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!!