Thursday, January 1, 2015

1905hrs, Dec 28, 2004, post on; revisiting the tsunami of Dec 2004

Dec 28, 2004
1905 hrs
I hope we'll meet all of you soon

As news of the Tsunami victims keep pouring in...images of these people and places keep filling up my mind and I stay with these fond memories. I hope all of you are safe somewhere. Our prayers are with you all and we are hoping that this time will pass soon.

Samir, Gita and Koyal- for me and many others, especially those who work to make the Islands a better managed place, they are the 'First Family'.Sukumari chechi, Samir's strong right hand. Dennis and Reshmi and others at SANE.

Uncle Pao, Uncle Pambe and the ANET family at what's called the 'base'. Just three days before the quake, we were envying the centre table's role in the lives of the ANET family! I hope its still there.

At Mayabandar:
Alex, the tattoed boatman and his generous family. Mainlanders such as us know him as Ravi's (Sankaran) boatman!!Ravi's team protecting the Edible nest swiftlets at Chalees ek (41) caves.

The Nicobars- the land of the captains and their folks who celebrate Kinruak (the festival to honour and remember their ancestors) The pretty Mus jetty at Car Nic- with a spectacular coral tree against the blue sky and a large pandamus. Someone told me that the jetty's gone...

An RFO from Car Nic, whose name I didn't write down, unfortunately...was most helpful with suggestions on accomodation and food.

Nancowry Islands
Robert Pee, Range officer at Kamorta, who's daughter is at Bangalore and who I am supposed to meet when I go there next.
Bandana and Vijay; doing their wildlife research and with them were Johny and Joseph, assisting and ofcourse teaching.
The Queen mother, Rashid and his beautiful wife and kids, Ayesha didi
Uncle Lemian and daughter Doris who told us about the days when the Japs landed in the islands
Tong Kumar, the first captain of Trinket and who still remains the leader of his folks .

At Great Nic
Capt VRN Shetty and wife- we had many cups of chai from their huge flask over a session of their endless fight against the Island Admin for building walls to stop the seas.
The Govt machinery that gave us no trouble at all! AC saab Jagjit Singh, chhote AC saab, ACF- Chaterjee Shabnam- the sprightly Tribal Welfare officer who had earned the trust of the Shompens. Her little daughter Pallavi, her father and brother.
'Southern Most General Store' - it brought home the truth that we call the Islands ours but its never in our active consideration...for us mainlanders, Kanyakumari is the last stop down south.

Savari' s boss; the young Shankar (Savari is the name of his Mahindra gaadi, he's very popular with tourists!)

Agou, Glen and Victor- the dynamic threesome that manned the ANET forest camp at Galathea. All between 18-21years, they did their job of surveying the turtles that came to the beach each night to start another generation of them, with great responsibility and pride. So much so that they were a constant motivation to the forest staff based there too. Agou, thanks for all the fish, supari and juicy paan leaves that you saved up for me. Just hang in there and I promise we'll make a trip to Kaziranga so that you can see the rhino.

Korma Rao, Charles, Ilias and Chandra of the Forest Department stationed at Galathea stayed on at the beach even though they preferred a better posting in town. They made space for us in their camp without grumbling about our long stay.

The setting sun at the point where the Galathea meets the ocean....the turtles and their babies, the megapodes and the N. pigeons and many other creatures

To you all and the scores of others who are out there, my prayers, good wishes and affection.

Manju Menon

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