Category Archives: Travel

Kedarkantha Snow Trek with CAF

Kedarkantha Snow Trek with CAF

I have done many mountain treks. I have had the opportunity to walk in snow. But I have never done a snow trek in my life till Cochin Adventure Foundation came up with their snow trek programme to Kedar Kanta in Uttarakhand district.

The one week trip started on Valentine’s day of 2020; no better day chosen to start for a mountain lover. There were 15 of us from different places from Kerala united together under CAF. The team included Tony, Dr. Abhilash, Veena, Hari, Arsu,Nadeem, Jomy,Eby, Rony, Ashik, Amal, Zalesh, Sumesh, Shyamkumar and myself. The medical formalities were completed . We were supposed to fill and submit declaration and consent forms..I took a flight from Cochin to Dehradun and reached Jolly Grant airport in the evening. Half a dozen people have already reached the place.We got an idea not to waste the evening and took a cab to visit JHILMIL JHEEL SANCTUARY about two hours from Dehradun. We were taken in the forest open jeep. 

We were fortunate enough to see different types of deers including swamp deer, Sambar deer and spotted deer. Among the lot of birds that we saw the most interesting was the ORIENTED PIED HORNBILL and CINEREOUS VULTURE in the vast field. During the drive we were able to see nail marks of Tiger on trees, wild elephants and wild boars. We were able to spot and hear the sound of the great SARUS CRANE.

On the way back we visited the famous religious destination, HARIDWAR. Some of our friends did rituals there. We had dinner on the way back. Most of us stayed in Nomads house Bunk stay with rooms and dormitories. Few people took flight to Delhi and from there to Dehradun by train. Some of them missed their trains and they had to take flight.  

By morning we were all ready. We started off in two jeeps to SANKRI, a tiny village base camp seven hours from Dehradun. In one hour we reached Mussoorie and had breakfast from there. I never missed the fried momos whenever I came to the North. We saw the KEMPTY WATERFALLS in Mussoorie.On the way we had lunch from Har Ki Doon restaurant. Most of us had maggi/roti. INitially we followed the Yamuna River till Naugaon and later we moved along the Tons river. We reached Sankri by around 6.00 pm.

We stayed in the Himalayan High homestay. They had a puppy with a fracture of its leg and it was interesting to see someone aptly put a splint for him.This was a base camp for various other treks like Har Ki Dun. In the evening, we were briefed about the programme. We collected the trekking gear for rent that was ordered prior to coming. This included Rain Ponchos, Trekking shoes, Trekking pole, trekking pants and Jackets, headlamp and we also got sleeping bags,  gaiters and crampons to wear while trekking in snow. The night was chilling though it was nothing compared to what we were going to experience in the next few days.

Har Ki Dun Swargarohini mountains were seen from the homestay. There were apple orchards owned and leased by Reliance group in the vicinity. It was not the time for apples anyway.

Next day morning after breakfast, we set out  by around 10.30 am for the great adventure . We were supposed to climb 4 km on the first day. We started a bit late as some of us had to buy a few essential things from the market. We were quite excited to trek on snow. It was the first experience for most of us including me. There were a lot of other trekking groups. By 12.00 noon we reached the first resting point which was a dhaba. Some of us had tea and maggi from there. We saw a lot of people slipping and falling in the snow.  Though the surrounding snow was white, the walkway was almost black in colour as the mud was mixed with mule poop. 

Mules were used to carry the load to the camps. The view of leafless trees on the snow covered mountain was a beautiful contrasting scene. On the way we saw a lot of mules climbing up and down the hill. We also started to see tents where people stayed overnight. Ours was yet to come.After walking for about 4 hours we reached our first base camp by around 2.30. 

The tents were ready. I got into one of them. Three of us were supposed to stay in one tent. There were tents for other groups also. Our group had separate kitchen and dining tents. After a nice hot cup of tea we explored the surroundings. The beauty of the place really made us forget all our tiredness. We got time to mingle and talk more intimately. We had already become a close family. We were told that we had entered GOVIND PASHU VIHAR national park and sanctuary and so camp fire was not allowed. 

We had a gastric feast at regular intervals, the tea, soup, roti, dal rice; everything felt so tasty there. The moment the sun came down, it started to become really cold. Though we got inside the tent early at night, the mattress, inner and outer sleeping bag and many layers of clothes just couldn’t prevent the freezing cold. Getting out for wee was really a nightmare and we had to do it a few times as we drank a lot of water to prevent altitude sickness. That night most of us slept just for around 2 hours from 4 am to 6 am.The sleep was quite shallow too. 

Next day morning after breakfast, we started by around 9 am to the next base camp. One of our team members decided to go back and he was not feeling well and he waited for us in Sankri base camp.  Within 2 hours , we reached a beautiful frozen lake called JUDA KA TALAB. It was 2700 m high. We took some snaps and moved on. 

We walked for around 3 km and reached TALKETRA, the second base camp by around 12.30 pm. The place was much more beautiful than the first one.  We had to wait for the mules with the tent materials to come. It was quite unfortunate to see the mules falling with luggage on their back and their masters were brutally beating to make them get up.We helped the guides to make the tent. Meanwhile some of our artistic minds woke up and we made a couple of craft work on snow including snow men.  

After lunch we were not made to rest much. Afternoon we were made to do a 1 hour acclimatization walk. The place around was mesmerising and no camera could capture the complete beauty of that place. We climbed the hillocks covered with snow and walked between the massive trees. Some of us on the way back slid over the snow. The night was almost the same as the previous one. We were told that the temperature would be around -5 to -6 degree C. I slept only for an hour. In short I slept only for around 3 hours in 3 full days. We were given strict instructions regarding the summit climb. 

Two of our friends decided to stay back in the camp and so 12 of us with guides started off at 3.00 am in the morning after oats porridge breakfast. The final climb was 5 km. We walked in pitch dark and thanks to the headlamp we could see what was in front. We just followed the person in front. The traffic was quite heavy. Many places had space for only one person to walk. So the journey was a bit slow and we could manage easily. As the dawn creeped up, we could see the summit and excitement pumped up. We just managed to reach the summit by 7.10 which was 5 minutes before the sunrise.

The next half an hour was sheer bliss. One cannot explain the emotional feeling of a person who has sweat to reach a summit.  Moreover the 360 degree sheer view of that place made us speechless. The guide gave us an idea of the surrounding geography and showed us the various peaks around Uttarkashi including Har Ki Dun, Swargrohini, kalanag, bandarpoonch, Yamunothri, Gangothri etc. There was a sanctum with a flag hoisted at the 12500 ft high summit. After taking a group photo We started our descent.

We had to climb down all the 12 km and reach sankri by evening. It took only 2 hours for us to reach the second base camp.After lunch we started off by around 12 noon. With previous experience we took the descent lightly. But snow trek was a different ball game. We took almost 6 hours to reach Sankri. The path was so slippery as the melted ice was mixed with mud and mule poop.  Some of us fell quite a few times but luckily not injured much apart from some ankle sprains.

I had a busy time as an ortho surgeon with frequent consultations. One of the guides got kicked on the chest by a mule. He was stable but was quickly sent down for further treatment. I met a medical student while climbing down. He was limping due to knee pain. I came to know that he had an ACL reconstruction just a year back. He was happy with the first aid and my advice. The maggi noodles that I had from the dhaba during descent would have been the tastiest I ever had(Thanks to tiredness and hunger). We reached Sankri by around 6 pm. We returned the rented items. The guides expressed their appreciation by making us a cake. The electricity was not there. It didn’t make much difference as we survived the last 3 days without it. My iphone still had 30 percent charge even after 3 days. Thanks to airplane mode. The only place where  BSNL had range during these three days was at the summit where I called my family. 

After dinner, a  good night’s sleep was most needed. We decided to go in 2 batches next morning as the first batch wanted to catch flight early. We started by around 8.30 am. We caught up with them in the har ki dun restaurant where we halted on the way to Sankri. The mustard fields on the background of the rivers were looking gorgeous. We halted for lunch in a small restaurant and had meals with Pakora and curry made from fish caught from Yamuna River.

