Out of the very few trips I had without me or my luggage staying back at the airport, the trip to Andaman Islands was one amazing experience. Being the first solo trip of my life, it made me learn things about myself that I wouldn’t otherwise have.
In 2015, about two months before my birthday, I started a trend for myself. A trend to celebrate every birthday on a trip or overseas. Basically, anywhere but at office or home. Unaware of flight price trends (which, I have become a pro at, from 2017), I booked my plane tickets assuming it was the best window. I bring it up because I was introduced to the concept of “Layover” through this booking. Because Andaman Islands are relatively small, direct flights are only from select cities. My onward journey included a huge 9-hour layover. Luckily, it was in the night, so I slept off at the airport. A newbie to travelling in the “wanderlust” vibe, I imbibed whatever came to me, learning about new food chains, airport procedures, emotional goodbyes at the airport and more.
Early in the morning, the concluding leg to Port Blair (port of entry for flyers to the islands) dropped me on this beautiful, pristine, uncommercialized land of great inhabitants. I could feel the transition in my environment, having travelled from Mumbai (Financial capital of India) to a part of India, where the best it could get was 2G internet. Oddly, I was happy. I felt more connected to Nature. The very small airport had only a couple of airline boards implying that not many carriers flew there.
As pure as it was, it wasn’t my final destination. I checked in to a hotel to stay for a day. Port Blair had the famous cellular jail. This colonial prison was used by the British government when India wasn’t independent to exile freedom fighters because it was too far away from the main land. It was a vicious structure with a hub-spoke formation, such that all the cells were lined up at the spokes and the hub was the only staircase to climb up or down the prison. Also, the 3-storey spokes were such that the face of one building faces the back of the others so that no prisoner can communicate in any manner. It was terrifying!
Later, I took a long walk to Corbyn’s Cove, a beach towards the end of the island. What I didn’t know was, although in the same time zone as the rest of India, sun usually set earlier there because of the geographic location. I ran to make it back to the hotel, because, as pristine as it was, it was dead by sunset. I was geared up for the next adventure to begin!
Sumit Hasrajani is a Masters student who attends Mays Business School