On Amazon – E3PO talks love – Novella

Crogy, Neel’s housekeeping Cyborg, is programmed to efficiently handle human emotions, well only the straight forward ones; so when Neel is struck by cupid’s arrow, Crogy tries to find a rationale and fails. He is the author of this narrative which spans years and generations from one pandemic to another and tells the story of heart aches in times of global crisis and how it created predicament in the personal lives of his master Neel and his grandfather Mohit. Crogy switches between the past and present chapter by chapter bringing in hordes of characters that influence the lives of his protagonists in a small or big way, he also gives a sneak peek of his times – the futuristic world that 2090 could be. The gripping novella ends on a sweet note having taken the reader through two vivid and eventful journeys, full of twists and turns.

The Periodic Table

Anoushrayan Deysarkar

The periodic table is a common sight in nearly every chemistry classroom in the world today. But how did it come to be?

In 1789, Antoine Lavoisier published a list of 33 chemical elements, grouping them into gases, metals, nonmetals, and earths.

 In 1829, Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner observed that many elements could be grouped into triads based on their chemical properties. For example, Lithium, Sodium and Potassium were grouped together in a triad, as soft, reactive metals. German chemist Leopold Gmelin worked with this system, and by 1843 he had identified 10 triads, three groups of 4 and 1 group of 5. However, although various chemists were able to identify relationships between small groups of elements, they had yet to build one scheme that encompassed them all.

In 1862, the French geologist Alexandre-Émile Béguyer de Chancourtois published an early form of the periodic table, which he called the telluric helix or screw. His paper used geological rather than chemical terms and did not include a diagram. As a result, it received little attention until the work of Dmitri Mendeleev.

In 1864, Julius Lothar Meyer, a German chemist, published a table with 28 elements. Realizing that an arrangement according to atomic weight did not exactly fit the observed periodicity in chemical properties he gave valency priority over minor differences in atomic weight.

Concurrently, English chemist William Odling published an arrangement of 57 elements, ordered on the basis of their atomic weights. Odling alluded to the idea of a periodic law but did not pursue it. He subsequently proposed (in 1870) a valence-based classification of the elements.

English chemist John Newlands produced a series of papers from 1863 to 1866 noting that when the elements were listed in order of increasing atomic weight, similar physical and chemical properties recurred at intervals of eight. He likened such periodicity to the octaves of music. This so termed Law of Octaves was ridiculed by Newlands’ contemporaries, and the Chemical Society refused to publish his work. The Chemical Society only acknowledged the significance of his discoveries five years after they credited Mendeleev.

Russian chemistry professor Dmitri Mendeleev and German chemist Julius Lothar Meyer independently published their periodic tables in 1869 and 1870, respectively. The recognition and acceptance afforded to Mendeleev’s table came from two decisions he made. The first was to leave gaps in the table when it seemed that the corresponding element had not yet been discovered. Mendeleev was not the first chemist to do so, but he was the first to be recognized as using the trends in his periodic table to predict the properties of those missing elements, such as gallium and germanium. The second decision was to occasionally ignore the order suggested by the atomic weights and switch adjacent elements, such as tellurium and iodine, to better classify them into chemical families.

In 1871, Mendeleev published his periodic table in a new form, with groups of similar elements arranged in columns rather than in rows, and those columns numbered I to VIII corresponding with the element’s oxidation state. He also gave detailed predictions for the properties of elements he had earlier noted were missing but should exist. These gaps were subsequently filled as chemists discovered additional naturally occurring elements.

The popular periodic table layout, also known as the common or standard form is attributable to Horace Groves Deming (1923).

In 1945, Glenn Seaborg, an American scientist, made the suggestion that the actinide elements, like the lanthanides, were filling an f sub-level. Before this time, the actinides were thought to be forming a fourth d-block row. Seaborg’s suggestion was found to be correct, and he subsequently went on to win the 1951 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work in synthesizing actinide elements. As we know, the periodic table has undergone many changes throughout its history, until it has reached the modern form we see today. Many elements were found in nature, and some have been synthesized in labs. Scientists are working, even now, to find more elements and improve the periodic table. Let us hope that we continue to find out more about the periodic table, and that our chemical knowledge improves in the process.

Space Elevators

Anoushrayan Deysarkar

Illustration: Victor Habbick/Getty Images

Megastructures are truly massive structures, which are used for projects beyond anything we can do today. One of these is the space elevator.

A space elevator is a theoretical structure stretching from Earth to space, which allows the transport of materials and spacecraft from Earth to space and vice-versa, without the use of a rocket.

The construction of a space elevator would be extremely expensive and difficult, but the payoff would be immense. It would require an extremely strong thread, one that only became possible after the invention of artificial super-fibers like C-60. However, no existing material has the required strength to support such a structure. Several plans have been put forward for the construction of a space elevator, though none have been realised yet.

Apart from the thread, another problem is location and actual construction. A space elevator would have to be built at the equator, to avoid major problems. Several locations have been suggested, in regions free from storms and heavy winds. The western equatorial Pacific is a possible location, as it has the best possible natural location, free of environmental hazards.

Many ideas, such as building the elevator on top of a mountain or tall tower, have been proposed, to reduce the stress on the cable. The construction would probably be done by a satellite, feeding cable down to the Earth’s surface, and a counterweight to create centrifugal force, upwards. The space elevator is a fascinating megastructure and has the potential to cut costs down by up to 100 times. It would be very useful and making one would be very rewarding for whichever country manages it.

Short Story: C for Choices

Anoushrayan Deysarkar

What would you choose?

This is a story of long ago, when I was a boy, barely a teenager. It is the story of choices, options, and where we can go in life.

One day, long ago, I was sitting at a desk, doodling, instead of studying. I was quite intelligent, and I arrogantly believed that I could probably handle whatever tests and exams I had to give with a minimal amount of studying. Deep down, though, I probably knew that I had to study, and immerse myself in academics, if I wanted to succeed in life. Still, I lazed about and enjoyed myself by doing pointless things.

And then, suddenly, I was gone from my house. I was on a plane, and there was a parachute with me. There were empty junk food boxes, and discarded soft drink cans. There was a huge gaming system and a powerful computer with me. I panicked and called out for help. Suddenly, a man appeared in front of me. He stared straight at me and opened one hand. He said, “This plane is going somewhere. You can stay here and enjoy the ride. Whatever you want will appear here. You will not have to do anything.”

He opened the other hand, “Or, you can take the parachute and jump. It will not be an easy jump, but once you land, you can go wherever you want. You can reach whatever destination you want, using whichever path you want.”

Then he turned both palms over. “But choose quickly”, he said, “Because a storm is coming, and you will not be able to jump once it does.”

I mustered up my courage and asked, “Where is the plane going?”

He shook his head and said, “You already know.”

And I did. I already knew, but I didn’t want to know. Somehow, my mind kept resisting the idea. I didn’t want to jump out of the plane. I knew it would be difficult, but I also knew, somehow, that the man would help me. Still, my mind desperately wanted to stay on the plane, to enjoy the ride.

But I knew, very well, where the plane was going.

Because I had gotten on to this plane, a while back, knowing in the back of my mind where it was going, but not willing to accept it, because the plane’s interior had been so comfortable. I had searched around for things to do, and I had found the plane, but I had not stopped myself before I could embark on this journey.

The parachute was ready, but still my traitorous mind rebelled. “What if it’s a hoax? What if the plane really is going somewhere good, and I’m just missing the opportunity? What if the man is wrong, and I can get to where I want to go using the plane? And anyway, there’ll be time to jump out later.”

But I knew the truth. The plane wasn’t going anywhere good. It would drop me into a hole worse than the one I had come from, and then getting out would mean doing things much harder than jumping out of a plane with a parachute and a guiding voice.

I had to jump. But my mind, my treacherous mind, was fighting me, every step of the way. Getting up from the huge bed I was on – and yes, I was on a huge bed, took so much effort, I almost turned back. Every step made me feel heavier. Thousands of voices, doubts and fears, crept up behind me. The plane itself started telling me to turn back.

But I didn’t stop. I walked towards the parachute. The old, patchy parachute. A new set of doubts rose in me. Would the parachute hold? Maybe I would just fall, and fall, and fall. The effort to get out of that hole would be just as much as that of the plane’s destination. Maybe I really should turn back.

But I didn’t. I fought the voices of doubt, of greed, and of complacency. I trudged onward, and fastened the parachute. Then, I opened the plane door.

The plane pleaded with me. “No! Don’t go! It’s safe here, don’t go!”

But I had to leave it behind. I took a deep breath, and jumped.

As I left the plane behind, my eyes closed, and I reappeared in my room. Then, I put away the piece of paper I was doodling on, and started studying.

Even now, the old regrets sometimes haunt me. Should I have stayed on the plane, where it was relaxing? But deep down, I know, that what I did was right. I know, that the Plane of Comfort was leading me on a self-destructive spiral. And I know, that the hard path, was the right one. The path that I took, took courage, and willpower, but it was, indeed, the right path.

And I wouldn’t change it, for anything.


মৌটুসি ঘোষদেসরকার

সকালটা ভারি সুন্দর ছিল। ফুরফুরে হাওয়া, হালকা মিঠে রোদ। হাতে কাগজ, পাশের টেবিলে চায়ের কাপ। হঠাৎ  এক শালিক বাবাজি এসে ডাকাডাকি শুরু করল। সবাই জানে শালিকের ডাক মোটেও শ্রুতিমধুর নয। একটু হুট হুট করলাম, তাতে কাজ হল, সে চলে গেল। চাযে চুমুক দিয়ে দেখি তিনি জুরন্তি নগরে গেছেন। মিতালি মিতালি বলে হাঁকা হাঁকি শুরু করলাম, উত্তর এল না। আলসেমি করে উঠলাম না, কাগজে মননিবেশ করলাম। একটু পরে দেখি নিজে থেকেই গরম ধুমায়িত চা এসে হাজির,হাসি মুখে ঠান্ডা চায়ের কাপটা ধরিয়ে দিলাম পচার মাকে।

এহেন স্বর্গ সুখের মাঝে আবার শালিক, এবার জোড়ে। তা বসবি বস, না! আবার ডাকাডাকি। একে একে জড়ো হতে লাগলো শালিক রা। এক সময়ে আমার বারান্দার রেলিং টা আর দেখা গেল না।

মনেমনে ভাবলাম উঠে দাঁড়াই, কাগজটা মন দিয়ে পড়তে পারছি না। একবার শালিক সমুহর দিকে তাকাই একবার কাগজের পাতায়, এই করে খানিকটা সময গেল, চা শেষ হল। অনেক বিবেচনার পর চেয়ার থেকে উঠলাম, আর যেই না ওঠা  অম্নি সবকটা শালিক এক সাথে আমার দিকে লাফিয়ে পড়লো বারান্দার রেলিং থেকে। সহজাত প্রবৃত্তিতে চোখ বন্ধ করলাম।

চোখ খুলে দেখি একটা অন্ধকার গুহার মধ্যে পড়ে আছি। এদিক ওদিক তাকিয়ে দেখলাম একটু দূরে্ একটা আলো দেখা যাচ্ছে। সেইদিকেই চললাম। খানিক হাঁটার পর আলোটার কাছাকাছি চলে এলাম। আর একটু এগোতেই গুহা থেকে বেরিয়ে বেশ কিছুটা খালি জায়গা। তাতে ছড়িয়ে ছিটিয়ে অনেক গাছ, বেশ মোটাসোটা এবং আকাশ ছোঁয়া। আকাশের দিকে তাকিয়ে দেখি তার রঙ সবুজ। এতক্ষন অন্ধকারে থেকে গুহার বাইরে টা খুব উজ্জ্বল মনে হচ্ছিলো। চোখ সইতে একটু সময় লাগলো।

এক পা দু পা করে এগোতে লাগলাম। হঠাৎ  দেখি একটা বিশাল পাখির পা। আস্তে আস্তে মাথা উঁচু করতে থাকলাম, পা টা অনেক দূরে গিয়ে যেন মেঘের মধ্যে হারিয়ে গেলো। কিছু বুঝে ওঠার আগেই কি যেন খপ করে আমাকে তুলে বেশ উঁচু একটা গাছের ডালে বসিয়ে দিলো। এবার দেখলাম পা টা মেঘে না এক বিশালাকার পাখির গায়ের মধ্যে হারিয়ে গেছিলো।

“মহাশয় আপনাকে এ ভাবে ধরে আনার জন্য দুঃখিত কিন্তু আমাদের শালিক আন্তর্জাল সূত্রে খবর আছে যে আপনার সাহায্যের প্রয়োজন, যখনি যার সাহায্যের প্রয়োজন হয় আমরা তাকেখুব   উত্সাহ সহকারে সাহায্য করে থাকি। তবে কিনা এই সমান্তরাল পৃথিবী তে নিয়ে আসতে হয়ে তাকে।“ এই অবধি বলে বিশাল পাখি থামল।

আমার তো সব জ্ঞান বুদ্ধি লোপ পেয়েছে ততোক্ষণে। ভ্যাবলাকান্তের মতন তাকিয়ে আছি বিশাল পাখির দিকে। পাখি আমার মনের কথা বুঝতে পারল মনে হয় তাই আবার বলতে শুরু করলো। সে গলা ভারি মনোরম।

“মহাশয় আপনি যেই পৃথিবী তে থাকেন সেখানে মানুষ হল এপেক্স বা সর্বোচ্চ স্থানে, বুদ্ধি  দিয়ে সে এই স্থান গ্রহন করেছে, বাকি সব প্রাণীদের নিজের অধীনে করেছে  এই পৃথিবী তে আমরা শলিকেরা সর্বোচ্চ স্থান অধিগ্রহণ করেছি। একের পর এক সমান্তরাল পৃথিবী আছে, কতগুলো আমি জানি না, তবে আমি বেশ কয়েকটিতে বিচরণ করেছি। প্রত্যেকটি অনন্য।“

“আসুন আপনাকে এই পৃথিবী যার নাম ‘জিউমা’ তার কিছুটা পরিভ্রমণ করাই।“ এই বলে সেই বিশালাকার পাখিটি আমাকে তার সাথে হাঁটতে বলল, কিছুদুর গিয়ে ডালটা শেষ হয়ে গেছে তাই একটু অবাক হয়ে তাকালাম। পাখি বলল,  “ভয় নেই আপনি যত এগোতে চাইবেন ডাল তত এগোতে থাকবে। বুরুচ এক বিশেষ গাছ যেদিকে যেভাবে চায় নিজেকে সম্প্রসারিত করতে পারে।“

বেশ খানিকটা যাওয়ার পর সমতল ভুমি ঢাল বেয়ে নামতে শুরু করলো। যেদিকে তাকাই শুধু বিশালাকার বৃক্ষসমূহ। সে সব বৃক্ষের মাথা দেখা যায়না কোনটা ফলের কোনটা ফুলের তবে তাদের রঙ গন্ধ আকার কিছুই আমার চেনা কোন ফুল বা ফলের সঙ্গে মিলছে না।

একটু দূরে একটা সবুজ চকচকে নদীর আকৃতি দেখতে পেলাম। পাখিটি যেন আমার মনের ভাব বুঝতে পেরে বলল,”জিউমার নদী, আকাশ সব আপনাদের পৃথিবীর মতন, শুধু একরকম বেগুনি।“ আমি বললাম,”বেগুনি কোথায় আমি ত দেখছি সবুজ।“ পাখি মাথা নাডল, “আপনি আমাদের পৃথিবীর রঙ দেখতে পাবেন না কারন আপনার চোখ সেই রঙ গ্রহণ করতে পারবে না।“

এবার চোখে পড়ল নদীর ধার ঘেষে কিছু ডোম আকারের স্থাপত্য, জিজ্ঞাসু নেত্রে তাকাতে পাখি বলল, “ওটা একটা বসতি।“ আমি বললাম, “ওখানে আপনার বাড়ি?” পাখি মাথা নেডে বলল, “না, আমার বাড়ি এখান থেকে অনেক দুরে। পরের বার এলে নিয়ে যাবো। ওখানে থাকে এই পৃথিবীর কিছু বাসিন্দা যারা জলকে জয় করেছে।“ আমি হাঁ করে তাকিয়ে  থাকলাম ।

পাখি গল্প শুরু করল, “জিউমা তে অনেক রকম প্রাণী বাস করে, কেউ জলে কে জয় করেছে, কেউ বা স্থল কে আবার কেউ বা আমাদের মতন আকাশ এবং বায়ু কে। কিছু এমন প্রাণীও আছে যারা নিদ্রা, আহার এমনকি মৃত্যু কেও জয় করেছে। একবারে তো দেখা হবে না সবার সাথে, তবে আপনার লেখার জন্য আজ যা দেখছেন তাই যথেষ্ট।“

“লেখা? আমি তো লিখি না।“ খানিকটা অবাক হয়ে পাখির দিকে তাকালাম। পাখি কিছু বলল না। বুরুছ আর পাখির সাথে এদিক ওদিক ঘুরতে ঘুরতে এক সময়ে আবার সেই গুহা টার কাছে ফিরে এলাম। পাখি বলল, “এবার আপনি  আপনার পৃথিবীতে ফিরে যান, মনে হয় আপনার সাহায্য করতে পেরেছি।“ বুঝলাম প্রশ্ন করলে উত্তর পাব না, তাই গুটি গুটি পায়ে গুহায় ঢুকলাম, ভেতরটা অন্ধকার,অনেকদূর অব্দি  দেখা যায় না, তবু চললাম, একসময়ে খুব ক্লান্ত লাগলো, বসে পড়লাম, চোখ বুজলাম।

“কিগো কি হোল? দাঁড়িয়ে দাঁড়িয়ে ঘুমাচ্চো নাকি? কখন থেকে সাড়া নেই কেন?, কতবার ডাকলাম।“ মিতালির কথায় যেন চমক ভাঙল। আশে পাশে তাকিয়ে দেখি আমি আমার বারান্দায় দাড়িয়ে আছি।

অভিজ্ঞতাটা চটপট লিখে ফেললাম, হপ্তা খানেকের মধ্যে সেটা বেশ একটা উপভোগ্য রূপ নিল। কাকতালীয় ব্যাপার মশাই আমার এক খুড়তুতো বোন অনু কিছুদিন হল একটি পত্রিকার সম্পাদনা শুরু করেছে, একদিন বাড়িতে এলো, এ কথা সে কথার পর হঠাত্ বলে, “দাদা তুই তো ভাল লিখতিস, আবার লেখ না, অন্য কাজ তো নেই এখন, আগে নাহয় অনেক অজুহাত দেখাতিস।“

কি খেয়ালে চট করে লেখা টা দিলাম আনুকে। মাসখানেকের মধ্যে লেখাটা ছাপা হল, পাঠক পাঠিকাদের মনঃপুত হল, এবং আমি ভীষণভাবে অনুপ্রাণিত হলাম। লেখা শুরু করলাম, প্রথমে ছোটো ছোটো রচনা, তারপর বড় গল্প – উপনাাস। এই ভাবেই আমার নতুন জীবন বা যাকে বলে সেকেন্ড ইনিংস  শুরু হল। যারা আমাকে সাহায্য করল নিজেকে নতুন করে খুঁজে পেতে তাদের পৃথিবীতে আর যাওয়া হয়নি। আসলে সেই ভাবে চা এর পেয়ালা নিয়ে বসে অলস সকাল বহুদিন কাটানো হয়নি। সৃষ্টির আনন্দে মেতে আছি, যেন আমার পুনর্বিন্যাস হয়েছে।

Making of Anoushrayan – Entering the teens

The first year | The journey till 12 | The 14th year

At the eve of being 14

I love to see things grow, and a human baby is one of the most intriguing of all. All this time since birth to his 12th birthday, Anoushrayan had been changing slowly – the face, the structure, the voice and the abilities.

