Chain of pearls
Scattered in the Bay of Bengal like a chain of pearls, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands pose multiple challenges for the people living there. Life is often tough on these lush green, tropical islands but it has its perks too. There are complaints about lack of resources and infrastructure but there are many things for which the islanders are thankful.
Most of the local residents migrated to the islands out of compulsion but decided to settle down counting the abundant blessings. The islands might not get the media coverage they deserve but that does not lessen their natural beauty or importance. Innumerable beaches and the tropical rain forest make these islands one of the most sought-after destinations for Indians.
Every day is an outing
People from the islands who have moved to the concrete jungles of India possibly miss the lovely beaches the most as they are integral to daily life on the Andamans. Be it Holi, Makarsankranti or Chhat Puja, or simply family picnics or social gatherings, the beaches are the best getaway. The islanders never tire of taking in the roaring sea or driving down the snaking coastal roads.
Living on these islands that have a population of only four lakh population has a positive side. For Andaman children, getting selected for national events is a little easier because they have to compete with fewer rivals. Ditto with cracking competitive exams.
Special treatment for islanders
Islanders visiting mainland India are often singled out for special treatment. People are genuinely curious to know more about the Andamans: “Do you need a passport to visit Andamans?”; “Does everyone live like the Jarawa tribes in the Andamans?”; “Do you have trains going to the Andamans?”; “How many days will it take to reach the Andamans by ships?”; “What is the official language of the Andamans?” The questions never end.
Often, people introduce an islander with a sense of pride — “See he is from Andaman, you know Andaman and Nicobar Islands.” Then they spring the old question: “Do you need a passport to visit the Andamans?” Usually in trains or at meetings or in camps or at big events, someone from the Andamans is treated as unique. So, a central government employee who has just been transferred to the Andamans need not worry. Just get set for a long paid vacation and don’t forget to bring your swimming costume!
Sanjib Kumar roy
Our correspondent in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.