Monday, April 22, 2013

NDTV's double standards on twitter abuse

This article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it below for reference.

Those who tweet regularly are quite familiar with the common complaints of the media folks - I am being abused. NDTV's group editor, Barkha Dutt, always goes a step further. At every available opportunity, she talks about the need to regulate social media to contain this abuse and how "online venom" is dangerous etc. Given her strong position this, one would imagine that NDTV will never give a platform for known abusers. And here's where NDTV stumped everyone - twice in a week! 

The topic for their weekly show, The Big Fight, was "Twitter wars" - alluding to the recent hashtag "war" on twitter between supporters of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. And quite expectedly, the moderator of this show, Mr. Vikram Chandra (who is also CEO, NDTV) bought in the topic of "abuse". So far, so good. 

One of the panelists on this show was Mr. Sanjay Jha, known quite well for his abuse and a regular face of the Congress on many TV channels (including NDTV). A newslandry journalist pointed this out on the show itself - he read out an abusive tweet in which Mr. Sanjay Jha calls Mr. Narendra Modi as "badmaash". This was just a sample. Mr. Sanjay Jha is capable of far worse (even makes wierd, unwanted references to Mr. Modi's personal life). Mr. Sanjay Jha proudly agreed to this - that he strongly stands by that tweet. He says that it is the "truth" that Mr. Modi is a "badmaash".

I asked Vikram Chandra if he believed this amounted to abuse. He agreed. I asked him why he didn't do anything about it when this happened on his show. I am yet to receive a logical and satisfactory answer. 

Not to be left behind, almost parallely, another high profile journalist of NDTV, Sreenivasan Jain did a program on the exact same topic. This was not a debate but just a 20 minute show, bizarrely titled, "Truth vs Hype". Sreenivasan Jain went a step further and interviewed the worst ever serial abuser the net has ever seen - Amaresh Mishra. 

Amaresh Mishra has threatened to kill people. He even threated to kill the Gujarat CM, Mr. Narendra Modi. He is a known Congress leader. There have been news items on him before his advent on twitter. He claims that he met Digvijay Singh and Rahul Gandhi recently and discussed with them! 

Infact, in their show, NDTV clearly shows a tweet in which Amaresh Mishra wishes that "sanghis" are raped and killed. And they very mildly ask him "is this not abuse?". The mild tone is difficult to miss - one should contrast this to the posture NDTV anchors adopt to "abuse" on twitter. Amaresh Mishra then goes on to explain how they worked as a team to make sure one hashtag was trending. 

Despite such clinching evidence, NDTV merrily airs the 2 minute segment on Amaresh with not even a mild rebuke. And suddenly one day we see, that the 2 minute clip on the program is edited out! Many tweeple have persistently questioned Sreenivasan Jain on why this clip was removed - was it because of Amaresh's reference to meeting Rahul Gandhi? Sreenivasan Jain replies back saying they took that clip out because a tweeter alerted them about Amaresh's death threat to her! 

The explanation is bizarre to say the least! Does he mean to say that if the said tweeter hadn't alerted, he (and NDTV) had no qualms in giving platform to such a blatant abuser? NDTV itself has aired his abusive tweets and has tried to equate them with non-descript abuse from independent tweeters. Why has NDTV decided to be a platform for helping Amaresh Mishra spread abuse and hatred? Why does NDTV not have any reservations on airing abuse by Sanjay Jha?

Day in and day out, many anchors rant about being abused. And merrily and happily, they provide a platform to known abusers from the Congress side. "Twitter war" is not a new phenomenon. Over the past 3-4 years, the monopoly of the english TV media was being challenged on social media. The "war" has been happening since 3-4 years, but the media chose to ignore it because it exposes them! But curiously (and perhaps conveniently) today, the media wakes up to a BJP vs Cong "war" and tries to further their agenda of "rampant abuse" on twitter! And in doing this, NDTV takes the help of known abusers! The irony can't get anymore amusing. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sagarika's open lies ...

The Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi gave two speeches in Delhi yesterday. Both were laced with content, and the reaction of the usual suspects was on predictable lines. In the morning, he spoke at a FICCI event and addressed women entrepreneurs. In the evening, he spoke at a Network 18 event, Think India. 