But then all of a sudden things started changing so rapidly that it was like riding a whirlwind. I wouldn’t say I could no longer recognize my child, it was not that dramatic but there were things which I needed time to cope with.

To begin with there had always been discussions and long chats but now they turned to heated arguments. Anoushrayan was never ready to take my words on face value; I had to prove everything by showing it on google – a concept I introduced him to, but now that he was knowledgeable enough to form his own opinion, or so he thought, he would debate even the established ideas. His ‘WHY’ haunted me day n night.

His memory had been sharp but now it became sharper and yet the scores started dropping from the usual 100%. The reason was none other than the multitude of fancy fantasies that had started making his head their home. From Harry Porter to Percy Jackson to Ravagers to what not – featuring demi-gods, artificially intelligent life forms, all crowd his mind space. Anoushrayan always an avid reader; reads the stories intently and then makes different versions of them on his own. He then plays them in his mind over and over again, chants the dialogues and sometimes enacts them too. He has turned out to be an acclaimed script writer and is asked to do the same for most school projects.

We had decided to skip travelling out of town in the summer of 2019 as Rajib had to get his cholcystectomy done and would need time to recover. So I started looking for horse riding classes, Anoushrayan had been keen on riding since early childhood but it had really taken his fancy since the ride in Pahalgam, Kashmir where we went in 2018.

I found one that could suit my budget, horse riding is an expensive affair. It was a bit far off yet we signed in, for a preliminary course. We had to go early morning but it being summer helped. The drive was refreshing for the most part, and the place was absolutely delightful. Huge grounds with trees around. The horses were tall, much taller than the ones we rode in Pahalgam.

Anoushrayan took to riding as fish would to water. The head coach who is also the owner of the place – a retired army colonel, was impressed by his natural ease. Though tiring I felt this was worth the long drive and the early wakeup regime even in hols, we are owls – night people, all three of us and early mornings are not our thing.

He was so much at ease that I thought having some shared genes I could give it a try too. But the moment I got up on the beast I was certain I did not share the riding genes in particular. I was very very scared. Over the days I did get a bit comfortable but I am definitely not a rider material.

Over a period of two weeks Anoushrayan picked up trot and canter. The horse seemed to respond to him well. Though it would not be possible to continue the classes once school started, we discussed the possibility of coming back in the breaks.

As planned we bought a Duster just a day before the last day of the horse ridding class, Rajib was fit to drive by then. The last day was a Sunday, Rajib came along as we had planned to dine out on the way back home, may be after a bit of a longer drive to give our Duster a good run.

It was my last riding day as well; we – the not so riding savvy adults were taken for a short ride away from the arena where the budding riders were practising, Anoushrayan being one of them. We were on our return journey, the time having got almost over and then we heard a cry and saw a commotion inside the arena from a distance. Once we reached I saw Anoushrayan on the ground and a lot of people around him. Rajib looked nervous.

Our humpty dumpty had a great fall. The way he explained the fall was hilarious and gave a glimpse of the naive baby that he still was. He knew he was falling from almost a height of 7ft or more and yet he didn’t think it might break his bone. He didn’t think of rolling over or giving cushion to his head, hands or legs simply because he thought nothing would happen after all, nothing ever happened to Tom and Jerry!

There was a doctor on spot and he apprehended a surgery. Anoushrayan was in great pain but he was upbeat and was trying to analyse what might have happened. We rushed to Narayana Multispecialty Hospital in Whitefield that would be nearest to our home as we anticipated multiple to and fro visits. Also having got Rajib’s surgery done in there, we were quite satisfied with the facilities of the place.

Anoushrayan was taken to the emergency ward and diagnosed with ‘Left elbow posterior dislocation and fracture epicondyle’. So 21st Apr 2019 Anoushrayan was admitted to a hospital for the first time in his life in order to have the surgery performed on him. He turned out to be a brave fellow, quite excited to undergo such an experience.

I was not nervous but definitely worried. The late night surgery took quite some time but all went well. The healing would take time, the doctor said and even after a good deal of physiotherapy the elbow might never regain its original position.

I am an optimist and so is Anoushrayan, so we didn’t pay much heed to the nay saying and rather focused on getting a proper physiotherapy done. So we spend the summer vacation visiting the physio lady near our home, and a good job she did. Within 3 months Anoushrayan was completely cured with hardly a tiny mark of the accident.

I had always wanted a pet, a dog to be precise. Rajib also loves pets, he felt very de-stressed when Limca was around. We had also fostered another puppy called ‘Poppy’ for a few days. Both Rajib and Anoushrayan had wanted to keep Limca or Poppy but I was not in a condition then so I promised him a pet once he was 12. So that he can share the responsibility of looking after the pet. He readily agreed. But we figured that summer rather than his birthday month February, would be a good time to bring in the new baby. Thus came Dogmatix in May. A month old shihtzu baby hardly the size of our palm.

Kheti n Bheti

The new school session started and Anoushrayan was bowled over by the sheer size of the campus and its grounds. He liked the ambience. Over the months he faced a mixed bag of emotions from his classmates. He faced hostility and humility for something which we were not made aware of till then – apparently he spit while talking and the boys did not take it lightly. The spitting problem could have been an outcome of the braces.

Anoushrayan proved to be good even amongst a good lot, but he started facing good competition and that enthused him. He tried harder and though he failed to score a 100 every time he was close and thus established himself as an academically bright student.

We travelled to Chikmagaloor in August in our duster along with Dogmatix. It was Anoushrayan’s first experience of staying in a coffee estate and he loved the laid back no hoping around trip.

I had planned for a fitness focused summer vacation, which of course did not really materialize but I had been looking for opportunities to get Anoushrayan into some sort of physical sport. The idea came from his classmate’s mother. Her son was into Basketball and since Anoushrayan had an interest about the sport we thought of giving it a try.

It was a real game changer. Anoushrayan emerged from a chubby fellow rounded in the middle to a somewhat elongated boy with a flat tummy. His muscle mass increased, fitness levels enhanced and he started showing off his strength, to the poor mommy of course.

In October we went on a road trip in our duster again with Dogmatix, this time to Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal Aihole and Chitradurga. Anoushrayan had visited Hampi earlier in 2011 but he was a little baby then all of 5, perched up on us most of the time. This time however our 12 year old was my able companion as we went up the Matunga Hill. It was easier to handle Dogmatix with Anoushrayan around as we went on a coracle (round basket boat) ride in the Tungabhadra river that flows beside the ancient grand temples of Hampi.

Right after we came back, we brought Zhauwu, another Shihtzu baby, a month old again. The breeders want to do away with the babies as soon as possible and do not wait till the prescribed 2 months. I feel everyone needs a friend of his/her own kind and so I had planned for two puppies together but that didn’t happen so our doggo babies are 5 months apart. Dogmatix was a full grown Shihtzu at 6 months and Zhauwu was a tiny little thing. He was a complete opposite of Dogmatix; while Dogmatix kept to himself mostly, allowing us to pet him at his will, Zhauwu was always licking and wagging his tail.

Anoushrayan wanted to pet Dogmatix and had been bitten and snapped many times, now with Zhauwu he was free to do rolly polly and licky and whatever his heart desired, finally he had the pet he had always wanted.

In November we shifted to a new housing complex, AWHO Sandeep Vihar, on rent, leaving our small 2bhk flat in Sai Sarovar to the tenants, as we wanted to have more space and amenities for the babies – mine and the adopted ones. For the first time we were staying in a flat that had 4 bedrooms and was more than 2000 sq ft, even Anoushrayan, who is not much concerned about where we stay, was reverential.

Anoushrayan took a few rounds of the campus, which is quite a big one with loads of amenities and is quite delightful, for a couple of days on-foot and cycle (dad had been teaching him to cycle and now he was a pro), and then lost interest; he is anyway the ‘comfortable@home’ kind of person.

In December we went to the Andamans again keeping in mind Anoushrayan’s love for beaches, most of our holidays and trips are now planned in accordance with his holidays and preferences. He loved the sea and the pristine beaches, the boat rides and the overall tranquillity.

1st January 2020 we were back to Bangalore all set for another round of exams – the school’s third term, SOF second level and finally the final session ending exams in march, and thereafter a trip to London and Scotland in summer.

Rajib went to London for a couple of days; his usual office trip and I invited a few of Anoushrayan’s new friends for a small get together. Two of his friends, namely Nandagovind and Vedant were to stay back overnight, this was a first time experience for Anoushrayan and he enjoyed it thoroughly.

We were a tad worried about our visas but all was done in good time by the beginning of February. Anoushrayan entered into teens on the 7th of feb 2020.

And then came, the news first and the embargoes next. The final exams were cancelled hardly after they had just started, within 2 days. The children were all promoted to the next grade nevertheless.

So it was a novel experience for all of us owing to the novel corona virus, being imprisoned in our homes. Anoushrayan was indifferent to the situation. He feels he has everything he needs to entertain himself, at home; in-fact he even cherished the idea of not having to go to a cold place as London/Scotland. The only thing he started missing after a while was food – outside food. His favourites are Subway, KFC, Pizza, pasta and sandwiches/burgers.

Once again my plans for a physical activity laden summer went out of the window. Instead Anoushrayan read a lot of story books, played a lot on his comp and also studied a good deal. He also started learning Guitar.

Anoushrayan was now well into 13 and the colours were showing loud and bright. He was highly distracted at all times. Focus was almost nil. School started online and that gave him the opportunity to be online more often than I would have preferred.

The biggest change in my lad – he started lying often and on. It was as though he was unable to control himself. He started reading stories on some sites while the teacher was teaching in class and when I questioned he would deny. Being a not so seasoned liar he would easily get caught then apologize but then do the same thing again.

His scores fell, missing out a mark or two in almost every subject. But amazingly fared very well in adapting to the online system, together with another friend he found loopholes to chat with certain people he wanted to talk to.

We never had any dreams for him. We are committed to support him in anything that would catch his fancy. He had first wanted to become a sweeper, as the broom was the most exciting thing and our maid always has to sweep while he was asleep or away at school lest he would take it away from her. Next was the garbage truck driver, who he felt drove such a fascinating huge truck and must be oh so powerful. Then he wanted to become a genetic engineer and a scientist and own a farm where a huge number of animals would be housed. He is sticking to it till now.

All our efforts are focused to help him fulfil his dream. He wants to join IISc or IIT; though he has the potential, he is getting driven by his hormones and is getting derailed from the path that might lead to accomplish his desired task. I literally have to work on my nerves to keep him steady on the path by screaming like a banshee most of the time. This is by far the most challenging task I have assigned myself to. Anoushrayan is also trying hard, fighting his hormones, my poor naive teenager. He is righteous and sincere to the core, hardworking and quite an obedient fellow. He respects others, has a very soothing behaviour and has an intelligent streak of humour which is pleasing.

Anoushrayan has been assigned many household tasks and though it took months he slowly managed them well without my surveillance. He is quite capable of taking care of himself and his pets now though he tends to play the baby whenever am around.

Anything digital, the younger generation picks up fast; he also became quite adept in taking shots of the homework and uploading them through which looked like quite a complicated process to me. Though he did miss uploading some tasks on-time, he was more or less consistent. Interesting were the exams, where they had to write on paper in a stipulated time, get the parents to sign it and then take snaps of the answer sheets and upload them in a stipulated time.

After the half yearly exams we started braving the outside in October. We started eating outside food, though nominal. We took a short day trip in our car to Kolar, about two hours from our place. Dogmatix and Zhauwu were kept in a pet boarding along with Jerry (a neighbour’s  3 months old shihtzu baby who had been residing with us for two weeks then on lieu of his parents being away on urgent work). The trip was to take a break and also try out the pet boarding. The boarding thing didn’t work well but our trip was refreshing with good roads and a lovely weather.

In December we took a road trip to Sultan Bathery, Wayanad, Kerala. I had booked a cottage in a plantation and the plan was to chill out. Anoushrayan had a lovely time chilling out with his kindle. He was in the room mostly, taking just a single stroll around the plantation in three days.

On the way from Bangalore to Wayanad, one has to go through Nagarhole, the reserve forest; Anoushrayan was totally oblivious to the beauty of the forest and rather wanted to doze through the scenic journey along with Dogmatix and Zhauwu.

He loves to be in the world of fantasy – aliens, magical creatures, mythology, space or time portals; and as of now earthly things and its bountiful nature does not fascinate him. As he turns 14, time management is the biggest challenge he faces with hordes of activities, loads of dreams and throngs of distractions.

The first year | The journey till 12 || The 14th year

Making of Anoushrayan – The journey till 12

The First Year || Entering Teens || The 14th year

The 12 year old

It felt so distant. It felt so far fetched. It never felt like an eventuality. Well I was wrong. Every other child becomes 12 every other day and so did Anoushrayan; on 7th Feb 2019.

The naughty but innocent eyes were expressing feelings yet beyond his comprehension. The little toddling feet had grown taller and stronger than mine. His palm was bigger, his grip was firmer and we now held hands, more for me in need of support.

Flashback 2008. After his first birthday, which we celebrated in Science-city, Kolkata along with both the grandparents, I and Rajib left for Bangalore and my parents and Raspy left for Guwahati – Assam, where my dad was posted at that time in the capacity of a plant protection officer for the govt of India. We visited them off and on. The residence in Guwahati was in a delightful surrounding. It was some distance between the city and the airport and was like an isolated hamlet. Raspy got ample space to play and explore. He got introduced to numerous animals and birds. The two storey house faced the main road and the hill range thereafter. At the back it had a water-body and then fields.

Guwahati 2008

Raspy was a happy child and very much at ease with my parents. Mom had been there since he was born infact before that, so he didn’t differentiate much between mom and me. Mom had put up two huge photographs of me and Rajib on the wall and used to identify them as mamma and dada to him. When I visited them the first time a wonderful thing happened. I had just settled in the drawing room, he had been sleeping when I arrived and presently he was coming out of the bedroom, he looked at me, looked at the photograph, gave a broad grin and ran back into the room. I followed and sat down. He slowly came to me and perched up. It was lovely to see the recognition and love in his beautiful little eyes. He also recognized Rajib with ease when he arrived a few days later and was very happy to have all of us around.

The crazy hair fellow – Guwahati

We got his mane cut, having got a barber over to our place and Raspy happily slept through it.

The monk – Guwahati

In October Raspy came to Bangalore for a visit with my parents. He was thrilled to see and board the train as earlier he had travelled by plane only. We went on a trip to Mysore and had a lovely time exploring the zoo and the animals through his eyes. Raspy’s jaw literally dropped as he saw the Giraffe. We also visited Udupi and Raspy was at a beach for the first time as we went to Malpe Beach. He loves beaches.

Mysore Zoo
Boat to St. Maries Island
Malpe Beach, Udupi

Back then we only had a scooty pep and he loved the little rides standing in front or sandwiched between us.


Flashback 2009. We had trouble toilet training Raspy. One such evening, I wanted to scold him for not trying to learn and took him into my room. I made him stand on the bed so that we became the same height and he could see me in the eye. After a short while I realized he was intently following my mouth and was very intrigued. All this while I was scolding in English, (as ‘am comfortable in the language when agitated or overwhelmed or want to make a point) and there stood my 2 yr old baby with an appreciative look and happy nod. I continued, trying to sound somber. When he had enjoyed enough he jumped on to me and started eating my nose. The last accident on bed happened when he was 6 yrs old which of course was a one off case, by 4 Raspy was well trained.


The time he took to get toilet trained is inversely proportional to the time he took to be english alphabet trained. When he was a little over 4, we were once travelling by train and he started reading station names, as big as Visakhapatanam. We are a family of readers so we have numerous books at our homes, be it Kolkata or Guwahati or Bangalore. So little raspy started reading voraciously, from bottle labels to magazines, one could see the pleasure in his cute almond eyes when he read. He actually always read ever since, he can’t sit without reading. Though now he has choices and preferences, that time he just read not knowing most of the things he read. It was very comforting in a world where parents were literally having to dance on their heads to make their kids read.

