Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A TRAVELOGUE

Life in a distant place, that too in an entirely different culture, is something different. If you are ready to cope up with new situations you can enjoy it, otherwise you suffer. I had a memorable short life in Maldives.

I had a great flare (Honestly, even now!) to go abroad and to work there and explore the land. It was such a pursuit that led me to Maldives. I happened to see an ad in The New Indian Express while I was working in a college of teacher education. I applied for the job and they called me for an interview inm Chennai. But my parents had no interest in sending me to a foreign land. So I had to go and attend the interview in clandestine. After the interview only I revealed about the purpose of my Chennai trip.

Things turned good and I left for Maldives on 02/07/2006 from Chennai. Actually I had left my home on 30/06/2006 to reach Trichy on 01/07/2006 to collect my travel documents from my agency, Apex Online. Only my Father had accompanied me and my heart really trembled when I was walking towards Srilankan Airlines. I could feel the salt of my tears and off I could see my Father weeping.

The flight was via Colombo. It took off at 10.30AM and touched Colombo International Airport at around 12.00 noon. Our connection flight was at 8.00 in the night. It was an amazing airport and along with my companion Sri. Vaidyanathan we left the airport after we were granted 24 hour permission on our passport. He had earlier international travel experiences. We took a walk in the neighbouring streets and markets. It was for the first time that I was walking along the streets of a foreign country. I still remember the tea that we had for Fifteen Srilankan rupees. That tea would cost a maximum of Five Indian rupees. Inflation had put such a bad clamp in the lives of Srilankan people.

By 9.30PM we touched Male’, the capital of Maldives. There was a person holding big card with our names on it. He was from the hotel, Athama Palace, where we had to stay. Expatriate teachers normally live in Athama Palace when they reach Maldives. It is a tie up of hotel with Ministry of Education, Maldives. We can avail free food and accommodation till we are asked by the ministry to board the boat to our island. I had to spend till 09/07/2006 before I left for my island, Hinnavaru. But the life in Athama palace was not boring. I got a nice company, Biju. He too was from Kerala and waiting for further direction from ministry. Most days, we set out for “window shopping” after breakfast and will be back by noon. After bath, lunch and a short nap, we would again roam in the streets. Thus almost all the places became very familiar to me. Vaidyanath and other companions from India had already left for their islands. Let me give this general picture about Maldives. Maldives is an island country with some 1190 islands. It is hot tourist destination. The Islands are scattered in a chain like formation called Atolls. There are 26 atolls all together with a maximum of 200 islands in some atolls. According to Charles Darvin these atolls were created when a volcanic land mass subsided slowly into ocean. The 26 geographical atolls are divided into 20 administrative atolls. Of these 20 atolls my island Hinnavaru belonged to Lhaviyani Atoll.

I was posted as A level Physics teacher in Lhaviyani Atoll Education Centre(Lh.A.E.C.) Atoll Education Centre is the capital of all the educational activities of a atoll. Normally it would be a big school. Lh.A.E.C. had approximately 1000 students and 80 teachers. Lhaviyani atoll is 120km away from the Male’. There are 60 islands in this atoll in which 5 are inhabited. The population is around 10,000 with fishing as their main occupation. The administrative capital is Neifaru. The population of Hinavaru is around 2000.

On 10/07/2006, I left for my island in a traditional Maldivian boat called, Dhoni. Actually boats are the lifelines of Maldives. A Maldivian Dhoni can be considered as the symbol of caliber of Maldivian craftsmanship. It is shaped, crafted and evolved to suit the needs of Maldivian people. It can withstand the uncertainties of wind and waves. These Dhonis carry all the necessary items, from grocery items, fruits , vegetables to building materials, needed for an island. Every week hundreds of Dhonis make trips to remote islands carrying all the items for the island people. I reached the island at 5.00PM. En route, I suffered serious sea sickness. It was such a terrible journey for me that I could not eat anything supplied by the boat people. All the food contained Tuna fish and its taste was unbearable for me. Later I discovered that the most important ingredient in the Maldivian food was tuna. They prepared Tuna curry for each and every item they consumed and not only that there would be scrapes of tuna in snacks and short eateries. The school supervisor was waiting for me on the port and he directed me to a home.
                                                                                                                                           
The next morning I reported in my school. I was lead to my class by Mr. Felix Sebastian, the H.O.D. of science. There the structure of administrative level is like this – PRINCIPAL (In charge of the whole matters of school), ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL (In charge of monetary matters, salary etc), SUPERVISORS (They supervise the expatriate teachers and handle school discipline), H.O.D.s ( They plan the strategies for teaching) and TEACHERS.

