All posts by lifeasapotpourri

Strong willed | Sapiosexual |Cheerful person and a true Cancerian!!! An "amalgamated" "MALLU" (for my non-Indian friends, people from the state of Kerala are called Malayali, but the rest of India has started calling them Mallus lately) as we are addressed by our fellow Indian citizens. Brought up in Andaman islands and living up in a place where people respect another person for their individuality and not the profession, caste or religion has made me a very cosmopolitan in nature and not believe in what many called as taboos. I am a passionate dancer. I enjoy travelling, trying everything possible in life..i don't want to regret while am about to kick the bucket. Besides cooking, writing. I enjoy all kinds of sports. Sadly none of these are my profession. I am techie working with a product based firm and have been in Bengaluru for the last 6 years.

#BlogchatterEbook – Potpourri of Emotions & Moods -myFirst!

I take on the Baton of Blogchatter Ebook Carnival to Tina whose Ebook “Soul Sojourn” is also a part of the mix.
About Tina’s Ebook: “Soul Sojourn´ is a beautiful creation of poignant ideas and concepts through some serious soul searching. The book is divided into chapters called as ´Pitstops´ where we take a break and ponder over the thought of the day. This book is loosely inspired by the Carpe Diem philosophy! You seize the thought of the day and make it your own interpretation! The soul travelogue is an adventurous journey into the inner self.”

“Our emotions need to be as educated as our intellect. It is important to know how to feel, how to respond, and how to let life in so that it can touch you” – JIM ROHN

May has been absolutely Magical for me, it was May 2017 that my first Ebook got published – Potpourri of Emotions & Moods. When last year Blogchatter had initiated the Ebook carnival I was amazed by the idea and the opportunity but since I was not even a year into blogging and had never had a dream of putting up a book that year just went by. But this time towards the end of the challenge I actually thought of giving it a try and with some juggle between picking up the content to, editing it and finally compiling into one book I managed to submit my draft to the Blogchatter team.

And the result is here, my first Ebook was published – Potpourri of Emotions & Moods. You can download it here it’s free … Yipee!! 🙂

Potpourri of Emotions & Moods – what exactly is this book about? First let me explain you the meaning of the word ‘potpourri’ – a mixture or medley of things. My blog Life As a Potpourri is on the similar lines where I write about many different topics so when I thought about choosing a name for the book, I was certain it had to be something related to the blog and the content I have chosen and what better than Potpourri of Emotions & Moods.  

Aren’t our lives a medley of emotions and moods that we experience each and every day? In fact every other minute could be a different mood some affected by our own behavior, thoughts and some totally influenced and dependent on external factors from people to things to situations.
To your wonder there are more than twenty six kinds of emotions and moods that we as human beings experience in our lifetime. Sometimes feeling “nothing” at all is also considered a type of emotion that we go through. In my book I talk about all of this in various forms like stories, videos, poems, experiences or casual talks.

During this journey of compiling my contents into an Ebook I have learnt couple of things which I would want to share with you guys and specially with people who want to get something done like this in future.
1. Never doubt yourself and do not procrastinate, give things a try and everything will fall into place.
Even though i was never ready to put my content into an Ebook but the thought of getting started somewhere pushed me in coming up with this even if it was in the last minute. Do not wait for the best time to happen, sometimes the good time is the best time. I would have never experienced all this if i would have waited to come up with something better and am sure i would have continued to wait for the best time which I don’t know would be when exactly. So just grab the opportunity whenever you can.
2. Learn from your mistakes.
I am not an avid reader, neither do i write poems or publish posts with very good vocab. I just write my heart out in my posts the way i would talk to you if you are sitting right in front of me. Which i think is not bad but not really something that should be the style of writing in a book when one reads I believe. This has definitely given me a perspective to think better for a future book that I write. Blog posts should be different from the chapters of a book for sure. No adjustments there the next time.
3. Ideas need a trigger
Am already having a bunch of ideas for the next years challenge and in the lines if that could be publishes as well into a book would be fantastic. Ideas need trigger and this year’s Ebook has certainly triggered me to do my homework well next time for better results.

Am sure as you read through my book you would agree that you have also experienced them in your life in some way or the other and if you do so , please do drop by your comments and feedback cause it would mean the world to me. I have also included posts from my friends who had guest blogged during the last years #AtoZChallenge and two among them were non-bloggers but enjoy writing. I find that as a big motivation in bringing good content to you folks.
You can mail me your feedback to lifeasapotpourri@gmail.com or leave your comments below in this post! You can also check out other amazing Ebook’s which got published by clicking this link – Download Ebooks

I pass on the Baton of Blogchatter Ebook Carnival to Prateek whose Ebook “Phir Milenge” is also a part of the mix.
About Prateek’s Ebook: ” जहाँ भावनाएँ शब्दों से एक लय में मिल जाती हैं, वहाँ कविता का जन्म होता है। विश्वास करिए इस दुनिया में शब्दों और लय की कमी नहीं है, पर भावनाएँ जागृत करना कठिन है। इस संग्रह के माध्यम से मेरी हार्दिक तमन्ना सिर्फ़ यह ही है कि अपने पाठकों का उन संवेदनाओं से फिर से परिचय करवा सकूँ जिनसे इस भावहीन संसार में मिलना दूभर हो गया है। यदि मेरी एक कविता भी आपको किसी व्यक्ति या समय या परिस्थिति की याद दिलवा पायी और किसी मार्मिक लगाव की ओर ले गयी, तो मेरा लेखन सफल हो जाएगा। परंतु यदि ऐसा नहीं हुआ तो, फिर मिलेंगे !”.

Happy Blogging!!!Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤

ECHOES – MAGICAL MAY

Time is literally flying, its June already – and do you know what that means?? Just one more month for Game of Thrones season 7 woohoooo 🙂 ❤ and second I would be turning 30 😀 Also RIP to all those New Year Resolutions. All that apart, I welcome you all to my Monthly Favorites series which is a rewind of all the awesome moments in life that made May Magical !!!

Blog Updates
May was a month of relaxing, post the April #AtoZChallenge which I had almost managed to survive the second time. Even though I had jotted down couple of ideas for blog posts I didn’t really get in the head space to actually sit down and blog. Even more so the Project I was working on at work went live and it meant relaxation, no status, no reports, and no defects except for few minor production fixes. I wanted to stay as away as possible from the laptop. But I did something fun in terms of blogging, I posted my first review kind of blog post in the month of May and I kind of liked the whole theme about it. I am planning on doing more posts around product and book reviews in future so that’s a good start. Hoping to have more blog posts up in June.

Work
As I mentioned, the project in which I was leading the quality team went live. I had really worked hard for this cause this was my first project in this new firm that I had joined last year July, plus it was the first time I was working on a retail domain and had to really make my place within the account and kind of make my mark in front of the leadership team. I am so glad it all went well and couldn’t have asked for more. And so after 10 months I now move to another team within the same account and am really looking forward to it, lots to learn still within the retail domain and this project is definitely going to help.

Entertainment
I don’t know what I would have done without Instagram and YouTube. God! There is so much of information out there, so many things to learn am simply amazed. I think give me a laptop a good internet connection and am sorted. I have been watching so many videos on life hacks, howto’s, bujo, photography tips etc and am totally loving it. Do you watch a lot of stuff on YouTube? Do let me know if anything interesting that’s worth watching. Also a lot of movies in many different languages. I think am obsessed about watching movies. 🙂

#fmsphotoaday
One thing that I was totally consistent about was in completing the #fmsphotoaday which is hosted by Fat Mum Slim. I have done this couple of times before also and had enjoyed doing it so that was one thing which kept me occupied this May and am continuing to do it in June as well. I think you guys should also take this up its quite fun. And not just this but Instagram has tons of challenges which is hosted by amazing people. Like the #doodlewithusinjune which is about doodling and the theme is vacation this time, then there is #rockyourhandwriting, #planwithme #photochallenge and lots more. Let me know if you also do a challenge. On that note do check out NJ and Reema’s instagram accounts they are currently doing Poetry challenge this month.