The first three years of his life we kept on travelling to and fro between Bangalore, Kolkata and Guwahati, sometimes I / we went, sometimes he came over with my parents or we brought him and dropped back. He was happy everywhere.


I went back to Kolkata with him to stay with mom. Rajib joined us for a short while. He was a little over 2 then and it was time for school. The scheduled day for school arrived and we were all very excited. He was very happy to hang the tiny bag on his shoulders which had a snack box and bottle, all decked up in new cloths. Thus three of us – me, Rajib and Roddur, hand in hand, walked down the lane to the school, namely Kidzee, a little distance away. Raspy’s official nick name is Roddur.

Kolkata – All set for school

All went well till the lady help took his hand from ours and started to get inside. It was mayhem. We had to bring him back. We tried for a couple of days and then had to give up.

I started looking for other options and found one which had a more open atmosphere. The kidzee near our place was basically a huge decorated hall and apparently Roddur was uncomfortable to go in a walled place without us.

Welland Goldsmith is a school of good repute and they have a kindergarden standing separate from the main school building. Their round hall in a standalone structure had big windows on all sides and was quite airy and sunny. Somehow Roddur liked it to my relief. I wanted him to socialise, mingle with other kids of his age and he did fairly well in getting along with his mates and teachers in the school. All this while he had only been surrounded by adults, mostly people the age of his grandparents.

I was scared if I would be able to recognise him amidst all those tiny tots and an experienced teacher reassured me, “…even if you don’t, he will find you…” and every day he would find me and run back into my arms when the school got over.

We visited Pondicherry in October and once again Raspy loved the beach though there wasn’t much of it. He enjoyed Auroville, the famed concept village. He also loved the boulevard. On the way back we stopped for cakes and it had rum, the poor little guy could not process it and vomited. 

Pondichery – Auroville

Flashback 2010. After a short stint at the play school in Kolkata, Roddur came over to live with us in Bangalore. He was almost 3 then and we decided to get him admitted in a school called Fusco’s School. It is a missionary school run by the nuns. We liked the grounds and the classrooms. It was a perfect place for a tiny tot to discover his surroundings and he enjoyed his Pre-KG and LKG with the wonderful teacher Martha madam, who made him want to go back to the place; but the beginning was a nervous affair.

Fancy dress, Sunflower

Anoushrayan was to face an interview the next day for admission in Pre-KG. The Principal would interact with the child, we were briefed previously. We expected her to ask him his name, our name, favourites and stuff like that. We felt it was most imperative to know one’s name; so we had taught him well, both ours and his.

Context one – few days back we had watched the movie Madagascar, and he loved it. He identified himself with Alex(the lion), me with Gloria(the hippo) and Rajib with Marty(the zebra).

 Context two – Since his early childhood days my mom would read to him the wonderful Bengali poems and stories written by Sukumar Roy (Satyajit Ray’s father); it is a delight to read them even today. However we identified Anoushrayan with a character called ‘Hijibijbij’, which literally means nonsense. It is a seriously funny character who would make one roll with laughter. So was Anoushrayan, and thus the connect.

Starting a couple of days before the D-day, every time we or anybody else would ask him his name, it was either Alex or Hijibijbij. The eve of the D-day really got me nervous. This was a school in our proximity, a reputed one and within our means, so I wanted him to be admitted there. However hard I tried with the 3 yr old, rolling my eyes and making my voice demure, the answer would not change. Next morning we went all dressed up and as I repeated the question in the car, the little brat gave the most heart warming smile and said, my name is  Alex, my mother’s name is Gloria and my father’s name is Marty. I knew not what to do and just sat there twitching nervously till the call came. I kissed him and he kissed back smearing saliva all over my cheek. We went in holding hands, Rajib tailing us. The principal, a nun with a sage like demeanour called him and he ran to her. She asked him his name as we were taking our seats and to my veritable relief, he said Anoushrayan Deysarkar. Man, it did sound sweet!

First day of Fusco’s School Bangalore

Every morning we would pack breakfast and drive down the short distance to his school as Anoushrayan was likely to throw up and felt sick if he had to ride after having food. Fusco’s has a big parking lot, we always reached quite early, played a little, fed him, cleaned him up and then walked down the beautiful pathway leading up to the classrooms. He would kiss me and hug me and then bid me goodbye to join his classmates. I would walk back to the parking lot with a heavy heart though I knew I’ll see him in just 2 hrs. It was a routine for 2 years and I re-learned and honed my driving skills in this duration, going over the same route each day.

Our golden WagonR – Wago at Fusco’s parking

At around the same time Anoushrayan was experimenting with the gift of his glib, Rajib noticed that he was unable to say ‘coconut’ properly; he could say Canada, Center, Cute, City but not Coconut, on further probing we found that he was converting the ‘C’ to ‘T’ for any word which had ‘CO’ to begin with. I said it’ll get corrected with time but Rajib was worried and started working on it. He would show him how to roll the tongue day after day and interestingly Anoushrayan would keep practising it, I often found him sitting with his toys or in the balcony and repeating the tongue roll. And after many days he was no longer saying ‘totonut’ but had mastered ‘coconut’ and the other words.

Little Raspy, Bangalore

Over the years Anoushrayan retained his ability to overcome challenges by sheer hard-work and determination. But again he has to be really convinced about its utility, if he doesn’t feel the need he can be as obstinate as possible to resist learning or practicing. My biggest challenge being making him to do any physical activity / any form of exercise.       

Every step that we had taken together had been so vibrant and high on drama that I have never missed the vivacious opportunities of work that I lost in lieu of being with my child 24 by 7.

We were quite invested into photography at this time; we still are but not so extensively, majorly due to lack of time, the pattern of our travels which has changed due to Raspy’s preferences and also to an extent for not being able to use the multitude of photographs we have, productively.

So there we were at Thanjavur at the Brihadeshwara temple. Raspy was tagging me as I clicked and for the most part either I was holding him or he was holding me. Rajib was somewhere happily taking shots of the temple. This one place I had to focus a bit at an extraordinary angle so I made him sit and said he should keep sitting till am back. I was about a yard away from him and yet in his vicinity. I took a couple of shots and possibly had to be out of his sight for a minute or two. As I turned to go back to him, he was not there.

Brihadeshwara Temple, Thanjavur

That was the first time in my life, my heart skipped a beat. I had been happy and sad and angry but never never never so scared. I had literally lost him. I ran to where he was sitting, it was a big open space and he was practically nowhere to be seen. Kumbakonam temple is famous for child lifts and Raspy would be an easy target. I called out his name and started walking past a smaller temple structure in whose shadow I had made him sit. A minute later I saw him walking a little ahead of me amidst a crowd calling ‘mamma, mamma’. I ran to him and picked him up.

The lost and found episode must have lasted for a max 3 mnts but those were the longest 3 mnts of my life. I continued to have nightmares about losing him for months thereafter. We lost him a couple of times in supermarkets as he would never stand at a place. He kept moving and if I would stop for a moment to checkout something he would have trotted on somewhere.


Flashback 2011. This was a challenging year. I was finding it very hectic to manage Raspy, a bundle of energy – curious and hyperactive. I mismanaged myself and was diagnosed with diabetes type 2.

We went to kolkata in Oct. Fusco’s was very reluctant about granting leave and I had to make up a lot of stories to get a few days extra. We visited my ancestral village, Karanjali too and Roddur enjoyed wadding around in the pond with my dad.

Karanjali, my ancestral village

Flashback 2012. We celebrated his fifth birthday and our tenth anniversary with pomp and show amidst friends and family in Kolkata, the idea was to get him introduced to the multitude of our far and near relatives. I let him choose the cake and to my dismay he chose an airport, I had grand plans for a tiered cake.

Anoushrayan joined a new school Shishya BEML Public School in UKG. The major reason for changing school was the second language. Fusco offered Kannada as second language but we preferred it to be Hindi. Nevertheless he started learning kannada as a third language. This school was even nearer to our residence. It had big grounds and huge classrooms and a number of staircases. 

Rashmi Menon was his class teacher in UKG and I was amazed by the way she managed a class full of chattering bundle of energies. She did not pamper them and yet she took great care. She taught them little things like tying shoelaces, stacking the notebooks neatly, eating the snacks in a tidy way. The kids loved her.

Anoushrayan was never any teacher’s pet as he somehow never warmed up to anyone, teacher or classmates, though he liked them all and never complained. The teachers also liked him because of his amicable nature and outstanding performance from the very onset in anything academic.

A lovely boy named Swaroop befriended him in grade 3 or so, otherwise, Anoushrayan turned out to be more of a loner since childhood.  

This year, one fine day shortly after moving into the apartment – Dalli Sai Residency, I and Anoushrayan then just 5, stood atop the elevation holding hands. The apartment had a basement parking and one had to drive up an elevation to get to the road. It created an excellent opportunity for a downhill or uphill run. He was scared but we walked down side by side hand in hand. We went up and down, first walking then running, day after day, he trailing me and for years I outran him.

The second shave

Flashback 2013. Anoushrayan in Grade 1. The respective class teachers would bring the kids to the gate and call out the names at dispersal. I went when she said Anoushrayan. He looked at me, top to bottom, with surprise and suspicion, then he hugged me and then smiled. Moments later, in the car he said, I could not recognise you at first, as you are wearing a full pant (a salwar, I usually wore quarter pants) but when I hugged you I recognised the smell.

We mostly travelled the less than 1km distance to school in our scooty, initially Anoushrayan used to stand in front but as he grew taller than the handle, he had to sit at the back. He would hold tight and my back would have a good backrest. Years later when he grew a lot bigger he would sit a little further back and my comfort was gone.   

Well this was the year little Anoushrayan started winning accolades. He reported one afternoon as we were heading back home that he wants to take some exams. I gathered from his diary and his incessant blabbering that he wants to participate in the exams conducted by SOF World which goes by the name Olympiads and he was asking for my consent. I willing gave it and also guided him with his preparation. Anoushrayan was exuberant with joy when his name was called in the assembly, he had stood first in all the three exams he took, namely Maths Science and English. He later told me that he was almost trembling with happiness as he made his way up to the podium to receive the medals and certificate.

Thereafter he kept on bagging many prizes in the field of academics. In grade 5 he received an excellence award for outstanding performance and a hefty amount in prize money. In grade 6 however he wanted to take a break and didn’t appear for any external exam.

This year Anoushrayan got introduced to the idea of a pet. We got two cockatiels from a pet shop and named them Murray and Darling as they are indigenous to Australia. I had taken them for a check up and a lady brought in this little puppy who had been running amuck at a signal, he was hardly 2 months old. She was ready to pay for food, medicines and vaccines but since she had cats at home and a large number of them, she was unable to take him home. The clinic was not in a position to let him be there as he was too young. The only option was to take him home and foster him till he would get adopted.

Murray and Darling

The lady, the clinic and a few good people tried hard, I and Rajib went to an adoption camp and sat there all day. Anoushrayan was very happy when we came back home with Limca since he had not been adopted, well not that day.

Limca with Raspy

It broke our hearts when he finally had to go. I was not in a position to take care of a pet dog as I was still trying to do some work in the external world and Anoushrayan needed a lot of mamma time.

The Photographer

Among other places we visited Kanyakumari with Anoushrayan, both for the train ride that he loves and the beaches. In fact Anoushrayan took a lot of photographs himself; he has quite a steady hand.


Flashback 2014. I love Art; music, drama, drawing and painting, sculpting; just anything creative, romantic and beautiful. I found a wonderful art (drawing and painting) teacher and would take him there in the evenings thrice a week. I was still committed to professional work at the time, so I would sit in the car working while he, I supposed, would make an inception into the creative world. His drawing copy would have lines and a few drawings which he needed to copy or colour. After about three months, one evening I stepped into the studio where the kids were all spread out and were at different stages of drawing and painting. I found Anoushrayan standing at the teacher’s table and looking at the drawing that she was making. I repeated the visits and always found him standing and watching. The other kids told me that he always does that and never does anything on his own. I had a hunch as his drawing book was rather empty and one day asked him why he is not doing anything and just watching. He said he just likes to watch.

Before heading to Rajib’s office party

This was one of those rare years when we didn’t go on a vacation out of town. We instead bought a dream flat making a huge investment, which turned out to be a bad debt as it never got constructed, atleast not until feb 2022. Rajib went to London for the first time on office work. Anoushrayan watched chicks hatching from eggs for the first time as our finches went on to extend their family.

Flashback 2015. Starting with Karate at around 5 yrs, we tried Kung fu, dance, Lawn Tennis and Skating before giving up. I felt very humbled at the Tennis court and felt a beautiful balance. In school Anoushrayan was the topper winning accolades in any exam internal or external, so I had to face both appreciation and concealed jealousy. At the court I was the mother of a very dumb player and a subject of sympathy. The coach even told me that he is really worried about my son’s future because if someone can not pick up tennis after almost 2 yrs then how would he manage maths or any subject for that matter in school. I just nodded suppressing a smirk.

His curious mind was ever hungry and school books not being enough I introduced him to the internet. We would watch youtube videos on many topics and thereafter discuss at length. Anoushrayan got lovely teachers in Shishya BEML as he went up the grades, one namely Nisha Madam who taught maths was his favourite. She was strict yet polite and jovial.

Anoushrayan loves energy and energetic people.     

We did two wonderful trips this year. One where Anoushrayan had his first stint with mountains – Darjeeling and Kalimpong in West Bengal and the second where he had his first encounter with the jungle – Kanha in Nagpur. Anoushrayan was fascinated when we came face to face with a Royal Bengal Tiger but wasn’t much impressed about the snow capped mountains and rather grew distaste for the cold accompanied with it. He loved the vintage toy train ride in Darjeeling though and of course the pony ride.

Kanha National Park
Kanha National park

Flashback 2016. A 9 year old Anoushrayan was all excited about his first trip abroad, and so was his 41 yr old mother as it was her first too! Unless Nepal is considered foreign which I and Rajib visited in 2013 without Raspy.

So Singapore was the destination for the summer of 2016. The zoos and the wonders of Sentosa were overwhelming for Anoushrayan but he thoroughly enjoyed every moment. Being accompanied by my parents on this trip added the extra pampering he always enjoys around them.


In October we plunged into another kind of sea – the sea of sands. Anoushrayan was thrilled to ride a camel in Khuri desert where we spent two nights in an unusual tent like setting. Jaisalmer is a household name, thanks to ‘Sonar Kella’ by Satyajit Ray and Anoushrayan was extremely happy to be on the scene that he had seen on tabloid so many times.

Khuri dessert, Rajasthan

Flashback 2017. Here we were at the same elevation where in 2012 I outran Anoushrayan, now he could outrun me by far more number of seconds. He sometimes even dragged me up as I got out of breath, helped push the scooter up if need be. My little boy had grown up.

Ready for Cricket Camp

 The dream flat (Skylark Ithaca) we had booked, was due in march 2017 and the work was going on in full swing, there was a possibility of a delay as is normal with most big projects and to be on the safe side we decided to change Anoushrayan’s school from the next session that is next grade and also move our residence closer to Ithaca. In effect he would not have to travel a longer distance in case we got the flat in possession any time during his school year.

We bought a small 2bhk in Sai Sarovar Apartment near Skylark Ithaca with our remaining means, thinking we would live there for at most 6 months before moving into Ithaca, and Anoushrayan was admitted to Mount Litera Zee School nearby for grade 5.

Combining farewell and birthday we threw a small party for his friends from school and it was good fun. This time the cake was black forest with fruits.

In the summer of 2017 we shifted to Whitefield on the outskirts of Bangalore. We were fortunate to find the last remaining white fields of eucalyptus plantations from where the area got its name. Our balcony became home to sparrows eliminating the need to keep caged birds. We had anyway given away all our birds before we shifted to this smaller place.

Eucalyptus Plantation

Anoushrayan not only managed to fit in the new school but also managed to win the hearts of his classmates, teachers, and even the principal. It was in this school that Anoushrayan gained humongous confidence regarding his abilities and emerged as a beautiful all-round soothing personality, thanks to his wonderful teachers, Bharati Madam who had been his class teacher and mentor needs a special mention as she had been largely instrumental in his growth. Anoushrayan made two good friends, Saket and Premraj.

The school has a swimming pool – half Olympic size, and swimming was part of the curriculum as was skating. He also started taking additional swimming classes in the evening and to our delight was eager about it and picked it up rather quickly and learned well enough to hold on till the rescuers arrive in case of any emergency situation. It is imperative to mention here that earlier when he was younger we had enrolled him for swimming classes and it was a complete failure, as he was outright scared of the coaches and their strict methods, he preferred free-floating and a little doggy paddling as my dad had taught him at our village pond. The coaches won’t allow that and hence his aversion towards swimming.

Mount litera Zee School, Kadugodi

This was again another rare year of no travels but Anoushrayan didn’t complain. We went for a short trip to Horseley Hills nearby. He loves to spend time at home with his computer and books and is happy playing with me and one or two select friends.

Flashback 2018. The onset of 2018, namely the month of February his birth month, marked his first big stage performance as an anchor of the Annual Day Program for his school. He was enthused by the appreciation and applause.

Annual day 2018

A few days before the annual function in January, Anoushrayan was given braces in an attempt to correct his mole teeth look.

In his summer vacations, we went to Kashmir via Delhi. This was Anoushrayan’s first visit to the capital of our country. He liked Delhi. In Kashmir the most significant event for Anoushrayan was the pony ride in Pahalgam. He enjoyed the Gondola in Gulmarg but it was too cold for his liking.

India Gate
Trying Skiing
Ziplining in Betab Valley

Once again a change of school was on the cards. NPS came up in the lane next to Zee school; this was even nearer to our residence, Sai Sarovar Apartment. NPS is known for its academic orientation and that aligns perfectly with Anoushrayan’s demeanour. He loves to gather knowledge and can be at it for hours. No other vocation attracts him, neither sports nor cultural activities. So we decided to give it a try; I filled out the forms and Anoushrayan appeared for the written entrance exam and interview in October.  

