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Friday, November 20, 2009

October 2009- Vizag 4

To Aizawl- The boating trip had been made under the warmth of the midday sun after which I barely had time to bathe and ride to the airport for my return flight. The 90-minute plane ride was spent in sweet slumber, taking care of the slight nauseating sensation of the boat ride. It was after 8pm when i reached Mizoram House, taking off again immediately for dinner at ‘Dash’, at the City Centre Mall, in a floor I didn’t even know existed. I was assured that my flight the following day was to be at 11am even though the ticket said 8:15 am. So imagine my shock to be told that I had missed my flight- were it not for my connections with men in uniform, I might have been stranded mercilessly. But like an incognito VIP, there were Sky Marshalls who made sure I boarded, was comfortable and arrived safely at Lengpui. Another man in uniform ushered me into the VIP lounge and dealt with my luggage- gave me one intereseting story to tell my folks!!! But another thought- I don’t think I can stand being a VIP, on protection 24/7- the knowledge that you’re being watched all the time kills the joy of just being

October 2009 Vizag 3

The YMCA Orientation- The purpose of my Vizag trip was the Orientation Programme for Chairpersons and Conveners of the YMCA Women’s For a with the theme ‘Visionary Leadership with a Mission’. Unlike the previous meetings I had attended, there was no chance whatsoever, to absent myself from the meetings, either to sleep or catch the sights. Right from the Inaugural function where we heard women of substance deliver the keynote address and the Devotional message, right down to the Planning and Brainstorming sessions, every meeting was worth the while. It was an inspiration to hear women from different parts of India tell of what they were doing in their own spheres to spread Christ’s message of love and brotherhood. Some were running projects for Street children, others were working in the field of health- all social actions highlighted were deeply rooted at the very base of the social strata, addressing basic needs to those who are so often denied access.

Thoughts of social activism in Mizoram made me realise how fortunate my society is in having a strong Christian base that has been addressing such issues for as long as it has existed. It also made me think of the very culture of the Mizo people that does not permit anyone to lock themselves up in their iron castles, isolated from society. True, our curiosity can get annoying at times but I would not trade this for the indifference of other societies.

The YMCA, as also other Christian NGO’s and the Church, is striving to adopt and tackle the very things that come so naturally to a Mizo. The question now, though, is are these still natural tendencies? Or have we become so civilised that we are going to need NGO’s to tell us that you and I are to look out for our neighbours? Out of all that was said and heard, the one thing I have brought home with me is the need to participate – to hold as my own the things that affect me and my fellow human folk. To be a part of the change that I desire, to see the marginalised make way into the mainstream, to have the burden of translating Vision into reality and making it my life’s mission. The morning Devotions were a time to reflect on that very matter- on the Purpose driven life of a Christian, one whose Faith will not allow the sight of a fellow man denied his right to a global citizenship.

Our hosts, the Vishakapatnam YMCA excelled themselves- their hospitality, their extra efforts to make sure we were all comfortable, the care they put into the smallest details- their love turned Vizag into the loveliest of places.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

October 2009- Vizag 2

Vishakhapatnam: the place

It was a quiet, clean airport we landed in at Vizag- the charm was all there, just like it had been in Cochin and at Trichy- blame it on small town Southern India magic! And while I hesitated at the exit door, I saw YMCA in capitals being carried by two men near the gate and we smilingly left together. It was hot, but the man with me insisted winter had started and that this was one of the best times there, weather wise- at least, there’s money saved on winter wear. Vizag isn’t a big place, not big enough for rough traffic or the so often annoying beggars that swarm you at traffic lights in bigger cities. I did see the odd silver-paint coated Gandhis though - the first, a boy of about 7 at the beach; and the other, a young man on my way to the airport.

The people looked busy and despite the long stretch of beaches, the air wasn’t that of a lazy or lethargic town. The YMCA, where we stayed and had our meetings, was right next to the long stretch of what is popularly called RK Beach. And I have to say the Government has definitely done its part in making the most of what Nature has given. A beautifully maintained road runs along on an elevation to the beach and the powerful waters- tempting enough for every room in the YMCA to carry a warning against swimming in the sea. And the beach wasn’t the only beautiful thing. Kailashgiri Hills was a pleasure and it was one of my greatest regrets not to have spent more time there. Going up on the ropeway, we could see the entire city-with its hills and the sea, and at the distance was the sight of boats with their white sails up, straight out of a postcard! On the hill is a small train track where a toy train with glass windows makes its way round the picturesque sight.

Then there was the Bay of Bengal where we went boating. The clear waters appeared black and full of mystery as we cruised around trying to find our bearings in the midst of God’s beautiful handiwork. A curious thing of interest was the sight of fish drying on the very roads we were travelling in- so naturally, with such familiarity. No one thought otherwise and I guess no one but the owners ever ventured to pick them once they had dried to satisfaction. It was in the intriguing mixture of sun, sand, hills, the green trees and the dark blue sea that Vizag fixed itself upon my heart.

A privilege accorded only by Vizag was the journey inside INS KURSURA, the submarine that served her country well in the 1971 War with Pakistan and decommissioned after 31 glorious years of service to her country. I have always saluted naval forces, but going inside the 91.3m long submarine made me realise just how special these men really are. Forget the movies, this is real life, and if you can survive that, life would surely offer a lot less challenges. The torpedoes and missiles, the bunkers and kitchen, the cabins and washrooms, the engines- if only I were I better writer!!

October 2009 Vizag 1

To Vizag:
The trip got off to a rather shaky start as I had to be practically pulled into Security to make it on the 3pm Kingfisher flight to Kolkatta on October 29.It wasn’t that we had made it late to the airport- it was because Enga and I had decided we should eat before I checked it. We talked over our plates of Chow and did not realise there was barely 15 minutes before departure!! But it wasn’t too bad either because it saved me from the long wait at the rather uninteresting Security Hall at the airport. What the flight did, though, was kill my plans of shopping in Kolkatta that evening because it was close to 6 when I finally made it to Mizoram House. Unwilling to resign myself to a night without an outing, I decided to take off the moment I got to my room. My roommate, a Lecturer at RIPANS was only too willing to go along, so we rode over to Mani Square and ended up with quite a haul anyway- but missed the initial aim of great bargains at New Market. Got burgers for dinner though they ended up as my breakfast after all.

Made my way then to the nearby Stadium to meet a friend. A good reunion it was tho’ it gave me a slight headache the following morning. The flight to Vizag on October 30 was at 6:30 am, and I was left with no choice but to get up and leave a little after 4am- so much for going on a holiday!! (and there was no choice in the flight timings, cos that’s the only direct flight between Vizag and Kol).