You know, I realised that I haven't done a proper post of my most enchanting time at the Andaman islands. So let me start right away, this image is of Neil island. I got into a ferry from Port Blair to Havelock island, and it stopped right here at Neil. I promised myself that I would spend some time here some day.
Well, I met Uzma and Anoop - my old friends from design school, once I got to Havelock. and after exchanging wild stories (I spent 12 hours on a flight from Chennai that went to Thailand before I landed in Port Blair, and Anoop was robbed off Rs.20,000 from his wallet while he slept in his room) we decided to put that all behind with a sunset walk on the beach.
It did the trick.
The next morning was sublime.
Anoop's shirt matches the sea!
That's me, if you can believe it.
An auto to beach No. 7, and those trees!
The next day Uzi and I decided to explore Elephant Beach, while Anoop began his diving course. The forest along the way was mesmerizing!
Our station while we snorkelled.
Uzi at 20km/hr.
We had to explore Beach No.7 again!
Uzi loading some film.
Me at work....
This mahout mistook us for some uncouth coots and screamed at us along the way. We were so shocked, but he quickly came back and apologized profusely while I was painting in the cave of a tree trunk, and he shook my hand continuously acknowledging us as artists.
Uzi by my cave tree.
Oh and this snail exodus. Watching a grand mountainous expedition in slow motion!
So after a few days Anoop graduated! This is his dive instructor and dive mates.
Then we took off on another expedition to snorkel at Elephant beach.
Uzi and Anoop in ardent conversation.
It was paradise. That afternoon!
And I was animating on film all along that week!
There are many more such memories, but I thought that it was best that I put this down before all else fails.
I am in Goa now, and Liza is looking for a place to stay for a couple of months before her house is completely renovated. The requirements are that she has 2 dogs and she need the space for a couple of months. So we've been introduced to a bunch of spaces everyday. Some at exorbitant prices.... but what strikes me is that there are houses everywhere in Goa with nobody living in them. It's sad. It has become a ghost town.
There are huge villas, multi-storeyed and brand new, but completely empty. A shell that's all it is. And vast expanses of spaces being transformed into these empty concrete jungles that are devoid of life. Green expanses that existed before are being replaced by dreary energy sucking wastelands that make my heart sink. It makes me so sad! I have seen Goa mutate into something that I have never seen before and it doesn't excite me at all.
I have been coming here since 1984 and Goa has held some of my fondest memories. Being by the sea with nautical skies and tropical exuberance releases my spirits and invigorates my soul. Luckily for Goa - this place is vast and there will always be pockets of untouched territory, but what I see today breaks my heart.
I hear the sounds of the waves, the sea framed within the branches of a gorgeous old mango tree, bringing in the south westerly winds with majestic force and calm tranquility. I am transported back to those bygone days if only momentarily to be transfixed by nature and her ways. This place is powerful for me.....it has lost some of its charm for sure, but underlying this chaos, I hope to revive the essence that is true to me.
I know that the Andaman islands are already changing. Ancient untouched tribes are being made to dance while tourists throw food at them, and pure pristine islands are being inundated with plastic and garbage. It is all too heavy and strange, but they possess a power over me that help me recognize them as sacred spots that hold some power, and it is with that reverence that I write these words.
There are places that I am drawn to, without any volition and they feed my soul and take care of my being in ways that defy any logical explanation. The universe has been kind enough to bring me to these places and allow me to partake in their mysteries, and for this I am eternally grateful.