Winters took us to Madurai and Rameshwaram. Anoushrayan tried snorkeling and loved it. We tried banana boating but it turned out to be quite strenuous for us. Anoushrayan was fascinated standing at the last land point of India at Dhanushkoti.

Dhanushkoti, Rameswaram
Snorkeling at Holy Island, Rameshwaram

Flashback 2019. Anoushrayan witnessed a ceremonial wedding for the first time. My niece got married in Kolkata and we all went to attend it taking special leave from school. I would not say he enjoyed the ceremonies cause it was too complex and crowded for his liking with all my cousins and their families around but it definitely gave him a sense of how big families can be. Being out of Kolkata for the most sensible part of his life till now, he had never known family apart from just his parents and grandparents.

Anoushrayan with a few cousins
Anoushrayan with an elder cousin he shares his birthday with
The other set of grandparents

We also took the opportunity to take a peek at the Sundarbans – the famed mangrove forests that are the home of the Royal Bengal Tiger. Anoushrayan loved the boat rides, he is too happy when he doesn’t have to walk, doesn’t have to write… in a nutshell doesn’t have to do anything which involves engaging his physical self actively. And yet he loves to ride… horse, camel… don’t know what else…

At Bali Island, Sunderbans

Back in Bangalore we had a lot to look forward to… one of them was to arrange for the party we had planned for Anoushrayan which was again going to be a farewell cum birthday bash.

And then he was 12. 155cm tall, 54kgs.

Time doesn’t fly; it stands still; in those images, that the camera lens creates and our sweet memories that never fade and need no technology to preserve.

The First Year || Entering Teens || The 14th year

10 days in Andaman – Baratang – 25th – 27th Dec’19

Facts Figures and Touchdown || The Havelock Chapter || Port Blair || Jarwa Reserve

For a mainlander it is an experience of a different kind, especially if one is a first time visitor like me. Of course, with water filling three fourth of the Earth we all are living on one island or the other, but ours is a huge one, and the more inland we live, it does give a sense of safety – at least from tsunamis.

Getting on with Baratang, one can do a couple of things. We chose to begin with visiting the parrot islands. You can’t actually step on the island but sit in the boat and wait for the chirpy parakeets to fly back home after dusk.

The setting is surreal. Imagine water all around you, tiny lush green islands floating here and there. The coastline of the island of Baratang is visible at a distance on one side and on the other the hills of the middle strait – the Jarwa territory come flowing down to touch the waters. Any moment poisoned arrows could come flying. The golden sun which was already melting would shortly give way to a glistening darkness full of stars. The breeze is strong and chill. The wide ocean beckons from where the channel meets it, far to fathom and yet near if one goes with the flow.

All of a sudden a shrill cacophony hits your ear. You raise your head to trace the direction of the sound and spot them flying towards you. A flock, then another, and another and another – they are of varied sizes: Small parrots, big parrots, long tailed, short and stout. If you have seen Hitchcock’s ‘Birds’ you would be scared. Even if you have not, you would be thrilled.

The moment, the surroundings –anything could have happened, had we been in a novel, an author could do a thousand things with a setup like this.

The parrot island is named so as the parrots have made it their home. Every evening they come back to this island. They have decorated the island with their beaks and the tree tops look perfectly manicured. This distinctive feature has turned it into a tourist spot.

By the time we started our journey back through the channel, it was completely dark. We sped through the waters under a star lit sky and came back to the Jetty. Pricey it was, but a boat ride I’ll remember and delight in all my life.

Dew Dale – our abode, tucked in the little village by the road can be perfectly cast as a haunted resort. Of the 12 cottages, only two were occupied at the time we stayed there, one ours and the other by an Englishman.

At dinner we got talking to the manager and chef, young chaps with promising careers. The food was excellent both in taste and quality, at par with star rated hotels. The resort is usually occupied by corporate guests and government officials.

To go to north Andaman, one has to pass through Baratang, as the ATR continues across the channels. Thus Baratang has a lot of passing traffic but hardly any stay on and hence the dearth of hotels. The tourists prefer to visit Baratang on a day trip from Port Blair.

We had stayed on, as we usually do. So the day we reached Baratang, we visited Parrot Islands in the evening. Next day we started early as was advised to visit the Limestone caves. This is the journey I had been really really looking forward to. It is majorly a motor boat ride and a bit of trek.

This time we went in the opposite direction to that of the parrot islands and towards the Jetty on the middle strait. We went past the Jetty and further down… or up? Well that depends on one’s point of view. The motor boat was gliding at a tremendous speed cutting the waters. After a while we slowed down and headed towards the bank lined with mangroves. We got into a channel which was quite narrow and the boat waded for a while. The mangroves could be seen closely now.

We were asked to de-board at a small jetty. A guide took us on a short trek through a narrow mud path lined with tall trees.

The trek has a few ups and downs and a sturdy foot gear is recommended. First we reached a small village. The villagers were selling fresh lemonade under make shift tents. After a few more steps we saw hoardings describing the Limestone caves. There were restrooms too.

Going further we reached the natural wonders. A very narrow one way path goes on to the end of the caves laced with stalactites and stalagmites forming beautiful patterns inspiring vivid imaginations.

The place was so crowded that it is difficult to find a footing. Batch after batch of people following their guides were either in the process of going in or out. The caves are on a level ground so one doesn’t need to go down into a cavern or anything like that. In other words it is not scary at all.

On the way back we stopped at the village, had lemonade, clicked some pictures and then went back to the small jetty where we had de-boarded, but instead of going into a boat we were directed towards a walkway on a series of bridges, it is called –‘mangrove walk’.

The winding bridges took us through the mangroves jungle which was indeed a delight. The light was low for photography. Occasionally crocodiles can be spotted but we didn’t spot any. The walkway ended in another Jetty from where we got into our boats again for a return journey.

One has to wear a life jacket while on these boats mandatorily and given the speed at which they move, I would definitely support the rule though it is immensely uncomfortable. Once on shore, we headed for an eatery next to the Jetty. The food was simple yet tasty.

Mud volcano is another natural wonder that this island has on offer. We took a detour from the ATR this time and moved towards the interior of the island in order to reach them. A few steps up a hillock adorned by well nourished gardens on both sides makes for a serene landscape. It is in sharp contrast to the baron top where numerous mud mounds are created and the mud is bubbling and boiling and gushing out of the mouths of these tiny volcanoes.

No sooner had we finished marvelling at this earthly wonder we found some wonderfully coloured feathered friends unique to Andaman vying for our attention. In our whole trip this was the only place where we saw some spectacular avian life. Most other places we saw their pictures or at best heard them.

After another delicious lunch at the dhaba we returned to our cottage in Dew Dale. Evening was spend playing Monopoly with ‘chay’ and ‘pakoda’(snacks).

Next morning we woke up early got freshened up and were all set to head north… again… yes further north! Stay tuned for our journey to the Northern most town of Andaman – Diglipur.

Facts Figures and Touchdown || The Havelock Chapter || Port Blair || Jarwa Reserve

10 days in Andaman – Jarwa Reserve – 25th Dec’19

Facts Figures and Touchdown || The Havelock Chapter || Port Blair || Baratang

By Moutushi Ghoshdeysarkar

Aalu paratha is one of my favourite dishes and to my excessive pleasure whether in Kashmir (had the unforgettable experience of having them on a shikara) or in Andaman I had the fortune to savour them; it almost always comes as a complimentary breakfast. Following the tradition, breakfast was on the house in shelter hotel at Port Blair too.

Happily fed, to the ‘North’ we headed. This was to be an interesting journey. Andaman is a conglomeration of islands. South Andaman is one big mass with a few small islands scattered around, like Ross and NorthBay that I had earlier mentioned. Baratang can be considered to be the last considerably big island in South Andaman.

To reach Baratang, one has to cross the much romanticised ‘Jarwa’ territory. Imagine a dense forest, tall trees that can be seen in tropical rain forests – reaching the sky, shrubs overburdened with wildly fragrant flowers, a slightly hilly terrain sloping down to the shores of the pristine waters. That is where they live, the Jarwa tribe.

From the city of Port Blair one needs to go past the airport towards further south and then take almost an u-turn to go northward on the Andaman Trunk Road, which runs from the north to the south and is the only arterial road for commerce and commuters. Earlier when the ATR was not completed or those times when the reserve was off limits for common use people and goods used to travel by small launches and boats to Mayabunder Jetty from Chatham or Port Blair Jetty.

As we left the city behind, the landscape started changing. First came a few houses amidst fields and then the road started getting lined by woods. The road condition was pathetic and Sanju was driving very slowly to avoid damage to the car and rolls in our stomachs. Anoushrayan and I are motion sensitive creatures.

We reached a place called Jirkatang which is where all the vehicles line up who need to go North. There is a gate here operated by the government officials. It opens four times throughout the day – 6.30am, 9.30am, 12.30 afternoon and at 15.00 hrs. An escort vehicle leads the way and all the vehicles must follow it all through the Jarwa Reserve till the Jetty where one needs to cross over on a ferry to the island of Baratang.

There is a beautiful south Indian style temple at Jirkatang on an elevation beside the road. The roadside is also lined up with Tea stalls which have a range of snacks to cater to the passengers. Toilets/washrooms are present for our convenience. A small curio shop has an interesting collection priced reasonably.

We got the 9.30am gate. For a first timer it is nothing less than an adventure, passing through a land inhabited by the dreaded Jarwa tribe. We envisioned them as an aboriginal race that hunt with bow and arrows and are fiercely hostile towards civilization.

The first 5kms are buffer zone and actually have a few settlements, mostly village homes that have been there for many decades. We were given strict instructions to not take photographs all through the reserve, it is a punishable act to the extent that we could be jailed and fined. On top of it the driver would lose his license for 10 years. The windows were to be kept rolled up.

The reserve is indeed a serene terrain to traverse through. We were going in a convoy and then it seemed to slow down. Sanju said in a hushed voice, “See see Jarwa.” We started peeping but could not see any one for some time. Then we saw a guy in sunglasses, wearing a green shirt and khaki trousers walking down the road towards our car in style. His facial structure and skin colour were the only things that made him look any different from an average Indian. He had Negroid features and a very shiny black skin.

As we moved on we saw many more Jarwas sitting by the road side, mostly women and children. Most of the adults were clothed with a very few exceptions. They were accompanied by a man from the our world. We came to know that the government has tried to post personnel along the whole length of the road that cuts through the reserve to prevent any possible contact with the Jarwas.

Many indigenous tribes have perished from coming in touch with us as their body is not immune to a couple of diseases that we can spread. Also ‘civilized’ people have the unique tendency to exploit the trusting and somewhat naive people.

Our journey through the reserve was peaceful and pleasant and also quick – the road being well maintained. We reached the jetty where a channel separates the island of Baratang from the mainland of South Andaman. The cars and buses need to queue up and buy a ticket. We got out of the car as Sanju lined it up and then went off to get the tickets.

The channel is quite wide and the flow is fast. As we were waiting at a sit out we saw the birds diving for fishes which were a plenty.

After a short while we saw a big launch coming afloat and positioning it in such a way that its rear aligns with the slope of the jetty. The launch had a huge belly where the cars and a bus rolled in. The people then percolated in – the scene was akin to salt trickling in a jar filled with pebbles. The ride was short but exciting. At the jetty on the Baratang side, the salts, I mean the people went out first then the vehicles. The whole affair is very well organised by personnel on both sides.

Food was at the top of our minds with the stomach growling. Sanju took us to a nice joint, one of its kind in Baratang. It was a bustling place with two front rooms of a two storey house converted into dining halls complete with sitting arrangements – a batch of people were eating and another batch waiting at the porch beside the road. This was a north Indian household with origins from Delhi, who had made Baratang their home decades ago. As I went to the washroom that was a clean affair at the back of the house accessible by a passage by the side of the dining hall, I got talking to the lady of the house. She got married more than 25 years ago and settled amongst these transparent people – as she calls them, on this small island amidst the pristine waters.

Her husband takes care of the front-desk while she runs the kitchen. Almost all the people who visit Baratang either for a day trip or as passerby to further north dine here and there is hardly anybody who stops over for a night and thus there aren’t very many places to put up for the night.

We quickly got our seats and the plates were laid. The menu was fixed as the footfall was too high to cater to different choices for an optimal task force. Rice ‘daal’ vegetable curries and ‘papadum’ kept coming in a sequence. One could ask for as much as the stomach would agree with, but I went beyond my capacity as it was delicious to say the least – All this for just a 120INR per plate.

We went off to check in to Dew Dale Resorts, half an hour’s drive owning to the precariously bad road condition. Dew Dale, tucked in a village by the roadside with its aesthetically designed huts to match the ambiance complete with all the modern amenities is worth an experience by itself.

Join me as we go on to explore Baratang and beyond… So long…  

Chasing Temples in the Capital of Mallabhum (Bishnupur) – 1

Moutushi Ghoshdeysarkar

4 day trip including journey dates – 20/12/2017 – 23/12/2017

Day 1 || Day 2 || Day 3 || Day4

Twenty four structures including temples, ruins and a museum in town; a temple 25 km to the north-west, another 10kms to the northeast, a village 22 km to the south-west and a popular pilgrimage 43 km to the south-east; that’s all we had planned for the 3 day trip to one of West Bengal’s hottest tourist destination in winter – The temple town Bishnupur.

Bishnupur town is around 200kms in the northwest direction from Kolkata located in the district of Bankura (one of 23 districts of WB) that is included in the area known as ‘Rarh’ in West Bengal, India. ‘Rarh’ popularly means ‘land of the red soil’. Bankura finds a mention in Mahabharata where it is called as ‘Suhmobhumi’.

We started on a Wednesday, last December, early in the morning and boarded a train from Shalimar station. The station gets its name from Shalimar Paints; who have painted the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Howrah Bridge, the AIIMS and many other prestigious structures since 1902. One can still see their dilapidated guest house and grounds near the station.

The train was on time, we hopped on to it and settled the little luggage we had on the rack above our seats. I directed my gaze towards the tea stall where the mob was, interestingly it was called Pillai tea stall. Rajib went to get us the steaming cuppas. A helpful gentleman educated me about the terminal station which had a name, that I thought was quite funny – Bhojudih.

Bhojudih is in Jharkhand. It is surrounded by three rivers, Damodar, Ijari and Guwai. It also has a famous kund (lake) that our epic Mahabharata hero ‘Arjuna’ created while the ‘Pandavas’ were in exile.

The journey in a reserved chair car on a winter morning is promising from the word go. I missed my boy, who loves trains just as we do. We omitted him from the trip as he would get bored spending hours around the brick temples as we study, survey and document each of them from every angle, brick to brick.

I suggested we move out right after lunch so as to be able to cover the huge list, but Rajib was craving for a little rest after the good meal. Lunch was simple yet delicious. Daal(pulses), aalu-posto(poppy seed curry), aalu-bhaja(finger chips, really thin) and a fish curry. The WBTDC lodge is the favorite eat out for day tourists as well.

The train having reached almost on time we had checked into WBTDC lodge after a medium rickshaw ride from the station that is to say the distance was neither short nor too long.

So we went into the AC deluxe room with a full stomach, body yearning to retire having been subjected to activity since the wee hours of the morning, put on the AC and slept off.

At about 3ish in the afternoon we pulled ourselves up from the alluring comfort of the bed, got ourselves and our gear ready and came out to conquer the land of the Malla Kings, Bishnupur was the capital of Mallabhum for almost a thousand years; and the sun gave us a wink! He was taking an early off and we were caught unawares. It was no good for photography.

Stunned by the sun’s stance we decided to just walk around heartbroken and headed to the museum that is less than a km down the alley from the guest house. It was open but photography was allowed. It’s a nice old structure with many artifacts.

Dihar, around 10-12 km north of Bishnupur was a site of human habitation as the Chalcolithic people settled on the north banks of the river Dwarakeswar by 1000 BCE. Excavations have revealed many utensils and tools used in those and later times. Some are on display at the museum.

The stone and brick sculptures we saw at the museum had interesting formations and names. They were mostly Shiva and other Gods from Hindu mythology alongside the ‘Jain tirthankars’.

Once out of the museum we walked along the directions on the roadmap and also google maps to reach a group of temples we knew was lurking somewhere around the corner amidst the development happening in terms of apartment sites scattered here and there.

We walked beside a school/college campus that was big and a very old one too, stretching from the beginning of the road till the pond that was a long way ahead. It had many hostel blocks and grounds, that’s definitely a student’s delight.

Uncertain about the distance and the navigator girl at google which like Cuthbert’s pendulum kept on pointing north we decided to ask a human being and in a short while reached our destination.

We tried a few shots but the sun said “Sorry! Expiry underway” like the stockbroker who won’t let one buy or sell any more stalks after 4 pm and we just sank in the dusk amidst ages of history day 1 went by.

As we strolled back to the hotel this time by another route, we passed by a live temple which was rather crowded and had many shops adjacent to it selling terracotta artifacts. I started peeping into them while Rajib quickly did a handy work with his camera getting snapshots of the goddess. Most live temples in India do not allow photography.

Chinnamasta Goddess

It was not until I had seen the picture Rajib shot that the name struck me, the goddess is called “chinnamasta” which means “severed head”. She is worshipped as a form of power and according to mythology had severed her own head to satisfy the hunger of her two mates, Varini and Dakini.

The road from the temple to the guest house had shops all along; apart from terracotta the shops also had “dokra” crafts; there were the famous “baluchori” and “bishnupuri” sarees, some woodcraft and the usual tea stalls and sweet shops.

Shop in Bishnupur

A mega fair was to start the day we were supposed to leave Bishnupur and it being on the grounds right opposite to the guest house there was a lot of hustle bustle, preparations were on a full swing. We indulged in local made sweets and chops, the medium of cooking showed its true colours a day later and we didn’t try to brave them ever again.

Accuweather predicted that the next two days were going to be foggy with the sun mostly working undercover. We sat down with the list of “to be visited” with a grim face, no sun meant no shoot and we had only two and a half days in hand.

