How wonderful it is to be able to write! To convey your thoughts… to sit and pick up a pen… to put your thoughts into words. Of course, once I do put them into words, I find I can only express a fraction of what I want to say. But that’s all right. I’m happy to just be able to feel the need to write. And so I am writing. It’s 2.30 in the afternoon, I’ve had my lunch and I’ve just finished bathing after returning from a dive.
The place is silent, and it’s bright and sunny. I am sitting on the jetty, the water is transparent as thin air, but I can’t see a single fish through the water. I usually see a lot of fish under the jetty, but not today, with the low tide set in, they all seem to have gone somewhere else. Everyone here knows a lot about the scientific names of fish and fishy things, and they tell me “That’s Pterois volitans ” or “That’s Acanthurus lineateus“. They probably learn whether they want to or not because there’s nothing to do here once you are on the land. Speaking to them, I realize how ignorant I am of the fishy things, which is kind of nice. Just as each person has certain idiosyncrasies in the way he or she walks, people around me have idiosyncrasies in the way they think and feel and see things.
There are five of us living in this house. It is a small enough house for a field base, filled with all necessary things. At times the place is so quite that I sometimes feel that this is the normal, real world, which of course it’s not! We can have it this way because we are among the privileged few, who are here with a purpose. I swim and dive almost every day. Sometimes we divide ourselves into teams and collect data and at times we all dive together. I enjoy being in the water and I like watching the fish. They look very expressive—sad, happy, curious and worried. When I am absorbed in watching them, I go through all these emotions and lose track of the data I am supposed to collect.
We eat fish almost every day, mostly tuna. There is a cooking facility in the house but we prefer to eat out in the neighbouring small restaurant. They serve paratha, fish curry and rice besides vegetables and fruits, and I feel less and less like eating anything else because the tuna is so fresh and delicious. Sometimes we walk to the main jetty where people stand and fish for hours. We often meet expert fishermen (come to think, this place is crawling with expert fishermen) and all of them have their great fishing stories to keep us engaged in conversation. The island has only one main road and there are houses on either side of the road. The house structures are simple; four walls, tiled or thatched roof and the white wash on the wall—mainly built with coralline rock. There are few animals, mostly goats, few chickens and cats. And that is all! Besides these, there are no animals, which is kind of strange.
I am in the islands to help and learn from my colleagues who are studying sea-grass, turtles, groupers and coral reef. So far, I have visited three islands and there are two more islands that I might visit. The only real problem with this place is that I don’t feel like leaving—or rather I am afraid to leave. I feel fresh and very, very calm. I am not tense about anything. Every day, I am working on some aspect of my thesis. The work is progressing well and I am thoroughly enjoying every bit of time. There are a few more days before I return to the mainland. Clean air, a quiet world cut-off from the outside, a daily schedule, packed with activities. These good feelings are probably what I need at this point in life.