Magical May
The title of this post says Magical May so there had to be something magical about this month and well it certainly is. My first eBook got published this month “Potpourri of Emotions & Moods” in support with Blogchatter which hosted the eBook Carnival post the #AtoZChallenge. Hurray!! (more on this later cause it definitely needs a separate post 😉 )

All in all, May was a wonderful month with lot of learning and fun and happy times. How was your May month, what is that one thing you remember the most from last month, would love to hear from you guys. Hoping June is as beautiful as May for you all and for me. Its monsoons already in Bangalore and the weather has become beautiful ❤

Happy Blogging!!! Live. Love. Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤

#Product Review 01- Creative Woman’s Journal by Matrikas Paper Products

This is officially my first product review in fact any “review” per say on the blog and lets just say it’s the beginning of a new section on this blog 🙂

Do you enjoy stationery shopping ? stuff like pens, notebooks, journals, sketch pens, art and craft supplies , If yes then Welcome to my world!!! Even though I use apps like Evernote, Google Keep and OneNote for maintaining my notes I still feel excited when I buy a new notebook and pen down my thoughts onto it. I love buying journals; I have a ton of them each serving a different purpose. For instance one has quotes, one has daily log, one has recipes, one for important life events etc etc.
Having said that the recent addition to my above set of journals and notebooks is this bright red beautiful looking Journal from Matrikas Paper Products as part of their Matrikas Blogger Outreach Program. I chose one of the four available variant each having a significance like To Dream, To Fly and To Glide . My choice was the Feather – To Write (#obvious) of the Creative Woman’s Journal Series. And did I tell you it’s made in India (#MadeinIndia) 

To Write

Look – this is a beauty 🙂  Bright red cover hard bound with a golden feather and “write” written next to almost like a secret message keeping the minimalism alive. So falling in love with this one was no surprise. Layout – The journal is not dated which I think is a plus for me. And the journal has a mix of different spreads which gives it a fresh element. Few blank pages, then ruled ones, then another set of surprises (yeah surprises read on) there by making the journal really flexible and interesting to use. 

There are ruled pages for notes to write down, blank pages for just scribbling down thoughts or to doodle. If that was not enough to bring in that creative element there are 8 adult coloring pages – what more can you ask for?? Surprised??!!! These days adult coloring has become a rage and is usually used for therapeutic reasons and including them in a journal was just perfect. So this book is the perfect mix for writing –doodling-coloring 🙂 a good bye don’t you think?If you are still not convinced then this would definitely. The journal has almost more than 20 stickers inside it with cool font and phrases. These can be used not just on this journal but anywhere else also. I have already started using a bunch of them. And then towards the perfect end the journal has sections Books to Read and Places to Visit and Name and Address as icing on the cake.There is also an envelope in the end to store few stickers to make your journaling activity even more comfortable. A bookmark, a pen holder and an elastic to help you close the book and keep intact. Perfect! Material – the journal is hard bound yet not heavy so easy to carry along with you. Secondly the blank pages for doodling are thick enough to not let the ink blot over to the next page. But definitely the ruled ones aren’t that thick so when I tried writing it with my sharpie the ink did blot a little. Same goes when I tried coloring the pages so maybe I should stick to coloring the pages with color pencils.

What I didn’t like – the number of pages could have been more since most journals are meant to stay for at least a year and this one doesn’t seem to survive more than 4 to 5 months if you are using it extensively as a journal. Phone book pages were not really needed in this journal since everyone uses mobile phones and this was more on the creative side the journal hence the name and address page didn’t really fit in here. 

All of the above in jt INR 450 – it’s worth every penny!! I have a bunch of other books which come at a higher price with not so many elements. If nothing has convinced you but you enjoy buying books then just for the plain beauty of this book you need to have it in your collection.  This also makes a perfect gifting idea!!!
A glimpse of the journal which I have already started using.You can purchase this and order products from their website or from Amazon

Do you use write down stuff or use apps for making notes? Do you journal..?  Let me know if you have a favorite.

P.S: This journal was sent to me free from Matrikas but the product review is completely mine.

Declutter your life the #KonMari way

Browsing through YouTube videos , which has lately become my go to entertainment when not working or doing the household chores I ended up seeing this word in a blog video on #bulletjournaling and that was #KonMari. 

Fascinated as always on seeing words I had never heard before I immediately opened up another tab and typed the words KonMari and surprisingly in 0.48 seconds about 26,50,000 results were displayed. What was even more surprising was it was about a lady Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant and author; “organizing consultant” really? Marie Kondo = Kon + Mari = KonMari (get it!!!???)

While there was too much info out there, one particular article (published two years back 😦 )caught my interest. Re blogging it here for your information. Hope you have a good read. Let me know if you had heard of this before, or have tried this?
Source : KonMari by Martha Stewart

KonMari: How to Clean Up Your Home Once and Never Need to Do It Again

Spring cleaning on the mind? What if you could clean your home once and never need to do it again? Really — never! That’s the bold claim organizing consultant Marie Kondo makes in her new book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” With that kind of promise, it’s no wonder the book has already sold 2 million copies worldwide. Copy in hand, one of our editors tackles her own clutter and shares a few takeaways from the KonMari Method.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: MIKE KRAUTTER

I’ve always said that I’m a connoisseur of stuff — which is really just a silly way of saying that I have way too much of it.

I collect kooky knickknacks from flea markets and souvenirs from my travels; I amass paper, paint and pencils for that next project that I always promise myself to get to next weekend. Oh, and then there’s my antique bottle collection, my bird statuettes, my books… You see my problem? So when I heard circles buzzing about the book on the trendy, life-changing organization method known aptly as “KonMari,” I knew I was the perfect candidate to try it.

The organizing consultant’s name is Marie Kondo. Her “KonMari” method of simplifying and organizing the home led to the runaway bestseller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” She’s even garnered a cultlike following — they call themselves Konverts and proudly share before-and-after photos of their properly folded sock drawers and emptied closets. These Konverts were made just from reading her book. The real-life Kondo has a three-month-long waiting list.

In her native Japan, Kondo says, tidiness is a way of everyday living. She applies feng shui principles to the tenets of her tidying and ditches long-held organizational beliefs — such as cleaning little by little every day, storing items according to the seasons and discarding one item for every item brought into the home. She says that these principles, though meant to help, are the very reasons why we seemingly are never able to maintain our mess.

Instead, she advocates for one epic cleaning sweep: Keep only what “sparks joy,” discard everything else, and assign a home for everything within your home. Easier said than done, right? Kondo claims that this can be done but can take anywhere between a few hours to six months. I know what you are thinking — that is a crazy time span. But let me assure you that it can be done.

For the purpose of trying the KonMari method myself, I did this in a three-day weekend in the middle of winter (when the spring sunshine wasn’t going to lure me outside). My apartment was due for spring cleaning, and I was stuck indoors on a slew of blustery, snowy days, so why not? I had run out of excuses. It was time to take control of my clutter, once and for all. And these were the philosophies I had to adopt:

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LET GO OF THINGS TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE THINGS THAT MATTER

And I don’t mean material objects either.

Before you move a single thing, the first step in Kondo’s method is to visualize the life you wish to have with a clutter-free space. A free closet or uncluttered walls isn’t deep enough. Dig deeper. What does a life free of clutter mean to you? Maybe it means hosting more parties for your friends or adopting a pet or raising a baby. For me, I visualized a more creative home life: one in which I could bake more, draw more, paint on canvas more (a hobby I’ve all but abandoned since my move to New York). These things have been put aside for dealing with my everyday messes. And who wouldn’t want to spend time with friends over organizing china in the cabinet? Kondo asserts that by discarding things, we’re freeing up space for the things we love.

KEEP ONLY THE THINGS THAT SPARK JOY

What does that mean exactly?

One of the first steps in Kondo’s method is to identify what does, indeed, “spark joy” for you. Pick it up (don’t just observe it from afar on a bookshelf or under-bed storage box), turn it over in your hands, study it — how does this possession make you feel? How do you feel at the idea of discarding it forever?

The things that spark true joy for you won’t always be rational and in fact, Kondo encourages this intuition. There is an excerpt from book when she refers to one such item in her home — her Kiccoro T-shirt; it’s a memento from an expo she attended years ago and despite scoffing from others (“How can you keep this? Aren’t you embarrassed? How can you wear that? You should throw it away…”) she has held onto it with fierce affection. “These are the types of things you should boldly hold on to,” she writes. “If you can say without a doubt, ‘I really like this!’ no matter what anyone else says, and if you like yourself for having it, then ignore what other people think.”

“SOMEDAY” NEVER COMES

This is one of the little lies we tell ourselves. We can rattle off all the reasons (read — excuses) we “need” to keep something — whether that’s a weekend project or a stormy night without power — we simply hold on to it because we might “need it” someday. “Needing” something is not the same as “loving” something or even for recognizing the item for its inherent value.