Since the reactions of the "national media" was going on predictable lines, I thought there was no point writing a blog deriding their illogical arguments. But they upped the ante this time. 

The Deputy Editor of CNN-IBN, whose parent company Network 18 organised this event tweets this:

Why didn't Modi stay and take any questions? Was he afraid of another India Today conclave situation? Not fair, Modiji! #thinkindia

This is shocking beyond belief. She is resorting to blatant lies in today's day and age. And she holds the position of Deputy Editor in the channel! 

Mr. Narendra spoke at the event for about an hour. He took multiple questions for nearly 35 minutes. He took questions on a range of topics - centre-state relations; FDI; Trade with other countries; privitisation; labour reforms; land acquisition; defence equipment; message to the youth - he took questions from Raghav Bahl who is the MD of Network18. He took some questions from the audience too. All this on Live TV. LIVE even on CNN-IBN. And yet the deputy editor has blatantly decided to lie to her followers by asking "Why didn't Modi stay and take any questions?"

And what does she mean by "Was he afraid of another India Today conclave situation?

Editor-in-Chief on CNN-IBN, Rajdeep Sardesai had this to say (amongst other things):

#thinkIndia Modi did speak well on the subject given: 'Less govt, more governance'. But shld have been ready to take more qs.

These folks are never happy I guess! There has to be a "but" just for the sake of it! Anyways, while that is a matter of opinion on whether he "should have taken more questions" despite having a flight to catch, the open and blatant mis-information by the deputy editor is shameful to say the least. Worst part is that none of the CNN-IBN journos even felt it right to correct her. I guess the hatred runs very deep. 

I have asked Rajdeep Sardesai for a clarification on this and he replied. Sagarika Ghose is yet to make any attempt to correct her tweet. 

@ssudhirkumar would have been more accurate to say: should have taken more questions.

On a side note, while Mr. Modi was busy detailing many ideas, news anchors were busy deriding the “war of hashtags” on twitter. Speaks volumes about their priorities!

Rahul at CII summit

This article was written for NitiCentral. Pasting it here for reference :) 

"Indeed, Mr. Gandhi — in a marathon and somewhat rambling 75-minute long interaction — offered no road map or specific solution, sticking to a general, if folksy, analysis of the situation in the country,..."

No, it's not another rant by a disgruntled troll on the net. That excerpt is picked up from a report in The Hindu. Slowly, the tide seems to be turning, all thanks to the efforts by Rahul Gandhi himself! The more he talks, the more he reveals the vaccum in his thought process! 

But there is this self proclaimed "national media" that still refuses to call the bluff of Rahul Gandhi. Let's start with the IBN stable. 

Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai had this to say:

Rahul speech: very average. Q and a responses; very, very good.

Not just good. Very Very Good.

Rahul Gandhi read a speech for 26 minutes. Infact, he lost a paper in between and said “I lost it”! There was nothing new in his speech. It was just another rant. And then he said that "he'd be happy to answer questions".  

The first question was on Centre-State relations and how it's affecting the economic policy in India. It is safe to presume that the basis for this question is the recent FDI fiasco that UPA presided over. Rahul Gandhi goes on a tangent - says this is not about Centre-State at all... it is about the village pradhan. The village pradhan does not have the power, so anything else is a waste of time to discuss! 

Whilst people were still recovering from the answer, the second question was posed. One gentleman wanted to know his thoughts on water management, given the precarious nature of its availability these days. Frankly, the question was a very good one - something no politician has been posed in recent times. And here's where Rahul Gandhi's "very very good" answer blew out the minds of lakhs of folks watching it! 

He continued his rant - It's not just about water but it's about the system. You cannot get anything done within this system blah blah blah. And then he goes into giving power to billion people; rants about power being in the hands of few; moves to how Youth Congress elections are held; then enlightens that individuals cannot solve problem of a billion people; that it doesn't matter what Rahul Gandhi thinks about an issue because it is "irrelevant"; and then I lost interest in what he was ranting about!

He answered 2 questions for about 30 minutes (longer than his written speech) and in summary he said this - " You are foolish to imagine that I'd solve any of your problems. And because I can't do it, I tell you this with full authority - No one can solve your problems. Anyone telling you otherwise lying."

