Travel is fun and relaxing, but when it is combined with some explorations it becomes complete and memorable too. Ridha Manoj learned about new cultures and places in this summer vacation. She shares her joy and experience of visiting the dhobi ghat in Mumbai and the beautiful Andaman Nicobar Islands.

“Here I am once again to share the Travel snippets of my summer vacation. I have had a long vacation but in parts.

First, I was lucky to visit Mumbai and got to explore the Dhobhighat, which was my favorite part of the trip. Mamma kept mentioning and asking people around for the direction to the dhobhi ghat and if she could get permission to go in. People wondered why she wanted to see Dhobhighat or show me the same. But Hurrah! She found the way the next morning and there we go!

There were 800 washing slabs, 100 plus machines, and so many clothes drying everywhere. The dhobhi said they get millions of clothes every day from across the city. They follow a system of washing, sorting, and ironing. Mamma got to try her hands on some ironing and the iron was so huge that she could barely lift it. Rows of colorful clothes hung to dry makes that place look so beautiful. It kept me thrilled throughout the first half of the vacation, and then Andaman happened.

Travel to Andaman felt a little confusing. It felt like I was traveling away from my country but to my country. The first peep from the flight just before landing reminded me of one of my favorite movies – Moana. The islands, the shores, the greenery, and the sand – I was thrilled to land and make my way to the beaches.

Andaman was much more than what I expected. On the first day, we went to the Cellular Jail. Mom and Dad were telling me about the cruelty our freedom fighters faced in those small single bed sized cells. I had so many questions in my mind while we walked through the cells, and my mother held my hand and walked beside. Her silence kept me puzzled if I should have asked anything or not. Then came the cell of Veer Savarkarji. My mother removed her footwear, seeing her do that I did the same and walked inside. We shut our eyes and paid a two-minute silence, then did a Martyr Salute and walked out. It was very sad a feeling that I went through.

Next day was fun, as we approached the cruise that was taking us to the Havelock island. The next three days I spent exploring the beaches of the island. I also made friends with a little puppy there and named it Dash.

Following day, we explored another island – Baratang. Mom and dad were discussing the night before about being taken in the convoy through a tribal reserve. I overheard them talk about a tribal group called the Jarawas, but did not ask much. When I woke up early the next morning and drove to a point where all the cars collected to begin the first convoy. 30 cars went in a line, to make sure that we or the tribals did not cause any harm to each other. For the first 20 mins, I looked through the bushes but found no one. Then came an excited shout from my mother – There they are!

When I looked up there was a lady who had stopped the car in front of ours and was demanding something. The driver asked us to keep food packets and our phones aside. Next was our turn, she stopped our car and asked our driver in sign language to give something to eat. He politely refused, but she was still aggressive. My heart skipped a beat and I held tightly held my father’s hand. The tribal lady quickly looked into the car and then let us go. Phew! Right after our car moved a little ahead I noticed that behind her stood a gang of young boys dressed in red bands across the body holding spears. It was quite scary.

As we drove further, we noticed a few more Jarawa kids sitting on the cornerstone of the roads, smiling and waving at the cars that drove past. Then a family of mamma, dada and two children sitting by the side of the road and peeling the garlic and many more small groups like these. They didn’t seem that scary anymore. They were different, but they gave me a feeling that they are probably much friendlier than what we saw. We then reached an area of Mangroves which headed to a 3 km trek to Limestones Caves. Mamma had told me about The Stalactites and the Stalagmites. After which, I got the opportunity to see volcanoes…. Haha, don’t get worried. They were not active. The mud volcanoes of Andaman!

The last day of our vacation in Andaman we explored yet another island – The Ross Island. It was the British Capital of Andaman islands. Only the Ruins remains now. So eerie it was to see how the roots of the trees had engulfed the buildings. The market, the church, the houses now remain swallowed by the trees.

I came back with lots of new learnings, new experiences and lots and lots of shells to make my new terrarium.”

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