Think of these “someday” possessions you own. For me, it might be a pile of magazine clippings or a bundle of “mystery wires” or a stockpile of beauty products. But what I realized was that I held onto these objects for all the wrong reasons. Instead, as I picked them up, I felt a creep of anxiety at the idea of letting them “go to waste” and the excuse bubbled up, “Well, what if I need it for…?” Yes, it’s good to be prepared, but at what cost? I barely noticed them in my home so obviously they weren’t desperately “needed.” I only felt anxiety at the idea of losing them. In fact, according to Kondo, possessions are stripped of their dignity when they go unused in the home. It is better to let them go.

TREAT YOUR POSSESSIONS AS IF THEY WERE ALIVE

I know, odd concept right? But before you doubt this theory, stop to consider how we treat our possessions on an everyday basis: We unceremoniously drop our coat, shoes and keys at the door. We stuff our drawers with sweaters, socks and shirts; and we banish our least-used items to the back of our closets. This is how a home becomes messy and, even worse, how we lose track of our own possessions. When deciding what to keep and what to discard, Kondo suggests pulling every single item out (by category) to display on the floor at once. Her clients are often shocked at the sheer amount placed before them.

To prevent this from happening, she encourages you to better respect the items for the use they provide you. This means storing items so they can each easily be seen at a glance, giving each room to breath, and even acknowledging the items with a mental “thank you” before putting them away at the end of the day. In other words, there should be a place for everything and everything in its place.

YOUR POSSESSIONS REFLECT YOUR STATE OF MIND

Wonder why you can’t let something go? Kondo says that we hold onto things for one of two emotional reasons — a fear of the future or to preserve the past. In my own KonMari tidying, I found that I’m guilty of the latter. In the depths of my desk drawers, I unearthed things I had long forgotten. Once brought to the light of day, they unleashed a flood of bittersweet memories: a painted seashell from the islands of Cinque Terre, a clotted cream fudge tin (long since empty of fudge) from Harrods in London, a tea cup from Cambridge where I studied abroad, a bag of sea glass collected in the early morning with my father at the seashore, a friendship bracelet from childhood, and of course, piles of photographs that have yellowed from the passing of years.

For me, this collection carried a special sort of power: They reminded me of my collected life experiences, but mementos do not celebrate the present and Kondo encourages us to celebrate the present. In doing so, I reclaimed power over my possessions; my possessions have no power over me.

— — Did you enjoy the read, do let me know. I think am gonna try this too to declutter my home and bring in more freshness and specially creativity . Happy blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤ — —
 

#Reflections – Almost Survived the Second Time

After almost six months of break from blogging, a hectic work schedule, a long travel to work and the daily house hold chores left me with absolutely no hopes of taking up the #AtoZChallenge this year. I personally knew and was sure that even if I did sign up for the challenge I would not complete it and leave it less than half way.  

And then just a week before the #themereveal was made I decided to at least sign up and try doing it as much as I can. As i pen down today my #Reflection post , I am really proud of what I achieved over the last month of the epic blogging challenge that i had signed up for.  I am happy that i could do justice to the place where i am born and brought up Andaman and Nicobar Islands by sharing information about it with the world out there. #AmazingAndamans would always be a special series of posts close to my heart.

Though the numbers were not as good as the last years i am still happy that I managed to sail through all the obstacles. 1378 Views || 798 Visitors || 181 Likes and 184 Comments ❤ ❤ ❤ To check out the complete list of my entries during the challenge click My #AtoZChallenge Blog Posts.
My top fav five from my #atozchallenge are definitely going to be
1. Experience Scuba Diving – this was my first scuba diving experience considering i don’t know swimming
2. Ross Island – my favorite place in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
3. Tsunami – its not everyday that you become part of a natural calamity and something which shook the entire world is altogether a different story
4. Heavenly Havelock – the world famous Havelock island and its Radhanagar beach is a must visit place for any tourist traveling to the islands
5. Planning a trip to Andaman?Must know!if every planning a trip to the islands you need to read my posts with all the tips and suggestions from the island girl herself, trust me you would thank me for this

Key takeaways from the #AtoZChallenge

Having a theme- saved me definitely!
Just a day before the theme reveal day i was going through all the possible topics on which i could manage 26 posts i realized that its easier to write when you are aware of the topic. Since i was recently back from a vacation and the place was my hometown i decided to write about it. Being aware of the content in general reduces half the pressure during the challenge. All you need to do is put it altogether. 
But i do appreciate bloggers who do not have a theme and still finish the challenge cause that must be a whole new level of picking a topic among such wide variety of genres to blog about. Also special mention to my friend Vinay who took inspiration for each post from the comments he received from his readers on the previous day’s post. I mean that is some adventure and kudos to him and he did great.

Framework of your posts
Where variety is widely accepted i think for challenges like these having a similar framework kind of helps both the audience and the blogger himself. Having the basic layout ready for the posts helps even if you don’t schedule all the cosmetic things are at least done and dusted.
I knew what my titles would be, i knew what signature i am supposed to leave considering we didn’t have a linky list this time which i think was not that bad after all as everyone was used to the signature and hyperlink methods that was shared on the a-z page.

Get guest bloggers if it helps
I think guest posts are real good deal if you have someone else also willing to write about the same theme as yours or even for posts that have not signed up with a theme. Last year i remember when i had chosen Emotions as my theme i had about 4 guest bloggers and two of them were non bloggers but loved writing. So i was happy cause i finally made them publish something on my blog and it was very well appreciated. Having guests blog is a good way of networking and bringing a style of writing change on your blog. This time though my topic was about my hometown it made sense to have no guest blogs.

Knowledge gained doing all the research
I am so happy i chose #AmazingAndamans as my theme this year cause there were so much information which was new to me also. I also made sure that what i wrote on my blog was correct and valid information since it would be helping readers out there who are interested in a vacation to the islands. I had to be more conscious of the facts and stats that was going up on my blog. I learnt a lot about the history and tribes of my islands beyond what was known to me.
For a matter of fact i think all travel related blogs hold responsibility of sharing valid information to its readers. Unlike a personal blog , travel blogs are a source of reference to readers and hence its our duty as a blogger to put up correct stuff on the blogs and i am glad i could answer many questions which i have heard over the years from people who want to travel to the islands along with my personal tips.

Social media – saved me!
I think a decent amount of visitors i got on my blog was from the social media accounts that i had. I got a good amount of response from Facebook specially from family and friends who were from Andaman and even the posts was shared on their profiles. Also Instagram and the #hashtags helped me gain lot of followers thereby having a significant increase both in my WordPress blog and Instagram handle.
As there was no linky list, the social media connect on Facebook for the a-z page also turned out to be a huge success. Since bloggers who sure shot posted their blogs as part of the challenge were commenting each day on the posts it made it easier to have track of all the bloggers who were actually participating in it unlike many blogs who would sign up but quit midway when there was a linky list happening.
One challenge that i found here was i would read the blog post of my blogger friends either via Facebook or Instagram when i would be on the go to work and thereby comment there itself or like it making it difficult for me to again go back to their WordPress account and doing the same thing. Did you face this?

Sign up for the challenge along with a group – Blogchatter
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. and this is what i have learnt being part of a community in general be it the a-z community or the Blogchatter brings in a lot of motivation to achieve your goals. Whenever i would think of quitting i would check the daily list on these two sites and would push myself to sit for those two hours post a hectic day to keep up with my resolution of completing the challenge. Even though i missed 7 posts of the 26 i think it was more than 70% and i did a pretty decent job. I really wanted to come up with an eBook which the blogchatter team is encouraging the members to do but am not sure if i really could do that maybe in the coming years i would definitely give it a try to get something published and this has got me thinking for next year’s theme which would do justice to an eBook. For now i think #galfromtheisland would make for a decent travel brochure for people looking to head out to Andaman islands for a vacation and this would be up soon on my blog.