It's such a sad reflection of the quality of political analysis on our TV when the Editor-in-Chief of IBN thinks that this oft repeated rant is a "very very good" answer to a question of better water management. 

Meanwhile, National Bureau Chief of IBN, Mr. Bhupendra Chaubey says this (amongst some other gems): 

Rahul G clearly challenging Namo, that's what he is saying by talking about "individuals" #RGCII

Not to be left behind, Pallavi Ghosh says:

Rahul's dig at modi? " It can't be about one person"

Outside of the IBN stable, Director, The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy, Ms. Malini Parthasarathy tweets:

Rahul Gandhi's excellent warning to India not to fall into messiah trap but to hear aspirations of billions

It's amazing how these "analysts" don't see the supreme irony in Rahul Gandhi saying it's not about individuals. Ms. Malini even paraphrased it as his warning not to fall into messaih trap. This same Rahul Gandhi never misses an opportunity to extol about Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi - all individuals. This same Rahul Gandhi never misses an opportunity to credit Rajiv Gandhi - an individual - for all the supposedly great things that this country has seen. This same Rahul Gandhi, in his recent Jaipur rant, has fully credited Mr. Manmohan Singh - an individual - for getting us out of the 1991 crisis. And this same Rahul Gandhi has enlightened us yesterday that this same individual, Mr. Manmohan Singh, cannot solve all your problems! 

But hey, analysing like this would mean that you miss a chance on hitting out at Modi, so why go down that road? 

But this speech also ruffled a few feathers. Like I said, the tide is slowly turning. Almost all the "national" news anchors were wondering why Rahul is still ranting against the "system" when he had the power to change it?

Vikram Chandra, CEO of NDTV: The problem with #RahulGandhi criticizing "the system" is that he and his party ARE the system right now! Solutions, pls!

Rajdeep Sardesai: Rahul speech: nice first principles, but where are the solutions Mr Gandhi? Or is that left to Dr Singh?

This is the exact same point that the trolls on the internet have been making since 2007 ! Rahul has dismal record of participation in any law making activity, and yet hasn’t faced a single tough question from any media (even in press conferences) so far.
The contradictions in Rahul Gandhi's speeches are so open for anyone to see - but if one chooses to be blind to the content and harp of charm, it's a real tragedy.

Finally, not to be left far behind, Sagarika Ghose has this to say:

Liked how Rahul presented himself, tho. Low key and informal. None of the swagger and bombast of You Know Who..

Sensible strategy of Pappu not to try and compete with Chappan in loud aggro swagger. His only hope is to sell the contrast in persona..

Great language coming from a deputy editor of a "national news channel".

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Full Meals from Andhra Pradesh!

Recently, Centre Right India celebrated their 3rd anniversary by hosting a "food blogging  festival". Along with Kiran and Sangeetha, I presented to them a full meals from Andhra Pradesh. Pasting it below for reference :). I strongly recommend that you read the other cuisines on that site too (though no one did it in as much detail as we did!) - it's mind-blowing :) 

Food, like knowledge, is an ocean! And without second thoughts, we are sure that in this category, the Indian Ocean will be thse largest in the world! It's not just about the size but  the passion this ocean evokes! It's about the culture and history that this ocean has witnessed. Don’t worry, we are not digressing into history and politics :) 

We’ve seen food lovers write about important items from various cuisines all this week. Every item had a rejoinder though - "the cuisine is vast, and cannot be restricted to this one item". We totally agree - to restrict a cuisine to one or two items is very difficult. And hence, we have decided to offer the readers a full plate of Andhra meals! We’ll discuss with you folks what we eat from breakfast to dinner; give you options to choose from; and lastly, make sure you end up craving for our food once you finish reading this! 

Fellow blogger Ratnakar has already mentioned about a few items, making life easier for us J

Before proceeding to the main menu, here's a focus point that has always fascinated us - Combinations! It’s always fascinating to understand the minds of the genuises who invented such combinations. For example: 

1.    Who was the genius who figured out that plain dal + ghee with steaming hot rice is the pathway to culinary heaven?
2.    How did someone figure out that you can mix minnapappu (Urad Dal) with biyyam (raw rice), grind it, and make lip-smacking dosas?
3.    How did the genius know that if you grind some items together, a masala is made, which when cooked with meat will make you fall in love with it? 