It reminded me of our honeymoon trip. Traveller’s cheques were in vogue back then, but by the time we managed to visit the bank anticipating a probable cash crunch, it was closed; we were supposed to leave for Geyzing from Gangtok(Sikkim, India) the next day thus were left on a shoestring budget until we could get a bank that was operating.

Tsangu Lake, Gangtok 2002

Back then it was money and now it was time. We would have to be very prudent, take wise decisions using all our experience and ration time.

Day 1 || Day 2 || Day 3 || Day4

10 Days in Andaman – Port Blair – a deeper look – 23rd – 25th dec’19

Facts Figures and Touchdown || The Havelock Chapter || Jarwa Reserve || Baratang

By Moutushi Ghoshdeysarkar

It grew dark as we whiz past the jetty in Sanju’s car and as we were passing by the harbour front road with the sea on one side and a hill slope on the other, I wished if we could stay nearby and the wish came true! The Shelter Hotel is on the base of the hill slope which houses the Cellular Jail. The ‘honeymoon suit’ as they call it is just another double bedded room with a clean attached bathroom; but the balcony is a love affair for sure. It has a moderately good sit out option facing the sea, right across the road.

We freshened up and went out, heading for the ‘sound and light’ show at the cellular jail at 9pm. We needed to grab our dinner before that somewhere on the way. The road by the sea is both delightful and a bit scary for first timers like me, though the railings bracing the footpath were mostly present, the once that were broken did pose a danger. The breeze from the sea was strong and we felt the chill. There weren’t too many pedestrians or vehicles at this hour. At a junction the road bifurcated, one branched up the hill and we followed.

A short way up was the Cellular Jail, all lighted up. We got the tickets.

Our road went on bypassing the Cellular Jail and going down to meet that road which had continued straight on from the bifurcation. We went down that way and found a road side arena decorated with lights and umbrellas with many fast food stalls and sitting arrangement, we got some of it for dinner. The waterfront has many options for dinning. This is an interesting place, and is just a walk away from Aberdeen Bazaar. We explored this area after coming back from North Andamans.

The sound and light show brings alive the sufferings of the prisoners, the cruelty of the Jailer with dramatic narration and inspiring songs.

We came out with a heavy heart but the breeze and the distant lights in the dark, the huge Indian flag hoisted at the tip of the waterfront brought back the lively mood as we walked back to the hotel. Rajib and I sat in the balcony late into the night watching the ships anchored in the harbour. Some had dim lights, few had bright, and we could even see small boats sailing in the light of the stars. It was beautiful, mystic.

We almost started the day on the balcony again, we means me and Rajib, Anoushrayan as I have said earlier has eyes for only kindle; he came, he saw and said a brief nice before rushing back to his beloved.

Luckily to our left was the fresh catch fish market, so we got a glimpse of a lively merchandise exchange. A boat was anchored at the opening of the wall / railing on the footpath. It had many varieties of fishes which had been caught fresh. The boatmen, two of them were busy segregating them and they didn’t finish until we left for our day tour, which would be about an hour. The retail sellers were mostly women in their brightly coloured sarees. People came in small and big cars, all residents of Port Blair. Some bought directly from the boat man as the ladies were busy setting up their shops. Some were waiting patiently and slowly the place that had a quite sleepy start was bustling with activity.

The plan was to see the museums and enjoy some water sports. We didn’t go for water sports in Havelock, which was definitely a mistake we realised later. I was particularly interested about the sea walk which didn’t need any swimming or diving experience. But we came to know only after reaching North Bay Island that it has been stopped after some unfortunate incidents.

Sanju, who by now had almost become a chauffeur, was ready at the gate. We drove off to the island of Chatham, which is connected by a land bridge over the sea. Chatham is where the felled trees are cut into sizes as is in demand and sent out to far far away lands on ships. Chatham is where the first and the second penal settlements were established. Chatham is where the 200 prisoners first landed on 10th March 1858. The date is still celebrated as the foundation day of Port Blair and those prisoners are considered the ancestors of modern residents of Andaman.

At Chatham one needs to buy tickets to enter through the gate, there is a nice little museum stuffed with photographs with information on various important things and places and people of Andaman and Nicobar. It has many beautiful articles on display, majority being things made of the famous ‘Padouk’ wood that is indigenous to the Andamans. At a time only 20 people are allowed inside.

//——–We saw many Padouk trees on our journey to Baratang and further north to Rangat and Diglipur, but could not identify even one on my own, however hard Sanju tried to educate me.—–//

Then there is the bunker to hide from the Japanese bombing, the huge ditch created by the Japanese bomb that fell on Chatham and mostly destroyed it and last but not the least one gets a walkthrough of the saw mill. Huge bundles of logs, huge machines to cut and polish them, it is a fascinating place and definitely not that one gets to see on a day to day basis. It is not a tourist destination by definition, but an amazing experience.

The curio shop has items made of the Padouk wood, it has the cheapest and the best collection in town. We bid farewell to this historic island with loads of souvenir to visit another, Ross Island. The motor boats take 6 / 7 passengers, first to Ross then to North Bay and back to Port Blair. While Ross is where the Brits had their headquarters, living quarters, entertainment arena which is all in ruins now, having been captured by the Japanese for a brief period and then finally abandoned; North Bay is for water sports ranging from scuba diving to visiting the marine life in submarines.

Ross Island has many things for the ones like us who are interested in ruins. It has a haunted feeling about it. It also has peacocks and deer roaming about. Beware the coconut is way too expensive in Ross. From Ross we went to North Bay.

Since underwater sea walking was not possible, we wanted to opt for Scuba. The norms don’t allow diabetics and hypertensive to go scuba diving thus we sat on the shores as Anoushrayan took the dip. It is expensive at 3500INR per person. The experience was not so great for my child as his braces hurt against the mouthpiece. We found many oldies with sugar and pressure taking the plunge not withstanding any warnings and coming out clean. We also saw many young girls and boys failing the test that is mandatory (to be able to follow basic instructions) before diving in.

One can go snorkelling, which is open to all as it doesn’t take one deep down but once again Havelock would be a better place to try all these.

Lunch was a quick affair on North Bay in one of the make shift shacks but it was good to taste.

We were transferred to a submarine parked a little way into the sea by a motor boat; though there is a great deal of marine life to be enjoyed and the boat belly where we were seated was taken very close to the bottom of the sea exposing a multitude of corals and fishes and plants; the sapiens inside the belly were too noisy and unsettling in contrast to the vibrant calm outside. I puked and realised that land, plain land not mountains not on fast moving vehicles – is where I belong, neither the sky nor the oceans.

The moment the submarine ride ended we were almost snatched off and ushered into our motor boat, our co-passengers were a tolerant lot muttering the grudges only under their breath, in the morning they had to wait for us for a whole 2 hrs, while we took our time at the Chatham saw mill, in the afternoon another two as they didn’t engage in any sports. That is how they gather the passengers; 2 here 2 there to make 6 or 7 in all, our co-passengers where a family of 4 so they had to wait for us 3.

Once back on the island of Port Blair we rushed to the Anthropological Museum, as all museums close by 5pm and we had just about an hour to spare. It is a fine building which houses many artefacts that the different tribes of Andaman and Nicobar have been using since time immemorial. We also saw the models / photographs of the men women and children, belonging to different tribes that were and are residents of the Andamans. But the most interesting was the model of the boat called the outrigger canoes. It helped these people to brave the seas, then and even today. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the museum.

By now we were hungry as a hippo. We had only grabbed a cucumber at the waterfront after de-boarding the boat; the most expensive cucumber I have had in my life. All through Andamans cucumbers are extensively expensive, most other food items raw or cooked are not. The auto dropped us at Aberdeen Bazaar and we walked through the busy streets lined with shops on both sides. We found a good looking restaurant, had our fill, bought some cheap tshirts written Andaman and Nicobar on it of varying sizes and colours for ourselves.

The next day we were supposed to head on to Baratang, so we picked up some cash and bakery stuff. In Andaman we had to fish out cash everywhere except The Taj. We picked a few souvenirs on the way back to the hotel and skipped dinner. Once again we enjoyed sitting in the balcony and gazing out at the lights from the ships and the stars and the dark waters and the light house that stood at the edge of the island opposite to us, for the last time.

To the North – through the Jarwa Reserve

Short Story: B for Botticelli

By Moutushi Ghoshdeysarkar

“How to say Botticelli? Is it ‘ke’ as in ‘kettle’ or ‘se’ as in ‘sell’?” asked a confused Ranganathan.

“Google it man,” answered Hari who was busy solving a problem.

“Why don’t you oblige him Anurag? Pronunciation is your forte!” Padam said laughing out loud.

“What did you say? Its ‘ge’ so say like you would in ‘page’ not like ‘se’ as in ‘revise’, Padam you are impossible!” Anurag said in an irate voice.

“Tell me how does it matter?” Padam got serious.

“It shows your class my dear good man.” Anurag said with an air of supremacy.

Hari saw the onset of an eminent bull fight between Padam amd Anurag and chipped in, “I have a splitting head ache guys, can we have this rather serious discussion tomorrow please.”

Ranganathan smirked. He knew Hari the pacifier too well.


While in class the four roommates sat in a row, however opinionated they might be, it was hard to find them apart, as if bound by the weak nuclear force.

The English language teacher was reading an excerpt from ‘Hamlet’ by Shakespeare. Anurag was very pleased with their teacher, as his pronunciation was impeccable. Padam on the other hand found it too dramatic and unrealistic. Ranganathan was very confused as it was totally out of his radar. Hari just went with the flow and was neither overwhelmed nor at a loss.

Soon it was time for the annual break and the four went home. As they came back their rooms had been shuffled and they got separated.


“So do you often check the pronunciation for different words?” Jayesh asked.

“Not really, I try to imitate. I hear renowned people speaking often.” Nitin answered.

Anurag was about to say it is pronounced as ‘offen’ without the ‘t’ and not ‘of-ten’ but he just didn’t feel like.


“How do we say ‘schedule’? is it ‘she’ or ‘ske’?” Ranganathan was always confused.

There were no answers as his roommates were not bothered about such silly things.


Padam was reading a novel, engrossed in its story but he could not but ignore overhearing Ishan saying aloud, “On Wednesday we are going for a picnic!”

The emphasis on ‘D’ made Padam uncomfortable, he had been warned by Anurag many time to omit the ‘d’ in Wednesday, ‘its just Wenz-day’ he would say.

But Padam was in no mood to correct Ishan or any body for that matter.

Hari the pacifier was also in the same sorry state as the others. With none to pacify, his life was dull too.


It was just before the winter hols that the four got an opportunity to meet up and sit for a good time together. They shared their experiences and Padam made sure he made mistakes intentionally. Anurag corrected him to his heart’s content also doubtful that the mistakes were somewhat intentional. Ranganathan took out his notebook to clear all his doubts which were eagerly entertained and Hari overwhelmingly fired the discussions to heat up only to pacify them.

After a while, the discussion turned to ‘why were they not able to have the same fun with the other roommates?’

Ranganathan started speaking in his horrid English but none paid attention to it, as what he said made perfect sense, “We are friends first, second comes language and third comes pronunciation. At heart we want to talk. We make big talk out of small things.”

Anurag was ecstatic, “Well said my friend! After all said and done language is to communicate. We may try to perfect it, we may try to master it in order to be called elite, but without friends, without the people we care for and who care for us even the most beautiful language loses its sheen.”

With that they all screamed in unison as if they had rehearsed but in reality it came out spontaneously – “Botticelli”

Though Botticelli would have turned in his grave had he been subjected to hear his name in the weirdest possible pronunciations!  

As I Woke Up an Aspiring Author

One fine morning… well not really, it was more like I had been brooding over for a couple of days, months actually – what do I become? A little late do you think? Given that am 45. Yes!!! The August of 2020, the year of the Corona… I reached the magic number – but no celebrations… bhoo ooo ooo. Okay that’s enough of crying.

The question of ‘what do I become’ came up so late in life because I actually realized what I want to do pretty late, in the rather recent past. Fortunately or unfortunately I was a good academic, so I excelled in whatever I tried doing, but my heart didn’t go with it. So I left it, left them all – I have quite an interesting agglomeration of degrees and certificates. Am an eccentric who needs to love what is being done or must have a dire need, like a family crisis to love what I am doing.

So I didn’t become anything, money and position have never motivated me and I was perfectly happy having a loving spouse who does all the hard work of making a living for us. I handle the family finance portfolio though and you know by now that I love the job as I have been continuing it for the past 18 years. I also love to organize and plan; so the household and its inmates, my child(13 years old) and spouse, to be precise live in a closely monitored strict regime.

I love activity, I always wanted to live on the edge… but that never happened, and now when I am reaching midlife – I believe I’ll live to be 90… at the least! I suddenly have the wish to become something, such that I can say like ‘Evelyn’ in ‘The Mummy(1999 movie)’ –    “Evelyn: Look, I… I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O’Connell, but I am proud of what I am.
Rick: And what is that?
Evelyn: I… am a librarian.”

An astronomer, a zoo-keeper, or an artist – these are the three choices – I want to be any one of these. A zoo-keeper the most, I love animals. But alas! my situation physically and mentally doesn’t allow me to step out of home or go all out to chase wild dreams. They are not dreams actually, just the things I could have been and enjoyed, given sufficient effort and time.

And then it came to me, no not like a lightning bolt, but from friends and family who have read my small narratives that if I put my heart and some years to it, I could become a writer! That would not exactly be being an artist but definitely close – it is creative after all!

Thus in the wake of my new found enthusiasm, I wrote my first novella…

Short Story: A for Achievement

By Moutushi Ghoshdeysarkar

…growing a life is an achievement…

The things we have to do in the name of achievement. Sharat and Ritu were fond of each other. They have been in the same college for the past four years. Both being toppers they shared a special bond, the duo would chat offline and online – most of it regarding marks and studies and sometimes about their thoughts and dreams and fears and likes and dislikes.

Campus day was closing in and both were getting weary. They were both eyeing a particular company and a position. Sharat asked Ritu, “How far are you willing to go to get this position?” Ritu was prompt, “I could kill you.” They both had a hearty laugh and yet deep down they knew it was true. It would be the greatest achievement of their lives; the culmination of the four years of battle. One will emerge winner. Sharat said, “I don’t think I’ll be able to talk to you ever again, if you get the job.” Ritu said, “Same here Sharat. I will never forgive you.”

The D-day came; Ritu and Sharat were waiting outside for their turn along with the other candidates.

By the end of the day both had been selected for the next round. Tension was mounting up.

“How was it beta?” Sharat’s mom called at night. “Great mamma! I am sure I’ll ace it in the next round and snatch the job from Ritu. Today we both got selected for the second round,” said an ecstatic Sharat. “I too have achieved something great today baby,” mom was equally enthusiastic. “What?” Sharat was surprised. “I could touch my toe today!” mom sounded like she had bagged a million dollar contract. Sharat felt happy, maa always wanted to touch her toe but could never reach beyond her ankle.

Ritu called later at night. “Did you check aunty’s FB page?” Ritu was laughing out loud. “No… what?” Sharat had not checked his mom’s FB posting. “Aunty could touch her toe today… and that is her greatest achievement she says… and you know what? my parents agree. I mean these guys are above 50, have seen life, have accomplished so much and yet they think… being able to touch your own toe is an achievement?” Ritu was flabbergasted.

The morning was bright and sunny and the two aspirants got on to their best foot. Ritu was looking for Sharat as she waited for her turn outside the auditorium. Sharat appeared and said, “Wish me luck Ritu, am going for an interview which was taken yesterday but they didn’t find the right candidate so there is an opening. I think ‘I am’ what they are looking for!” He winked and scurried off.

Ritu was called just then and she didn’t quite get to react to Sharat. She was eager to meet him and as soon as the interview ended she rushed to the cafeteria and called him. He didn’t answer. Around 5pm Ritu got a call back from Sharat. He asked her to meet immediately and she rushed.

“What happened? Why didn’t you come for the second round? And where did you go instead?” Ritu was impatient.

“Ritu I decided yesterday night that my greatest achievement was not getting this job that we were ready to kill each other for, after all it is just a job, from where we are sure to move on… as such I plan to quit in two years and go for my masters.” Sharat gave a pause. “My achievement is to be able to share the joy of getting a job with you… my friend!”

Ritu could not agree more. An achievement is that happy feeling, which we have gained with sweat and grit and passion and diligence… over a long period of time:

  • the ability to touch your toe! …
  • the ability to understand what to let go!…

Dogs n Balls

by Anoushrayan

There it was – yellow in color, beautiful in shape. Which sane being wouldn’t want it? He crouched, leapt and – ah! A hand had snatched it up into the air, beyond his reach.

That wasn’t the scientific discovery of the millennium, nor was it a lump of pure gold. No, it was a ball. And our protagonist was a dog.

Dogs love balls – this is one of the only beliefs about dogs that isn’t a myth. Balls, stuffed toys, ropes – even socks! – are all favorite toys for dogs. However, balls take the cap. No matter what they are doing, dogs nearly always chase after a rolling ball. Some dogs love playing fetch. Others just like cuddling up with a ball and biting it. By the way, if you are wondering why the ball was yellow, it wasn’t. It was actually red but dogs can’t see red. They can only see the colours blue and yellow. Everything else appears yellow to them. In case a dog can’t find a bright red ball in vibrant green grass, remember, he’s looking for a yellow ball in yellow grass.

Dogs love balls, and they’re always ready for a new one. A dog and a ball go paw in hand!

