Monday, May 18, 2009

Lakshadweep Diaries 3

(Read Lakshadweep Diaries 1,2 below first)
I got up at around 6.30 the next morning. I came running outside on the deck. The view was breathtaking….
Out there in front of me, for as far as I my eyes could see, there was nothing but water in one of the deepest shades of blue I’ve ever seen. I can’t really describe that shade of blue….It was just plain brilliant!! The surface of the water had a jelly like appearance, It was calm and there were no waves on it.The sun was on the horizon and it’s reflection gave the water near it, a warm hue of orange. The sight was beautiful… on my one side I had a brilliant shade of cool blue while on the other, an equally brilliant shade of warm yellow-orange……

At about 12.50, we caught our first glimpse of the Lakshadweeps!! It was the island of Kalpeni. It appeared as a distant patch of land on the horizon and grew into long shores lined by a thick cover of coconut trees. And before we knew it, the ship stopped at some distant from the island. After having our lunch on the ship, we were finally ready to get on the island. Large ships like ours cannot go directly to the island. Hence small boats are used to ferry people to and from the island to the ship. Through a door on the side of the ship on its lowermost level, we got onto a smaller boat. The boat took us to the island. As the boat came closer to the shore, the colour of the water changed from deep, dark blue to a magnificent shade of greenish-aqua blue. The water was crystal clear and we could see the bottom of the sea clearly. The boat docked on the jetty and we all were made to seat on wooden benches on the back of a cargo rickshaw. The rickshaw then took us to the other side of the island. The island must have been very narrow (about 500 mts) because we reached there very fast. Believe it or not, the collective weight of all of us actually broke the wooden benches on the Rickshaw!! But the blame came on my poor old (innocent) MOM!

Once we reached our destination, we were served with tender coconuts as our welcome drink. Everywhere we looked, the view was breathtaking…..like I could just point my camera anywhere and it would give me a great pic. But I don’t think any camera can ever capture the brilliance of those lakshadweep waters. I tried my best and you can check the pics on the flickr link given in the first post.
After changing into our swimming gear and wearing our life-jackets, we were taken in a small motor boat to a nearby uninhabited island for the day’s activities. Once there we were given the snorkels(swimming goggles and the breathing tube). There were also two kayaks(or canoes) there. We were let free in the water to enjoy under the close watch of the tour managers and life-guards. For most people in the group especially the ladies it was first time in the water let alone with the snorkels. It was a good chance for every body to get used to the snorkels. The life-jackets made sure we floated on the surface and we could observe the life under water. We saw the brilliant colourful fishes swimming there. All though there were only a few of them here, it was definitely thrilling to observe the under sea life. We also took turns on the kayaks. It was a very fun filled afternoon. Just being in those waters was so much fun. After about 2 hours of sheer fun, we were back on the main island. We were served tea and delicious cutlets (again veg and non veg separate). The locals performed a folk dance for us. It was a very rhythmic and fast. Then we were taken to a local T-shirt making factory. The roads on the island were very narrow and made of concrete. The roads made their way through the maze of coconut trees and houses. The overall ambience was somehow same as that of goa’s coastal villages back home and yet somehow very different.

I must say, I was deeply impressed by the people of lakshadweep. For someone who comes from a region that is being devastated by the ruthlessly commercial tourism, it was heartening to see people caring so much about their land. Everywhere we went on the island, the people welcomed us with smiling faces and we were treated very warmly. The people responsible for our activities were very co-operative and eager to help. I could not help feeling grateful to them. God bless these souls and their homes.





I will never forget that evening back on the ship. We had had a wonderful day and were tired but equally thrilled. I saw the sun set over Kalpeni that day. The lighthouse on Kalpeni had just started flashing it’s light. As Prakash bhai (check the group photo) put it, the artificial light-house was taking over as the natural one was setting. The view was mesmerizing. The brilliant play of colours was at it again, in the sea and the sky. I wanted to capture and hold on to everything I was seeing, but somehow, it wasn’t to be. How could I capture the shimmer of those waters ………or the gentle sway of those coconut trees …….or the silhouette of the island against the amber evening sky? All I could do was store as much as I could of it in my eyes….

The time passed by quickly, and once again it was dark. The ship was travelling at a consistent pace and the only sound on the deck was of the waves crashing below as the ship moved through the water. The night sky was splendid. The crescent was out and so were the millions of stars. In the middle of the ocean, the sky was out in its full splendour and one could see constellations which I did not even knew existed.

After having our dinner, we called it a day. That night, I slept outside on the deck. Who needs A.C. when you have the calm ocean breeze for company. I could not wait for the next day. We were going to be on Kavaratti, the administrative capital of Lakshadweep….. Something told me it was going to be exciting....

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