Read, Follow, Comment, Share
Well I can keep iterating this all over again and again that the challenge is all about collaboration and networking. The whole idea of the challenge is to introduce us to other bloggers and to widen our blogging circle through reading and commenting.
I failed at this terribly this year as i could hardly keep up with any of the above said things. I hardly managed to read any new blogs except for a handful ; some salvation would be i ended up reading almost all the posts of few of my blogging friends like Reema, Shalini, Vinay.
During the last years challenge i had made up a plan of action for this years challenge and it was something like this – be prepared with the theme and topics in feb, schedule all posts by march and april would be all about reading, sharing , commenting and you all know how it went down the drain 😦 

My fav picks from the #AtoZChallenge

I am in awe with Reema’s post on 20 something life – i enjoyed every moment of it. As i hit thirty in about two months this series just reminded me of the decade 20 something life of mine. It was a flashback of all the memories, experiences and life lessons in 26 posts and to top it all of every song was just apt and made so much sense as the title of the posts.
Since my theme was travel i was happy to see Shalini’s blog on everything you ever wanted to know about Thailand. I have bookmarked her Thailand series and would have shared it with so many of my friends who are planning for a trip to Thailand. Also her cooking blog was yummy as always 🙂 With all the fav Indian dishes i think it was a perfect mix from chai to coffee, dhokla to rasam.
Vinay’s blog as i mentioned in the above – with all impromptu suggestions from his readers he put up the posts for the challenge.

New bloggers – on my fav list now

Met new bloggers like Soumya from Life of Leo – i really loved her blog and am sad i didn’t find this early but better late than never. Though her theme was all about books which i couldn’t relate much as am not an avid reader but i ended up reading her other work and I love love love her writing style – she is bold in her writing, and i know she hates when called bold 😛 I love her writing style cause she just speaks her mind which is what bloggers should do. If you don’t get what am trying to convey here you should head right to her blog.
Dr Bushra Nausheen’s post on A to Z of Pregnancy turned out to be a very informative post since my sister in law is due in august. The first thing i did was to share the link with her so that she can refer to the posts giving her the correct information from a doc herself.

A huge thank you and big hug to the below people for commenting on my posts so often that i am overwhelmed with joy and really grateful. 
Susanne Kim , Cheryl , Neha , Darla  , Pikakshi  , Bernice , Tina and 
Shinjini . I am going to revisit all of you to makeup for the delay. 

What worked and didn’t for me

Linky list – worked? Yes ! For me – No!
I am more of the To-do list kind it was easier for me when there was a linky list and i could easily search new blogs and check them out. Going through the comments and then navigating to the blogs was kind of challenging for me because i hardly got time to publish my own post so saving those links for future reference kinda thing ended being a tedious task. So for all those bloggers like me who were short in time would have preferred a linky list – are you listening co hosts?

Time zone
Since this challenge was open to all the bloggers in the world, time zone did make a huge impact as there was no linky list. Every day bloggers commented on the link page put up by the co hosts and it worked fine only issue was it took a lot of time to load the page with all the comments and then publish your comment with the particular day’s post. What happened is every time i would see the same set of bloggers comments on the top of the page and others towards the end due to the time zone difference. Having the linky list made it easier to track down the blogs below our own blog all in the same page for reference.

#AtoZChat – missed it!
Just like the linky list i missed the #atozchat which was a great way to come across new bloggers before the challenge even started. With the absence of both linky list and the #atozchat I could manage to read new blogs only when they commented or liked my post and kind of managed to reciprocate to theirs.

Survey
This year the Co-hosts have come up with a survey (designed by J. Lenni Dorner) with a certain set of questions which you can answer based on your experience throughout the challenge. I think this was a perfect ending to the challenge cause it really helps the co-host understand what the bloggers experienced and how the community page has helped its audience. I think this should be continued in the future years as well. If you have not yet taken the survey please do, and its open until May 20th. Take the survey here.

Finally a huge shout to all the amazing bloggers i came across this challenge, old and new. For sure i am going to come back and read all the missed posts during the days to follow cause i don’t want to give up on the reading at all. Thank you for all the comments and likes and congratulations for completing this ultimate blog challenge! A huge round of applause for the people behind the scenes from Arlee Bird who started this epic journey years back, all the co hosts and Blogchatter for making sure to post #atoz tips for bloggers throughout the month and for the constant support through mails, tweets etc.
All in all We survived ! We lived ! We conquered !

Until next year…. Live.Love. Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤
This is Sneha, #galfromtheisland signing off 🙂

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 25: Y for Yahoo!!! I belong here

Many have asked me how did my family and I end up in the Islands and as always i have loved to tell them my story 🙂 So here it goes….

My grandfather – mom’s father was deported to the Andaman and Nicobar islands in 1921 as part of the Moplah Movement . He later settled in the islands and had a family of his own, so my mother was born in the islands in May 1953. My dad would be around 20-22 years when he came looking for a job in the islands in the year 1974 as referred by his relatives in Kerala.

Mom and Dad – 1980

Mother grew up and studied hard and took teaching as a profession. While my father took up a central govt job with the Forest department in the islands.Now like any other love story, my parents met through mutual friends fell in love and 10th Feb 1980 they got married. My brother was born in April 1981 and i was born in July 1987. So that’s how we ended up in the islands. 

My first birthday (ignore the clarity)

Growing up in the islands – My home
I never understood what Concrete Jungles were until i moved to the mainland for my engineering. My house had the typical look of a farmhouse, with trees all around. I grew up to see greenery every day when i woke up, i grew up to see the beautiful sunrises and mesmerizing sunsets. I grew up to see the oceans and the sound of air and water. I never ever felt that i am being suffocated with any kind of pollution – air or water or anything you name it. It is not just because mine was an individual house but even my classmates who stayed in gated communities would have felt the same experience as mine while growing up. My house still looks the same with all the trees around and i love it.

Growing up in the islands – My school
I did my schooling from Carmel Senior Secondary School which is the sister school of Mount Carmel and the only Carmel branch which has co-education for both boys and girls. I owe a lot to my school education. The 13 years of my life that i spent in my school has had a major impact on my life. Carmel was is and always be the best school in the islands. Its not just about the best basic education that this institution provides but more so the moral values that my school has taught me to become the person i am today. Anything that I write will not be able to express what i feel for my school.  

The batch of 2006

Be it from being respecting each and every student as an equal, to take part in extra curricular activities, to respect students from rival schools and prove your worth not by words but by actions and bringing home all the prizes in competitions. My school always made sure we celebrated all kinds of festivals with pomp and show, my school made sure we learn about all aspects of life like taking part in social service campaigns, take part in school cabinet selection there by teaching us the importance of law and government etc, my school taught me that all work and no play would make john a dull boy.

Standard IX – Hindi Skit – find me 🙂

The best part about my school are my batch mates with whom i have spent 13 years. Today we are all in different places and busy in our own lives but still we have the unconditional love for each other as we have had growing up in the school.

A mini reunion with school friends in Port Blair back in 2010

Some of my best buddies who have always loved me the same way as they loved me back in school, they do not judge me or expect anything out of me but pure friendship. Thank you Farheen, Vincent, Benoy,Dweependu,Jayant, Kavita ,Mansi, Guha, Vivek, Zahid. There are few friends who never were as close while in school but have always encouraged me in some way or the other like my friend Rajasudha who always has shown her support be in the drawings i publish or the blogs i write.

With friends from senior batch Vishal, Anu, Manish : a reunion in Bangalore

Its’ not just the batch mates that maintain friendship but even the school seniors and juniors who throughout the years have maintained that friendship and always been a support. 
This year my school celebrates its 50th anniversary and am hoping to make a visit to my school in this year. We still have our teachers as friends in our facebook profile and i love that we could all still be in touch.

Growing up in the islands – The people of the islands
The islands are called “Mini India” and it can be truly justified. Various social divisions based on caste,religion, creed, language, region etc is totally non-existent. I never experienced communal riots, i never heard of fights between two different religions. For that matter even incidents of theft, murder, rape was all new to us locals. We would only hear about them in the new channels or the movies and serials. The life is simple in the islands and the habit of dining out and partying is still not common. There is no night life in the islands even though the sun sets by 5 pm, we are used to spending time with family friends and relatives. A picnic by the beach is our weekend getaway.
Unlike the cities elsewhere , people in Andaman and Nicobar Islands tend to know almost everybody they come across in everyday life. If you don’t believe it the next time you meet someone from the islands or you know someone from the island am sure i would know them too somehow, i bet you. Life in the islands is always calm and quiet and festivals or family functions are the places of gathering where everyone meets up. Respecting people for their culture has always been taught to us since the islands have people from all places of India. Also the literacy rate in the islands is about 90.27% and we have always been taught about other states and their cultures.
For me it comes even more naturally to respect other religions since my parents had an inter religion marriage. My dad is a Hindu while my mom was Muslim. So am brought up knowing about both religions and appreciating each culture.

