Tag Archives: tsunami

#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 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