INDIA (Kerala – Lakshadweep)

The  palm covered islands of Lakshadweep add up only to thirty two square kilometers (32 sqkm), scattered around four thousand two hundred square kilometers (4200 sqkm) of sea.

 

The archipelago lies three hundred (300) kilometers west of Kerala and is divided into Amindivi group, the Laccadive group and the isolated Minicoy group on the south.

 

Only 10 of the 35 islands are inhabited, not including the resort island of Bangaram.

 

The population is 93% Sunni Muslim.  Malayalam is the main language but the southernmost island of Minicoy speaks Mahl which is spoken in Maldives.

 

Fishing and coir production are the main economic activities.  A caste system divides the islanders between Koya (land owners), Malmi (sailors) and Melachery (farmers).

 

A special permit is required to visit Lakshadweep.  I took a plane from Kochi to Bangaram. Thereafter, we took a helicopter from Bangaram to Agatti.  I checked in at a lodging room ( very far, far away from the reception desk) devoid of intercom, telephone, television and all amenities.  It took me only thirty minutes to make a round of Agatti island.

 

I visited also the island of Kadmat by a motorized boat.  Although everything was perfect like the white beaches, emerald waters, sumptuous foods, loneliness prevailed upon me as all my companions have their own partners.

 

In the course of my second circumferential walk to Agatti island, I saw  a lady who was also alone. I learned that she was writing a book.  I did not prolong my conversation as  she appeared to be of the contemplative type and was not interested into talking to anybody.

 

Though I stayed only for three days and two nights at the islands, I felt I was in solitary confinement. I was even prompted to talk to myself and to the plants to keep my sanity.

 

I developed a feeling of freedom and happiness, when I arrived back to Kochi.

 

Thank you Lord for this trying experience.

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