What i miss most about the islands
People – i definitely miss home and all those family friends and relatives. I go once a year since i moved out for my higher studies back in 2006 and all my visit would be catching up with my friends and relatives. I miss all those celebrations of different festivals like Diwali, Eid, Durga puja , Christmas which is all celebrated at a big scale in the islands and everyone is a part of the celebration. I miss home definitely there is nothing to write about it in particular. I miss the morning tea dad has been making us since i have known. I miss the fights with my brother till date and few hours post that sitting and binge watching our fav movie or tv shows. Now even more when my sister in law is expecting and i cannot be with her to spend time ( well i am making up to her by going home for a month in august).
Nature – I miss the sea, i miss the clean air, i miss the beachessssss, i miss the chirping of birds and stars in the night sky. I miss island life.
Lifestyle – i miss the simple lifestyle of the islands. I miss the calmness in the city. Beauty of these islands lies in its simplicity. ❤

Why i cannot go back to the islands
We do not have IT jobs in the islands and that is one reason i cannot go back home. Though there are other jobs like government jobs and teaching but somehow i do not feel right to go back and take up a job for which i have not studied hard. I enjoy working and love my profession. And somehow i feel its the right balance between life in the islands and here in Bangalore. With a loving family who understands and supports my choices i feel blessed.

So yeah that was my story of what the islands means to me. How close are you to your hometown? Do you have a similar life work away from home and miss your growing up years? Please do share would love to read them.

Happy Blogging!!!. Live.Love.Laugh

P.S – and one more day and its a wrap, even though i missed a few posts in between and i always end up publishing the post end of day or the next day i think its okay as long as i can keep up with the challenge. #nostress 🙂

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 21: V for VOLCANOES of the Islands

Every time you think there couldn’t be anything more to the Andaman and Nicobar islands and i drop a bomb!! 😉 Yes!! The more you ask the more you have to explore various wonders of nature in these islands.

The Andaman and Nicobar islands are home to not just one but TWO VOLCANOES – BARREN Island and NARCONDAM Island also only ones in India which makes it important considering there are only about 500 volcanoes on earth.

Image Courtesy: Andaman Gov

Barren Island houses the only active volcano in India. The volcanic islands like only about 195 km east of the capital city Port Blair. About 135 km north east of Barren Island lies the other volcano Narcondam Island with no such activity in history. After lying dormant for 150 years, Barren Island volcano erupted in 1991 and has been showing sporadic activity since then, scientists of Goa based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) said.

Barren Island is roughly circular with a diameter of ~3 km and represents the topmost part of a submarine volcano rising more than 2 km above the sea floor. The highest point of the Barren Island volcano is ~200 meters from sea level. Barren Island is well known for its unique fauna and flora, including feral goats, as well as bats, parrots and large number of rats. 
There were past reports about the Barren Island that there are no fresh water source in Barren Island and the animals in the Island have adapted themselves to drink sea water is incorrect. At least 2 fresh water streams have been discovered in the Island and there is probability of more.

Eruption of 1991; PC – Andaman Gov

Volcano Eruptions : 1787–1832, 1991, 1994–95 and 2005–06. 2008-2009. During January and February 1995, a thick column consisting of pale brownish gas, dark ash particles, and white steam was rising ~200 m
from the crater area at intervals of 30 seconds, accompanied by continuous rumbling and intermittent “cracking” sounds.

The most recent activity of the volcano was this year March . The Coast Guard has presented footage of steam, smoke and some red lava that spewed from the volcano at Barren Island, some 140 kilometers north east of Port Blair. You can click the link below to watch the video. Night view of the Volcanic activity

Aerial view; PC – Andaman Government

How to go there:
It is a uninhabited Island and no one is allowed to land on Barren Island unless special permission(s) are granted by Indian Navy and Govt. of India. Though it is possible to observe the Island from on-board boats/ships for which no permission is required. Some travel agents organised fishing trips to Barren Island from Havelock. The nearest inhabited island is Havelock and Neil Island and the distance from there to barren is about 83 kilometers.
The Andaman Administration started ship trips to Barren Island for tourists (They were not allowed to set foot on Barren Island though) but discontinued the arrangement within few months probably because of operational costs.

NARCONDAM ISLAND:
Narcondam Island is a 6.8 km² oceanic island of volcanic origin located about 240 km northeast of Port Blair. The Island has been declared as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Center.
Narcondam is unique for the occurrence of the endemic Narcondam Hornbill (Aceros narcondami), which is found only in Narcondam. This Narcondam hornbill has the smallest range among the 31 species of Asian hornbills (Kinnaird and O’Brien 2007). The species is recognized as endangered in the IUCN Red List and is protected under Schedule I of the Wild Life Protection Act of India granting it the highest level of protection in Indian Laws.It has a strong evolutionary significance and has even been compared with the Galapagos Islands.

The Hornbill birds are found only in the Narcondam island

The waters surrounding Narcondam Island are legendary for being a “diver’s paradise” considering the North Bay islands are close to this island which is famous for water sports activities. An extinct volcano, Narcondam was put on the diving map by diving pioneer Jacque Cousteau who was the first to dive in these waters, describing “a wondrous realm of stunning marine life and coral reefs”. The diving here features magnificent coral formations, spectacular rocky drop offs and presence of pelagic and majestic creatures such as Manta Rays; plus gas bubbles rising from fissures in the ocean floor.
Narcondam has a check post of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Police which is supported in precisely this fashion, with some 20-odd members posted on duty for a few months by rotation. Of course, though Narcondam is a taller, larger island, mostly forest-covered and with very difficult terrain, the police check post there benefits from a never-drying cold freshwater spring.

Mud Volcano : As mentioned in my previous posts, the Baratang Island has the mud volcano which is the only one in Asia. You can see mud instead of lava being erupted of the volcano hole.If beaches were the only reasons for you to plan your trip to Andaman now you can add Volcanoes too 🙂 Do you have a Volcano in your place or country? Let me know!! 

Happy Blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤

 

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 21: U for Untouched & Unexplored Tribes of Andaman Islands

In the current times where technology has taken over everything and left no area influenced by its advancements and everything possible just by the touch of a button there are still people residing in these islands who rub wood to light a fire or sharpen the stones and branches to catch a hunt. Yes they still exist and not just few but the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are home to probably the most primitive tribes of the world. Tag along as i talk to you about the Untouched and Unexplored Tribes of these Islands.

The Andamanese and Nicobarese can be split into two broad tribal groups mainly based on their place of origin. The Andaman Islands are home to four ‘Negrito’ tribes where as – the Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa and Sentinelese. Where as the Nicobar Islands are home to two ‘Mongoloid’ tribes – the Shompen and Nicobarese.
The ‘Negrito’ tribes are believed to have arrived in the islands from Africa up to 60,000 years ago.The ‘Mongoloid’ tribes probably came to the islands from the Malay-Burma coast several thousand years ago.These primitive tribes have been living in isolation with each other; that is the reason why language of one tribe is not understood by another.

Great Andamanese :
Great Andamanese inhabit the ‘Strait Island’ located 53 nautical miles from Port Blair towards the east. The Great Andamanese are a Negrito tribe. The Great Andamanese tribe was killed in large numbers by the British during their occupation of the Andaman Islands, There population at that time was estimated to be above 6000. One such event known as the ‘Battle of Aberdeen’ killed thousands of Great Andamanese in a single day. Due to their decreasing population the Andaman and Nicobar Administration decided to colonize the tribes on isolated Strait island.

Memorial in the honor of the Battle of Aberdeen in Port Blair

Their population has grown to a number of 43 at present from a lowest known low of 10 in past. Since Andaman group of Island is very accessible, the culture of Great Andamanese is greatly affected by outside modern world. The popularity of Hindi movies and film-stars is one such example of outside influence. In spite of the all influences they still have retained much of their traditional cultures and customs. They are superstitious, for instance they believe that by chopping palm leaves into the sea water they are able to keep the sea storms away.
The Great Andamanese are good artisans and they are comfortable with both traditional and modern tools. They prepare their own ornaments, baskets, tools and Earthen pots. The ornaments they wear is made up of leaves, barks, and shells which is worn during traditional functions and dances. They have their own system and practice of medicine for instance for chronic back aches they pierce their body with a small piece of glass in a belief that it will drain off the bad blood from the person and thus relieve him/her from the pain. Before the advent of glass pointed stones were used for the purpose of piercing.
The new generation is sent to school and few of the local youth have been absorbed into Govt. jobs in the Island itself.