I got nice colleagues over there like Adam Suresh, Jyothish Madan, Biju, Rejin to name a few. There was gymnasium which we often visit in the evenings. Rarely did we enjoy swimming in the shallow water. It is such a shallow water that anyone would say it is a lake because of its calmness. But we often we had seen sharks within our eye-shot. Jyothish and I were living in a rented house. While I enjoyed my cooking, he found interest in traditional Maldivian foods prepared by our neighbour. We had gone for jogging in the early morning at around 5.00AM!!! Most evenings we would sit in joli (a type of chair) and ruminate about our home, family and land.

The A’ level students were excellent and O’ level students lacked seriousness and many times they stormed the classes. A’ level is two years senior secondary class and O’ level is the secondary level. The school curriculum and syllabus are decided by UNDP as they are the funding agency for the education of Maldives. The medium of teaching is English. But Dhivehi is the language of Maldives. It contains many Arabic, Hindi and English words. Many of Dhivehi words have roots in Sanskrit and Sinhalese also.

There were two shifts in the school. The morning shift started from 6.45 AM and it was for O’ level and A’ level students. There was a break fast break from 9.00 to 9.45 and the last bell at 1.00 PM. The afternoon shift would be from 1.30PM to 6.30PM. I was working in the morning shift. But there would be special coaching for A level students at 7.00PM in the night. So altogether it was a busy schedule. The working days were from Monday to Thursday with Friday and Saturday as holidays. But you were supposed to come and prepare your lesson plans on these holidays and for which you could claim overtime allowance.



There the climate is unpredictable. Normally it is raining season from June to September. It never means it would be raining all the day. There will be hot sunlight bashing when it is not raining. Rain comes with heavy storms. You cannot walk with your umbrella when it rains heavily. Day time you have to wear a good sun glass as it is very shiny and hot.



I worked there for about a year and by the end of my contract I did not renew my work permit as I had to return because of some familial problems. In my return journey I used sea flight which was a unique experience. A sea flight takes off and land on sea. Island Aviation operates domestic sea planes. Currently there are four sea plane harbors, other than Male’ International airport. Male’ International Airport is the only international airport. One of the most adventurous run way will be here with a runway length of 3200m. It is located in Hulhule’ island. Once a lady pilot of Air India baffled to see the runway patch in the middle of the ocean in her maiden flight and she turned the flight back to Trivandrum.













I Returned to India on 25/06/2007 and touched Trivandrum at 1.30PM.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

ENDOSULFAN VICTIMS

It is really painful to watch these photographs if you are born with heart and brain..........









..................And still the Government of India says ENDOSULFAN does not pose any threat. What a pity!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A PRAYER

I bow down before you, Almighty

For presenting me this fantastic life.

I prostrate before you, Almighty

To grant me a few more full moon nights.



I wish a few more days with my friends

As I was always jovial with them.

I remember those frenetic days

When we were clamouring like anything.



I failed to learn that my cells were crushing

When you were teaching about Eukaryotes, my Teacher.

I shall hope recuperating one day when you

Pray with your candles of selflessness, my Sister



I would be a destitute in the heaven

As all my love and life is on this hillside.

So it is my prayer to you in this serene moon light

That grant me a few more full moon nights.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING

A message every adult should read because children
are watching you and doing as you do, not as you say.

"When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you hang my
first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately
wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you feed a
stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind
to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you make my
favorite cake for me, and I learned that the little
things can be the special things in life.

When you thought I wasn't looking I heard you say a
prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always
talk to, and I learned to trust in Him.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you make a
meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I
learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you take care
of our house and everyone in it, and I learned we have
to take care of what we are given..

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw how you
handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't
feel good, and I learned that I would have to be
responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw tears come
from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things
hurt, but it's all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw that you
cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking I learned most of
life's lessons that I need to know to be a good and
productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking I looked at you and
wanted to say, 'Thanks for all the things I saw when
you thought I wasn't looking.'"



( I got this as a mail attachment.)

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