Such innovations are what define our culinary culture! So in this blog, we will not only talk about the various items that we eat, but also suggest the best combinations to have them in! Without further ado, let's get started! 


There are three sub categories in this:

1.    Actual breakfast item
2.    Accompanying chutney
3.    The apt combination!

Some dishes are generic across South India and some are specific to Andhra, like the Pesarattu Upma detailed below!

Actual Breakfast items:

Idli – most common breakfast in many households . The batter is usually prepared the previous night to allow it to settle. Idlis can be made in various shapes – round and square!
Dosa – the sound of water sprinkled onto the pan is legendary! You feel hungry the moment you hear that – it means the tiffin is getting ready! Unlike Idli, this batter can be prepared in the morning itself. Preparing the batter the previous night would result in the lip-smacking “pullattu” – mostly savoured in AP only! 
Pesarattu – A variant of dosa – just that this is made with a batter made of “pesara pappu (green gram)” , onions, ginger, chilli etc.
Upma – Another regular breakfast at many households – perhaps because of the ease with which it can be made. Typically made with “bombay ravva a.k.a sooji”, or “godhuma nooka (wheatlets)” or with “biyyam ravva (rice flour)”.
Gaarelu/Vada – this is the single most innovative design of a sheer genius. What else can he/she be called who came up with the idea to slowly spread the batter, make a hole in the middle and deep fry it in oil? This tiffin is generally made during festive occasions and not a regular (because of the oil that is needed for it!)
Poori – nothing much to talk about this; self-explanatory :D. In school, we had a staple question in many quizzes – why does the poori puff? By the way, how on earth did the genius know that you can make both chapatis and pooris from the same flour?!

Accompanying chutneys

Groundnut Chutney
Coconut Chutney
Ginger Chutney
Onion Chutney
Putnala pappu chutney

All of them will have a tinge of tamarind and chilly in them. It is almost mandatory that a chutney has to accompany the main breakfast! Now, let’s get to the combinations!

Apt Combinations

1.    Idli goes well with all chutneys, but here’s the expert tip. Instead of making a semi solid groundnut chutney, make it a liquid one. Pour that chutney on your idli, mix it like you mix rice and savour it! Groundnut chutney suits the best for this fun!
2.    Pesarattu and Upma (made from sooji) is a god-send combination! This means that you end up making two items on the same day, but trust us, it’s worth it! Ratnakar explains it more in detail here. Allam chutney is a superb combo to go with it!
3.    Dosa goes well with all chutneys but tastes better with coconut and ginger.
4.    Gaarelu/vada go very well with coconut chutney!

In many households, dinner on Saturday evening is a breakfast item. “Dibba rotti” (fat roti) is made with Idli batter. A lot of batter is put into a deep pan and slow-cooked.

Farmers also prefer having just Rice with starch – mainly because of its richness.

After such a heavy breakfast, it’s time to nap a bit and get ready for lunch! We love to have a full course meal that satisfies every single taste bud. So, here goes the list!


Following are 8 courses, out of which we typically have at least 3-4 courses everyday!

1.    Start with pickles or powders
2.    One fry item
3.    One curry with gravy
4.    Dal (with tomato or green leafy vegetables )
5.    Flavoured rices (flavoured rices are not made everyday, but since they are special, we are mentioning them here) or White Rice
6.    Rasam/Sambar/Pulusu
7.    Curd/Buttermilk
8.    Appadam (papad), odiyalu, majjiga mirapakayalu (to accompany curd rice J).

Pickles and powders

We’re fanatics when it comes to pickles and powders! I think more than the famed biryani, this is what defines our cuisine best!

Pickles are of two types:

1.    Long-term pickles (nilva pachhadlu)
2.    Short-term pickles

Long term pickles are those that are edible even 6 months after they are prepared:

1.    Mango (avakaya) – mother of all pickles!
2.    Tomato
3.    Usirikaya
4.    Prawns (mmmmmm – mother of non-veg pickles) etc

Short term pickles are made instantly, in small quantities and can be devoured instantly ;).

