STRANDED AT CHENNAI AIRPORT

It was on 30 Nov 2015, we were at Port Blair.   Our flight to Chennai was on 01 Dec 2015 morning. Previous night there was a heavy rain. The way it was pouring cats and dogs with thunder storm, I feared that it could upset our programme the next day morning. Fortunately, the rain stopped at 4 A.M and we started packing for the morning flight. Earlier at around 2.30 A.M I got an SMS from Air India intimating that our morning flight scheduled at 8 am has been delayed and will depart at 9.30 am. After seeing that SMS I felt happy over the ‘delay’ instead of cancellation considering the heavy rain on previous day. Breakfast was served immediately after take off and the journey was smooth and comfortable. At around 11 AM there was an announcement on board, the pilot informed that the flight reached Chennai and he is not getting clearance from ATC,Chennai  due to heavy rain. All passengers so far engaged in routine activities, suddenly become conscious of the situation and remain silent with anxiety.

After  15 minutes or so, there was an announcement informing that he got the clearance from ATC and we will be landing in few minutes. On hearing the announcement, everybody got a sigh of relief without knowing the harsh ground realities. When we landed at Airport, there was a heavy rain.  We immediately proceeded to pick up our baggage. At the time , I was getting lot of calls from relatives and everybody inquired about our arrival. Without knowing the seriousness of the situation, I was telling them that we landed safe and waiting for our baggage. After picking up our baggage we immediately proceeded to pre-paid taxi service counter. There were a long queue in almost all the  counters and  I observed that the queue was not moving.  When I looked at the counter I was puzzled to see that all the counters were empty. When I asked the fellow passengers nobody offered  any explanation for the missing men in the counters.

After  few minutes, I approached a airport staff and asked him the reason for the empty counters, he looked at me as if I have come from a different planet. He informed me that whole city is under water due to heavy rain. Now I understood the enormity of the situation and got really worried. In the mean time there was an announcement for the closure of the airport due to bad weather. The flight we landed perhaps the last flight for the day before closure of the airport. Again I was getting plenty of calls from my relatives and everybody tried to offer some solution,  even though  they knew that it was an uphill task to rescue us from the Airport.

It appeared to us that the passengers who were at the airport disappeared suddenly leaving us alone. We were completely puzzled and felt helpless. We could not find any solution even after two hours.  We thought that it would be advisable for us to go to the nearest place from the Airport. So we decided to go to our nephew’s residence at Chromepet.  It was still raining when we came out. Outside we spotted  few taxis,  we approached them but nobody prepared to take us due to water logging. We decided to take our chances on suburban train. But unfortunately the station was the other side of the airport and to go there we have to cross the big divider, may not be the much problem if you have no luggage, but with heavy luggage it appeared to be big task for us. Since no other option was left, with much difficulty carried our luggage and crossed the divider. After crossing we thought that all our hurdles are over as we are going to reach the suburban railway station. Unfortunately it was not as it was turned out to be only the first hurdle ! When we approached the subway to go to the railway station, we could not believe our eyes as the whole subway was turned into a mini swimming pool. If you dare to get down, you will be submerged fully and you will have to swim your way to the station provided if you are a good swimmer. Since we don’t know how to swim, our option to reaching the railway station also been closed.

Now no other option was left to us than going by road. We started looking for the three wheeler. But nobody interested to pick up us due to their apprehension of heavy water-logging enveloped the whole city. We approached a three wheeler driver who stopped after feeling sympathy over us as we were standing on the middle of the road, completely wet, with all our luggage while it was raining. When we told him where to go, he immediately retorted that he can not come there as he feared that once he comes there he may not able to return. I told him that my nephew is there in that area and he is saying that there is no water logging and vehicles are moving smoothly. But the driver still had suspicion and it appeared to me that he is not willing to believe my words. So to  satisfy him I told him to speak to my nephew to know himself about the situation. So I rang up my nephew and gave the mobile to the driver and he started speaking to him. After a long conversation he  seemed to be convinced and decided to take us and we were very happy over his decision and thanked my nephew  for  effectively convinced the driver.While driving, the driver started saying that you people are saying that no water logging, but no road is visible here! We kept a stony face in front of him and also pretended that we were not heard him what he said.  Finally we reached our destination after three hours of struggle at the airport and thanked the driver for getting us to our destination safe and paid the exorbitant fare charged by the auto driver without any murmur. Later through TV channels we came to know that not only the airport but the whole city was cut off from the rest of State !

 

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Kolkata Memories

 

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On our way to Port Blair, we had a short trip to Kolkata. Howrah Rajdhhani reached Kolkata at 10AM from Delhi. Howrah station is so big and neat and clean. I was surprised to see cars are parked at the other side of the platform. Passengers after getting down from the train and boarding their car from the  platform, which is really an unique phenomenon and I have never seen it before.

When I come out of the station there was a long queue. The queue was for prepaid taxi service. The lengthy queue has proved the popularity of prepaid taxi service in kolkata. Ambassador cars painted with yellow colour lined up for the customers. All cars bear the slogan ‘no refusal’. Kolkata is also auto less city. You cannot spot a single auto.

Howrah bridge was awesome. Evening we visited the famous Victoria memorial built by British. The beautiful white marble memorial enchanted us. We can certainly say that it is a Taj mahal of Kolkata. Inside memorial hall the huge museum with beautiful paintings enthralled us. The large garden surrounded the memorial adds feather to its beauty.