Courtesy – Abhishek’s blog on Rise and Falls of Great Andamanese

1901 Census figures indicate a total of 625 Great Andamanese with the largest number, 218 from the Jero tribe. In 1921 these figures came down.In 1949 the Forest Department tried to bring them together and settle them at the Bluff island, but because of their nomadic nature and different habits, these Great Andamanese tribes did not stay together for long. In 1969 the A & N Administration offered to help them if they stayed in Strait island. By this time the total number was just 23.

from left to right Neremo and his father Late Nao Junior in 2006

Very soon they all spoke one language which is Jero, with some words from the languages of the other tribes completely assimilated in Jero language. Since then their numbers have increased from 26 (1961 census), 23 (1971), 42 (21 males and 21 females) in the year 1981. The 1991 census shows their population as 47 and in 2001 census the figure is 43 (24 males and 19 females). Post Tsunami, all 43 have been reported safe. The numbers have mostly increased as a result of mixed marriages, since these people are free to mix with the people of the mainland, and have adapted to their way of life, speak Port Blair Hindi, dress like them, eat their kind of food, some of them have contractual jobs with the A&N administration, and it is not surprising at all that the younger generation does not know more than a few words of their language. Some of them do not know any Jero at all since most often they also communicate with each other in Local Andaman Hindi. The younger people like to spend maximum time in Port Blair at “Adi Basera” which is the base camp for the tribal provided by the Andaman & Nicobar administration.

Jarawa
Jarawa tribes were once the most feared tribals among all the aborigines of these Island group till 1995-96. Jarawa’s are ‘Negriod‘ tribes – They are short heighted and dark in colour. The term “Jarawa” is coined by the Great Andamanese people which means “The other People” because Jarawa’s never had friendly relationship with the Great Andamanese.
Jarawa’s live in “protected areas” in Middle Andaman, South Andaman and Interview Island.

Courtesy- Only Tribal

The Jarawas are excellent craftsmen as evidenced by the skill of making various metal tools and arrows. They are fond of red clothes though majority of them are found nude. As for food they are non-vegetarians and they mostly eat pork. It is known that the Jarawas do not kill deers for food.
They were very hostile in past and were known to attack with poisonous arrows. Every year during 1980’s there were numerous reports of villagers and workers been killed by Jarawa arrows. Various human expeditions by contact teams consisting of officials of Tribal welfare and anthropological society were undertaken in past near the interview island, where the team left eatables, red cloth, coconuts and plastic goods as gifts for the Jarawas.

Image source – Telegraph A bus driver giving biscuits to the Jarawa lady while crossing the Andaman Trunk Road

The Jarawa is no longer hostile since 1996 after a injured Jarawa boy named Enmei was treated at G B Pant Hospital at Port Blair. After the incident they have developed the understanding that the other fair skinned humans are not their enemies. With friendly contacts it was learnt that lots of negative details painted about them in past were untrue – few of them being : they eat human flesh, their sweat and saliva is poisonous etc.
As per government policies the entry into their area is forbidden. This is done to avoid their exposure to the outside world to and save them from the diseases from which they don’t have natural immunity and other exploitation that may happen over time. Isolation will also help to retain their ancient culture.  
The Andaman Trunk road passing though the South Andaman, Baratang and Middle Andaman runs deep within the Jarawa protected area. Daily hundreds of vehicles pass through the road thereby providing opportunities for both Jarawas and outsiders to interact with each other.

You can check for more photos of the jarawas from the site – http://photos.suchit.in/keyword/great%20andaman%20trunk%20road/

Initially the travelers gave biscuits, fruits and other eatables to the Jarawa’s and in return Jarawas allowed them to be photographed. Since 2002 when the Baratang Island limestone caves and the Mud volcano were opened for tourists, many tour operators started a practice of selling ‘Jarawa Sighting’ tour packages. Photography inside the Jarawa reserve area or contact with Jarawa is forbidden by law. Andaman and Nicobar police has now set up strict rules and monitoring process while travelling through the Jarawa reserve forest.

Onges:
The Onge’s are a Negrito tribe residing in Little Andaman. According to 1971 census they were 117 in number which have shown little variation till then. They live at 2 different colonies : ‘ South Bay ‘ and ‘ DugongCreek ‘ in Little Andaman. South Bay is accessible via land route passing through Harminder Bay which is only a few kilometers away from Hutbay (Hutbay is the main market place of Little Andaman). Official permission is required to enter the Onge reserved area. The best vehicle to reach South Bay is a Tractor as there is no defined roadway and route passing through creek.

PC – Andaman tourism dept

Dugong creek is an isolated settlement accessible by sea route. Dugong Creek settlement suffered severe damages in the 2004 Tsunami, although no lives were lost.
While the Onge men go out to the forest for hunting , the women will stay back at home and search the local area for roots and tubers under the soil. They have little interest in cultivation as agriculture was unknown to them before contact with modern world. Few years ago they never boiled their food because the concept of cooking was unknown to them. They use bows and arrows to catch fish along the shallow sea coasts. The fishing line and fishing net is still not popular among them. The local delicacy is honey : The Onges rub some special herbs to avoid the bee stings while they collect the honey from the hives. Hair dressing is done with the help of sea shells as razors and they paint their face / body with white clay.
The Onge children now go to school and they speak Hindi. The Department of agriculture has helped them to raise local crops and huge coconuts plantations. 

Shompen :
Shompen reside in the interiors of Great Nicobar Island (Southern-most piece of land belonging to India). The total population of Shompens is estimated to be 214 whereas during 1901 Census the population recorded was 348. They are of medium height with Mongoloid features. They were believed to be hostile earlier but in recent decades they have not shown any hostility and now have established trade relations with Nicobarese. The main activities of Shompens are hunting, food-gathering (They collect wild yams, roots, fruit, honey and insect larvae) and fishing. They love to hunt pig with their spears and they take help of pet dogs while hunting. They are nomads and wander from place to place within the jungles. They live in self-made huts. They are shy in nature and avoid to interact with others.

PC – xaam.org

The Shompen are the original inhabitants of the Great Nicobar but later on they were pushed to the interior part of the islands while some theory is the Shompens are an isolated group of primitive Malayans’. The existence of this tribe was first reported by Pastor Rosen, a Danish missionary in 1831 but Admiral Steen Bille was the first person to pay a visit in this area.
The Shompen settlements are generally irregular in shape, and they prefer to build these either on the slopes of the hill or at the bottom of a valley The village is normally situated near some water source.
Shompen males often visit Campbell Bay to barter various products they collect, especially wild honey. Sometimes, they go there to collect ration (they are not dependent on ration) which they bring to their village. Administration provides them free food, utensils, drinking water and medical facilities. A school is present near their area to impart formal as well as non-formal education. Below is a short video by Charles Sagigi

Sentinelese 
The Sentinelese are ‘Negroid‘ tribe and they inhabit the small North Sentinel Island (North Sentinel – Area: ~60 sq. km.) The sentinel islanders i.e. the Sentinelese because of the geographical separation from other islands have maintained strict isolation from rest of the world. In fact they are currently the only known Primitive people known in the world to live in complete isolation.
They are very hostile to outsiders and do not allow anybody to enter the North Sentinel Island and therefore not much is known about them. The attack with their self made bows and spears, which they otherwise use for fishing and hunting the wild pigs. Their population is an estimated value of about 100 based on the photographs and assessment of the contact teams sent periodically by Andaman and Nicobar administration. The contact teams usually consists of Officials from Directorate of Tribal welfare and anthropological scientists.
In 2006, 2 fishermen who were fishing illegally near the island were were shot by Sentinelese archers. The helicopters which was sent to retrieve the bodies was also greeted by arrows. After the tsunami the government again tried to help them by sending a few employees to the island with gifts but again, the same response followed.
Presently the policy of the Indian government is to leave the Sentinelese alone. Any access to North Sentinel island is strictly forbidden.The Sentinelese people are said to be so hostile that their home has been named the ‘hardest place to visit’ in the world.
The Video below is a documentation of an attempt to contact the Sentinelese (courtesy  Dale Andrews)

Nicobarese :
The Nicobarese have Mongloid features and they are a large population of over 27,000 (2001 census). They are horticulturist and pig-herders inhabiting large permanent villages mostly close to sea shore. They are not divisible into tribes, but there are territorial distinctions. Thus they may be fairly divided into six groups : the people of Car Nicobar, Chowra, Teressa with Bompoka, the Central Group, the Southern Group and the single inland tribe of the Shompen on Great Nicobar (mentioned above)

Typical Nicobari Hut

The differences to be observed is language, customs, manners and physiognomy of the several groups may, with some confidence, be referred to habitat and the physical difficulties of communication. Nicobari Families are patriarchal and as a rule live jointly. This joint family is known as Tuhet. There is no individual ownership, but the Tuhet owns land, coconut and pigs. Love marriage is very common and the age of marriage is sufficiently high. The chief article of food is the coconut, next in importance been Pandanus pulp , fish and rice.