We reached Dehradun by around 3. I was the only person to stay that night and I took a dormitory in Nomads house bunkstay. After a fresh up, I took an auto to the famous ELLORA’S melting moments bakery and bought famous caramel toffees. After dinner I walked around 4 km back to the dormitory.

Here comes the icing on the cake. When I asked the hotel guys to arrange a taxi to go to the airport, he requested whether I could ride a bike as they wanted to get 5 bikes to be sent to the airport to pick up bikers . I said yes and guess what; the next day I got to ride a Royal Enfield for the first time in my life and that too Himalayan ride. The one hour ride was a great experience. I got to reach the airport for free. There were 4 other bikes along with me.

I reached Cochin by around 6 pm and from there I took an auto to Angamali. I had to wait for more than an hour to get a Kottayam bus and I had to stand in the fully loaded bus for more than 2 hours. From Kottayam I took a bus to Thiruvalla and reached home by around 11.00 pm. I pushed my body to extreme exhaustion. But the reward was a blissful mind with memorable moments for the years to cherish. I’m looking forward to another snow trek soon.

Courtesy : To all friends who took my photo.

The Andaman Island I Landed

I have had wonderful experiences living in the Western Islands of our country(Lakshadweep). Those were coral islands. But I knew the eastern ones could be totally different and I always wanted to visit Andaman islands. The opportunity came when Roshin’s and my  parents visited there for a christian mission annual conference in 2018. They went a week ahead for the meeting . Jonathan, Myself and Roshin started on the 18th October, 2018 for an exciting 1 week journey to the Andaman islands. We took a flight from Cochin to Port Blair with a layover at Chennai. We were quite excited to see the Legendary actor Kamal Haasan at the Chennai airport.We reached by around 4.00 pm and was quite saddened to see the airport being named after a staunch supporter of British colonialism and the traitor who was implicated in  the assassination of the father of our nation.

The same evening we went to the famous CELLULAR JAIL. There was a light and sound show. The quality of the program was nowhere near normal standard and also in comparison to the one that we saw in Delhi Akshardham. Moreover it was a complete over glorification of Veer Savarkar. The nearby park also was named after him. 

The next day(19/10/2018) we started off at 3.00 am along the Great Andaman Trunk road to JIRKATANG Check post. We reached there by around 5.30. We were supposed to pass through the JARAWA reserve area. Vehicles were sent only as convoys at particular periods of time. The first batch was to start by 6.00 am. We got some information regarding the flora and fauna of Andaman islands from the photos kept there. Nearly 2 hours of drive along the Jarawa reserve, we reached Baratang middle strait Jetty. From there We took a ferry to the opposite bank.

We were taken in a small speed boat from there to another part of Baratang island.The journey took half an hour and as we travelled, we got into smaller distributaries between the thick mangroves and it reminded me of the movie Pirates of the carribean.We reached a small jetty and walked for 20 minutes. There were a lot of travellers along with us. We reached the mouth of a huge cave which was formed by limestone. We got inside the LIMESTONE CAVE around 100 m and saw different types and colours of limestones in different formations including stalactites, stalagmites and helictites. It was quite a different experience. We came back to Baratang Jetty and from there we were taken in another vehicle to visit MUD VOLCANO. I’ve not heard about it in the past. 8 out of the 11 mud volcanoes are in Baratang and middle Andaman island. It was interesting to see the active volcano spitting mud.

On the way back to South Andaman, we passed again through the Jarawa reserve and this time we saw the indigenous Jarawas walking along the road. These guys were really exploited by the locals.We were not supposed to stop the vehicle or open windows. As usual there were lawbreakers and these Jarawas including children would peek inside to get or snatch something. They would exchange those with tobacco in the local shops. Some of them wore no dress, some just enough to cover private parts. In one place we saw a big lady carrying a huge wild boar on her shoulders and walking. She would have hunted it for food. That scene got really imprinted in my memory folder. We saw some deers in the reserve. On the way as we were nearing the city, the car tyre got punctured and fortunately it was sorted soon.

Next day was for local trips. We took the speed boat from main jetty to NORTHERN BAY that took around 20 min. The activities in Northern bay include snorkeling, scuba diving, semi submarine,sea walking, glass boat ride etc. Me and Jonu just had a good time swimming in the beach and as usual Jonu enjoyed it so much,  it was hard to get him out of water. After spending 2 hours there, we were taken to ROSS ISLAND which was just a 10 min ride from the northern bay. The scene over there took us to many decades back. There remained the ruins of a great empire which ruled our nation. It had remnants of offices, quarters, church, temple, printing press, bakery, recreation centre, clubs etc in such a dilapidated stage . There was a large pond on the island.There were a lot of deers, peacocks and rabbits roaming around the island. We walked around the island and the eastern side was called FERRAR BEACH. We spent some time there. On the way back to the main island, we saw the TSUNAMI MEMORIAL and memorial of ‘BATTLE OF ABERDEEN’. In the evening we travelled to the southernmost tip of South Andaman island, MUNDAPAHAR and we visited CHIDIYATAPU BEACH. It was a beautiful place, quite unique unlike any other beach. There was a beautiful estuary and also green mountains in the background. It was also called sunset point and bird island. We were told that there was a mini zoo over there. Few lifers that I saw from there included Red breasted parakeet and collared kingfisher. It’s a place with good potential for landscape photography. Back in town, I was happy to see my old school friend, Santhosh in a restaurant where we went for dinner.

On 21/10/18 we attended Holy mass in the Orthodox Church. In the afternoon we visited the CELLULAR JAIL. On the first day it was late evening and we could see only the light show. This time we roamed around the jail. It is a must visit place for every Indian. We could understand a little bit of how our freedom fighters struggled during the period of fight for Independence. We could see GB Pant hospital nearby.Among the 7 arms of the building only 4 remained and the rest were demolished. There were 663 cells in the Jail and names of the freedom fighters were written there which included people from every part of the country. It was interesting that the majority of the names were from Bengal. We saw a lot of solitary and condemned cells. We saw many machineries used previously  in the jail and also the place of execution.

Next day we started early morning at 6.00 am for another long journey to HAVELOCK ISLAND in Green Ocean 2 liner at a speed of 40nm. We reached there by around 8.30.The guides took us in another speed boat and we landed in ELEPHANT BEACH. Every place was so unique. Jonu had a good time as he swam in all the beaches that we went to. Later we checked in at Ocean blue resort and in the evening we went to RADHANAGAR BEACH. Though there were too many people, the beach was clean and beautiful. Me and Roshin had a long stroll as we watched sunset. As we were going back there was a small drizzle which really cooled the place.We stayed on Havelock island that night.

On 23/10/18, we took the same Green ocean 2 to reach  Neil island. The boat had a cafeteria also inside. We spend some time swimming at  BHARATPUR BEACH. Then we went to LAXMANPUR BEACH where we saw NATURAL ROCK BRIDGE. We had to walk some distance to reach there. It was low tide time  and we did a reef walk. We could see a lot of Corals, sea cucumber, sea snake, clams, sea urchin, fishes and also a lot of birds in that area. Back to PortBlair.

Next day we visited the CHATHAM SAW MILL. Andaman Padauk is the official tree of the Union Territory. It’s used for making furniture.Later we had a drive to MOUNT HARRIET NATIONAL PARK. On the way we saw a point where the Northern bay was seen. That is the picture seen on the back of a 20 Rupee note. The place was beautiful. There was information regarding the flora and fauna of the island as well as replicas of huts where the tribes lived. Mount Harriet is the third highest peak in Andaman and Nicobar islands. It was the summer capital of the then Chief commissioner during the British Era

We also visited the ANTHROPOLOGY MUSEUM as well as the SAMUDRIKA MARINE MUSEUM. Both were very informative. The Andaman islands are home to 4 Negrito tribes- The Great Andamanese, Jarawas,Sentinelese and the Onge. Nicobar is home to 2 Mongoloid tribes- The Shompens and the Nicobarese.

