people started abandoning that place.

Vegetation has taken over a Building

Old Boilers for  Feeding the Swimming Pool

Deer for the Company

Renovated Bakery

Coconut trees

Subordinate's Club

Introduction to Church

Stairway to Church

Church Must Have been Majestic, once upon a time

A visit to Ross really makes one feel the opulence with which the British lived at Ross. I guess many thousand miles away from their home and many hundred miles away from the main land India, they had to create a haven for themselves.

Stairway to Commissioner's Bungalow 

After visiting Ross, we returned to Jetty and took our boat back to Water Sports Jetty.  After a quick lunch at Port Blair, since we had time, we went to visit Chatham Saw Mill. A saw mill established by British in 1883, it is Asia's oldest and biggest saw mill processing the abundant timber of various types that gets produced by forests of Andaman & Nicobar. This mill can process over 18000 logs per year if work is carried out in three shifts. The mill has various sections for sorting, seasoning, cutting, etc.

Other highlights of the mill are a Timber museum having historical photographs, wood artifacts and many other exhibits.  There is also a gift shop in the mill premises selling wooden items. There is a memorial to commemorate 125 years of forestry. This was erected in 2009. There is also a Bomb pit created by a Japanese bomb dropped in 2002 (which we did not visit).

Timber Museum, Off cuts and Furniture

Timber Museum

One More View

Forestry Memorial

Log Processing Section

After Chatham Saw Mills visit, the final destination for the day was Chidiya Tapu. A beach about 30 km from Port Blair and a place famous for the best Sunset around Port Blair. Chidiya Tapu also is the start point for Munda Pahad trek, which is a whole day affair.

There are few Playground equipment available for Children, There are also few uprooted trees with massive roots laying around and also a huge hollow tree for passing through its trunk. After enjoying in the children area (don't laugh, we all have a child inside us) we did some more Monkey Tricks on trunks of fallen trees.

Entry to Chidiya Tapu

Way to Hallowed Log

Let me Crawl 

Trying my Hand on Horse Riding on a Log

Hanging on to the (Massive) Roots

Stunts with the Roots 1

One More

Man hi Nahi Bharata

I am Happy Here
After all this, it was time for The Sunset. Sunset was obliviously fabulous and we enjoyed it.

Starting to Set


Cloud is Spoil Sport

After sunset, it was a drive back to Port Blair, have dinner and sleep. Early sleeping was vital as we had to go to visit and we had to start early morning (really early) at 0300 hrs.