The traditional dance attire of the Nicobarese

They are civilized and live regular lives like us. They go to school and even work in various government jobs in the islands. They also have reserved seats for engineering and medicine courses if they wish to pursue. They are very friendly people and have personal experience knowing them. My mother was posted to the Car Nicobar island where she used to teach the Nicobari kids in school back in 1998-1999.

The Nicobari kids off to school in their uniforms

I am proud to share with you two stories of two individuals from the Nicobarese tribe who have made the islands and India proud – World No 4 cyclist Deorah Herold

Deborah Herold

and Vaseem Iqbal the first tribal person to complete a PhD.  

Vaseem Iqbal

PLEASE DO READ THEIR STORIES, it’s not another story that you would read regularly. Also do share their inspirational stories to the world who still think Andaman is a very backward place. 😛

Government’s Strategy to protect the tribes:   To prevent the primitive tribes from the exploitation by the outsiders the area inhabited by the primitive tribes has been declared as tribal reserve area. Entry into the reserve area without permission is liable for punishment with imprisonment and fine. Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti (AAJVS) , an autonomous body set up in 1976 looks after the welfare of these primitive tribes.
 A research institute ANTRI (Andaman and Nicobar Tribal Research and Training Institute) started functioning at Port Blair (Oct-2013) with an objective of formulation of policies for the tribal integration with the developed society and protection and welfare of PVTG (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups) like Jarawas, Onges, Sentinalese and Shompens.

Growing up in the islands i have had the chance to only see the Nicobarese who are one among us now, the Onges and a Jarawa family who were brought to the main city hospital for some treatment and i happen to be there that time.
The Andaman and Nicobar islands strike the right balance between two extremes of civilization. On one hand the islands are one of the famous tourist destination in the world and on the other it is abode to the most primitive tribes of the world.
In India there are many other tribal settlements but am sure they are not as close to nature like the ones in the islands.Does your state or country have tribal settlement? Comment below and let me know.Happy Blogging!!!Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤

 

 

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 20: T for TSUNAMI | My experience

** Disclaimer : Lengthy Post **

It was a wonderful Sunday, 26th December 2004, a day just after the Christmas. Studying a convent school Christmas was a huge celebration for us in school and after week-long Christmas activities it was time to be back to studies. I was in my 11th standard and had my morning Chemistry tuition. As usual my dad left me at the tuition center and went to the temple as there was some special day (Makaravilaku Pooja). My mother and elder brother were at home and sleeping. Since the day starts pretty early in the islands, my tuition was around 5 am in the morning much better than the 4 am mathematics tuition I went. 

We were in the middle of the class when at about 6 am the plastic chair in which my sir was seated started shaking. Since our sir always used to play pranks on us, we thought this was also another prank and were about to ignore it when the wooden sofa in which we were seated also started shaking terribly. And it just struck us that it’s another earthquake and we all stood up to rush out. Living in Andaman, earthquakes was never new to us, the islands are on the tectonic plates hence earthquake was not something the locals were not aware of. Only thing different about this time’s earthquake was that as we were heading outside the house the tremors were not stopping at all and it was more than just few seconds. We were not even able to walk out properly, the tremors were that bad and somehow we were all out under the open. I even fell down and broke my specs that I was wearing. I think the tremors lasted for at least 5 minutes which was unusual and then it stopped. By that time everyone was outside their houses and shocked as to what had just happened. We were just making sure that everyone was okay. Our sir told us to call our parents and called off the classes. All my close friends stayed in the same area so they all rushed to their houses to see if everything was okay. I gave a ring to my dad and he was also in shock and said he felt the tremors too and is on his way to pick me up.

Car Nicobar beaches destroyed by Tsunami

Dad came and picked me up. Before we left the area he suggested that we go and buy some fresh vegetables from the harbor side market and some sea food. We also went and met one of our relatives whose house was very close to the harbor. They stayed in government quarters and there were major cracks in the floor and walls. We checked on them and went to the market.  Suddenly we heard people talking that the passenger waiting hall at the port broke and fell in the sea, I was very curious to see it and started insisting on my dad that we go have a check. My dad scolded me and was like there would be too much crowd and the police would start chasing off people, so we better hurry up and reach home. He tried to call the landline but it was out-of-order and we assumed it to be because of the tremors. While we were hurrying buying few grocery we suddenly saw the crowd running towards us from the harbor and shouting “paani aa raha hai “ which meant water is coming. All of us around there couldn’t understand what meant by “pani aa raha hai” and the need to run. For the local this only meant the daily water supply that all the houses get and so people running shouting this line was weird. We tried to look a little further and we saw something that I would have never ever thought of or would ever want to see it again.

At about 6.30 am a huge wave almost five times the height of me (am 5”2) coming towards the market area and people running away from it. We couldn’t believe our eyes and all we wanted was to RUN. This was the same wave which hit Chennai and other places in India at about 9.30 am. My dad started the bike and we were riding as fast as possible among the chaos which already had started by this time. I still remember the moment when we were passing by the main road and the parallel street where the water was just flooding in was where my friends stayed. Tears rolled down my eyes because it was too late for us to go warn them and as the corner of my eye could see as far as possible it was water filling up the roads and houses. The only thought running in my dad and my mind was to reach home and be with mom and brother before we breathe our last. Meanwhile tremors kept happening and we were trying to warn as many people on the road shouting “pani aa raha hia” and like us no one was able to figure out what it meant. By the time we reached home mom and brother were standing in the front yard and looking panicked. Many of the coconut trees and other trees were uprooted or fallen down due to the earthquake. We tried explaining what we saw near the harbor and asked mom and brother to pack up anything important and to leave to some higher ground. Our house was near a school ground which was on a pretty higher area we decided to move up there. My mom just took some water bottle changed her night-dress and we headed to the big ground. By the time we reached almost everyone in our locality were also present there. I remember before leaving the house the huge crack on the floor and walls and were not even sure if we would come back alive. We were only happy for the fact that all four of us were together now. Everyone started talking what happened. None of us had ever heard of the natural phenomenon called Tsunami. We kept hearing people here and there as they came to the ground that the water is coming in big height waves and people are being taken into the sea etc. We stayed in the ground a day or two. I am still not able to remember what happened actually. The tremors continued but not like the one in the morning. When things got a little cooled down we came home. Everything was shut, no electricity no landline connection nothing at all. 

In this photo released by the Indian Coast Guard, a view of the North Sentinel Island from which the sea retracted after the Dec. 26 tsunami, and exposed coral reefs, foreground, in India’s Andaman and Nicobar archipelago.

This was my last memory of the tsunami. Thankfully other than the cracks in the house and the trees getting uprooted nothing happened to us or in our area since it was in a heighted place. But as hours went by we started hearing about people whom we know who got wiped off in the tsunami waves, their houses lost, family members lost. So many of my very close people lost lives. My friend Kavita’s dad who was posted in another island survived day one of the tsunami waves but eventually we never head back from him ever again. I remember my mom’s close friend who lost her elder son daughter in law and both the grand children in the tsunami. As days went by we got to know how severe the tsunami was in the islands. Due to lack of connectivity there was a huge communication gap. Once the landlines were up we informed our relatives in Kerala that all of us were fine and nothing happened to us. Then the news channels started showing the tsunami breaking news and even then it was about how badly Chennai was hit and “also Andaman”. 