On 25/10/18, we visited a nearby JOGGER’S PARK on top of a hill where we could see the airport, the runway and the flights landing and taking off . It was a unique site.We visited the SAGARIGA EMPORIUM in the city. We also found time to visit a nearby CORBYN’S COVE BEACH. We heard that the only active volcano in India in the Barren Island of Andaman had become active again. 

Due to the tight schedule, We missed the opportunity as there was a 6 hour one way ride which would not have been possible. We took the afternoon flight to Chennai, spent 2 days with our aunt and then reached home safely. During the visit I was happy to get shots of lots of birds including the endemic Brown coucal and Andaman Bulbul. I would surely want to do another trip to Andaman just for birding


Ladakh – the divine abode

On the 30th of June, 2017;my family along with my parents did a 1 week long journey to the biggest Himalayan plateau – The Ladakh range. It means ‘ the land of Passes’. We started from Trivandrum with a layover in Delhi and landed in KUSHOK BAKULA RINPOCHE airport in LEH.The view from the aircraft was amazing. The Barren and the snow covered mountains were still looking massive even at 36000 feet height. We stayed in the ‘High Himalayas’ homestay owned by Papa’s friend who worked in the agriculture field. The view from the cottage was exciting. We saw some snow mountains playing peek-a-boo between the brown mountains and misty clouds. During the evening, we had a chat with the owner and his family and he shared the stories of Ladakh which rocketed our enthusiasm. We had an evening stroll in the main bazaar.The place was so clean but it was packed with tourists and locals.

Next morning (2/7/17) we were mentally ready to explore Ladakh. The homestay guy arranged a car with a driver for our trips. Our bodies were yet to acclimatize with the oxygen level in Leh as we flew directly to land here. We were anyway not planning to do heavy exercises.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 6.jpg

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 8.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 7.jpg

The first place we visited was Druk white lotus school in Shay, which is now famously called RANCHO’S school where the movie 3 Idiots were shot.

Then we visited the HEMIS MONASTERY.They are called ‘GOMPA’ or ecclesiastical fortifications of learning, lineage and saadhana.Hemis is the largest Buddhist monastic institution of the Drukpa lineage in the Himalayas  with more than 200 branches.It was situated around 45 km from Leh and it was founded many centuries back. The flavours of these places made our senses so vivid that the colours are still imprinted in our memories. The monastery also has a museum where we could get glimpses of Ladakh’s religious culture. All these monasteries had huge statues of the Buddhist gurus who lived in the yester centuries.This one had a large statue of PADMASAMBHAVA(Guru Rinpoche).They conduct yearly hemis festival venerated as mystic mask dance performance representing reincarnation of Buddha

Then we visited the THIKSAY MONASTERY ( or Thiksey/Thikse) which was around 20 km from Leh. The view from the hill had a beautiful contrast of green valley with desert mountains in the background. The monastery had a two storied statue of MAITREYA or the future Buddha. There were lot of prayer wheels and drums of various sizes. 

The next place that we visited was the SHEY PALACE and monastery about 15 km from Leh. It was the capital of Ladakh in the past. The palace was built in the 16th century. The main attraction apart from the building architecture was the 3 storeyed statue of SHAKYAMUNI BUDDHA.

We reached Leh and visited the famous LEH PALACE which was built in 1600. It was the highest building in the world of those times. It had 9 floors and overlooked the Leh town. Most of the floors are dilapidated. On the way we saw an arch on the road depicting the NAROPA festival that was held in 2016. It is called Kumbh of the himalayas for good reasons. It is conducted in Ladakh once in every 12 years.

After a good night’s rest, we woke up and got ready for yet another exciting 3 day journey to the North of Ladakh.

The 5 hour journey was to NUBRA VALLEY and we had planned to stay there for 2 days. We travelled via KHARDUNGLA pass which was the highest motorable road in the world(18380 ft high). We drove through the snow mountains. We spent some time in the khardungla pass and played in the snow and also took some snapshots of stalactite formation of ice.

On the way to Nubra valley, we met with a small accident. There were lot of military trucks on convoy travelling either ways. In that one truck hit us. Though our driver saw the truck coming and stopped the car, the truck carelessly grazed on to our car. It caused some damages to the car. The mirror was broken, the driver door could not be closed and there were a lot of dents. The complaint screams that the driver did were all in vain. Few Soldiers just lifted the car and moved it aside and they all went off. Well, We just had to continue our journey. Luckily no one was hurt. Couple of inches inside, I would have been jammed by the truck.

We understood only by seeing  the board that we were entering Karakoram Wildlife sanctuary. We saw a few shepherds taking their sheep for grazing.

We crossed the bed where the Nubra river originating from the Siachen Glacier met the Shyok river.  There were Buggy rides on the sand dunes.The place where we were going to halt was called Hunder which was along the banks of River Shyok. We stayed in Ibex guest house in Hunder. With the background of black rocky mountain, the rest house had a good garden with vegetables and fruits including apples & strawberries. There was a ‘SAND DUNE FESTIVAL’ going on in Hunder and we were fortunate enough to witness the various cultural activities and the food stalls. We roamed around the river bed and had a good time watching the dances, camel rides and enjoying Ladakhi food.

The next day we visited DISKIT monastery, which is the oldest Buddhist monastery in Nubra valley founded in the 14th Century. It also runs a school for Tibetan children.There is a 32 metre high huge statue of Jampa(Maitreya Buddha) on a hill near the monastery which was consecrated by Dalai Lama in 2010.There were also small statues of Guru Padmasambhava, Shakyamuni(Buddha) and Tsong-Kha-Pa nearby. On the way back we saw many rivulets originating from the melting glaciers along the green meadows. There were a lot of military trucks along the way. We stayed in Leh that night.

On 4/7/17 we visited the PANGONG TSO which was made famous by the 3 Idiots movie. It was around 150km from Leh. We had breakfast from Durbuk. We reached the place by around 1.00 pm. The view of the lake was mesmerising. Major portion of the lake belonged to China. With time, it was wonderful to see the colour of the water changing from blue to green.We got an opportunity to ride on the Yak. Most of the hotel names had influence on the movie; Rancho cafe, 3 idiots cafe.We had lunch from one of those. On the way back We saw HIMALAYAN MARMOT at different places on the road side and took snaps of it.

Next day was for local trips. The first place that we went was just 5 minutes walk from our home stay- “SHANTHI STHUP ”. It was on top of a hillock. We could see Matho and Stok villages from the top. There was a statue of Buddha inside the Sthup. The next destination was the confluence of the rivers, INDUS and ZANSKAR. The River Zanskar was more muddy & brown and the confluence of different colours were a feast for the eyes.  On the way back we also passed through the MAGNETIC HILL. Any vehicle parked uphill without the brake was supposed to defy gravity and be moved up by itself because of the hill’s magnetic powers. We actually didn’t feel the effect that much! The next place we visited was a Sikh Gurudwara called GURUDWARA SHRI PATHAR SAHIB. We could see a huge boulder inside which had a carved out shape of Guru Nanak in it.The boulder had a myth about the Guru converting a bad demon into a good person. We then visited the HALL OF FAME which was maintained by the military. It was very informative and there were a lot of military exhibits as well as information regarding geography & culture of the place. Jonu had an opportunity to play in the army physical training area built in for kids in that place. In the afternoon we visited the market place again for some last minute shopping. 

On the 6th of July 2017, We bid farewell to this mystic place and took the flight from Leh. The view of the confluence of Rivers Zanskar and Indus was much more gratifying from the bigger height. The unchartered territories of the plateau call me saying; when are you coming back?

Luxurious Lakshadweep

       A paid holiday, the thrill of a lifetime, heaven on earth, no phrase could wholly explain the luxurious life in Lakshadweep. I have been there thrice. Thanks to Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences. The first time I traveled as a visitor and the next two times I went to work there.

Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in Cochin was having a contract with Govt of India in a Public Private Partnership mode to manpower Rajiv Gandhi Specialty Hospital in Agatti, Lakshadweep.

Although kavaratti was the capital, Agatti was more or less the commercial capital as it had the aerodrome. My MBBS classmate Dr.Midilaj is a native of Agatti.  The partnership of AIMS started in 2011 and AIMS had recruited Specialists as well as casualty doctors and paramedical staff to Agatti hospital.

