Sunday, March 15, 2015
My trip with Kiran
An email took me by surprise. A planned trip along with my sister and her husband was on the cards. Asking for my Passport details they had given me one of the most loving of invites. Knowing about their annual well deserved holidays the places to be visited didn't surprise me. I had this feeling of awesomeness and excitement.
My Mother softly informed me about a discussion with her daughter, my only sibling, her eagerness to see me have a vacation. They had endearingly colluded this idea. I was sure of "the time of my life" I was going to have. Clues from their past holidays guaranteed my conviction.
Myanmar it was to be, followed up by Andaman Islands. Blood rushed within and I was off collecting the requirements. I knew my passport was okay and valid. So, first the positive feedback to Kiran's mail.
Having accepted her 2 week invite she reminded me that I had told her about my ability to leave our dear Mother in the care of grown up children.
What all would I need? Aai as usual prodding me to go buy some 'proper' stuff for myself. She always wished as did my sister, that I enjoyed a deservedly good life for myself. I would be 60yrs old in 2016 and it was high time. I accepted that I took this offer with love and blessings.
Anticipation grew and with more reassurance from Kiran and Fahd on their short trip in december 2014; I decided I would not dream and wish too much as always and accept with grace the "present".
Words and expressions fall short and my vocabulary goes hazy if I try and describe the anticipated relaxing furlough.
As I return from Kolkata (a whirlwind trip) tiring ,mentally as well as physically,excitedly going through all chores to be done at home.I try to ease Aai of any difficulties or complications in my absence.
While I plan my trip to Mumbai, transferring clothes for the Journey,I realise this is going to be my first tour away from home...all by myself.
Having forgotten all previous travel requirements from my last trip in 2007 to Uganda, I am getting ready for flying to Bangkok and onwards to Yangon all alone.
The Day dawns as Naina my youngest,drops me to the Airport wishing me luck.Welcomed by Jet Airways I am seated near the window next to a media person who is taking her widowed mother for a holiday.Silently I wish, I would myself have loved to make a similar gesture towards Aai. No sooner we take off,the incessant wailing of a child with unsuccessful reassuring parents give a tough time to the hostesses who were facing ired upper class passengers.The trip seems to have started in earnest.
The view from the flight to Bangkok is amazing as I explain to my co passenger,who hasn't realised the time difference in departure and arrival. Happily,adjusting her watch,enquires about my tourist experiences..which are so poor.. I accept humbly, but do tip her about some things she could look into during her stay ahead.
The well planned layouts of the Industries and Residences impress me a lot and the amount of greenery I see from my window that is retained makes me smile.The Bangkok"Suvarnabhumi" airport lives up to it's reputation of planning and ambiance set aglow...'The Golden Land'.With much time between connecting flights,I plan to take a close look at as many aspects I can. A surprised mention of my name at Bangkok airport springs a surprise...my sister is searching for a white haired Indian.She is in another terminal but sees my flight on the display sign.So her hope and my inquisitiveness get us together before we could meet in Yangon.I am suddenly reassured and at ease...my trip had begun well.
So now in the Thai Airways plane on the final lap and a cry from an infant on take off...ascertains that young babies are disturbed by the change in altitude,pressure and high pitched reverberations.Luckily the child has intelligent parents and he is reassured to silence.Engaged in food and enthusiasm of the sights from the window, I do not realise we have landed in Myanmar..the first stage of my trip.
The guide welcomes me with a garland of chrysanthemums and gifts me a colourful, traditional shoulder bag (just like a "shabnam"as called in Pune). A happy chauffeur who accompanies him drops me to my hotel ..Belmond Residency or also known as The Governor's Residency.A beaming sister and Brother-in-law welcome me as the hotel staff greet me with have a happy stay chant...all the pieces fall in place.
Never having actually stayed in such a hotel and experienced "the works",I am overawed by what Kiran and Fahd have arranged.I feel humbly blessed and loved...I am on a "trip".
We meet our sweet guide 'Meh'.A hard working conscientious girl,trying to take care of her widowed mother.My second example of responsible children in 2 days.I found her immature and ill informed,who should have taken up another profession...but alas! fate!!..each on his own trip.
Pagodas and Temples....humans with 'faith', anointing themselves with the grounded bark of a medicinal tree 'Thanaka'..
The land of Buddha and his followers. Osho always quoted Buddha.Probably Buddhi,meaning knowledge was 'his' terrain.Taking your thoughts away from disturbance,distortion and disillusionment to peace,silence and tranquility.Another trip.....
Tasting Myanmar traditional food and sweets,we never left any table empty of dishes tried and tasted.Veg,Non Veg.,salads,sauces,drinks hot or cold.Another savouring trip....a salute to the palate.
The Yangon city character was years behind progress and the traffic was immense,The 'progress' was 'concrete' in shape of Buildings,roads,commercial structures.Toyota ruled the roads.The Longyi (Lungi in hindi) was a traditional wear, obstructing the progressive look on men and women in all public and government places.Culture had an upper hand and pious knocks on the bells with wooden gongs took us on a holy trip...
Hopping flights gave me subtle touches of sounds and smell.Reeking co passengers to whiffs from airplane toilets. A few takeoff jitters and packaged desserts and breads. Missing basic airport procedures and their upsetting arrangements...but then that's another trip....
Bagan was an example of misuse of power.Meddling with heritage and commercialisation of rule.Man eats man,cares two hoots towards history and posterity.The hot air balloons are a once in a lifetime experience for those who value .. I didn't..An elaborate luxurious and overwhelming experience at Auruem...a hotel over rated but amidst heritage..an awkward trip..
Flying to Ngapali and back to Yangon was a game of touch and go.Small planes, taking different routes.The beach and resort were most impressive.Amara felt like 'Hamara' destination. Nice people,nice food,nice vibrations ..a truly refreshing trip..
A drive to the fishing village and a quick tour by car gave us a 'glimpse' of clean charming Goa of yesteryears minus the Portuguese architecture.
The sum up was a bit of a put off. A delayed flight to Yangon and a trying experience to Kolkata made me pensively ask...''Wh'air' India''? are we on a trip? Let the bad experiences go
And The Man..... here we come!! Port Blair.We Have Luck and are bare foot and bare 'soul'ed
The flight to Port Blair was a remarkable one. Spiced up by Spice jet as they had nothing to offer their passengers except refunds or apologies.. and the uncivilized blaring by a sindhi group of friends who sat a few seats behind me.They talked loudly and least bothered about other fellow passengers or without etiquette in general.Ultimately an airhostess had to request them to pipe down.
The immigration is quite a bother for the OCI or foreign passport holders.The boat cruise was of no great talk but our ride from the Havelock Jetty to Barefoot resort ,shook us up! We were with a Formula F1 driver in his Sumo...a trip never ,for any tourist..... The final stage was a bit short of a trip to 'peace and paradise on the planet'...a barefoot trip..
A place without modern means of communication and a neat clean beach.Wooden accommodation with rustic looks.Strict and neat with wonderful people in charge.Near the Sea but away,in the woods but secure.The final 3 day resting abode...a chill trip
Singing in the Karaoke evening get together,making acquaintances, I was back in my original role of a PR, socialising with fellow tourists.The Island isn't crowded and cars are sparse.So only Coconuts and Accra nuts aplenty...having a sane trip..
A Shiv Mandir at the far end of the beach was a reassuring sign.A Radha Krishna Mandir too nearby, but then...In Radhanagar,barefoot...Krishna without a Radha took away the enchantment and the lure of a visit there...so with the blessings of Shiva alone, I make a trip back...without a companion..but with loving and blessed company.
...A trip with Kiran.