Sunday, January 18, 2015

Musings on the Edge

Draped in a fiery red benarasi sari, she stood still, staring at the evening sun as it went behind the old neem tree. A cold breeze blew in through the window. Meera drew the end of her sari over the shoulder wrapping it around herself. 

Countless thoughts flashed across her mind - she thought about her parents, her Dada and Boudi, she thought about Roy, who had come down for her big day cradling an adorable baby in her arms, and she thought about Sid.

Sid. In her mind, she was eighteen years old, sitting at her seat in the classroom. The last time she was here, she was ten years younger, fired with the ambition of becoming a lawyer, and nursing a secret crush for Sid. He was new to their school, having joined their class to pursue his eleventh class studies. She remembered him as a tall boy with dark eyebrows and a deep booming voice. That had got him the title of Danav. And even after all these years it had stuck.

Last month when Sunil had met her, he had been excited about the reunion that was planned for March. It would be exactly ten years since they had passed out of school. Most of their classmates had left Jamshedpur for their higher studies, they continued to live away from home for job interests, but always came back for family, friends or any celebrations. But not for Meera. Her family had moved from Jamshedpur as soon as she completed her school. She was reluctant to go back and “Meera you have to come!”, said Sunil in exasperation when she had expressed her disinterest in the event.

Last year when she turned 26, she decided to stay back in Chennai, quietly bidding adieu to her the first quarter of her life. And most probably her spinsterhood. Off late all the conversations with her parents revolved around her marriage. They were old and anxious, and promised that they could breathe in peace if only she gave her consent for marriage. Meera was caught in the web of life. She had moved to Chennai, hoping to meet the love of her life. But fate was cruel and didn't allow her to move past her memories of Sid. The clock was ticking, and she still hadn't moved on. She could not make it to the reunion. That evening she had sat with her laptop, looking at her timeline which was flooding with updates and photographs from the reunion. The faces were bright with big smiles and crinkled eyes. And there in one of the photos, she saw him. That moment she felt regret seeping into her heart. She had lost her chance. 

She was startled by a loud knock at her door. "Meeraa! Have you draped the sari beta?", it was her beloved mashi. "The lady from the beauty parlour will be here any minute now. Hurry up". Meera shut her eyes, disappointed that her sojourn with her last evening as a spinster came to an end.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Trip to the Land of One Hundred Thousand Islands

Lakshadweep - in Sanskrit it means the land of one hundred thousand islands. Located in the Laccadive sea, this archipelago is the smallest of all the union territories of India. Only ten of the islands are inhabited, for which Kavaratti serves as the administrative capital. To get to Lakshadweep, we boarded an Air India flight from Kochi which flew us to the island of Agatti. Agatti not only houses the airport for Lakshadweep, but also connects to Kochi by sea.

The water is so blue. That was my first thought when I looked down to the sea. It was azure blue, turquoise green, aquamarine blue - the sight of this beautiful, rich color just fills your mind and prepares you for an memorable experience of a lifetime.  

Our stay was confirmed at the government resort at Kavaratti. From Agatti, the island was a high speed boat ride away. Imagine my glee when I saw this beauty waiting to zoom us away to our holiday destination. 

But the happy moments didn't last long. They definitely didn't survive the two hour long ride. I could feel my stomach doing somersaults as the boat bounced up and down and cut through the waters. Finally my prayers were answered, and we reached Kavaratti. It houses a cooperative hospital, and a couple of secondary schools. They also have a desalination plant to cater to the needs of island's inhabitants. Since most of the inhabitants trace their roots back to Kerala, Malyalam is the most commonly spoken language in the island. Having said that, we never had any trouble communicating with the locals. We could converse in English, Hindi, and my limited knowledge of Tamil.

The port had a desolate look; our van driver informed us that most people had gone to the mosque to offer prayers. By the time we reached our resort, it was almost four o' clock. 

Our next couple of days were spent exploring the sea.  On our glass-boat ride we saw quite a few corals, both dead and live ones. The white corals are the dead corals and they are found in plenty around the shoreline of the island. Even the fish here were so colorful! The fishermen who had accompanied us, had brought along bread to feed the fish. I also got a chance to feed them a few crumbs. It was a thrilling moment to feel their tiny mouths as they fed on the bread crumbs. That was definitely one of the most memorable moments of the trip.

Here are a few photos taken over at our stay in Kavaratti, Lakshadweep.  

When the sea and land meet...

So blue!!
Our ride to Kavaratti

A calm sea greets us the next morning

Feeding the fish

Agatti Airport