Surfing the Unknown [An India Surf Travelogue] Day 1 – 3/3/10 – Heading out (on mission)
Our day started at 7 AM when I and Kirtan took a small ATR plane from Bangalore to Chennai. We had already journeyed from Mysore to Bangalore the night before and hadn’t slept much, but we were too excited to notice. We were all in good spirits since things were going according to plan, the adventure was about to begin… 5600 kilometers, 15 days, 2 surfers, 1 photographer, 110 kilos of gear, and high expectations — destination, Great Nicobar Island north of Sumatra.
We reached Chennai in less than an hour. Our aircraft was small and had a problem carrying our 7ft board bags, so the airline arranged to send our bags with a bigger plane a few hours later. We were well aware of risk since it is a common phenomenon that baggage on Indian planes can somehow, almost mystically, end up anywhere in the Subcontinent.
Somehow, by divine arrangement, our board bag actually reached their proper destination. Our next flight to Port Blair was delayed by an hour, and it wasn’t until 1’o clock in the afternoon that we finally reached the Andamans. The first thing that we noticed as we stepped off the plane was the intense wall of tropical heat that met us head-on. We could only imagine what the temperatures would be in Nicobar…The first thing we discussed when we got out of the airport was what we had seen from the plane. There was one particular island that we observed just before we reached Port Blair. It was so beautiful with crystal clear blue waters and a great swell breaking into many lefts and rights.Whoa! We both wondered how we could get there. However, we soon learned that those islands were off-limits – not just to tourists but to everyone! The islands housed some tribal reserves and the native cannibals that lived there were very restless!!!We reached our hotel, checked in, took a shower, and immediately went out to find something to eat. Things were pretty much the same since our last visit, except that our friendly pure vegetarian restaurant, the YMCA, was now offering both veg and nonveg! Ultimately went to another restaurant down the street. The only thing that had changed there was the prices which were twice as much as they were the last time.
Anyway, we were only spending one night at Port Blair and were leaving the next day to Nicobar. The most important thing at this stage was to collect our boat tickets, which had been taken care of by a very kind gentleman called Mr. Ernest. That evening, I went to meet him to collect them. Believe me, when it comes to sailing from one island to another island in the Andamans, it is one of the most difficult things you can ever do! The shipping services are so corrupt that it’s a herculean task to get tickets to go anywhere! So you can imagine how lucky we felt to have got in touch with Mr. Ernest a month before our trip. he managed to get us cabin class – a decent enough accommodation to survive 50 hours of rough sea travel before reaching Nicobar. After I came back to the hotel, I went out with Kirtan for a small dinner of awesome idles, uttapams, and lot’s of ice cream (we already suspected that we would be facing some austerities in the eating department once we left Port Blair). We hit an Internet cafe one last time and sent some e-mails to our dear ones before returning to our hotel for a good night’s rest.