1.    Gongura Pachadi –Affectionately referred to as the Pedda Aadapaduchu (the eldest daughter) of Telugus in our home! No Telugu meal is complete without a jar of Gongura pachadi on the dining table. It’s as healthy as it is tasty. Rich in Iron and anti- oxidants, this is an item that has married itself into the lifestyles of our people. Nearly every telugu person is certain to have a bottle of this pickle somewhere in his/her room ( well hidden, of course)

2.    Vankaya (Brinjal) pachadi- This chutney of brinjal is slightly similar to the North Indian “Baingan ka bhartha” but has more spices and isn’t cooked for a second time after the oil soaked brinjals are slow roasted on an open fire. The abundance of onion and green chillies establishes its place among the flagship items of Telugu vegetarian cuisine

3.    Beerakaya (Ridge Gourd) Pachadi: Did you know that you can make a yummy chutney out of ridge gourd skin? This is something only a Telugu grandmother can think of. While the gourd, cut into small cubes is sautéing happily as part of a dal ensemble, the outer “chilka” is mashed and ground into a chutney and served with a strong urad-chana-red-chilly tempering. Waste no part of the vegetable is the motto of the gult kitchen.

We have long-term pickles stored at home, so the short term pickles are not made on a daily basis. But when made, they stand out!


There are numerous varieties in this humble category too, with some varieties more popular than the others:

1.    Pappula podi – made with roasted chickpeas (putnaalu/daliya). A simple preparation with roasted chickpeas, chilli powder, salt, jeera and garlic ground to a fine powder. Tastes heavenly when had with steaming hot rice mixed with a dollop of ghee.
2.    Dhaniyala podi – this is the godsend gift when your tastebuds are dead because of cold or fever and you don’t feel like eating anything. The tamarind + dhaniya flavour brings your tastebuds alive and makes you feel hungry for more. It goes well with hot idlis too.
3.    Karivepaku podi – preparation is very similar to dhaniyala podi, but has curry leaves (yeah, baby! You read it right) as the main ingredient. Even the staunchest of curry-leaf haters can’t help but appreciate its taste when made with the right ingredients in right proportions.
4.    A lot of green leafy vegetables are dried and ground to powder with tamarind, cumin seeds, chilli powder and salt (some people prefer to add jaggery/sugar for that sweet+tangy taste). These are healthy as there are no fried ingredients, just dried leaves and rest are all fresh ingredients. But they stay fresh for a long time and can be had with hot rice or any snacks/tiffins anytime.

These podulu/powders can be mixed with oil (yes, plain simple cooking oil) or ghee to give it a different taste while having with rice or idli.

We now move to flavoured rice

1.    Pulihora (Tamarind Rice, but more funnily called Tiger Food because Puli=tiger!) – this is the mother of flavoured rices and the right taste can be enjoyed only in Andhra Pradesh. Every festival/function at home, every special occasion means only one thing – we have Pulihora that day! There are some variations to this – simpler versions made with lemon/mango. The main idea is tangy taste, so when the pulusu (thick paste made with tamarind as main ingredient) is not readily available, easy to squeeze a couple of lemons or add grated mangoes when in season. The pulusu used for this is actually difficult to cook perfectly because you never know how the tamarind reacts. Usually prefer old tamarind which has a stronger tang. If asked one piece of advice on its preparation , we’d say “Don’t use a ladle or spoon to mix the temper with the rice. Spread the rice in a large basin or plate and use your hand” Remember Pulihora doesn’t contain even Onion-Garlic so the perfect prasadam in temples.
2.    Ragi mudda – Editor Amar has spoken about it in detail here, so we skip this part!
3.    Biryani – ah, the famed biryani J. But this biryani is not the famed one, because we typically do not make “dum biryani” at home. If it’s non-veg biryani, we first cook the chicken/mutton/prawns, mix it with the raw rice, add a variety of condiments to it and let it cook – the flavours of these condiments and masala get embedded into each rice grain! For veg, just replace the NV items with vegetables!
4.    Coconut rice – another brilliant delicacy – rice cooked with coconut milk and an assortment of condiments!
5.    Other types – we sometimes make quick flavoured rices like vaamu annam, jeelakarra annam etc to move away from eating plain rice day in and day out!

