Monday, May 18, 2009

Lakshadweep Diaries 2

(Read Lakshadweep Diaries 1 below first)
We all got up early next morning. And we were excited. But before we got onto the ship, some formalities needed to be completed at the Lakshadweep tourism’s local office. So my dad and others went there while we packed our bags at the hotel. Once they returned, we came to know that we had to board the ship around noon.


Now a little something about the package that we had taken. Lakshadweep tourism offers a variety of packages of varying durations and islands. We had taken the ‘Coral Reef’ package which had a duration of 3 nights and 4 days stay aboard MV Tipu Sultan and included 2 of the 3 islands from Kavaratti, Kalpeni and Minicoy. The charges were Rs. 11,000/- per head for a seat in the AC cabins with beds and Rs. 7000/- for the AC recliner seats or Passenger class. The charges include the travel aboard the ship, breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, and all the activities on the islands. As a part of the package, we also got a cap and a T-shirt – a complimentary gift.

So at around 11.30, we went to the jetty where the ship was docked. But even after a lot of ‘ooohhh’ing and ‘aahhh’ing at the ship, the gates to the jetty did not open. We didn’t know it then, but the day was going to be long one.

The gates finally opened at about 12.45. And after a long wait in the line for security check, we finally got on board the ship. 8 of us from the group had got confirmed seats in A/C cabins and the rest had got seats in the A/C passenger class. The ship is a very old one and was rusted in many places. But when it’s your first time on a ship, you don’t really complain. The view more than makes up for it. Besides the tourists, the ship is also used to ferry the local people between lakshadweep and mainland India. The ship had 6 floors, three above and three below the deck. The locals travel in the bottom 3 decks but some of them sleep even on the topmost floor. We explored the ship a bit and then had our first meal on the ship. It was delicious. There were separate buffets for veg and non-veg items and the cafeteria was also air conditioned. And then, we waited for the ship to leave.

It was first supposed to leave at 1.30pm, which then became 3.30pm. We continued to roam around on the deck enjoying our time, yet desperate to leave. But even at 3.30pm, the ship didn’t move anywhere and nobody bothered to tell us anything either. Then, we came to know that the local port employees had chosen that ‘auspicious’ day of our departure to go on a strike!! The captain didn’t have the ‘authority’ to untie the ropes tying the boat to the harbour and we were left cursing the people who did. We saw the sun setting from the ship that day. I just prayed it didn’t affect our tour.

Finally at ten in the night, the port employees’ shift changed, and the new guys on the job decided to let us go. 2 tugs, MV BAALI and MV BALWAAN came to pull the ship in the middle of the stream and turn it 180°. And before we knew it, we were on the move!!! The wind felt soothing after the long wait. As the ship left the harbour, I continued to stare at the Ernakulam city lights. It felt strange….. I was leaving mainland India for the first time in my life!! Somehow, I pictured myself in my mind… alone…facing the entire land of my country ahead of me….

We waited on the deck till the city lights were reduced to a distant group of shimmering dots. Then it was time to sleep. I went in the passenger class sitting area and drifted to sleep. I pictured the ship in my mind…a floating mass of metal studded with lights moving quietly through the darkness….…

2 comments:

  1. Really its a beautiful place. I wish to visit there, and ur post is very informative. The best time to visit Lakshadweep is December and January. Bangaram Island Resort is a beautiful resort in the island of Bangaram which is a part of the Lakshadweep Archipelago

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  2. thanks a lot. glad to know my post was helpful. do visit the place. it's an amazing experience.

    and u r the first person who's not fr my frnds n family, to leave a comment on my blog, so thanks!!hope u'll b back!!

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