The world especially India didn’t know how badly the Andaman and specially the Nicobar islands were hit by the Tsunami until the journalist Deepak Chourasia reached the islands. Almost 3 to 4 huge water wave wall swiped the entire island chain to destruction. Cars and other vehicles on the trees, house demolished, and roads filled with water. The entire air force residential area in the Nicobar Island got swept out. The Trinket Island broke into three pieces. The southernmost tip of India – Indira point’s light house was submerged by 4 mts. Many other islands. We kept hearing news of family and friends who lost lives. How bad the damage was and the relief work which started. Every day we would hear the news of someone found in some place, the lucky ones or the bodies of someone found under some building. It was a bad time. I remember since many schools were ruined and teachers lost their lives the public was being brought to Port Blair and all the city school students were sent to the relief camps for teaching them. I think this was about a month or so am not sure. I remember teaching the primary class students and like me many other people had started coming in to help in the relief work.

Reefs visible after the water levels changed

I was lucky to not have faced any personal loss not even materialistic but this event would always remind us of how small we are in front of nature. I remember a girl from my school Almas she was in 5th standard then.

Almas, 5th standard. Resting at her relatives place after being rescued from Nancowrie

Her missing report was being shown all over the news channels. She had lost her dad, her mother her younger sister and everyone from her maternal side in the tsunami. And the relief soldiers found her after some days. When the former President Late Shri A.P.J Abdul Kalam visited the islands few of us from the school were sent to attend the event and he called for this girl and made her sit on his lap and pamper her. It was an emotional scene leaving everyone’s eye wet. 

Locals of Nicobar Island

Andaman and Nicobar Islands survived the 9.2 Richter scale earthquake which triggered the Tsunami. It took the islanders about a year or so to come into regular life but we did. We didn’t lose faith and hope and we didn’t fight over things. We helped each other and stood by each other. We opened our doors for the homeless, we shared whatever we could with the deprived ones.

Loveleena, 4, receives food at a relief camp in Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on Jan 5, 2005.

Well this was my experience of the Tsunami. Just to state some more generic information about one of world’s tragic incident.

  • The western coast of Indonesia was shaken by a 9.2 magnitude earthquake, the fourth biggest in recent times.
  • The damage was felt in 14 countries, and 1.7m were made homeless in the aftermath. It was not one but subsequent Tsunami waves that left so many people homeless
  • It was also the longest earthquake ever recorded, lasting for between eight and ten minutes. Normally, a moderate earthquake might last a few seconds.
  • There was no tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean to detect tsunamis or to warn the hundreds of thousands of people who lived in coastal areas.
  • Banda Aceh is the worst hit, with more than 60 per cent of its buildings destroyed by a wave that was over 30ft high.
  • The gap between the first Tsunami wave and the next was very less which left people surprised and no chance to recover from what happened.
  • The city of Port Blair, got saved because of the Ross island which divided the huge waves to two parts
  • The ancient knowledge of secret signals in the wind and sea combined to save the five indigenous tribes living for centuries in the Andaman and Nicobar islands from the catastrophic tsunami.
  • Katchal Island, part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, was one of the worst affected of the islands having lost some 90 percent of it’s population in the devastation by the tsunami waves.
  • As of today, many tsunami warning systems have been established and whenever there is heavy cyclone, depression or earthquake Tsunami warning is sent out across the island chain to warn people.

Its only during natural calamities when its humanity against nature that brings humans close to each other. And time and again it has been proven that the former always wins.

I dedicate this post to all those who lost their lives all over the world in the 26th December 2004 Tsunami. I also dedicate this post to all the family and friends of the people who lost their lives for whom it was such a big loss. I dedicate this post to all those people who contributed even in the tiniest way possible to support the relief work. God bless all !!!

Happy Blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 18: R for ROSS ISLAND | Remains of History

~~ It feels good to be lost in the right direction ~~

Click by me (sometimes i manage to capture something nice)

Ross Island was discovered by Archibald Blair, a prominent hydrographer of the East India Company and later Governor General of India in the late 18th century. Ross Island once an administrative headquarter of the Britishers is just few miles from the Port Blair before the moved out from here to Port Blair due to the 1941’s earthquake.Until then the Britishers settled in the Ross Island with their families and all the basic amenities like Bakery, Church, Water Distillation plant, Hospital, swimming pool, tennis court etc was made available for the families. 

Water Distillation Unit

This made it easier for the British officers to row down to Port Blair and monitor the construction of the Cellular Jail which is visible from the island. Also, the name of the island was given after Sir Daniel Ross, a known marine survivor of the days.

The port at Ross Island

Currently the Indian Navy has rebuilt some of the remaining structures like the bakery to make these remain for a little more longer in the history. Below is an image of the Church in the 1940’s and now.

The Church back in 1940’s at Ross Island
The Church now

This island has no settlement and only people who are put up here are the Indian Navy for security reasons. Tourists generally come here for 2 to 3 hours considering its one of the must visit place in your Andaman vacation travel, but if ask me it’s a place where you can spend a whole day and still not want to leave it.

Did you notice the peacock?

The best part about this island is you can walk around the coastline and complete one full circle of the island spread over 70 acres:) while witnessing beautiful seascape, trees, birds, peacocks and deer  up close which would be a breathtaking moment as it’s not possible in today’s city life where all you can see is buildings, malls and roads around you.

Shades of blueeeee

Since the island is right in the middle of the sea, one can experience cool wind breeze which is very refreshing.  

The beach is very small in width on the other end, also if you notice every where boards are placed stating not to loiter the place.

One can explore all the remains of the British settlement and this might even surprise you that they had even built up tramlines. There is another theory which says there is a high possibility of a underground sea tunnel which was built from Ross Island to Port Blair. The exit point being under the huge Mahatma Gandhi Statue reading a book in the Gandhi Park. 

The Japanese occupation of the Andaman Islands occurred in 1942 during the WWII. The Japanese bunkers and cannon still stand as a memorial in this island.  
Japanese bunker

A light and sound show similar to the one in Cellular Jail is shown from Monday to Sunday except on Wednesdays and Public Holidays. The show starts at 5.15 pm and one can take the 4 pm boat from the water sports complex in Port Blair and to reach the island after the 15 min boat ride. 

North Bay Island as seen from Ross Island

Note for first timers – Do not expect any water sports activity here or restaurants except for a couple or two small tea shops run by the navy. Do carry your ID card because it would be registered in the log books of the Indian Navy. Because it is a remote island, please carry all essentials. You won’t find a shop.Do not visit the island without a watch on your hand, because you can be mesmerized by the beauty of the island and easily miss your ferry back 🙂 🙂 🙂

Ross Island by far is my favorite place/island ( 😉 ) of all the islands in Andaman and Nicobar and surprisingly this island does not have a beach. Yes! Now you may wonder how come an island does not have a beach  secondly why would a place without a beach be my favorite even though there are other beautiful places like the Radhanagar beach or the Neil Island. And I totally agree, it’s a fair question. 

Aerial image of Ross Island

My top five reasons why I love the Ross Island are  

  1. It’s just 15 to 20 minute boat ride from Port Blair and hence the most visited island. Also it’s called the gateway of Port Blair as its present right in the middle of the open ocean. 
  2. These islands have super friendly deers that come close to you (reminder: Feeding these deers is a punishable offense) 
  3. If lucky you would end up seeing a couple or more peacocks. As a kid when there were not much tourists visiting these islands, I remember looking for peacock feathers fallen on the ground and would always be lucky to get at least one.
    The old printing press

     

  4. These islands are picturesque even more because of it ruined architecture. The old remains of the British settlement now standing with the support of banyan trees and nature taking over the creation of man engulfing all of it on its own. This island definitely makes you feel nostalgic. 
  5. The best part side of the island is the back side the one which faces to the open ocean. Earlier when people used to visit these islands for picnic they would settle down almost near the port side and have fun but my family always used to walk down to the other side. A 10 minute walk and the other side of these islands is open. Before Tsunami there was a small stretch of beach where we would spread our mats and sit and have fun but post Tsunami, the beach got sinked. It was because of Ross Island that the Capital city, Port Blair was saved from one of history’s tragic earthquake and tsunami, the water waves which were almost 10-15 meters in height got divided into two directions once it hit the Ross Island. The damage done was the submersion of the small peaceful beach on this opposite side I am talking. Now It’s just few rocks and then directly the open ocean. 

So yeah there you go, all the reasons why I love this island. And all my reasons justified in these images you saw so far. I must tell you this is one island when you won’t stop clicking pictures 🙂 

Still not over, hold on few more 😛

Night view of Ross Island from Port Blair – PC : Experience Andamans
The coconut trees
The Banyan trees that engulf the whole island

Happy Blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤

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