In 2011 I travelled with Dr. Renjit Kumar, Dr. Ranjith.T.C  and  Dr. Muhammed Niaz. Dr. Sreejith was the Orthopaedic consultant there and Dr. Alagu who was the ortho pg worked as a casualty doctor. We stayed there for 4 days. During the first visit, we met Dr. Abdul Rahman who was a localite and an Ayurvedic doctor who studied in Ayurveda college , Trivandrum. A  thick friendship had developed between us and its continuing strong by God’s grace.

Though we saw much less when compared to subsequent visits, the excitement of a first timer could not be replaced. Abdul Sir took us to all corners of the island including restaurant at Northern beach where we had our first bath in those pristine waters, Eastern and the western jetty, the south Kalpitti island along the airstrip. We we lucky to meet Olive Ridley Turtle while having coconut and jaggery party at the eastern beach side in front of Ummer Ikka’s House.We had a ride in a glass boat in the western lagoon and also some reef walking in the western side of airport region.  We were amazed to see the various kinds of fishes and sea creatures like Corals, Sea Urchins, Clams, Crabs, Sea Cucumbers and many exotic birds. It was the first time we tasted Meera (coconut inflorescence). It was so refreshingly tasty. We were introduced To KD ikka who ran a tea shop near the Western Jetty. He is a story book by himself. The tasty lemon tea that he gave was just an apt starter for a deep and intricate relation ship that entwined us. Renjit Kumar sir found time to make and fly kite in the beach. We were lucky to see the local musical art form – Duff mott during one of the nights. We paid a visit to the golden Jubilee Museum which had archeological and navigational specimens and other old archives. We were surprised to see many Buddha Statues that were excavated from many islands in Lakshdweep.The excitement gave me the boost to find the earliest opportunity to come back in 2012 and 2013 to stay and work as Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon in RGSH, Agatti. I stayed for around 3.5 months each visit.

I switched on to the native mode during subsequent visits to such an extent that in the last visit, I wore only Mundu instead of trousers and grew beard without cutting for the entire stay in the island ie nearly 4 months. Oohh! Goose Bumps.

Every staff would be given a cycle if needed. The next best option was walking, in an island where there were 5 autorickshaws and less than 5 cars. The Hospital had couple of ambulances also. The islanders mostly used bikes. My ischial tuberosities took some time to accustom with the cycle by later I thoroughly enjoyed it which I am continuing even in mainland.

Initially the operation theatre was beach view during the setup which later was moved to a better place with all required standard facilities. There was minor as well as Major OT with C-arm facilities. I used to get orthopaedic impants aired from cochin in case of any surgeries. Most of the basic specialties and superspecialties like cardiology, gastro/uro departments were working.

Our OP timings were 9.00 am to 1.00 pm and there after handling emergencies. Patients used to be airlifted from other islands in helicopters. After lunch, the Orthopaedic OPD used to become the internet café where maximum wifi signal was available. My routines were pretty much regular. Morning OPD, surgical cases if any, lunch, little bit of internet followed by short nap. Then Dr. Abdul Rahman and me used to go for long walk. We used to go in his bike to the airport area and then walk  4 km in  45 minutes. Then we would go to the western jetty beach to KD ikka’s  tea shop and have nice chai and then sit and chat for hours. It was a buzzing place. Watching  sunset is so beautiful. I used to have dinner from Ikka’s shop. Then I would get few of my colleagues  in RGSH to start philosophical talks.Special mention to Drs. Resmi, Renjima, Renjith, Thomas…. The list is never ending. It will go on till late night. We used to gaze at the sky and learn about the constellations. I have seen more shooting stars during those few months of stay in Lakshadweep than my entire life. The simple reason was that I never used to get time to lie on the sand gazing the sky. Once I remember sitting there for continuous 16 hours (12.00 noon to 4.00 am) and still not got bored. The place is so rejuvenating. Regular supply of tea and snacks from KD Ikka added the masti.

KD ikka’s life was like a movie with so many told and untold stories and mysteries. A business man who transacts love instead of money. A man who doesn’t keep any account but work like a donkey with utmost service in mind. A man who is full of energy which is driven by weed and drinks. Even though these things are banned, he used to get regular supply. The blood concentration of the poison was directly proportional to the sound of his hearty laugh and the lateral movement on the beach. He used to experiment with the snacks and each one was better than the other, though masappam was the main dish. We used to forget number of snacks that we had in a day. My payment was a monthly lump sum where neither knew the real account. Love was above business.  I have heard about his stories of multiple marriages, travel and living in Andamans, Lonely life in Kalpitti island etc.

The people and the topics changed regularly.  What had not changed was me, the beach and KD ikka’s shop.


There were occasional changes in my routines. I bought a fishing line( tungees) and occasionally I used to go to Eastern Jetty for fishing. The passion for fishing slowly began to creep inside me. Then Me and Abdul Rahiman Sir used to go with large nets to fish in the sea close to the beach. We had also gone for fishing in the Lagoon as well as deep sea fishing in Shoukat’s Uncle Kochakkoya’s boat.

 Most of the weekends, I used to go for snorkeling. I bought a snorkeling kit from Cochin which I later gave to Abdul Sir before coming back. When new colleagues joined, we used to go for reef walking. I was really playing the host.The corals, various sea creatures, shells and lagoon fishes were well appreciated during those low tides. We used to go many times to the near by uninhabited Kalpitti island. Crossing the Lagoon during the tide change was quite adventurous.

During some weekends, I used to go for very long walks alone for bird watching and Photography. That’s how I was lucky to find a European night jar. This bird has been reported for the first time South of Mumbai as confirmed in facebook by the great Tim Inskipp.

Abdul Rahiman Sir was my walking mate. We used to have long walks either south towards the airport or north towards the lagoon Beach. We used to see processing of Tuna fish and people playing games like Yettu kali, Charatham Kali( like Chess), Uppu thullal on the beach.


Both the years, I was fortunate to be there during the Onam period and we really enjoyed the season with sports, Arts and great Sadhya. Twice I got an opportunity to get inside the Lakshadweep sea ship which was docked in the Eastern Jetty. I met Caption Jerry and he was kind enough to show his cabin and we saw the wheel with the navigational gadgets and periscope etc.

Babuchettan was our ambulance driver and he had a favourite goat. I took out the poet inside him  and composed his song about the island and the goat. I even composed few songs written by one of our staff nurses, Reeshma. But one of my greatest discoveries in Music was Dr. Narasimha Nandakumar who came as a resident doctor from Amrita. He was doing PG in Pediatric Surgery. He taught me the basics of music programming using softwares and our friendship has helped me in publishing musical albums.


  1. One of our Bangaram trips and that day, I came face to face with death. 7 of us were enjoying snorkeling in the brim of the depth of Bangaram. Huge fish were encircling us. A wonderful feeling. Suddenly I saw one of us drowning and panicked. Without thinking twice I swam upto him and reached in two seconds. The greatest mistake I did; coming right in front of a person who doesn’t know swimmimg. He grabbed me in panic and that’s it. I was pushed down. It was the real octopus grab. My goggles were lost, I was under him. Water gushed inside my lungs. The only thing I kept was my presence of mind as I knew help would come soon. Or else in the imminent encounter with death, I would have thrashed and slithered away for my life. As Abdul Rahiman sir came near he left me and grabbed him. More help came and he was rescued. I also swam to safety though I aspirated some sea water and I coughed out some blood. The lesson I learned was that you always have to come from behind and below to push the person to safety. We spend few more hours after all this hungama never feeling something of this sort had happened at all. This incident remained a secret for a couple of years. There had already been a fatal tragedy of a doctor and an administrator from Amrita who were claimed by the sea.

The resident doctors were posted for a months and specialists worked for longer period. So whenever new group comes, we usued to arrange beach side barbeque party using fish or chicken. We enjoyed barbeque parties with many groups who got replaced after their tenure was over. I and Abdul sir used to be the common factor in the groups. The hospital also organized regular parties in Lagoon beach with songs and anthakshary.