10 Days in Andaman – The Havelock Chapter – 21st – 23rd Dec’19

Facts Figures and Touchdown || Port Blair || Jarwa Reserve || Baratang
By Moutushi Ghoshdeysarkar

Havelock was there in about one and a half hours. It has a pretty and small Jetty where we disembarked. The luggage had been loaded separately and had been unloaded similarly. We collected it and walked towards the gate. Autos and taxis had lined up. Some hotels send their personal vehicle if you opt for one. Good eco buses ply regularly on the main roads and are the cheapest means of travel. We hired an auto and told him our destination. Cross-Bill Resorts on the Govindnagar beach. Also called beach number two, where most hotels are, is the nearest to the Jetty. It is hardly 2 km and the auto fare was a 100INR.

Our abode was a small cottage with a little sit out. This hotel has some 10 of them in two rows. It is run by a Bengali lady who came to the island years ago having been wedded to a school teacher residing here. We freshened up and yessssssssssss, headed to the beach, the property grounds practically merge into the beach.

The sand is white! The water is turquoise! And I am in the heavens! That is what I felt. The sun was yet to begin his goodbyes so we took a little stroll along the beach, Anoushrayan in the waters mostly, I was ecstatic but skeptical, not knowing the depths. We found that all the properties lined up on the Govindnagar beach had this unique facility for the guests to wander on the beach late night or early morning or just as and when one felt like.

We had hogged on bread and tea as soon as we had checked in, cause that was all that they had to offer apart from Maggi. Dinner was elaborate to compensate for the missed lunch. The beach beckoned us once again and it was almost an out of the world experience. Pitch dark, innumerable number of stars and planets twinkling in the clear sky above, the sound of water gently kissing the sands and swaying away, the shimmering lights from the boats anchored in what seemed like nothingness. I will never forget that night.

We finally hit the bed after about 24 hrs of leaving home to Anoushrayan’s delight, and our’s too.

The morning sea was calm and cold. Waterline had receded to reveal the rocks. We went wading in and in and in and in and yet the water was only till my waist and I am just 5ft. We could see the water sports guys taking the tourists quite far off into the sea for scuba diving and snorkeling, so the waters must be deeper there. Anoushrayan was very happy to be in this large open pool and so was I. Rajib played along for a while then went off, the salt in the water makes him sick. We made sandcastles on the beach, mine was better, so claimed Anoushrayan too. We two went back to the waters; it was a little difficult maneuvering through the rocks which by now had come out in the open completely. It was about 8ish and very low tide.

We had a sumptuous complimentary breakfast and headed on to exploring Havelock. The options were: auto / car / bus / hire scooter. When we set out from the cottage we had auto in mind, but it changed to hire scooter by the time we finished breakfast. The charges are 400 INR per scooter plus two ltrs of petrol (160 INR) and a refundable deposit of 4000 INR.

Now helmets are a must in Havelock otherwise 10000 INR fine for the rider, but Rajib’s is one the biggest heads on the planet; an Australian company had to manufacture a hat to match his head girth, they quoted that they are equipped to manufacture just one more size above his and they don’t keep these sizes as ready stock due to infrequent orders of these sizes coming in. Bottom line:  getting a helmet for him is next to impossible. We got one though that had to be forced onto him and that broke the tender temple of his spectacle. He was left with one ‘temple’ throughout the rest of the Andaman trip, but for once he wasn’t grumpy about it!

Zoooooom we went, Anoushrayan as my pillion; all three knights armed with shooting gears and refreshments for the hunt. Destination: Elephanta Beach. The directions are quite clearly marked yet we stopped once or twice to be sure. There are two ways to reach this beach. In a ferry from the jetty that takes about 45 mnts or by road to a place called Krishna Nagar (which is well marked) that takes about a half-hour and then hike for 2 km through the jungle and mangrove flats.

We chose to hike or rather I chose to make us go hiking. Rajib doesn’t enjoy it at all. Anoushrayan detests walking of any kind anywhere. One needs to register their names phone numbers etc before setting out on foot so that they can be searched for if they don’t return in time. The folks do insist on guides and try to scare you into taking one but there is no such need.

Thus we started and got lost, only briefly though. There was a dwelling and the people showed us the right way. Thereafter we followed the road over the hill, up for a while then down to the broken bridge, passed the resting hut where we sat while coming back.

As the mud pathway made its way into the forest, the trees became tall and the vegetation dense. Remember Mirkwood (Hobbit lovers).

The terrain was a little hilly and muddy and did call for good boots. Through numerous ups and downs, some tad trickier and not for the faint-hearted, we trecked.

And reached the flats.

Mangroves and her domiciles, the hermit crabs, mudskippers and countless other tiny creatures posed for us.

A bend there and through a thicket of mangrove we popped on to the beach. Ah! the shades of blue she wears are beyond envy, and her beach skirting is sparkling white. This part of the beach was quite deserted.

The action was concentrated where the water sports were.

We could see parasailing happening far into the sea on a boat.

Anoushrayan wanted to play in the waters but we were running out of time and also I didn’t want him to get too much wet.

Rajib caught a ghost crab, it is completely white and in the white sands moves like a spirit; we made it a model.

Couple of shots and we started the return journey. We also met a human on the mudflats, while trying to observe a mudskipper; Ankit from Delhi was a solo traveler with a keen eye but without a camera. He spotted a monitor lizard and a red back lizard, and I captured them though not so well.

We got lost again on the way back but I found the path before Rajib could hit the panic button. Though not interested in walking Anoushrayan is quite enthusiastic if the road has a little adventure to offer, so he played a good sport.

We rushed to Radhanagar beach – the one which has made its way into the top 10 beaches of the world. But we had to stop for food before we hit the beach and guess where we thought of flaunting our hard-earned painstakingly saved money? At the Taj. But we were not the only ones flaunting, The Taj Exotica Resort and Spa occupies a whopping 46 acres of land!

We ate prawns curry, rice and a crab (Anoushrayan called it a fortune crab, as it was worth a small fortune to him – INR 5000/-). The huge crabs are brought from Diglipur in north Andamans. Most of them board a ship to go overseas and a few adorn the local exotic dining facilities. We didn’t find crabs in the usual restaurants.

After the luncheon, it was time to hit the famous beach. The Taj staff showed us a short cut and we arrived onto the glorious beach through a tiny opening amongst the thicket of the tropical rain forest trees. What one can’t get enough of is this blue and white. It kind of never gets old. And did I miss the green? So its the greens of the tropics, the sparkling white of the sands and the blues of the open ocean, the true beauty is hard to capture on any media, it is only for the eyes to behold and the heart to make elephant legs with sand.

We waited to catch the sunset, caught it, and then ran back to our scooters. It gets dark within half an hour of the sunset and we were to drive at least 45 mnts to reach the main market area. The road didn’t have much light and was narrow with face to face driving. We managed, driving for decades now. It could be our alternate profession.

Havelock Market is a lively place, with a big ‘mandi’ at its heart where vegetables. fish, meat and all kinds of vendors put their wares on display. The footfall is heavy and the place is ablaze with activity. There are good snacking options and a few shops that sell handicrafts and knickknacks.

We went off to our resort after getting refreshed and hanging around for a while. Again the mystique home beach beckoned us and after dinner, we hit the bed relaxing after the day’s toil.

Now came the last day on Havelock, a fine morning to wake up to. There is plenty of space to dry clothes. We were mostly packed except for the wet clothes which we let there be to collected later after our morning odyssey.

The plan was to walk down the Govindnagar beach to the Vijaynagar beach which has no separate demarcation except that on Vijaynagar beach one encounters huge ‘Mahua’ trees that seem to have been beckoned by the blue waters and were hurriedly reaching out to it. The Vijaynagar beach continues on to Kala Pathar beach but the stretch is interlaced with rocks and is devoid of any shade.

After breakfast, we started walking and disturbed many a crab small and bright who were trying to go about their daily business.

The Mahua trees provide good shade to walk under or sit on to rest for a while.

We met a few indigenous birds who did not agree to pose for us, it being a rush hour for them. We walked for about 15 mnts and reached the end of the Mahua tree line.

We then went inshore into a property, Rajib was skeptical about trespassing but as the properties have no borders with the beach and none have cared to keep any demarcated roads, we pretty much passed unnoticed.

Once on the main road, we took an auto to kala pathar beach and saw many enticing restaurants and properties and also plantations on the way. The Kala Pathar beach was full of life forms mostly humans and dogs as this was a bathing beach, though only in a designated area and the coast guard were very vigilant. We asked the auto to be back in an hour which he agreed to and took off.

Loading ourselves with coconut water and pulp we walked for a while on the tar road that went beyond the beach and up on a hill. We came across a restaurant with an interesting name: “The Flying Elephant” and turned around to head to the beach.

Since we were to leave by a catamaran that afternoon we didn’t want to get our clothes wet, so we just walked on to find more Mahua trees trying to reach the blue across the white, some perished on the way.

We came back after a long refreshing walk, dipped our feet in the Havelock sea for the last time but didn’t find our auto. We waited for a while and boarded a bus that came our way as we were on a tight schedule, all the while feeling guilty about the payment that was due to the auto.

Back at the resort, I packed the remaining clothing which had dried by then and was brooding over a means of transport to go to the jetty, when an auto came looking for us. He had been sent by his friend, our auto guy, who had got caught up in something. I could not have been happier. He agreed to drop us to a restaurant adjacent to the Jetty and we paid him all the dues.

Lunch was good and tasty and different but it didn’t go well with my stomach and I gave it all to the waste bag while riding the catamaran back to Port Blair. Anoushrayan and most of our co-passengers preferred Bollywood song videos over the panorama of the setting sun over the horizon.

We reached Port Blair almost at sundown. Sanju had called while we were still at the sea and it felt good to see him at the Jetty. He dropped us at our next abode The Shelter Hotel.

The next two days we tried to take a deeper look into Port Blair. Stay tuned for our finds.

Port Blair – a deeper look

10 days in Andaman – Facts Figures and Touchdown – 21st Dec’19 – 1st Jan’ 20

The Havelock Chapter || Port Blair || Jarwa Reserve || Baratang
by Moutushi Ghoshdeysarkar

Return Airfare 3 Pax: 78732INR || Stay 3 Pax: 44789INR || Food 3 Pax: 17398INR ||

Local Transportation: 42320INR || Fees (Museum, watersports etc): 19140 ||

Total: 202379INR

Our Itinerary

21st Dec 2019  Bangalore (Karnataka, India) to Port Blair(Andaman and Nicobar, India)


From airport to Aberdeen Bazar Breakfast, Corbyn’s Beach, Cellular Jail, drop at the Jetty

Port Blair to Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep)

Check into CrossBill Resorts, Havelock

22nd Dec 2019Elephanta Beach, Radhanagar Beach
23rd Dec 2019Govindnagar Beach, Vijaynagar Beach, Kala Pathar Beach


Havelock to Port Blair

Check into The Shelter Hotel, Port Blair

Light and Sound Show at 9.00PM at the Cellular Jail

24th Dec 2019 Port Blair  – Chatham saw mill (forest museum), Ross Island, North Bay Island – water sports, Anthropological Museum
25th Dec 2019Port Blair to Baratang Island(Jarwa Reserve is on the way)


Check in to Dew Dale Resort, Barantang

Parrot Island, near Baratang

26th Dec 2019Limestone caves, Mud Volcano, Baratang
27th Dec 2019Check in to Pristine Resort, Diglipur


Sit out at the beach waiting for Olive Ridley to come and nest

28th Dec 2019Checkout from pristine


Dhanninallah Mangrove Walkthrough to a beach

Check into Lakshmi Villa, Rangat

29th Dec 2019 Back in Port Blair check into Atlanta Point


Waterfront at night

30th Dec 2019Fisheries Museum, Samudrika Museum


Check into The Oceanus Resort

31st Dec 2019Wandoor Beach, Kalapani Museum, Chidiya Tapu
1st Jan 2020Port Blair to Bangalore

Tips for your trip

The beaches in Havelock and Neil are the best both for bathing and water sports. Bathing in the beaches of Port Blair is banned owing to fear of crocodiles. The water sports at North Bay / Corbyn’s beach are not so much fun as in Havelock.

The journey to Baratang can cater to most excursion enthusiasts. It passes through Jarwa (Andaman tribe) reserve, where they can be seen quite often.

If the duration of the trip is longer, Diglipur north of Andaman can be explored, it is a big town with Ross and Smith twin islands accessible from the Areal Bay. A new airport is coming up at Diglipur. It has beaches where the turtles come to nest from Dec to Feb.

If the trip is shorter then Havelock is a must (2 nights), Neil can be dropped, in Port Blair the Cellular jail, Samudrika Museum, and Chatham Forest Museum can be done in a day and another can be spent to visit Ross Island and North Bay and the city in general.

There are a few hiking and mountaineering opportunities but in Andaman, the blue is what predominates; the weather is ideal to be in the waters and the beaches are too alluring to forgo.

Recommended Itinerary for 10 days

Day 1Fly into Port Blair – Cellular Jail / Fisheries Museum – Both are near the waterfront


Head to Havelock(Swaraj Dweep) by Macruz around 3pm, check-in at Havelock

Day 2Spent the morning at Govindnagar Beach / Vijaynagar Beach  / Kala Pathar Beach to bathe in the shallow waters and build castles, water sports are available at Govindnagar/ Vijaynagar, have lunch at the Something Different Beach cafe, explore the market after sundown, retire to the hotel
Day 3Visit Neil Island  (Shaheed Dweep)
Day 4Explore Elephanta Beach – Hike /Water sports, be at the Radhanagar Beach to catch the beautiful  sunset
Day 5Enjoy the bath at the beach near you or just laze around looking at the azure waters and return to Port Blair by Macruz, enjoy the light and sound at the cellular jail
Day 6Port Blair – Chatham Forest Museum, Ross Island, Northbay, Anthropological Museum
Day 7Head north towards Baratang through Jarwa Reserve, visit Parrot Island, check-in at Baratang
Day 8Visit Limestone caves, Mud volcano at Baratang and return by the last gate
Day 9Reach Port Blair by sundown and enjoy the waterfront / Aberdeen Bazar is lively at night
Day 10Flyback

And now our travel story…

The brief Port Blair Stint

If I were Sanjay, no not the famous Dhritarashtra’s Charioteer from the Indian epic Mahabharata, but the guy who drove us around in Andaman, I would possibly start the blog thus:

It was another usual day at the airport. Tourists were not so abundant. I had no party to cater to. Usually, December is rush hour and I am overbooked. But here I was waiting at the arrival gate having queued for any stray passenger to be dropped at the hotel, generally, that is what they do, check-in first. Suddenly a trio in black jackets emerged; the grumpy one had a receipt in hand with my car number. As soon as the scanty luggage was fitted into the boot the chatty one started spilling out the beans regarding their travel plan. This was a family I gathered, with a 12-year-old son. They would be in Andamans for 10 days, definitely a good party to latch on to and that is what I did.

If I were Anoushrayan, our son about to be 13 with eyes only for kindle and is waiting for the day when we could teleport everywhere, I would have possibly started the blog thus:

The ordeal was not over yet. We had started late night on the 20th of December around 10pm after dinner, spent the night at the airport as the take-off was around 4am. The 1st-row seats were airy with a good leg space and since the door was open for long, I did not nauseate. My travel happy mom had not booked any hotel in Port Blair, the entry point of Andaman as we were supposed to be heading to Havelock around noon by a catamaran the same day. There we can finally hit the bed is what she has promised. The first thing we did in the port city was, have breakfast and good it was; both tasty and sumptuous, that made me very happy. I needed the energy as we were about to ride on a whirlwind for the next 10 days.

If I were Rajib, my hubby who loves to travel as much as me, has a keen eye for details and is fact-oriented, he also needs to get value for money from everything, I would possibly start the blog thus:

Andaman’s only operating airport for civilians is at Port Blair, it is called Veer Savarkar International Airport. It has a very small arrival and departure lounge. We collected the luggage which came quite fast and freshened up, the bathrooms were decent for Indian small city standards. A band was getting ready to play in one corner. We headed towards the inquiry counter and asked about the catamaran Sea Link. They suggested we better checkout at the Jetty, booked us a cab and gave us a receipt. The grey Suzuki Ciaz was comfortable and the driver Sanju though a serious kind of Bengali gentleman was quite efficient. He took us to a good breakfast joint understanding our requirement. We wanted to book the return journey from Havelock after 2 days, so he took us to a travel agent and we got it done.

If I were me, well which I am, a romantic storyteller who forgets names but remembers experiences, for whom the loss of money counts the least, I am going to write my blog thus:

As I stood behind the bars of the cellular jail I could feel the scream, the pain, the torment that this jail was supposed to have caused to the hundreds of innocent people who were not criminals but political prisoners entitled to humane conditions though in captivity. In Port Blair, the cellular jail and a ferry away the Ross island are the two major places where lies the dark history of Andamans, of the deported Indians, Burmese and the brief but devastating Japanese occupation. A must-visit for all who value their independence and want to know the level of human endurance.

The Great Andaman Tribes were worst affected while they were enslaved in their homeland, forced to give away their cultural identity and accept the so-called civilized way of life. Today as we know the ‘Sentinelese” remain the only tribe that did not let the outside world touch them. The Jarawa are at an interesting crossroad of modern and primitive lifestyle. The Nicobarese tribes though modernized keep to themselves. Tourists are not allowed in the Nicobar Islands, only the government officials and residents of Andaman can visit and stay there. Thus there is no chance of meeting the Nicobar Pigeon and other endemic life forms, in person, any time soon.

We went to Aberdeen Bazaar from the airport to have breakfast. It was early morning and most of the shops were closed. We immediately recognized the Clock tower at the crossroads, having read Deepak Dalal’s Andaman story more than once.

After the breakfast and return booking from Havelock, we went to Corbyn’s beach through the waterfront.

Port Blair’s waterfront which opens up to a harbor with lots of colourful motorboats parked in the blue pristine waters of the Andaman sea, steals away one’s heart from the first look. The capital is a small city, somewhat in layers, the city kind of spirals up the hill and slides down to the sea level.

Corbyn’s beach is the nearest beach from the airport/city center and it has a few water sport options. Though bathing is strictly prohibited due to possible attacks from crocodiles, a few have recently been spotted nearer than what could be called a safe distance.

