Sunday, March 26, 2006

Andaman Part I

It was late in the night, a train chugged along the track, towards a filled platform. A train from Bangalore to Chennai Central, takes about 6.5 hrs.

We left Bangalore at 22:30, and were expecting to arrive in Chennai at 0500 hrs. Any sliup would cause complete chaos in our schedule to catch the flight to Port Blair. Lucky we arrived on time. Once there, with my incredible capability of speaking broken Tamil, I went to the pre paid auto counter and hired an auto for the airport.

Chennai is a beautiful city in the mornings, not very hot, a cool breeze, one can almost feel the saline content in the air. However one I sat in the auto, I forgot all this beauty, the only thing I remember as to how I use to gulp down air everytime the auto driver avoided(I guess not intentionally) the traffic. The roads were wide and nice, but our Auto Driver had a special knack of going to close to other vehicles and then at the last moment swinging away from them. For the first time, I prayed to God, will all my heart. I also noticed, that it is just not the auto driver who drove in such a fashion, even commoners(not the call center cabbies or bus drivers), drove the same way.

Limb and life unhurt, we reached the airport. At the airport, it was Supreme confusion, the police there were not sure whether they could allow, passengers, with the air deccan printout, after quite a wait, we were let in. The airport inside looked good. We checked in our luggage and were feeling ravenous. (We here is my wife Ashwini and I). We hobbled towards the Taj breakfast counter, and asked for sandwhiches and coffee. Coffee was not bad, true to speaking of Chennai standards, however the sandwiches were horrible. I saw people having a similar experience with the other food groups too.

Somehow the first impression about Chennai, was not a great one, except for the roads and the early morning weather.

Chennai is the south hub for Indian flights. All types originate and end there. We saw new flights like Paramount Airways who serve the section between Air Deccan and Kingfisher doing very well there. The traditional Chettiar families who own mills/jewellery shops in coimbatore or Chennai, fly regularly. Flights were there even to places like Madurai. This kind of connectivity is required in Karnataka too, no idea when this would come in.

We were called in for the Flight to Port Blair(Code: IXZ), and comlpeted security check and boarded the plane. Not too much to say about Air Deccan, a decent service for the price taken.

Chennai to Port Blair is a two hour ordeal, I call it this as there is no entertainment and no magazines that one can flip through for these two hours. It is a distance of about 1400 Kms to be covered.

I was expecting to see the islands reefs when landing, however was pretty cloudy. The first glimpse of the island was the coconut trees lining the beaches, what a sight it was, wish I could take a photograph.

The plane landed smoothly. Port Blair airport is an extremly small one. It is used by the Airforce, Navy and Commercial aircrafts. All commercial aircrafts, from Kolkata and Chennai, landings and takeoffs are through by mid-day. The city's main road passes through the airport runway, whenever there is a plane taking off, this road is closed, like a crossing at the railway crossing.

The departure and the arrival are nearly the same place here. Walked out into the open and the Resort had arranged a car for us to be taken to the Jetty.(The resort here is Wild Orchid Resort run on the island of Havelock...) The driver said that we could freshen up in their offices and since it was still 0930 hrs, and the ferry to havelock left only at 1340, we could go around Port Blair's Cellular Jail and the aquarium and the beaches. ,


At 8:34 PM, Blogger Anurag said...

Hi there:

Nice to see you traveling by Air Deccan. I handle Revenue Management at AD.

Best wishes,



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