There was a folk programme going on in front of memorial. The troops performed beautifully with their colourful attire that delighted the entire audience for more than two hours.

We went to the majestic Dakshineshwar temple dedicated to mother Kali. Apart from main deity there are 15 shiv lingas give darshan to the devotees. Hoogly river is in the back side and Howrah bridge is clearly visible from this spot. We also visited Ramakrishna math planned and conceived by Vivekananda. It is a huge complex and a lake in one side. We could not visit Indian museum as it turned to be monday weekly holiday. Also visited Kali Ghat, the 53rd Sakthi Pedam.

Next day, being a working day, we visited the Indian Museum, the biggest in the country. It took four hours to see this. It was really a rare opportunity to see collection of animal fossils that also million years old from Shivalik hills areas. Evaluation of human beings, minting of coins in each dynasty, fisheries archive, rare breed of birds from different regions and countries are some of the highlight of this museum. In Egypt section we were thrilled to see the actual mummy which you can not see in any museum in this country. Finally we thought that our trip to Kolkata will never complete without travelling in its tram. So we took a joy ride and enjoyed every bit of that.

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A Trip to Andaman

cellularIt was an early morning flight from Kolkata. After reaching Port Blair Airport, which has been named after Vir Sarvarkar, the great freedom fighter, we went to Dollygunj, where our accommodation was booked.Climate was pleasant. After freshen up we were ready to go for a local sightseeing. Unfortunately it was a Govt holiday we could not see few important museums. Only museum that opened on that day  was Chatham Saw Mill and Forest museum. We were amazed to see such a huge Saw mill museum. First time we could see the Japanese bunkers here. It was interesting to know that this island was occupied by Japanese from 1945 to 1947. Carbyn Cove beach was awesome with lot of coconut trees lined up in the beach. Evening we went to Wandoor beach. What a beauty! we have never seen such a wonderful beach anywhere. Its serene and clean environment and calmness just touched our heart and soul. At 6 pm we visited Cellular jail for light and sound show. It was very nice and we really felt sad over the brutal torture of our freedom fighters by the British. The one hour programme was worth to watch.

Next day our programme scheduled for Ross Island and North bay. We went to the Aberdeen jetty to board our boat named Maka Marina. We have been told that the boat will arrive at 9.30 am. But no boat was seen and the officials announced that due to bad weather all boat services have been cancelled for the day. We disappointed. But what to do? Climate was not in our control. To utilise the time for the day we visited anthropological museum and marine museums and spent considerable time there. Both museums are informative and throw lot of lights on life style of the tribes of Andaman and marine lives. We also came to know lot about Andaman and its historical events.

Another day we proceeded for Ross Island and North bay which we missed earlier due to poor sea condition. We had an anxious moment as our boat to Ross Island, Mac Marina did not turn up due to rough sea condition. Fortunately the administration decided to carry all passengers in a big boat called MV Saroj. The boat started at 11 am and during a 10 minutes travel we experienced lot of roller coaster moments and finally the boat reached Ross Island safe. Ross island is maintained well by Indian Navy with lot of flora and fauna. They also displayed brief history of Ross Island, the Japanese invasion, the earth quake and handing over the Island to Indian Navy. We were amused to see plenty of deer roaming freely and also too friendly with tourists.  From there we went the North bay, the coral island. Here all adventure activities like under sea-walking, scuba diving, snorkeling are conducted. We went to this island in a glass boat and able to see the under water coral reefs, which were visible through the glass.

Also visited Havelock Island the beautiful Island in Andaman Nicobar. We reached the harbor at 7.15 a.m and the journey began at 8 am with Boat Makruzz. The moment we entered the boat we felt as if we are entering a big theater. It has capacity of 280 passengers. When the boat started there was lot of pitching due to sea condition. For the first 20 minutes we felt as if we were sitting on an epicenter of earthquake prone zone. But after twenty minutes it was a smooth ride as the sea condition was improved. Around 90 minutes it was a memorable journey. After reaching Havelock we immediately proceeded to Radha Nagar Beach, the paradise on earth (Asia’s beautiful beach as reported by Time Magazine in 2004). The blue waters, clean environment and lagoons mesmerized us and it transported us to some other world. We left this place by leaving our heart and soul there itself.

Next day we visited Cellular Jail. Before entering the main cell, we could see a lot of information about the jail, how it has been conceived, planned and built by the British. They also displayed the photographs of Indian freedom fighters who have been incarcerated in the jail. After seeing the cell my heart goes to those freedom fighters who suffered the inhuman treatment meted out by the British. The work station, the gallows depict the grim reminders of brutality of the British. I penned my tribute in the visitors diary kept at the entrance. After coming out of this jail I realized that how many people shed their blood to get freedom to India which we are enjoying now. It is our duty to cherish this freedom and always salute our freedom fighters and also make our future generation to realize the value of freedom.

We also visited Samundrika Marine Museum and Science Center today. In fisheries museum we could able to see rare breed of fishes and lot of corals. Science museum we could see lot of information about wave formation, space and few fun activities involving science.

Evening we went to Chidiatappu where Munda Pahar beach is located. This beach was so serene and we could not find any waves here.

On the whole our trip to Andaman was so memorable and would never forget the experience rest of our life.

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