- Porthole into my ‘morrow Aug 31, 2023
Sitting in the flight to Miami – my first flight with Sharmila after joining the new job – I am driven to reflect on the recent past. There I was, minding my own business – enjoying an early retirement, covering beaches of a different island or country every month – Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Abaco, Roatan … not to speak of the Coronado Island (twice) in this country within the first six months of this year, when the best laid plans of mice and men got upset.
Reflecting further, I might have been an idiot. From all the comments from my friends and well wishers, it would appear that I was the only one confident that I was not going back to work. For money or otherwise.
And yet, somehow, I ran into yet another great team. Who has been more than accepting and welcoming of a leader whose self admitted strength lies in his ignorance and unabashedly trying to make a case that the other side might be right.
The span of six weeks has been a blur. Work has been exhilarating. Even more adventurous has been trying to settle down to a new routine. The daily walk to the local bars with Sharmila and dog – regardless of how late it is – has become an article of faith. Joining my running group again to force myself to get back into running first thing in the morning has revived many an endorphin that had escaped me for years.
Motorbiking and boating has entered the “must do” domain of every weekend. Heck, even started canoeing – to add more complexity to the routine.
The regrettable costs emerging include not having the flexibility to see the two girls in New York and DC whenever I want. And my social time with Atlanta friends has been dramatically reduced. As has the time I could spend helping friends professionally – finding jobs, making new connections, offering help in resume feedback or management decisions they were struggling with.
Ah! Well!! In another attempt to balance the old with the new. Sharmila and I are headed to yet another island to take in the beautiful beaches and the cerulean waters for the long weekend.
Watching the fiery western sky thru the airplane window, I am moved to conclude that … sunsets are a beautiful thing to reflect upon as you steadily march towards them…
- Curacao – second attempt Sep 1, 2023
Our original adventure into this island a mere 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela was slated for April 2020. With Nikita and her friend Shreya. Well, the pandemic put paid to those plans. Three and a half years later, both the girls are in their colleges away from home. So, it is just Sharmila and myself this time…
- Leaving the shores of US Sep 1, 2023
- That is an island someday I want to visit – Bimini Sep 1, 2023
- Like a big bonefish in the ocean Sep 1, 2023
- The Exuma Islands Sep 1, 2023
- Hundreds of cays like these mark the northern boundary of the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean Sea Sep 1, 2023
- Another island in my bucket list Sep 1, 2023
- That’s Haiti below us Sep 1, 2023
- The city of Gonaives in Haiti Sep 1, 2023
- Two countries. One island. Sep 1, 2023
The lake nearer to us (Lake Azuei) is in Haiti. The lake next to it and further away from us (Lake Enriquillo) is in Dominican Republic. And the international boundary runs thru the narrow strip between them.
You can see an island (Isla Cabritos) in the center of the picture. That would be an island in a lake in an island in a sea!
- Leaving the airspace of the Dominican Republic Sep 1, 2023
- Guess what those islands are Sep 1, 2023
Remember I said we will be in the deep trenches of the Caribbean Sea after leaving the Dominical Republic? But you can see those seemingly large islands in the middle of the sea. Those are no islands. They are humongous masses of algae (sargassum – commonly known as seaweed) that originate from Sargasso Sea (only sea that is completely surrounded by water) and come westwards.
They mess up the beaches in Florida, Bahamas and Mexico. While in the sea, it is not that dangerous, but once on the shore, they are fairly toxic to human beings. Plus you cannot enjoy the beach or get into the water.
I hate ’em!
- There is the island we are targeting – Curacao! Sep 1, 2023
First time I had heard the name was during some mixology classes. This island is famous for a orange liqueur they make. It is made from a special kind of orange found in the island. The more common version you will see in bars is the blue colored one – but that is not the original one. They add some color to get that sky blue color.
- I wonder if I can make it there Sep 1, 2023
We swung back into the waters and then banked left to cross into the island from the south side. We will make it to the airport which is on the north. Just as we crossed into the island, I could see this great beach (near the center of the picture). There seems to be vast expanse of cerulean waters. the approach seems to be dirt road. I am going to scan the south coast on Google maps and see if I can spot that particular place and go there.
It would be an Aqaba kind of moment. While on a trip to India, I had shown Sharmila the town of Aqaba and its beaches as we flew south of Israel and Jordan. Months later, we actually went there and checked out the sky from where we would have looked down to the spot we were standing!
- Airport #159 Sep 1, 2023
- First things first Sep 1, 2023
- Queen Emma Bridge Sep 1, 2023
We were lucky to see this bridge floating on pontoons actually swing open (like a door swings open) to let boats go thru! It was something of a sight. Interestingly enough, this was toll bridge early part of previous century. There was one way to avoid paying toll… if you walked without your shoes!! (I am not kidding!)
- View from the other side of the bridge Sep 1, 2023
- Found a rooftop Indian restaurant! Sep 1, 2023
- Not too shabby a view to have the morning cappuccino with! Sep 2, 2023
- Because she felt the color blue was missing from the general ambience Sep 2, 2023
- My breakfast buddy Sep 2, 2023
- Deep in her thoughts… Sep 2, 2023
- Island life beckons me Sep 2, 2023
There is something about island life – the toughness and grit it calls for, the “it will happen when it happens” island time, happiness and poverty co-existing (almost a required condition)… it just appeals to me at a level nothing ever does.