Dr. Abdul Rahiman and I used to go for Octopus hunting whenever the tides became low. He taught me the art of hunting and we caught several of them in many occasions. His wife used to make roast/fry/curry/pickle and bring it for lunch. The taste was excellent. I lost the number of Octopus that I hunted with Abdul Sir. During one of our walks, we got an opportunity to hunt down a sting ray at the southern tip of the island near the airport.

Whenever the tides became favourable, we used to take new groups to the nearby island kalpitti. It is a small uninhabited island full of shells. Many times we played with Olive Ridley turtles. We educated the public regarding the importance of conserving them and their eggs.

Once I had a crazy idea of cleaning the island and I got out on a Sunday with few large sacks thinking of cleaning the airport area. To my surprise all my sacks were full with empty plastic bottles in the first 200 metres walk on the beach. Every other minute I had to jump into the water and scratch my body to satisfy the sense of itch as I was walking through the bushes and insect were having feast. I understood it was not at all an easy job.

I was lucky enough to witness the Lakshadweep school games that came to Agatti in 2012. It was a unique feast for the eyes. Children brought out their great talents.

I was invited by the prominent members of the island speak for meetings related to social awareness and health education. I had the privilege to be invited as a speaker for the School arts fest in Senior Basic School and I also took part in the presentation ceremony. The Local Jawahar arts and sports club conducted a blood donation campaign and I was the one who delivered the keynote address. It was a function inaugurated by the deputy collector.

There was a Half marathon competition in Agatti and I thought of competing for it. Practice started. Only then I realized running was not my cup of tea. I could walk and walk for any long but I became really tired after running around 5 km. One of the border security force guys won the meet. I realized that I could be a marathon walker but not runner.

 It was quite exciting to get my family to Agatti. My parents, Roshin and Jonathan came in 2012 and Roshin’s parents came in 2013. They thoroughly enjoyed the stay. My parents stayed for 2 weeks and Roshin’s parents stayed for 4 days. Roshin was here for a month. As she was doing PMR PG, She was posted as Resident Junior doctor in Agatti hospital. While they were here, We attended our cook Fathukkka’s son’s circumcision party. We were fortunate to see the local cultural activities as well as relish the local delicacies on that day.  

While my parents were here we did a Bangaram trip and I got a rare opportunity to stay in the guest house in Bangaram. Usually all the Bangaram trips were just day trip and I don’t think any Amritiites stayed there. We travelled in Kochakoya’s boat. On the way we caught a 17 kg King fish(Kuluval) and Kochakoya made Fry, Curry and Chandy( Coconut, Salt, boiled minced fish) along with coconut rice.

KD ikka was running his teashop in a condemned boat cabin which was lying on the beach near the western Jetty. Near to that he planted trees and moulded them to shape of tent with good shade. He then decided to shift the cabin near those trees that he planted and he asked the help of us. The native including Dr. Abdul Rahiman along with me one day did the job. It was quite tedious and required expertise. Coconut tree logs were kept and shifted by the rail road technique. He gave Biriyani treat to all those who helped him. Me and Abdul sir were left behind as we were busy and Ikka was pleading behind us to accept the treat and the Biriyani was awesome. He had regular treats with Appal(octopus biriyani. The taste is inexpressible.

In my whole stay in Lakshadweep I had done around 80 surgical procedures, including patients from other islands. Althaf was one one them from Minicoy. He later took me around during my one day stay in Minicoy on the return to Cochin.

There were few islands around Agatti. Among them, Bangaram and Thinnakkara were inhabited for some time of the year. Parali 1 and 2 were uninhabited. Parali 2 island was Abdul sir’s ancestral property. There was a Parali 3 Island which was submerged decades ago. Stories say first inhabitants came to Bangaram first (Banna kara – Vanna kara) and Thinnakkara island was where they had food (Thinna kara). Walk from one island to another was possible during low tides. The journey was mesmerizing. We had done quite a few trips and  we had gone in boats like Ganjularsh, Safeenath Naja, Sulthanulhindh.



I was time for me to leave. I had one more in the wish list; Scuba diving. Sikander was a scuba trainer and with his help, I did 2 sessions. First I did it in shallow lagoon learning all the technique and symbols. Then we went to the deep around 15 metres. I was such an alien feeling. I was totally in a different world. So many different types of fishes including a shark which was swimming around 20 metres in front of us. I proudly live to say that I have swam with the sharks.

The hospital staff had given me a surprise of conducting a grand sendoff party towards the end of my posting. There were lot of cultural programs and many hidden talents were unleashed. I had the opportunity to compose our physician Dr. Mayur Hathis’ Gujarati song which I sang that day. Finally the party ended with  a grind and everyone joined the dance party.

Every time I used the ATR flight to and from Cochin. I had actually seen islands like Androth and Kalpeni from the flight and also the famous Pakshi Pitti island inhabited by birds.  I thought I would book ship for my return Journey in 2014. I booked MV Kavaratti which was the largest  and scheduled the trip so that I could see Kavaratti as well as Minicoy Islands. It took 3 hours from Agatti to Kavaratti. I saw the capital of Lakshadweep from the ship. I could not get down there. An overnight journey across the 9 degree channel took me to Minicoy, a place with language and culture so different than the other Lakshadweep islanders. They were closer in many aspects with Maldives. Althaf took me around the whole of Minicoy including the beaches, desalination plant, the lighthouse the colonies and villages etc. His house was a 200 year old mansion which was featured in Ramu Kariat’s 1977 malayalam movie Dweep.

I met Abdul Rahiman Sir’s daughter Lukmana who was studying in Navodaya school. I reached back Cochin in an overnight journey.

A place which I truly miss, a place I really want to go back and live, a home away from home, a place where home felt heavenly; Lakshadweep, It is indeed a heaven where you feel homely.

Birds Seen  (Local Name)

1.Common Fowl 9.Common Sandpiper (Poochutty) 17.Black Naped tern 25.Barn Swallow 33.Brown Shrike 41.Lesser Frigate Bird 49.Variable Wheatear
2.Common Duck 10.Marsh Sandpiper 18.Ruddy Turnstone 26.European Night Jar 34.Grey Heron 42.Brown Noddy 50.Isabelline Wheatear
3.Turkey 11.Median Egret 19.Lesser Sand plover (Kunudu) 27.Bar tailed Godwit 35.Pond Heron 43.Common Kestrel 51.Wilson’s storm petrel
4.Indian Rock Pigeon 12.Cattle Egret 20.Kentish plover 28.Greated Short toed Lark 36.Common Tern 44.Lesser Kestrel 52.Northern Pintail
5.Oriental White eye 13.Great Egret 21.Greater Sand plover 29.Little Stint 37.Lesser Crested Tern 45.Common Redshank
6.Whimbrel    (Koluvayan) 14.Little Egret 22.Tree Pipit 30.Indian Golden Oriole 38.Eurasian Spoon Bill 46.Common Green shank
7.Pacific Golden Plover (Chevaranchi) 15.Common Hoopoe 23.White Wagtail 31.Sand Martin 39.Black Shouldered Kite 47.Greater Crested Tern
8.House crow 16.Common Swift 24.Yellow Wagtail 32.Indian Koel 40.Drongo 48.Rose Ringed Parakeet


Fishes Seen/eaten   (with Local Names)

Lion fish Grey Snapper Matti
Butterfly Fish Fakkikadia Red Snapper Chammeli/ Pulariyam
Trigger Fish Karatti Blue and Gold Snapper Manjan
Surgeon Fish Nei Thala Coral Fish Pacha Chala
Angel Fish Sardine Vai Chala
Parrot Fish Balala, Pheesam Sand Dab Lammam
Stone Fish Honey comb Grouper/Rock Cod Chammam
Puffer Fish Powder Blue Tang
Box Fish Thombu Yellow fin Tuna  Poovan Choora
Needle Fish Oola Skip Jack Tuna  Mas Choora
Clown Fish Dolphin Fish Avanoose
Murel Unicorn Fish Karukkan
Shark Sravu Sting ray
Seer Fish Ayakura Rainbow Runner Chameen
Jack/King fish Kuluval/Maduthala/ Vangada Gerrus Punctatus/ Silver Biddy Porachi
Flying fish Parava Sail Fish Olameen
Eel Malanji

