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Finding Lucknow & Mathura in Andaman & Nicober: IAS Officer’s Travenovel Pens a Beautiful Account of the Islands

Indian Masterminds Stories

In 2019, when IAS officer Partha Sarathi Sen Sharma went to Andaman & Nicobar Islands as an observer for the parliamentary elections, he was not much familiar with the union territory. But, after spending some time there, he simply fell in love with the sheer beauty of the place. 

He has jotted down all his experiences in a book titled Andamanush Nicobarese, so that people in the mainland also get to know about the islands, the culture, history, people, and cuisines. This is his fifth book and third travelogue. However, this book is more than just an ordinary travelogue, it is a travenovel, a new concept. 

In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, Mr. Sharma shared why he calls this book a travenovel, and what it actually contains.

A TRAVENOVEL

Prior to this book, Mr. Sharma had already written four books, two of them are novels titled Lucknow Diaries and Love Side by Side. The other two are travelogues called, A Passage Across Europe and Every Mile a Memory.

However, his fifth book, Andamanush Nicobarese is a travenovel, as unlike other travelogue, it is not descriptive. In this book, Mr. Sharma has tried to bind his experiences in the form of a story, using fictional characters to narrate the history, physical geography, culture, society, and cuisines of the islands.  

Mr. Partha Sarathi Sen Sharma is an IAS of 1990 batch and UP Cadre

Explaining this experiment further, he said, “Some readers of mine had suggested that I should use different characters to tell the facets about a place. The experiences are real, but the characters are fictitious. I used my interactions with local, tribals and migrants and presented them in the book through few characters.”

FINDING LUCKNOW AND MATHURA

The book beautifully narrates the sheer natural beauty of the islands and the beaches, as also the political, social and cultural history. Mr. Sharma said, “I only knew that it is a beautiful place which is historically known for its Cellular Jail. But, when I interacted with the local people and the descendants of the prisoners, I got to know a lot more. The island was captured by Denmark, and, then, for three long years it was under Japan.”

More surprises awaited him when he stumbled across places called Lucknow, Mathura and Kalikat on the islands. “Actually, migrants who went to that place and settled there, started calling those places with the names of mainland cities. In short, the story of the islands is linked with Lucknow, Bihar, Punjab, Denmark, Bangladesh and Scotland,” he said. 

The officer also writes about some beautiful places of the archipelago, which includes Ross & Smith Island which is joined by a sand bar, and also describes the many endemic plants and animals found here. He also describes very emphatically how lives of the people living here changed after a tsunami hit the island. 

AN IMPORTANT STORY TO TELL

Situated at the junction of Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, an archipelago of more than 500 islands, Andaman Nicobar is a Union Territory of India. People in the mainland are not much familiar about the place and its importance, not just strategically, but also for being a home to some species which are not found in any other part of the world. The islands are home to six aboriginal tribes, the Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas, Sentinelese, Nicobarese and Shompens. While it is easy to meet Nicobarese, one rarely find any Andamanese. 

When Mr. Sharma visited the islands, he had no plan in his mind to write a book, but, later on, he thought that it is an important story to tell and decided to pen down his experiences. It took him around two years to complete the book, from 2019 to 2021. Speaking about it, he said, “I just wanted to inculcate an understanding in the minds of people that marginal places are also part of the mainland. Just because they are small, we tend to neglect them, which shouldn’t be the case.”  


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