My dream would be to open up a bar by the beach in one of the islands a few years before I die. I know it will be a tough adjustment – but there is always the alcohol to forget it and the knowledge that it is a finite journey.
Now, if only I could figure out when I am going to die…
- Every Bengali worth his/her salt will remember this poem upon seeing this picture Sep 2, 2023
- The unstoppable force meets the immovable object! Sep 2, 2023
- Histrionics before quenching thirst! Sep 2, 2023
- Swimming with the turtles! Sep 2, 2023
- Another first!! Sep 2, 2023
I have never seen stones like this in any other island. Including the neighboring Aruba. But this is present all over Curacao. The stones on the beach are all near cylindrical in shape. Like the rocks were rolled around by the waves instead of randomly thrown around. Does anybody know why and when this happens?
- Finally she brings some contrast to the ever present azure Sep 2, 2023
- The drive reminded us of another island… Eleuthera! Sep 2, 2023
- Made it to the spot that I saw from the plane Sep 2, 2023
Remember that beach and vast expanse of sky blue water that I had spotted from the airplane? After searching the maps, I was finally able to locate the beach – Playa Cas Abao. The approach had some rough dirt roads. I am glad that I had rented a Jeep.
Here we are. The water is as beautiful as it could be!
- Cas Abao Beach Sep 2, 2023
- That is really, really clear water Sep 2, 2023
- Sunset in Willemstad Sep 2, 2023
- This is like Amsterdam… except with colors! Sep 2, 2023
- Finally doing some justice to Curacao! Sep 2, 2023
- The swinging bridge! Sep 2, 2023
- Flamingos in the wild Sep 3, 2023
Yesterday, we went to check a place that was reputed to be the haunt of wild flamingos. Except, we found none. Today, we woke up and made an early morning foray to the same spot. This time we succeeded!
Those wild flamingos were busy eating something from the salt pans in Jan Kok. Did not seem to mind human beings near them.
- For my Indian friends Sep 3, 2023
This morning, Sharmila and I were strolling around in Otrobanda in Willemstad, when we saw this hoarding giving details of the building coming up behind it. Check out the insurance company. My gut reaction was that it is a local company deriving the word India from the Indies. Then I saw the map. In Curacao?? Wow!!
- Gotta love the colors Sep 3, 2023
- Can you spot her? Sep 3, 2023
- The curious bird Sep 3, 2023
- Bird’s eye view of Playa Porto Marie Sep 3, 2023
- Trupials galore Sep 3, 2023
- I know I say this with every Caribbean island I go to… Sep 3, 2023
- There was only one way of dealing with the heat Sep 3, 2023
- Hitting Mambo Beach Sep 3, 2023
- Oh, a wondrous bird is the pelican! Sep 3, 2023
- At the Wet and Wild Beach Club Sep 3, 2023
- A flytrap and a converstation starter Sep 3, 2023
When we sat down at De Visserij Piscadera for dinner we noticed these small plastic bags seemingly filled with water hanging from the ceiling all over. The ordering of food itself was interesting. We stood in a long queue for 40 minutes and when our turn came, Sharmila pointed out the fish she wanted from the display. They took the raw fish and sent in for cooking. I paid and then we sat down at a table by the waterfront. It was then that my attention went to those bags.
What would they be for? My first guess was to keep the birds away. What I could not figure out is why would the birds be afraid of bags filled with water? Eventually, my curiosity got the better of me. I flagged down the gentleman who was seating everybody at their tables and asked him what was going on with the bags.
“It is to keep the flies away,” he explained!
“Well, the inflated bag acts as a mirror. When the fly sees a bigger fly, it gets scared.”
He went away. The couple sitting next to us excitedly said – “We have been discussing this for some time. We were thinking they were for birds. Thank you for asking.”
We chatted for some time – thoroughly convinced about how convex mirrors work and how ingenuous the idea was.
Our friends from the next table left after some time. Sharmila’s food came. I started sipping my wine.
And then it struck me!
“Wait! That makes no sense. If the fly can see a bigger fly in the bag, I should be able to see my image too. That does not happen. It is not a mirror. It is a lens. A convex lens. You can see what is on the other side magnified. You will never see yourself.”
Sharmila level of interest was inversely proportional to the quality of the red snapper she was enjoying. She added some more spicy sauce to her fish desultorily.
I was getting more and more excited realizing the flaw in my reasoning before. She did her usual throwing of cold water on my excitement…
“Stop using logic for everything”.
Somewhat dimmed in my enthusiasm, I decided to quietly Google this.
Guess what? This is a fairly common practice in lots of places – including India. Sometimes they put a coin in the bag.
However, experts are unequivocal in their opinion – this has nothing to do with keeping away flies. There are some plausible theories around refraction one can stand up but all evidence points to no effect whatsoever.
I thought of letting the gentleman know about this on my way out.
Then thought the better of it. If not anything else, it is a great conversation starter for customers!!
- The curtains are closing in on us Sep 4, 2023
- One last local cocktail for both of us before we leave the island Sep 4, 2023
- There comes our chariot to take us away from this slice of paradise Sep 4, 2023