We stayed at the beach for a while for the photoshoots and headed to The Cellular Jail. Even if I don’t make it as dramatic as calling it a life-changing experience, it is definitely going to create a mark. The seven spokes, of which only 3 survived with the surrounding grounds that house the hanging room, the oil churning equipment, the chair where David Barry sat and saw his cruel tortures being executed, create a heart-wrenching experience. The 3 wings are open to the public, one can go inside the cell to feel it more. I felt claustrophobic inside the cell, even with the iron door open. We went up the tower, which joins all the spokes/wings that house the cells. A sentry was enough to keep a watch on all the seven wings with 696 cells.

The terrace of the wings has some breathtaking views of the ocean around. A public hospital has been established where two of the wings used to be. At the entrance to the jail, there are two museums to the right and left of the gate, packed with photographs and write-ups about the horrible times this jail has witnessed, we could finish only one as the other one was being moped and we didn’t have time to wait so long; definitely, a reason to go back.

Our catamaran was to leave at 12.30 so we headed to the jetty.  Sanju readily exchanged numbers so that he could catch us when we are back from Havelock. The Jetty has two big lounges with chairs, restrooms, and a small canteen. Sealink, the catamaran was supposed to provide lunch so we didn’t plan for it. Unfortunately, it got canceled and we had to fill ourselves with snacks and beverages available at the small counter. We were accommodated on another catamaran called Makruzz, the best and the fastest. The wait was long, till about 2.30pm but the journey and the sitting quarters compensated for it.

As we sailed on the blue waters of the Andaman Sea, I could see, through the huge glass windows, the fading lines of the islands; I could see the waves but could not feel them, as the catamaran is a very stable vessel. We bought tea, 40INR per cup, but it felt good to have it in this smooth sailing vessel as we watched the horizon where the two blues met.

The Havelock Chapter || Port Blair || Jarwa Reserve || Baratang

Derean and the attack on Fraglior

By Anoushrayan Deysarkar



10 billion years ago, in the galaxy ZMY3, a nebula condensed into a star. The rest of the dust and gases formed planets, and one of them was Fraglior.

Like all other planets, it was very hot at first, but then, after a few billion years, it cooled down. It was one of the few planets in the universe that had water. An alien civilization, the Manergitea, noticed this and sent out a ship carrying the basic seeds of life, along with all other components required for life. The ship was unmanned and dived right into one of the oceans on the planet and blew itself up.

The contents of the ship were protected in strong, airtight containers. The containers carrying life opened in the ocean, but the others opened in the air, or what was present like it at that time. The blast was necessary because it sent a shock wave which would eventually help in forming land. But, for the time being, life evolved in water. Several million years later, it emerged on land, and 300 million years later, the first intelligent life had formed. And that is where our story begins.

Fraglior: The planet of the Feredoctiles


Derean sluggishly walked, or rather, crawled towards his house on the cliff. He had just gone to the serambora to get his gerapod checked [1]. It had been looking sick for the past few days. The serambora told him it probably had feratitis[2]. Before that, he had gone to work at the demalor [3] mines.

Derean was a feredoctilis, a dragon-like intelligent creature that inhabited most of Fraglior. Feredoctiles can breathe fire and were resistant to fire.

art by@candraagustianx – pinterest


[1]A gerapod was a kind of living creature that looked like a giant rhinoceros with two large frills instead of the nose horn. They were also very colourful and lacked the several bony plates of a rhinoceros. Instead, they had a single piece of continuous body armour. The large frills usually lie flat, but if the gerapod wishes, it can inflate its frills. This is possibly a mating ritual. Feredoctiles use gerapods for transportation.

[2] Feratitis is a disease of gerapods in which their body armour starts flaking and finally falls off. A serambora is a kind of doctor

[3] Feredoctiles needed Demalor, a solid chemical at room temperature that melted at 50 degrees Celsius. They melt it and drink it. Demalor produced something like what we call Vitamin E in feredoctile bodies. They had lost the ability to produce it, just as we have lost the ability to produce Vitamin C.


The Letter

Derean’s house was on a kind of wide space near the bottom of Mount Pheleros, the tallest mountain in Fraglior. The wide space ended sharply in a steep cliff that ended in a wide gorge. At the bottom of the gorge was a swift river. The road on which Derean was travelling ended in the gorge. This strange geological rock formation is thought to have originated about 78 million years ago, when a huge earthquake cracked open the land, forming the gorge. The earthquake also caused a huge part of the mountain to fall off, causing the creation of the wide space. The part of the mountain that fell off was broken down by the aftershocks. Mt. Pheleros, though the tallest mountain on Fraglior, could be and had been climbed by many people. Of course, that was because most people didn’t start from the bottom of the gorge, which is the actual bottom of the mountain. (In fact, The Geological Survey of Mountains in Drugnein West {GSMDW} reports that Mt. Pheleros is only the tallest mountain on Fraglior if its height is calculated from the bottom of the gorge to the top. Otherwise, if calculated from the end of the wide space where Derean’s house was, it ranked only 11th.) Most people climb the mountain starting from the end of the wide space (Which is, actually, Derean’s courtyard) and thus have to pay some money to Derean.

Derean stopped a little way from the edge. He then broke into a run, and just as he reached the edge, he jumped and flapped his great wings hard. In a moment, he was flying. A few minutes later, he landed on a little patch of grass in his courtyard. He crawled up to the door, raised himself on his hind legs, fumbled around a natural pouch on his leg, and took out a little key. He unlocked the door, opened it and entered. He then turned around and closed the door. He opened the windows and spotted a little letter addressed to him, and a package. He opened the envelope, took out the letter, and read it. This is what was written: –

The Mealdrow, Denkor Cliff,

Red Setar area, Cambola,

Drugnein West


Dear Derean,

Are you still adventurous? If you are, then I have an adventure for you. Meet me at the top of Mt. Pheleros at 26:85 tomorrow. I am sending three bottles of Energiser for the broken portion. Hope you are well and good luck. You’ll need it.

Your friend,


You might be a little shocked upon reading the date and time. There are 70 seconds in a minute, 100 minutes in an hour, 48 hours in a day, 90 days in a month and 20 months in a year on Fraglior. The current year is 4359. As for the broken part, it refers to a broken portion of the road up Mt. Pheleros. Feredoctiles can fly up it of course, but their energy level starts decreasing the higher they go. Energiser is a fluid which gives them energy. Thus, the mysterious letter-writer had sent three bottles of it.

The Meeting on Mount Pheleros

Derean read and reread the letter to make sure. He thought hard and decided to follow the instructions. He opened the package and found the three bottles. It was getting late, so he kept the bottles on his bedside table and went to sleep. The next morning, he woke up and did all his daily duties on a holiday, because if I have not mentioned it before, that day was a holiday. He whiled away his time till 26:00, and then packed the bottles and other necessary items into his natural pouches. Then, he started on his journey. He stopped a few times and drank a little of the first bottle of energiser. Now, to understand what happened next, you must understand that the road up Mt. Pheleros is made up of curves, like the thread of a screw.

Derean finished his first bottle and stopped one curve below the curve on which the broken portion was. He then drank, in one gulp, his second bottle, and started running. Just as he reached the end, he jumped and started flying. He landed one curve above the broken portion and stopped. There were only a few more curves left. He started crawling up the road. Derean had to stop only once to drink energiser. When he finally reached the top, he could see a feredoctile who turned his back to him. Derean said, “Um, Hello?” Instantly, the feredoctile turned around and Derean exclaimed, “Professor Gregory!” The feredoctile smiled and said, “Hello Derean. So, you received my letter.” Derean said, “So that was you. But about your sign, GFH?” The professor laughed and said,” Do you remember my full name?” “Of course, I do”, said Derean, “Gregory Feglin Herecor.”  “Wait a minute”, he said, “G for Gregory, F for Feglin, H for Herecor. GFH. Gregory Feglin Herecor. Oh!” Derean laughed. Then he said, “What about that adventure, eh?  The professor smiled and said, “Come, let me show you.” Then, he pressed a tiny button on the ground, and instantly a trapdoor opened.

Below it, a staircase went down. On the walls, there were glowing bulbs. The professor started going down the staircase. Derean followed. Soon, they came to the bottom of the staircase. They were in a large room, made of some sort of metal, and in the middle of the room there was a giant aeroplane that looked like a fighter plane, only it had far larger thrusters than a normal fighter plane, and it was made of the same strange metal. On its side was printed: Gerelon 2000. Its door was open.

The room seemed to be lit with a strange light given off by bulbs that were much brighter than any Derean could remember. “Welcome”, said the professor, smiling, “to the room of GFH. The plane you see here is my latest invention, the Gerelon 2000. It is a spaceship, and I want you to come with me on an adventure. An adventure to explore outer space!” Derean was surprised but was also a little curious. “Professor”, he asked, “how will it take off? Rockets usually use a huge amount of power, right? The professor laughed and said, “Ah, my dear boy. It’s a good question, and you are right. Rockets do use a lot of power. And my spaceship does the same. Do you want to know how? Well, do you see those thrusters? They channel all the power required.” Derean asked, “But how will it channel all of the power without melting the room? And how will it exit? I thought we were inside the mountain.” The professor laughed and said, “Well, you’re right again. We are inside the mountain. And any ordinary metal would melt under the heat. But rimonosterin, the material this room is made of, is not an ordinary metal. Come, I’ll show you.”

The professor walked across the room to a table at one end of the room. On it, a container was kept, that seemed to be holding some sort of metal. The professor asked, “Derean, I believe you are a mineral checker at the demalor mines?” Derean replied, “Um… well, yes.” The professor said, “Would you mind checking this metal for me?” Derean replied, “Of course! Um… do you have a magnifying glass?” The professor handed him a magnifying glass. Derean peered through it at the metal for a minute and exclaimed, “Amazing! This is Töp – Nötch steel! Where did you get it?” The professor replied, “I bought it from Zaxinom. Now, look. This is a flamethrower. I have set it at the lowest temperature. I am going to aim it at the steel and keep the trigger pressed for one minute. Let’s see what happens. Oh! I nearly forgot! Wear these protective glasses to protect your eyes.” He handed Derean a pair of glasses and put on one himself. After Derean had worn his glasses, the professor pressed the trigger. A minute later, he released the trigger.

Once the flames and smoke had floated away, Derean took off his glasses and was amazed to see that the Töp – Nötch steel was completely molten. Professor Gregory told Derean to follow him. He walked up to a wall, set the temperature to the highest option, and pressed the trigger for five minutes. Once the smoke had cleared away, Derean couldn’t believe his eyes. The wall was completely solid! Professor Gregory turned to face Derean and said, “Well, now you know the strength of rimonosterin. As for being inside the mountain”, he pressed a button and then spoke again, “you can see for yourself how we will get out.” As soon as he had pressed the button, the wall in front of the nose of the ship had started opening up. Derean was amazed and said, “How can you control the mountain?” The professor replied, “This wall is not a part of the mountain. It is just a rimonosterin wall which I have covered with rocks on the outside, to make it look like a part of the mountain. Anyway, let’s get into the ship.”

The Journey – to Outer Space!

Derean followed him into the ship. Inside, there were four seats divided in two rows and a large, complicated control panel. The professor sat down in the left-hand side seat of the first row. He told Derean to sit beside him. Derean was supposed to control the coordinate system. Professor Gregory closed the door with a button. He then pressed another button. Instantly, seatbelts strapped them to their seats. Professor Gregory told Derean, “In five seconds, the thrusters will activate. When I shout ‘Now!’ you must press the yellow button. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Now!” Derean pressed the yellow button.

The metal straps holding the plane to the ground let go. The thrusters had activated, so the ship instantly shot forward. In a minute, they were speeding forward at 50,000 km/h (0.005 % the speed of light). A minute later, they had passed the atmosphere and were in space. They were not yet in orbital range but were expecting to be there in 8 seconds. The professor had already told him what to do when this happened. He pressed a red button and the ship changed direction. Nearly instantly, the primary thrusters stopped, and the secondary thrusters came into action. Derean hadn’t noticed these thrusters before. There were 4 primary thrusters. They were arranged in two rows, with a gap of a metre between the rows. The secondary thrusters were located in 2 rows of 3 in this gap. Till now, a white light, coming from the primary thrusters, could be seen near the back, as there was a window there. Now, the light became a softer, blue light. But Derean had hardly realised this, when he saw an amazing thing.

They were orbiting in a tilted way, and through the windshield, or rather, spaceshield, he could see Fraglior beside them. It looked glorious from that height. It was a mixture of reds, greens, yellows, and mostly, blues. They were orbiting above the dayside now. In a few minutes, they were orbiting over the last bit of the day side, now they were over the dusk side, and now… they were over the night side! As they orbited, Derean could see the lights of several major cities, shining like several tiny dots of light. Meanwhile the spaceship straightened up. Then, looking at the other side of the window, Derean saw Nenthutos and Gramitos, the twin moons of Fraglior, shining in the distance. Suddenly, the ship changed course.

He looked at the professor and saw that he was steering the ship using something that looked like a joystick. They were heading straight towards Nenthutos. Now they were getting attracted towards the moon. A moment later, with a tricky little movement, they were orbiting Nenthutos. In front of them, they could see the next 4 planets, Helmol, Egromil, Lamirma, and Frendiso in front of them. Suddenly, a dark shadow moved across Helmol. It covered the planet almost completely. The professor wrinkled his forehead. He said, “That’s strange. I don’t think it’s one of Helmol’s moons. They wouldn’t be so big.” They swerved out of orbit to get a better look. The shadow certainly wasn’t one of the moons, because it stayed there for more than a minute. That is, part of it stayed there for a minute. The shadow just became a little thinner. Then it became fat again, covering Helmol completely.

The professor directed the ship towards the shadow. He pressed a button, and six pairs of cameras and projectors activated. The camera on one side captured an image of what was in front of it, and the projector on the opposite side projected the captured image on that side. This made the ship kind of invisible. Then the professor slowly steered the ship round the front end of the shadow. He steered very far to the side and saw the beginning of the shadow. And then, they both let out a gasp, because the ‘shadow’ was actually a ship. A giant ship. And they were staring at its front.


The professor slowly directed the Gerelon 2000 towards the larger ship. They tried to get a better look, but it was at that moment that the made their fatal mistake. The did not realise, that the ship might have enemy sensors. They had steered right into the heat sensor’s sensing field. Thus, though they were invisible, they were caught, as the sensors sensed their thruster heat. Instantly, a bright red light started beeping. There must have been some signal as well, because, in a moment, a hundred smaller ships had come out of the giant ship. They quickly surrounded the Gerelon 2000 and immobilised it by using some sort of electric field. The ships moved towards the larger ship, moving the electric field along with them. At least, Derean and the professor thought so, because they, too, moved along with the ships. In a few minutes, they were inside the ship. The ships moved farther apart and made a strange beeping light. The door closed, and one of the ships took their fuel compartment out. This shut off the invisibility mode.

 The ships then directed their ship towards the bottom. Once they were on the ground, the ship carrying the fuel compartment put the fuel box on a sort of conveyer belt, which carried it out of sight. Then, it opened their door using an electric bolt. The ship landed and opened its own door. A two-legged creature walked out. It had a white jacket, made out of some flexible metal, a pair of white trousers made of the same metal, and a strong helmet that was – well, you guessed it. It was made of the same metal and was, well, white. It had a black gun-like thing. It could see them through the front of its helmet, which was made of glass. The creature must have spoken, but the helmet had converted the voice into a robotic voice. It said, “Come with me, unless you wish to be blown to bits.” The creature moved behind Derean and the professor and activated another electric field. This one made their arms and legs stiff, and they found that they couldn’t move by themselves. The creature seemed to have pressed a button, or something similar, because at that moment their hands and legs began to move. They were being forced to walk down a white metal corridor.

They were made to stop in front of a large room. Its door was open. They walked inside, or rather, were forced to walk inside. There, they were made to stand against two metal poles, and tied with two metal chains. The chains were too thick to break. The creature shut off the electric field, and they could move their hands and legs freely again. The creature left the room, and Derean and the professor were left alone. The professor said, “How will we escape from this place? These metal chains are so strong!” Derean replied, “I’m getting the feeling that I know this metal. Wait, let me examine it closely.” Derean examined the metal closely for a moment, and exclaimed, “Why, this is Ionium! Now I know how to escape from here!” “How?”, asked the professor. Derean impatiently replied, “Don’t you remember the properties of Ionium? It becomes extremely malleable when heated. And feredoctiles can breathe fire and are resistant to fire! All we need to do is breathe fire on the chains and then push on them, and we can create a space wide enough to jump out of!” They did what Derean had suggested.

As he had expected, the Ionium became so malleable that they could create a space wide enough to jump out of by pushing the chains. After jumping out, they quickly went to the doorway and looked down both sides of the corridor. There was no one around. They quickly ran out and turned left. They thought that it would be safer to go that way, because they had come from the right corridor. The corridor joined another corridor after some distance. They turned right along this new corridor and started discussing where to go. “Look”, said the professor, “we need a ship to escape from here. I would suggest going to the dockyard and stealing a ship.” Derean said, “But to steal a ship, we need a disguise. Where will we get one?” “Hmmm… Why don’t we knock one of those creatures out and steal its armour? You can wear the armour and pretend that you were ordered to take me somewhere”, said the professor. Derean said, “But… they can track the ship, can’t they?” Both thought for a while, and then the professor exclaimed, “I’ve got it! You can say that you received orders telling them not to track the ship! Then you can board a ship and we can escape!”

Suddenly, they heard footsteps coming down yet another corridor that was joined by this one. Derean quickly pulled the professor into a kind of small room whose doorway was open. The room was completely dark. Derean quietly peeped out to see what was going on outside. What he saw was amazing. One of the creatures had removed his helmet. Around his head, there were 7 tentacles that were pink coloured, just like his head. They were hanging down to his shoulders. There must have been another one of the creatures who was hidden by the corner, because they started talking at once. “Largis”, said the one he could see, “go to the prisoners’ room and see that they are secure. Report to me later.” “Yes, sir”, said the other.