Typically, 2 days in a week will have some kind of flavoured rice in the homes.

We now get to the most important thing – the main course!

Typically, we make do with one dal item (dal with tomato or dal with green leaves) and a fry item (any vegetable, combination of vegetables, green leaves etc). But at least one day a week, we have specials at home. Following are some:

1.    Guthi Vankaya (Brinjal) – this is a must have in any function! Only a genius could have come up with such an idea – cut the round brinjals to stuff, and cook them in a lip smacking gravy! Poetry has been written about Brinjal in Telugu and that illustrates the importance brinjal has for us and this Gutti Vankaya is the most craved curry. Tender Brinjals gently swimming in a gravy loaded with telugu syle spices is a sight that can jumpstart your salivary reflexes. 
2.    Chicken/Mutton/Prawns curry – for the non-veg lovers (or fanatics ;)) – this is the day we wait for! Masala powders are typically made at home with an assortment of condiments. Depending on the condiments you choose the taste and flavour changes. But any combination is just superb – remember we love spciy food – so this is not for those who cannot withstand the spice! A small trade secret – Priya Non-Veg masala paste is God send!

One very important component of our lunch/dinner is a liquid item. More often than not, this is present in the daily diet.


1.    Pulusu –a tamarind flavoured liquid item that goes well with only a few vegetables (like Bhindi, chamadumpa/arbi) and fish! This item is unique to Andhra Pradesh. There is a buttermilk version of this too – majjiga pulusu that is a favorite amongst many households and it can be called a typical Andhra dish too! No tamarind in majjiga pulusu though J
2.    Rasam and Sambar need no introduction I guess J - rasam is more common than sambar is, but either of them is typically present in the daily diet.

Popu/Talimpu: Dal, curries, pulusu and chutneys are incomplete without a fresh, crunchy popu/thalimpu (seasoning/tadka). 2 teaspoons of oil, a pinch each of mustard and cumin seeds, few chilli seeds if you like it spicy, make it all splutter in hot oil and add it to the pappu/pulusu. Lose yourself in the aroma!


We are not happy with eating just rasam, pulusu or sambar, need something crispy to accompany them J and that’s where an assortment of Appadalu and Vadiyalu come into the picture J. Vadiyalu are like chips or fryums (from a crispiness perspective) but far better in taste! There are multiple types of vadiyalu – made from nuvvulu, saggu biyyam etc – and have a superb taste that goes well with the liquid items mentioned above! Appadalu are papads.

Fine, but what is THE combination? J

1.    Any pickle or powder, Dal (plain, tomato, green leaves), fry (vegetables, green leaves), white rice, rasam/pulusu, curd, papad/vadiyalu
2.    Pulihora, Mango Pickle, white rice, guthi vankaya, rasam, curd
3.    Gongura Chutney (with onion), white rice, any gravy curry (veg/non-veg), rasam, curd, papad/vadiyalu
4.    Biryani (with raita), veg special/non-veg special curry, curd J

So basically, it’s upto you J - pick from any of the multiple items mentioned above and 90% of the time you will end up with a superb combination!

Snacks and Sweets

You’d think that after eating so much, we will not have space for more! But hey, we are voracious eaters ;) – within a couple of hours, we are ready for some snacks/sweets! Usually most homes have at least one hot and one sweet item handy – for emergencies ;).

Hot items include janthikalu, chekodalu etc. It takes some effort to make these items, hence they are made in bulk quantity at one go, so that we are stacked up for 2-3 months J.

The list of sweets is much longer than the the hot items – list ranges from laddus (the typical laddu of South India – made with boondi and chakkera paakam), ariselu (involves soaking rice overnight and grinding it to a powder after draining it, so this is definitely not an on-the-go item, involves a lot of planning), Bobattlu (simpler and easier to make, primary ingredients being maida dough filled with chana dal + jaggery/sugar) etc.

Kajjikayalu are fried sweets – puris are rolled out of wheat flour and filled with a variety of powders – and deep fried in oil. Very filling, so do make sure you have some space left! Another simple and easy sweet to prepare is malleeda muddalu (rice flour roti stuffed with a mixture of jaggery,ghee, grated coconut and poppy seeds), a Telangana favourite.

