Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lakshadweep ahoy!

GWBE somehow managed to unpause herself and set sail to Lakshadweep couple of weeks back to celebrate the becoming of an MBA.


A Lakshadweep collage
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Lakshadweep, one of the union territories of India, is a group of 36 sleepy islands strewn around in the Arabian Sea whose collective area is just 32 sqkm and most of the inhabited islands are not more than 4-5 sq km. Since Malayalam is one of the languages commonly used here, I somehow felt like it's just another part of my beautiful Kerala. Not to mention that here too all I could see was coconut trees and men walking around in lungis.

I am glad I visited Lakshadweep, India's only coral islands. Lots of firsts for me in this trip. First time I sailed on a ship. First time I snorkelled, scuba dived and kayaked. First time I really enjoyed a beach.

Right culmination for the 2 year stay in IIMK - the beautiful God's own campus. Now as I wait for the convocation whereby I officially get my degree all I can do is reminisce the wonderful days we spent at Lakshadweep. Countless memories.

Some of the more vivid ones......

Made my first (and hopefully the last) journey in an ambulance. That's how I reached the ship. Boy, it was so hot inside that thing, any poor soul that spends more than 10 minutes inside it would have to be hospitalised anyway!

Slept in the ship at night and visited a different island by day. some islands that I contributed my footprints to were Kavaratti - the capital, Kalpeni - the one with the beautiful lagoon and Minicoy - the one with the lighthouse and the resort.

The majestic but really old M V Tipu Sultan, the ship that carried me to Lakshadweep.

We gasped when we fist landed there, humbled by the beauty of the place, then gathered ourselves and collectively took 1500 pics in an attempt to capture the beauty of that place.

Enjoyed the ride on a glass bottomed boat and had a preview of what was in store underwater to be explored.

I swam around with fishes coloured blue, black, red, yellow, orange......

Shared a day with prawns and lobsters and sea cucumbers and a very colourful snake-like eel.

Took away an Alphabet conch as a souvenir for myself :)

Tasted fresh coconut toddy or neeru

Was part of a team that excavated the remains of a cow :)

Found a beautiful coral that reminded me of Monkey's Paw.

Got sea sick on the boat and contributed something to the corals :)

Slept on the deck of the ship. Got up with face lined with soot from the chimney. Slept the rest of the days wrapped up in a sleeping bag.

Got lost exploring the ship on my own.

Spotted sharks and dolphins and flying fishes...so many of them.

Discovered the joys of snorkelling, scuba diving and kayaking

Fell in love with coconut trees. Again.

The beaches were so shallow that you can walk into them for half a mile and still be just waist deep in water.

Floated around in the vast lagoon without a care in the world. Almost got sunburnt. But what the heck!
Understood why women on the islands were the long smocks that cover every part of their body except their faces. Practical.

Some of the islands were so small you could go on a long walk along the beach and get back to your starting point in a couple of hours.

Got a load of the traditional dance forms of Lakshadweep. Was not surprised to see that it resembled some of the mallu dance forms like Oppana and
drunken-men-dancing-around-a-pot-of-toddy :P

Had a chat with the Captain who explained to a group of us about the instruments in the Bridge. He had something interesting to say

Those who have 6/6 vision are the privileged ones who join the naval academy. The rest go to engineering colleges.

Enlightened :P

Watched some great sunsets and sunrises from the ship. Not comparable to the ones at K. But still great.

Finally learnt which side was Port side and which side was Starboard.

Used up more sunscreen in those 4 days than I have ever used in my life before. Thank god for that, people at least recognise me now.

Saw some weird rebellious coconut trees. Coconut trees that looked like they had a mind of their own. Some grew in such a way as if they want to hug the other trees near them. Some looked absolutely crazy growing perpendicular and then changing their minds and growing straight up. Some decided not to grow taller than a few feet so that someone like me can just raise up my hand and pat their heads!
You can see some of them here.

Aquamarine, turquoise, lapis lazuli and sapphire. I saw each one of these colours in the waters of Lakshadweep. And now I know why we need to have so many distinctions for Blue and green and just how beautiful these colours can be.

Saw an army of snails and shells marching as if their lives were at stake. Maybe they were signalling the arrival of high tide. The beach looked so busy with the conch shells, the multisized snails, the crabs carrying their homes and moving away from the water. I felt silly standing there with my feet in the water while everyone else in that beach seemed to be running away from it.

The roads in Lakshadweep were so narrow there's just enough space for one vehicle to move at a time. And people mostly get around with bicycles and motorbikes and small autos. Didn't see a single car in the entire group of islands. I guess people here own boats rather than cars.
Given this scenario, it was strange to see a traffic signal blinking away its red and yellow and green. Too bad there was noone to pay attention to it :P

Clicked away with my Canon Powershot like never before. Check out some of my favourite pics of the ship, M V Tipu Sultan and of the breathtaking landscapes of Lakshadweep here.