My first cruise was with my family to the Andamans in the largest vessel I had ever seen upto the age of twenty one.
We conglomerated at Kolkata from three different cities, since me and my brother were the working elite by then. It was planned by our parents, as the last (pre-retirement) vacation. We’ve been on many vacations since then, but the word retirement was a huge unknown, predicting settlement and certainity, unknown to army families. Until it happens anyway!
The huge ship took hours leaving for another unknown, Andaman Islands far into the Bay of Bengal, pulled by a tiny tugboat, guided through the initial shallow waters, as we explored our cabin, and later the ship, guided by the awesome Captain. On Jan, 26, we got together on the deck for a flag hoisting and a small celebration with the Captain and his crew for the Republic Day. The most unique celebration, that I had ever partaken in, was this one, adrift at high sea.
Reading Indian history was not an easy task, considering it was five to six thousand years of recorded history. But India lost some of it through vandalism and pillage and I lost some through changing places and language, change in medium of instruction!
Yes, for two years, I studied it in Hindi, because this tiny school in Mhow had only one Hindi speaking social studies teacher. She was amazing storyteller and I learned a lot, but my trace memories and vocabulary of that part are in Hindi! There was no repetition of topics, for there was so much to fathom.
To connect historical images back to the ship now moving steadily on the vast Bay of Bengal, I was looking for kala pani (black waters symbolic of cruel punishment) and imagining, why was it a punishment during the British colonial times, to be sent on such a fun trip! And why weren’t the waters black?! I imagined my ancestors being sent to the infamous Cellular Jail for uprisings, or as slaves, and … suddenly there it was.
Black as ever, the real Kala pani, merging with the horizon all around, punctuated only by silver flying fish, sun and it’s jeweled reflections shimmering off the wake and gentle lapping waves! I was in a blank, the most beautiful memory of nothing.
My heart came back from nowhere and Catapulted out of my mouth with an Oh! and I ran back to call my family out for sharing nothing. Fathoms of Black!
The visit to the islands was an amazing adventure in itself, and we came back by air. Saved to be wordpressed on another prompted day😉!
P.S. I plan to write every weekend from now: trying to get that book finished. Thanks for your support! Love to all!