But what if we are out of these items? Don’t worry – we are experts at preparing instant snacks. Most famous being “punugulu” – drop some portions of the idli platter into a pan of oil, bhajjis (mirchi, brinjal, alu etc),


We know it’s been a long article, but hey food is an ocean and this is just a mere drop J

Vacation to an unknown world - Part-2

In Part-1 of this series, we discussed some serious stuff. Here's Part-2 in which we talk about the fun stuff :) 

Update: In May 2015, the Prime Minister of India asked us to share our travel experiences across India. He acknowledged this blog :). 

Scuba Diving

There was eternal debate on whether to do this or not! And finally, one day before leaving the Andaman's it was decided that I will take the plunge! And what an experience it has been - at first it was scary. The guide tells me this - "relax, you are not going to war, it's just a dive with me holding you"! And then we go into the water. It took about a minute to get acclimatized and realise that I was actually looking directly at life under water! 

The deeper we go, the more colourful the fish become :) - Parrot fish, Joker fish, Sponges etc were a revelation. There were also fish that were 1/3rd the size of a normal finger! Truly a world unknown to us! No adventures happened because there were no sharks around ;) 

After about 15 minutes, we came out. It took about 2 hours before the churning in the stomach stopped and 2 days for the ears to regain their full hearing capacity! But like they say when the idea of Scuba Diving is being sold to you - this is an experience you will never forget! 

Mangroove Forests

Another one of those spot decisions - we had about an hour of waiting time to board a cruise from Havelock Island to Port Blair , so we figured we might take a speed boat ride in the blue waters. The boat driver tells us that they have a package wherein they take you through the mangroove tree range. He also tells us "if you are lucky, you will see some crocodiles"! Lucky?! 

Anyways, we take the ride and it turned out to be a once in a lifetime experience! It was as if we were travelling through the narrow lanes of Amazon river (we saw them on TV and always wondered how it will be traversing through them!). The driver plucked a stem and showed to us how the leaves are formed and subsequently how the trees themselves are formed! Mother Nature is phenomenal really! 

Apparently through this lane, crocodiles walk in and out. Like I said, we were not "lucky"! 

Buildings captured by trees :) 

Take a look at the pics below - the trees have literally taken over the remnants of the old buildings. This picture is taken on Ross Island, which was the headquarters of the Britishers while they were here. This is a small island that is very near to Port Blair, and the britishers enjoyed their heydays in this small and beautiful island. The island is replete with thousands of coconut trees, some GIANT trees (you would look so small while standing near them), deers, birds, and houses captured by trees! 

And finally, Radhanagar beach on Havelock Island. 

There was so much hype around this beach on Havelock Island that I was more than 100% sure that it is over-hyped. And the moment we saw it, we were bowled over! Havelock is an island that is about 90 kms away from Port Blair. We have to go there by a cruise (we took this one - poshly named as Makruzz!). In our return journey, we tried for a sea-plane ticket but couldn't get one! Anyways, there is only one place that needs to be visited here - the Radhanagar Beach! 

This was for the first time we were seeing a white sand beach, green and blue waters, and lush greenery! Never knew such beaches could exist in India! We have spent close to 4-5 hours at this beach over 2 days - still couldn't get enough of it! We got sea-sick while travelling to and from Havelock, but this Radhanagar beach experience made us forget the sickness in no time! 

Miscallaneous Stuff

There was this "sofa ride" as part of the water sports - you sit on sofa balloon, a Jet scooter will drag you around :) The ride was fun, till the point where the smell from diesel of the Jet Scooter  was too strong to bear! 

In the whole tour, we came across only one place that's named after Rajiv Gandhi! Looks like Port Blair has a long way to go to meet the demands of the Congress party :P! 

There is a light house on North Bay Island near to Portblair. The Rs. 20 note has this image on it :) 

And finally, for the telugu movie lovers, somewhere on this beach area, the telugu all time blockbuster movie Sultan starring Yuvaratna Balakrishna, Super Star Krishna and Rebel Star Krishnam Raju - was shot here!