Other Sea Creatures Seen

Sea Cucumber – Black, Brown Kavadi Clam
Star Fish Cuttle Fish – Kanava Corals
Snail, Shells Octopus – Appal Sea Anemone
Crabs, Hermit Crabs Sea Urchin Kalpitti Kol


Lakshadweep Dishes

  1. Masappam – Samosa with dried minced tuna filling
  2. Bread Fruit Bonda
  3. Sweet potato Bonda
  4. Bread Bonda
  5. Banana Bonda, Pazham pori
  6. Ullivada
  7. Meen dosa – fish filling
  8. Kalathappam
  9. Ittadicha Androth Biriyani – Fish/Beef/Chicken/Octopus
  10. Meen Idi Ada
  11. Kilanchi with Banana Milk Curry
  12. Ada With Tuna Curry
  13. Dweep Unda – Rice, Coconut, Jaggery ball)
  14. Meera – Coconut inflorescence Juice
  15. Aval Milk – rice flakes with milk
  16. Meen Chandi- Salt, Medium tender coconut with minced boiled fish like

Sail fish/King fish/Needle fish eggs

  1. Kakka Peera – Mussel with coconut mince
  2. Pookuthu
  3. Mas Idiappam
  4. Fish Cutlet
  5. Fish Roll
  6. Chicken Kilikoodu
  7. Island special Egg puff
  8. Riyappam
  9. Keenath( Minicoy Dish)

Islands  of Lakshadweep

1.Agatti. (Language – Jazzari)

Uninhabited Islands around Agatti

Bangarum, Tinnakara, Parali 1, Parali 2, ( Parali 3 – Submerged), Pitti – Bird sanctuary, Kalpitti, perumal Par

  1. kavaratti (Capital). Uninhabited Islands around Kavaratti – Pitti, Suheli
  2. Amini
  3. Androth
  4. Kalpeni
  5. Kadmath
  6. Chetlath
  7. Kiltan
  8. Bithra . Uninhabited Islands around Bithra – Cherbaniani, Byragmore
  9. Minicoy( Language – Mahal)



North East India Wonders

Trip to North East India was a dream come true. I got the best opportunity after I resigned from Amrita Institute before taking up the post in Believers Church Hospital. I took a two month break and started off with Papa for a 3 week journey to the Northeastern states of India.
On the 9th of March, 2014 at 6.30 am, we started off from Trivandrum and reached Chennai at 7.30 am by air India. We took the 10.10 spice jet to Bagdogra via Kolkata. Bagdogra is a defence airport. Reached by 1.30 pm. Mr. Sanjay had come on an Innova to pick us  and we started at around 2.00 pm. We met papa’s friend Mr. Joshua  on the way. I was happy to see Ayyappan Temple written in malayalam in Bagdogra
The road along the teesta river gorge was magnificent. On the way we Saw a Bike fell in teesta gorge near sevak.The guys were recovered. One guy looked quite serious. Only thing that we knew was that he was alive at that moment.On the way we saw factories of pharmaceutical companies like alchem, cipla, torrent, sun, Himalaya. We Reached Gangtok at 6.30 pm. Gangtok at night was looking great. papa had to buy a camera battery and we saw the Gangtok MG market; so beautifully maintained. The room was booked by papa’s student, Mr. Janga police ADGP in the Police guest house. The room name was Harini- Verditer flycatcher. We had chapathi, dal fry and chilly chicken for dinner.

Next day we started off to namchi. Sanjay was our driver for our entire journey in Sikkim We were told be him that there were three tribes or races in Sikkim, the Bhutia who are Buddhist, lepcha who are considered the indegenous nature worshippers and the Nepali hindus.On the way we saw a Dam built half way by the Andhra reddys
We stopped for tea in a shop near a Tea estate and the view of the estate and view and rhododendron trees were good.We had refreshing black tea.
On the way to Namchi, we visited Samudruptse Buddha statue which was a tall statue on a hill. I was amazed to see and excited to photograph innumerable species of birds around that area. We had to wait near the car for some time as our driver Sanjay was immersed in carom play with other drivers and we waited till the game was over.
Shirdi sai mandir was a good place to visit. The place was so silent and less busy when compared to our next destination. Siddheshwar char dham was a tourist destination on top of a hill and it had duplicated most of the temples in India. We could see the Samudruptse statue from far. We had Veg momos and wai wai noodles for lunch. I was a unique experience.
Due to the arrival of some VIP we had to change to the SIB the guest house and fortunately that was a better option. The night view of the city was awesome.
on the 11th of March we started off to  Nathu la which is a mountain pass to China at the Indo China border which was along the old silk route. The road was quite treacherous. We got passes on the way. The view of the snow mountains were amazing. The ride along the slippery snow road was quite risky too but so exciting. Finally after many hours we reached Nathula.


Its a must see destination. The cherry on the pie was the opportunity to photograph a Himalayan Griffon. Near to Nathu la was baba mandir which is a shrine of a soldier. It was a unique experience. On the way we saw the beautiful  Tsomgo lake. The scenic beauty was unexplainable. We had a  ride on the yak near the lake. The snow fall on the way back was a thrilling experience. Momo was a favourite dish there and we did not miss any chance. We had  veg steamed momo for breakfast and lunch, pork fried momo for the evening  and chapathi, rice and chicken for dinner.

Next day we did a  city tour . We enjoyed the Rope way, We paid a visit to a nearby Gojang monastery. There we had a funny incident where a monk hit a dog and  fell from scooter. Ganeshtok was a high point where the view of the city was quite magnificient, The Zoo had very little animals but with great potential to expand.We also visited flower park, namgyal institute of tibetology, tashi view point, Do drul chorten stupa, enchey monastery and  handicraft bazaar. On the way back we were shocked to see a scene where people were waiting to get the LPG cylinder. The queue was horribly long.
We had dinner from Tibet restaurant with Mr.Jenga  and the menu was wanton soup, momo, fing and  fried rice
On the 13th  morning, We started off to darjeeling. We took around 4 hrs including time for breakfast.We bid farewell to Sanjay, He was a wonderful driver. The stay was in luxurious circuit house. In the evening we did a joy ride in the toy train from darjeeling to ghoom which was 7 km one side. We also visited the ghoom museum.
Next day we woke up at 3.30 am and started towards tiger hills. We got a new driver. Got the super deluxe ticket on the waiting area building. The sun rise was supposed to be at 5.55 am. We sat on the top floor of the building on the luxurious couches only to see the thick white mist.the view of the great Himalayas including Mount Everest, Kanchendzonga hit by the golden morning rays still remain as a dream. After breakfast we visited the Buddhist monasteries and also rope way which was recently reopened. It had been closed for 12 years due to an accident where some tourists died. The 40 min ride above the tea garden was good but the ride above Gangtok City was better. The Padmaja Naidu Zoo was quite a good one and we visited the Himalayan Mountaineering institute which was nearby. We paid a visit to the Dunggon Samten Choling Buddhist Monastery. After lunch we came down to siliguri and visited papas friends Joshua and Jonathan. Joshua uncle took us to another place where we had a bible study session and papa shared his experiences regarding the Allahabad history of change of Ganesh mani Pradhan to Joshua Pradhan. After dinner he dropped us in new jalpaiguri railway junction. To our shock we came to know that our train was 6 hrs late. It was to start at 12.10 am on 15th. On trying to confirm it, we came to know that the delay was extended to 7 hrs. We found that there was a train to Guwahati at 2.00 am, the saraighat express. We took the second class ticket. The train came and I headed towards the general compartment. Luckily papa saw the TT getting down and we managed to get two berths in the first class coupe. It was my first time in first class. We had to pay extra 1000 each. Inspite of reminding the TT, we were not given the receipt and so we can imagine where the money had gone to. We reached Guwahati at around 10.00 am and we took a share taxi to Shillong. There were 11 people in the Tata sumo including the driver. It took 3 hrs including the 30 min break in Nongpoh where we had masala pineapple and banana.

