I am totally going to cheat on this post. For most of you Port Blair is a travel destination, for me and for a lot of us who grew up there – Port Blair is a feeling. Last evening as i sat down to write about this place, the words felt inadequate. How do i put to words the place I was happiest in – an innocent carefree life. How do I describe the place I don’t want to go back to because I fear the memory is more beautiful than the reality. It’s the place i most want to take the Tall One and the Elf to but i dont want to because i feel they wont see it with my biased eyes
I posed this question to my “chaddi buddies” who grew up with me in this idyllic islands and got them to write about living in Port Blair. What amazed me is that each of our memories and thoughts are so similar. Some of us grew up there, some of us (like me) were there for a couple of years, some still called it home (where their parents still are) but we all felt the magic. The magic was in its simplicity, in its beauty and its purity. Bear with the post as 66% of my chaddi buddies recount our wonder years.
This is what Gi my friend of the lemonade fame had to say:
Growing up in Port Blair was fun. Everydat was a picnic -the kind you read in Enid Blyton books. We could see the sea from everywhere. We could go on boat rides whenever we wanted to, have a mid night picnic in the middle of the sea on a full moon night, go swimming and snorkeling. I still miss the smell of the sea and the feel of the sand under my feet, even though its been half a decade since I went back there. I would like to say that apart from all the good things, I personally saw pretty rough times too and Port Blair was my refuge from the world.
A few of us had been living in Port Blair since we were very little and left it when we grew up and a few us came and went with Parents postings. There was a magic bond that was created and I think it was because of the place, the sheer simplicity of it. I can say this for all of us that we would all like to go back there together and experience that again.
And this is what my other friend P had to say:
They called her a junglee – a quiet shy girl, full of dreams and ambitions. She geew from being a little girl, to a a teenager and a young adult on these beautiful.From the shores of the sea to the middle of forests a life which seems like something right out of the jungle book.
Carefree and happy full of memories- Running to catch a seat in the bus to get to the ferry, watching the sun rise and set each day along the horizon,the shimmers of the waves still catch her eyes and remind her of many picnics and outings movies and birthdays with her favorite bunch of the buddies -people she has known for most of her life…
PortBlair will always remain part of her no matter were she is or were she goes…
There is Reshmi from mum in the curry fame – she looks back nostalgically to the place which she still calls home (this was by far the toughest post to edit, i do hope she features the whole post on her blog someday
Living in a country (US) where I did not grow up but moved for education and job, I have often been asked ‘Where are you originally from?” Since my answer is not the simplest and the place not the easiest to know or locate, I i usually pull up a map to show. The reaction I get from people when I show them the speckles in a vast ocean on a map, never ceases to amuse me, followed by the ‘What’s the place called again?”
As much as I love telling people about my home, it’s the next question from them (which almost always follows the first) that trumps me. “Why in the world would you leave such a beautiful place to come HERE?”
However pragmatic my answer sounds about a better life and job and all that jazz, truth is I ask myself that question more often that I have been asked by someone else.
How can you not love a place so beautiful! The only image that conjures in my mind when someone says HOME is that of a small town, views of the sea from every where, hills, clear skies (of course when its not pouring!), fresh air…I can go on. This is the place I spent 18 years of my life. Place that taught me the charm of small communities and simple living; the value of finding small joys in mundane things (getting drenched in the rain while walking back from school in spite of that umbrella in the bag!); where I made friendships that have lasted for so long that I don’t remember how long. Where I met the love of my life. Where my parents still are, where some of the people I value the most still live. The place that shaped my profession. The place that I would go back in a heartbeat (but then life’s reality blah blah blah).
Port Blair is also the place that I also miss the most. My husband thinks it’s only a matter of years that this love will give away to a mere memorable affection, and I fight him for that unwanted opinion. It is true that I may have chose to ignore the fact that the place and times have changed. Things may not be the same. But my Port Blair will always be what I remember from when I left. Port Blair may have moved on without me, but I will remain in denial that it has. And that is the reason why every time the sky becomes over cast, I remember home.Any time I hear the rain lashing out in the night and pounding my windows, I close my eyes and pretend I am home, lying on my bed, and falling asleep to the sound of the rain.
This is what my friend – “Ginny” had to say
It is and always has been about the people. Port Blair to me was my friends, family,and neighbors. These people shaped my experiences of the town, and my childhood.With my family I explored most of what the island had to offer- hikes, boat trips, snorkeling and swimming on some of the most remote islands. My neighbors were the playmates during the scheduled power cuts in the evenings, and companions on various picnics that our mums organized. But, it was my friends who made Port Blair come alive for me.
It was with and through them that I appreciated what it had to offer. Not, just the beauty, but a sense of community and self. Even though we were thousands of miles away from everything, I belonged. We were behind the times, but it didn’t feel like that because my friends (the chaddi buddies you’ve heard about before) were way ahead of the times. With our fabulous sense of fashion and selves, we had a blast in what could often be a sleepy town. Countless hours were spent on the phone (we used them to talk to each other, I know…how ancient!), and then countless more at school and tuitions.
As with most things, our collective time on the island came to an end. We dispersed off to corners of the mainland, and some left the country. It was then that I realized,going back to Port Blair was nice, because it had been home, but it was only fun and real when my friends were around.
So, to me Port Blair is a state of mind, and thanks to my friends and our whatsapp group, I’m there each and everyday soaking in the sunshine, feeling the spray of salt on my skin and swimming with the dolphins.
This is part of the blogathon for April and this is my blog spot for P