He started walking down the corridor. The one who had given the order walked down the other corridor. Derean quickly pulled himself into the room and waited till the other creature, Largis, had come close enough. Then, he jumped on him, wrestled with him, and managed to knock him out. Then, he pulled the creature into the room and removed its armour. Along with the armour, there were a few ropes and gags. There was a hook on the ceiling of the room. They tied the creature up and tied it in such a way that it hung two feet from the ground. Then, they found the creature’s tablet, and discovered what their plan was.

Escape – and Foiling the Plan

They wanted to capture Fraglior!

They had assembled a larger fleet of the giant ships and were holding it ready beyond the solar system. This ship would gather all the information they needed and finally, when they were ready, they would send a message to the larger ships to attack and conquer Fraglior.

After they had got all the information they needed, the professor hacked the computer and made it appear as if their bosses had ordered them to bring Gregory to the main ship, which was beyond the solar system. Derean dressed up like a soldier and got all the weapons ready. Gregory also ‘ordered’ the ship not to track their ship they would escape on. The professor then made an escape plan. The plan was: –

Derean would go to the docks, along with an immobilised Gregory and show the guards his ID and orders. Then, he would get into a ship, close the doors, put the highest security option and shift seats with Gregory, who would be able to move by himself, because the electric field would have been deactivated by Derean. He would get the ship out of the dock, and then would try to escape to Fraglior. Then they would try to work out a plan to protect the feredoctiles.

Derean agreed. Soon, he had activated the electrical field to immobilize Gregory. They walked down the corridor to the docks. There were two guards at the entrance. As Derean tried to walk past them, they said, “ID”. Derean showed his ID. Then, “Orders.” Derean complied. Once they were satisfied, they said, “You may proceed. All hail Hymanra [4].”

Derean entered the docks. There were loads of the aliens loading, unloading, taking off and landing. Derean headed towards an empty spaceship. He did exactly as they had planned, and soon, they were flying off. That was when disaster struck. An alert dock regulator noticed Derean’s ship flying in the opposite direction. He raised an alarm, and soon the entire fleet was after them. Derean, who had given the controls to Gregory and was sitting in the gunner seat, said, “Oh brother. Now how do we survive?”. Gregory spoke through his headphones, “Derean, try to take out how many of the ships as you can before that message labelled ‘Not Enough Power’ comes up. Then, you must set that detachment option to ‘Timer’ and set the timer to 10 seconds.

Before starting the timer, set the movement-after-detachment option to ‘Forward and Crash’. Then, start the timer and use the elevator to come up into the main ship. I’ll keep in touch.” Derean began firing. With one hand he held the gun joystick, used for moving the gun around. One of his fingers was on the fire button. To his amazement, the Heirabolan fleet did not seem to have their shields up. Every time his lasers hit the fleet ships, they blasted or half blasted. At the same time, their lasers were continuously missing Derean’s ship. Whenever a laser came too close, Gregory spun the ship around, dodging the lasers. But their luck didn’t hold for long. Suddenly, a laser came and hit the gunner area. It hit the bottom, so not much damage was done. Still, the gunner’s computer told Derean that target marking was not possible any more. Derean was busier shooting the enemy ships.

Suddenly, a laser came right towards him. But, instead of making him feredoctile toast, it was repelled by some mysterious field. Derean was taken aback for a moment, but then realised that the shield was up. He cried out, “Yoohoo! We’re saved.” But at that very moment, the message ‘Not Enough Power’ came up. He remembered what Gregory had told him and did exactly as he was told. Very soon, he was up in the main ship. He was going to greet Gregory, but instead of him, he found a white spacesuit-wearing figure. He stammered, “Wh..whh…whh…what are you?” The figure turned and spoke with a mechanical voice, “Derean, don’t you recognise me? I am Gregory. I put on this suit for a special purpose. Wear the other one, and I’ll tell you why.” Derean quickly put on the other suit.

Then Gregory said, “Derean, we have to think of a plan to save ourselves, and Fraglior, from these aliens.” Derean thoughtfully replied, “Well, if we could shut off their ‘Defence and Attack’ system, then we could shut off the entire ship’s guns.” Gregory exclaimed, “What a great idea Derean! Now, I know exactly what to do.” Derean thought to himself whether Gregory had gone mad when the professor turned the ship around and headed for the opposing spaceships. Suddenly the professor set the ship to automatic coordinate – based motion. The coordinates were set for – the Defence and Attack system area! Suddenly, Gregory spoke, “Derean, I am now going to set the steering to ‘Always-Above-Ship-Following’. We are now following an alien spaceship.

I am going to open the escape hatch on the floor. When I say ‘Now!’ we must jump onto the other ship. Then, using their top escape hatch, we can go in and take over that ship.” Derean agreed. The professor opened the escape hatch. Immediately, they were being sucked towards the hatch. Gregory shouted, “Now!” and both of them jumped. They were immediately sucked towards the end of the other ship but managed to hold on to something. It was the hatch. They managed to get the hatch open but were immediately pushed back again. Somehow, they managed to get inside and closed the hatch. Then, they repressurised the cabin and filled it with oxygen. Finally, the took off their helmets and prepared their guns. Then, after opening the door, they immediately shot the two Heirabolans sitting inside. As soon as they were dead, the two feredoctiles took over the ship.


[4] Hymanra was their great lord, the mastermind, the person who controlled everything from their home planet, Jugastanis 123. It was not actually their home planet, as they had already destroyed their home planet while mining. Since then, they had changed planets 123 times.

This was the last and most stable one. Now it is time to disclose some facts about their civilisation. They were called the “Heirabola”. This civilisation is notorious among other alien civilisations for destroying planets and turning their inhabitants into slaves. They are amazingly advanced. Now to start on their history.

A long time ago, 300 years ago to be precise, the most cunning chieftain they had ever known, Hymanra, arose. He took over the entire world over time. He managed to convince the people that they were destined for greater things and that if they united themselves, they could achieve things that they didn’t even dream of. The people accepted. Within the span of a century, the Heirabolans had conquered half the planets in their solar system. Meanwhile, Hymanra had employed his scientists to make an elixir of life. They finally succeeded in making the elixir and gave it to Hymanra. So that no other civilisation could make this elixir, he had all the scientists who made the elixir killed. He even destroyed all of their research papers.

Due to this elixir, he could live forever. 300 years later, they have a huge system of planets under their control. Hymanra controls this system with the help of his several commanders. His most prized possession is the Imperial Beam. All of the major Heirabolan warships had laser beams, which could destroy an area of about 17.1 million square kilometres with a single shot. The Imperial Beam was about 10,000 times more powerful than that. It could destroy the largest planet in the Fraglioran solar system, Lamirma, with a single shot.


 The Great Escape

After taking over the ship, they quickly switched off the tracking device so that their previously stolen ship did not continue to follow them. Then, they quickly steered the ship downwards so that they could go below the giant ship. Once they had gone below the giant ship, they quickly went across the giant ship and up the other side. Then, they went to the holding docks, where prisoner’s ships were kept. Meanwhile, another thing had happened.

While they were still below the ship, they heard a huge explosion and the entire ship shook from the vibration. At the same time, the fire option deactivated. This meant that the defence sector was destroyed. Once the ship reached the holding docks, they got out of the ship and entered the Gerelon 2000. They found that it had been adapted to run on the aliens’ fuel source. They also found that the ship had been re – fuelled. This made their escape easier. They quickly turned on the invisibility mode and started flying back to Fraglior.

Due to the defence sector being destroyed, the heat sensors were not active. Once they were away from the ship, they both breathed a sigh of relief. But at that very moment, a huge bit of destroyed ship parts collided with them. Both the Gerelon 2000 and the ship parts fell down thousands of miles, through the atmosphere of Fraglior, and crashed onto the surface. What happens next? Read on in the next book!

The Ghost of Neil Damiens

By Anoushrayan Deysarkar

Damiens Bunglow

Many years ago, there lived a man called Neil Damiens. He was a rich man, and he lived in the Damiens’ bungalow on Heather street. He lived with his wife and two children. He was the owner of a sugarcane plantation. One day, while he was working in the plantation, a fire broke out and many people died. Neil was one of them. The plantation was shut down. Thankfully, Neil had made his will already. Half his money went to his family and half to his sister. This was in the year 1751.

Many years later, in the year 1951, one of his descendants, Jacob Damiens found Neil’s diary. He read a few pages and finding it interesting, decided to read a page of it every day before going to bed. He read it till the end. Interestingly, it was on the same day he finished reading the diary –  17th of April, that Neil had died 200 years ago.

On the stroke of midnight, Jacob was woken up by a strange sound, like the whirring of pages. He woke up and saw that the diary was closed. This was strange, because Jacob had been so sleepy that he had forgotten to close the diary. Just as Jacob was about to go to sleep, he heard another sound, like that of a cloak brushing against the floor. Jacob was surprised, because nobody in the house wore a cloak.

He took a torch and went out of his bedroom. He followed the sound of the cloak and reached the living room. There, he saw a cloaked figure standing and looking at a picture of Neil Damiens on the wall. The figure turned to face Jacob. It whispered “Jacob.” Again, it whispered “Jacob.” Then it said “I am Neil Damiens.”

Jacob was trembling with fear. The ghost of Neil Damiens said “Listen to me, Jacob. You must save your cousin, Ben Atkinsons, from dying like me. He lives in Wembley. You must not let him go to his factory, the Cotton Mill Factory tomorrow. It will explode tomorrow. I do not want him to die in the same way as I died. You must save him.”

Jacob was very scared but agreed to do as the ghost said. The next day, he called Ben up and introduced himself as Jacob Damiens. He said that he needed 44 pounds of cotton. He also said that wanted to feel the texture of the cotton so he would go to Ben’s house. After he had felt the cotton’s texture, the two men chatted till 12 ‘o clock. Later, that same day, the news of an explosion at the Cotton Mill Factory, Ben’s factory, appeared in the newspaper. It was also written that this was the very spot at which a similar explosion had taken place, 200 years ago, in a sugarcane factory. The owner of that factory was a man called Neil Damiens.

Woodda’s Fruit-Land

By Moutushi Ghoshdeysarkar

A wood cutter used to go to a jungle near his village to fetch wood everyday in the afternoon. He would mostly be back home in the evening before sun down expect for some days when he would either get caught up with travellers who passed by the path through the jungle or would not be able to find sufficient wood within time. He loved to hear the traveller’s stories of faraway lands and strange places which he was sure actually didn’t exist. He in-turn would weave beautiful narratives and tell them to his mates at the bazaar where he went to sell his wood in the morning. They too didn’t believe a word he said but the stories were so intriguing that everyone would wait for him and be all ears when he started his story camp at lunch time.

“One day”, he started and sipped a little water, “I was unable to find the requisite amount of wood and lingered on longer than I usually do. It was only after sun down that I started for the journey back home. On the way I felt very hungry and could not go on further. I left the donkeys with the wood piles and went up a tree in search of fruits. There were none but I decided to rest for a while as I was feeling very tired. I just sat there staring into the branches and after a while I saw a very ripe and red round fruit which I guess had camouflaged itself in the red and orange leaves of the tree so well that I had missed it while searching. I pranced on it and ate it in a jiffy. I felt very sleepy and it must have happened then. Though I have no explanation for what I am going to tell you next.”

The wood cutter dug at his lunch while others were staring at him with a puzzled look on their face.

“As I woke up, I found myself in a completely different place. There was no jungle. I was not on the tree,” he stopped only take another gulp and continued, “Suddenly a man called me by my name.” “What is your name?” asked an innocent looking young boy hardly in his teens who had come to the market with his uncle. The woodcutter gave a sharp glance and continued, “Well I don’t know, everybody calls me ‘Woodda’; but this man was calling some name and I turned. He said I was summoned by the king. As I followed him I noticed the place was very beautiful, with gardens, springs and to my surprise I myself was dressed in a handsome robe and not my usual attire.”

“A king? Like Vikramaditya?” asked another little boy in shorts. Woodda thought for a while and said, ”Now that you mention his name, might be so. The king was sitting on a large throne and looked very kingly. He asked me who I was and what I was doing in his kingdom that was forbidden for strangers. I said I was myself wondering about the last part and told him the whole episode about the fruit that I had eaten. The king gave a hearty laugh and said, “Do you think you can make a fool out of me with this fruit story? How can anybody just drop into a place by eating a fruit and sleeping?” The King looked very angry but I had no answer to his legitimate question.”

Woodda finished his lunch, washed and sat with his hookah. His mates and their young associates were getting restless and asked, “Then what happened?” “Then a very funny thing happened. The king was very angry and said, ”This man must be a spy from another country and a very trained and learned one at that to have infiltrated our territory.” I had never felt so honoured and proud about myself in my entire life; only all that was being said was so not true that I also felt ashamed of being considered so great. The king continued, ”According to the peace pact we have with other nations no spy is supposed to enter the domain of another and the pact has been honoured for so many gazillion years that all punishments pertaining to such an offence have been forgotten.” I could not stop myself from laughing aloud at this but the king rather than getting further infuriated seemed pleased. He said, “We however do have a punishment for humiliating others and thus shall you be punished.” Later I came to know that more or less crime had been eliminated from that land and thus punishments were also a thing of a very distant past. My punishment for humiliating the court and the king was that I will not be allowed to stay at a place for more than six months. It was very funny for me but looking at the grave faces of the people at the court I thought it must be serious.”

Woodda looked at the mesmerised faces of his listeners and continued, “ I roamed the length and breadth of this strange land which I named fruit land as the real name was so difficult to pronounce that I gave up after the second try. I had finished touring only a part of it, so said the map, when one fine morning I was summoned again. The king looked very much at peace unlike our first meeting. He said, “We have decided that you are not a spy.” I giggled under my breath, they have decided. The king continued, “Since you are not a spy but have somehow entered our forbidden realm we present you with two choices. Either you can stay here forever and become one of us; for which you will be duly trained. The other option is to go back where you came from and though we cannot stop you from doing it, because we do not know how you did it, we will prefer if you don’t bring in more of your kind. It is rude to say do not come again but please come back alone only if you wish to stay here forever.”

“So what did you do?” Stayed back?” said an inquisitive mate. “But then how are you here?” he asked with a puzzled look.

“I had stayed in this strange land for what seemed like a decade but was never comfortable with the unanimity of the place,” said Woodda chuckling at the confused state of his mates. “To give you an example,” Woodda paused to look around and continued, “We see so many houses around the market, some small, some big, some freshly coloured, some in a dilapidated state but there, the houses were all so similar, they might look different from one another by design but the state was all the same. None was rich, none was poor. There was no money business. So you see there was no crime, no punishment, people just lived their lives and since I was not one of them I was kept out of the actual happenings of the place and was provided for everything. In a nutshell it was a boring and monotonous place although it might have been different after I became one of them.”

Woodda took a deep breath and said, “I decided to come back.” Everybody around gave out a loud sigh of disappointment. “Well! Look at the bright side, who would tell you the stories?” cried out an astonished Woodda. “But you could have stayed on and got their secrets and smuggled us in and think what a nice life we would all have” said an elderly fellow. “But they asked me not to do that,” Woodda said baffled. The elderly fellow zapped, “They have no punishments, what would they do if you didn’t listen to them.” The argument was getting heating when the little boy in shorts first mumbled and then screamed, “But how did you come back? If they could not find out how you went there in the first place then how did they send you back?”

“Ah! Now that is interesting and actually by chance I would say,” said Woodda, somewhat relieved to be out of the line of direct fire. He really didn’t think of the possibilities the elderly fellow was talking about. He just wanted to be back home in his familiar surroundings. Woodda continued, “I asked them how could they send me back if they didn’t know how I went there. The king said, “Our scientists have been studying you and have found the likely co-ordinates of your timeline. All we need to do is disintegrate you and send you across. However it is likely that a miniscule error might have happened in calculations and instead of your exact dwelling, as in your case, the tree and the time as stated by you when you fell asleep, it might be some other time and some other place where you find yourself again, like on one of the planets of your solar system, say Mars at a time when it was bustling with life. According to your perception we found there is no life on Mars.” I was too spellbound to say something and kept on looking at the king blankly just as all of you are looking at me now.”

Woodda looked satisfied with himself and also a little amused and said lightly, “It was just yesterday, that I came back and happy I am. I woke up on the forest path only to find that my donkeys have doubled and some boys were managing them. One of them was in fact quite surprised to see me and said, “Where did you come from Woodda? Were you not supposed to visit your relatives today?” It took me a while but then I said, I was coming back from the visit and thought would catch up with you guys. The boy smiled and went on with his work. I tactfully uncovered their names and all that had happened in my absence, which seemed like some 20 odd years. I seem to remember everything till that night and also all that happened in that ‘fruit land’ but can’t recall anything else.  I know I have lost so many years of my life, must be calculation error; but given the odds it is not much, I could well have found myself by the side of an erupting volcano on Venus or among some strange creatures in Mars. Also I find myself wealthier and though so many years have passed I do not feel old.”

“You look old though,” chirped in the teenager. “Also we haven’t missed you for a day. You saw me on the day I was born and also named me, so says mother,” said the little boy in shorts. “Is it now?” said Woodda and smiled. “Lots to catch up with I guess,” he said almost to himself.

The story camp started dispersing with loads of thoughts in the air, was this another stunning stories of Woodda, heard from the travellers and rephrased? Or did he make this up on his own? Whatever the case may be this was indeed an extraordinary story.

Woodda got up slowly as an old man would but he could feel the good old strength in his knees. He has been wondering whether the ‘fruit land’ king had send his forty year old self back to his naturally aging body but things were too complicated for him to comprehend and he gave up. Walking towards home he started brooding over the idea of trying to find that tree and the fruit again and go to his fruit-land or some other place, exploration of new lands is an addiction few can refrain from.