Our stay was arranged in Don Bosco Savio juniorate, the minor seminary. We were received by Fr. Sebastian Palatty who is a friend of Lakshmanan. They were together in Silchar. We also met Fr.Jose who was the director of Don Bosco museum for indigenous culture. After lunch we visited the museum. It was a marvel. It’s supposed to be the largest museum in Asia. We could learn the cultures of  the various north east tribes. The view of Shillong City from the sky walk above the museum was unique and beautiful. There was a nine min video presentations also about north East India.
In the evening we met Mrs Peace Lyngdo who was a student of papa in agriculture college vellayani. They had met after 25 years. We did a city tour and visited golf course, ward’s lake and cathedral. We visited her house too.
She explained to us regarding the various tribes of Mekhalaya like the Khasi, Garo and Jintia. We had dinner from City Hut Dhaba and the ambience there was great.
Next day we set off to our dream destination the Chirapunjee or Sohra. Chirapunjee was a shocking experience. so unexpected. The place could only be compared to an inverted  empty tumbler because everywhere there were coal mine which caved the land and also there were massive waterfalls only during rainy season. No wonder it can be called the “wettest Desert”. The forst destination was Duwan Sing Syiem View point from where we could see the Mawdok Dympep valley. There was adventure tourism happening there that included the ropeway. On the way we saw Nohsngithiang falls. The view was gorgeous though the water was less.


Nohkalikai falls was yet another marvel. It is also a must see destination. It tells the story of a girl who jumped off the cliff. We could only imagine its massiveness during peak of monsoon.  Mawsmai cave was a unique experience. The walk along the 150 metre cave in the midst of forest was quite thrilling. I always longed for a cave expedition.  Next destination was Thankharang park. It was a large park and was quite well maintained. It was quite unfortunate to see the dry Kynrem falls in the back ground of the park. On the way we saw huge Khasi Monoliths; the femaale ones were lying horizontal and the male ones were erected up.  We also sawThomas Jones School of Mission named after a missionary who came in 1841. The Ka Khoh Ramhah was a huge rock that carried a myth of a giant that was killed. The place was unique as we could see the beautiful Bangladesh plains from there. The next destination was Elephant falls. It was a wonderful 3 step falls. Inspite of the pace being busy, it was clean and the bird life around it was also amazing.
For dinner we had Shillong noodles with chilly pork and also live music by Peace’s teacher Felix.
On the 17th morning 6.30 am, we started from Shillong. Peace arranged car driven by Sunil all along the Shillong trip. We had breakfast in local shop. We had jhado , it was masala rice with pork salad and fried veg. It seems there is a preparation where rice is made mixed with blood of pork, a Khasi delicacy. It would look red in colour. We missed it. jorabat kaziranga road had paddy fields on one side and tea garden on other. As we were nearing the park we saw tea garden on one side and national park on either side. We really started to enjoy Assam.
At Kaziranga we were welcomed by Lakshmanan’s friend, Sunny Choudhary, ACF. We did a Jeep ride in the evening inside the sanctuary . We could see lot of animals and birds. We had dinner with Sunny and he shared many stories.
Next day early morning we had a sanctuary ride on elephant. We watched many birds like vultures, storks, Pelicans and animals including rhino, deer,wild buffalo, boar really upclose.
After breakfast, Sunny dropped us at kaziranga bus stand. We waited there from 10 to 11.00 am. In between an Assam transport bus passed and didn’t stop. Standing was not allowed in the bus. We got a bus to jorhat. Reached at 12.30. After lunch we took the Assam transport bus to tinsukia. It was so luxurious with only around 30 seats.
Lakshmanan and family waited for us in tinsukia and took us to joinulabidins banashree resort in guijan, 8 km from tinsukia opposite to dibru saikhowa national park near the banks of river dibru. Cute looking bamboo huts close to nature. The huts were named after birds. We were staying in and Lakshmanan and family stayed in next hut. That night we went to nearby exhibition ground called riya enterprises. We got into the giant wheel, rotating helicopter and visited local stalls. We met the owner.Lakshmanan has helped to give permission to set up the show in his place sadiya. So everything was free for us as his courtesy.

img_9466img_9637img_9676img_9725 img_9829
On the 19th, we were taken to a near by ghat. Papa and me were on one boat, Lakshmanan and family on another. We had guides with was maguri bheel (lake), a birders paradise. We were a bit late regarding the season. As things started to be exciting the clouds began to creep over. The thunder was frightening and it began to drizzle. Luckily we got back to the bank and found a safe cover. The downpour was heavy. As the sky became a bit clear, we roamed around the glasslands and did some bird watching. There were lots of ruddy shelducks and other birds. As we got on to our boats, a terrific lightning struck right on a metal wire right on top of us. Lakshmanans children got really scared. I felt a hit on my right ear. I guess it was a narrow escape for all of us. Lakshmanan and family any way had to go early and there was no better excuse to go earlier. We continued our ride in the boat. The climate became better. We had breakfast in the boat. I was really excited by the number,type and close proximity to the birds. In the evening we went for a grassland stroll and did bird watching.
Lakshmanan had discussed with ADC of Jairampur regarding the ILP(Inner line Permit) for us to enter Arunachal Pradesh to visit pangsau pass. So next day Joinulabidin took us in his jeep along with his helper . It was around 150 km from the resort. There were a lot of check posts including Arunachal police, Assam rifles army, Myanmar police and army posts. After all the hurdles, we managed to enter another country, Myanmar, without any passport or visa. Entry is usually permitted on 10th and 20th of every month when they conducted Burma market. Unfortunately Burma market was not there that day as the children had exams. But some shops were open. We drove around 5 km inside the entry check post.

There was a Buddhist monastery near by. I bought a handmade carry bag for my wife. The view of theChanglang ‘Lake of no return’ in the valley was beautiful. The condition of the road in Myanmar side was pathetic. While returning we met a malayali army officer at pangsau check post. From there I had to drive the vehicle as Joinulabidin was feeling so sleepy, we just escaped an accident and that was the reason I took over. We visited Digboi war cemetery and Digboi oil museum on the way back.
We stayed in Tinsukia circuit house that night.

On the 21st  we started our most exciting journey to the place where Lakshmanan was working as Chief Judicial Magistrate; Sadiya. It was a trip of a lifetime. We started off early morning on a bus and reached on the banks of River Lohit,one of the tributary of Brahmaputra. The bus travelled along the sand banks . From there we look the boat to cross the ghat. It took around half an hour to cross the river. We were told it would take around 2 hours to cross during floods. We could not even imagine the might of River Brahmaputra. A 10 Km long bridge was under construction and so we would not experience this in the future. We took another bus from there to reach Sadiya. In most places roads were not even there and the trip was quite bumpy. We reached Sadiya by around noon. straightaway we were taken along with Lakshmanan’s family and his guard in his vehicle to Mayodiya Pass which was in Arunachal Pradesh.

We didnt have any difficulty in entry. The border was Roing and from there Ghat road started. The crossing along the dried river bed, watching wild Mithuns and the view of the valley from the top were all quite exciting. But the experience at the top surpassed all these. Mayodiya was 2655 metre altitude mountain pass. The view of the snow mountains was so beautiful and they still cherish in our memories. We stayed in the Circuit house that night. Next day Lakshmanan took us and showed around Sadiya. It was a small beautiful village. We visited the silk wormm farm also. We thanked good bye to Sadiya and Lakshmanan , crossed the ghat and reached Tinsukia Station. The Railway heritage park in Tinsukia was a wonder and it threw a lot of light regarding the history of not just Northeast frontier railway but the whole of Indian Railways.
On 23rd morning we reached reached dimapur. Got refreshed in circuit house. We obtained ILP from Mr.Thavaseelan who was the SDO, Dimapur and Lakshmanan’s friend. We took a share taxi to Kohima which took 2 hrs. We were welcomed by Papa’s friend Lanuakum Ozukum and he gave us typical Naga lunch. He explained about the different naga tribes. It seems there are around 14 major tribes. Altogether around 30 tribes. All have different dialects. But they speak mainly nagamese, which is a mixture of Hindi and Assamese.
Next day we had breakfast with David and Merlin who was also Papa’s friends. We visited the Museum and war cemetery, The kisama naga heritage village was a good place to be. But it became active only during the Hornbill festival in December.   We had lotha which was a special naga dish  for dinner. We also paid a visit to the State handicraft emporium and had a good walk back home. The cathedral of Mary Help of Christians was near to our stay and the view of Kohima from the top was beautiful
We came back to dimapur on 25th and stayed in circuit house. We Met papas friend Sharon there. It was a good experience to visit bamboo resource centre.  We had dinner in Sharon’s house. The only thing we missed in Nagaland was to taste dog meat.
On the 26th of March we took the  12.00 noon air India flight from dimapur to Kolkata via dibrugarh.We saw a fascinating view of the Himalayan Mountain range through the aircraft window. The Kolkata to chennai flight was delayed by 3 hrs. We stayed in aunts place in chennai.
On the 27th we visited papas friend PC varghese in Chennai. We took the evening flight to Trivandrum with fond memories.

The Great UK Experience

With good hope and dreams of a good career in medicine, I set off to UK to write my PLAB part 2 examination with Joe and Sarath. The STIC travel card gave us a heavy discount in our airfare. We took the Gulf air, departed at about 9.30 am on the 25th of May 2005 waving good bye to our friends and family. It was my first journey in a flight and also out of my country. The flight was full. We reached Abudhabi in 4 hours. Literally we had to run to the next terminal for the connection flight but not to miss the beautiful multicoloured massive central dome of the airport. The next flight was literally empty. It took 8 long hours to reach London Heathrow. During the journey, we saw residential apartments being built on the artificial island made in the sea in the shape of palm tree in Dubai

The view of the great Alps from above was fascinating. The snow covered mountains looked like the body of zebra. We checked out of London Heathrow at about 5.30 pm. Sajicha who was Sarath’s relative took us to his home in Harrow. Joe went to Leicester where his brothers stayed.

Next day Sarath and myself took a train from London to Sheffield  in “virgin train”. It was fast and luxurious when compared to our own railways.  Mohanbabu uncle who was my father’s colleague in agricultural college in Kerala was in Sheffield for his PhD. He came to receive us at the railway station. We met him infront of the W H Smith book house. We took a black cab and reached his home. The street  even when all the houses seemed monotonous was still looking neat and beautiful.

Uncle’s son Kichu was eager to show his pictures and music in his computer.  We stayed ther overnight and next day Sarath and me took a train to Manchester Piccadilly. We had to reach Old Trafford and so we took a tram. We had registered with Plabwise for the coaching for Plab test. The Plabwise people arranged the accommodation about 10 minutes walk from the coaching centre.  It was above a mosque and Islamic cultural centre. The place was so quiet and peaceful.


The next five days was the intensive PLAB 2 coaching starting from 9.00 am which went upto around 10.00 pm. Earlier we cleared the part 1 in India. Over the few days, we started improving our communication skills by interacting with our classmates and teachers who came from different countries like Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran etc. We both were the only Indians.  Me and Sarath did combined study for the next days in our room. We made friends with guys from Lebanon and Pakistan who stayed next door. We learned the basics of cooking. Well actually most of it were precooked, heat and eat items. It was not the time for experiments too.

My cousin Kochuchayan came to visit us and took us for a trip around Manchester. The city was pretty huge. Eventhough  I didn’t have much interest in football, I was happy to visit Manchester United and Manchester City stadiums. I was told that the sculpture “Bee of the Bang” infront of the Manchester City stadium was worth millions. We also saw the renovated docks and the imperial war museum.  Finally we went to the Trafford centre shopping complex, better called a shopping city. It was so amazing and massive that we could only see a part of it.  I guess we could buy everything under the sun from there.  We settled in a ship shaped hall and had a chicken dish from the Nando’s restaurant.

We came back to London on the 10th of June. We had already booked for a mock test with PLABswamy in Eastham on the 11th. Not to our surprise, East ham was almost like India. We could hardly see any British people there. The difference was really felt

We took the PLAB 2 exam on the 13th June. By then Joe also came to Eastham for his coaching. All three of us took a trip in and around London city reminding of the movie  “Mandanmar Londonil ”. We travelled in the famous underground tube railway. By taking a day rider ticket, we could get down in lot of stations like Euston square, Leicester square, Piccadilly Circus, St.James park, Oxford Circus, Liverpool street, Monument, West Minster and so on. The view of the London eye, Big Ben and Parliament house were fascinating from the bridge over the Thames River. We saw London bridge from far.  We strolled for a while in St.James Park. It was huge.  There were a lot of swans in the park. A squirrel that was fed by a person suddenly jumped and climbed over my legs.

I came back to Sheffield on the 17th of June and stayed with Mohanbabu uncle for the next two and a half months. I roamed around Sheffield city by foot as well as in Kichu’s cycle. After passing PLAB, I concentrated on applying for jobs and running around hospitals in search of attachments. After many hundreds of applications, I got an attachment in Orthopaedics in Royal Liverpool University hospital with Prof. Simon.P.Frostick . I stayed with my cousin Nisha for the rest of the period in UK.  From Liverpool I had a chance to travel two times to preston for a course, once to Manchester for my MRCS part 1 exam and once to Doncaster for my occupational health check for an attachment (which I cancelled later). As Sarath was in Doncaster  I had an opportunity to visit him too.


In Liverpool I purchased a monthly bus pass to go to the hospital. With that, I could travel all around Liverpool any time. Apart from the career, it was a huge boost for my communication skills during my work in Royal Liverpool University hospital. Thanks to the patients from all over the world. Apart from the British, my colleagues came from different part of the word including India, Greece, Nigeria, Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Norway and Pakistan.

During my time in Liverpool, I visited the Liverpool Museum where I saw an Egyptian Mummy. I also visited Albert Dock, and The Liverpool Cathedral which was massive and amazing. I strolled through the China Market and saw the Liverpool Football stadium. Once a month we had Malayalam Holy mass conducted by Happy Achen. I met him earlier in Sheffield where he took me for the mass in Manchester. Infact the road trip from Sheffield to Manchester was so beautiful. The real country roads lie fresh in my memories. In both the churches, I had to introduce myself as it was a custom for new comers.


I had my first experience of snow in the Christmas season of 2005 in Liverpool. Me and Chakki enjoyed the evenings making snowman and playing with snowballs in the garden. I was excited to paint the fence of the back yard of our home during the stay with them. The change of the environment with the seasons was so amazing and I loved autumn the most.  I even made a poem out of the inspiration.


I got addicted to the first ever reality show in BBC, “Strictly come dancing” and became a fan of Darren Gough and Lilia Kopylova. To add cherry to the pie, they won the competition too.  Chakki and I practiced dancing after the show. She thoroughly enjoyed my stay there.

Unfortunately the change in the visa rules forced me to leave UK without a job. Of course I was upgraded from the attachment post to Honorary Senior House Officer in Orthopaedics.  I got the GMC registration and the Hospital got a free job. But this couldn’t go long and I had to leave.

We spent some money for all this adventure, but the gain was massive. A whole lot of experience in life; feeling of responsibility, independence, Cultural integration, improving communication skills, tourism and sightseeing,  career inspiration in Orthopaedics, the ever rainy and cold UK climate and by far the most, the ability to survive inspite of persistent hindrances and obstacles in life. The lessons that I learned from the British was

  • To always keep a smiling face
  • Do it yourself
  • Never hesitate to tell 3 words at any point in your life “ Please, Sorry and Thank you”

T was a very fast decision to visit Dubai and SriLanka on my return to India. Elsymmamma sent me the visa and I waved goodbye to UK from  Manchester airport on the 4th of May 2006. On the way to Dubai, I had a transit in Frankfurt airport which was so huge that I had to take a train inside the airport to go to the next terminal.

Elsymmamma and Babuchachan waited for me in Dubai airport. They didn’t recognize me at all as I was having a “motta thala”. I had my hair shaved during most of the time in UK. I stayed with them in Deira for the next 10 days and 4 days in SriLanka with my cousin Sajanchayan. Papa joined me there and we travelled all around Sri Lanka.  We were upgraded to business class on our way to Trivandrum