AGATTI – FOUR FANTASTIC DAYS
Soon we reached Kadamat. This was the first island stop. We were to stop at Amini next, which was around 45 minutes away, and then to our destination Agatti. Kadamat was a vast island, about five to six kilometres in length. Since there was no harbor to berth, the ship was anchored in the sea as fishing boats approached to carry the passengers and cargo to and from the island. The process took almost an hour. The locals were seasoned in this process and moved swiftly. But moving the cargo took some time. It mostly contains provisions for these islands and there are five or six such ships that carry these frequently from Kochi. Bananas, kitchen provisions, kerosene etc. are the main items. There was also some construction material and specially ordered furniture to be unloaded.
We moved on and the same scene unfolded in Amini. Later, once again in the open sea, with no sign of land until about four hours later, we spotted Bangaram and its beautiful shallow waters in the shallow lagoon that surrounded it. At the far end we could now see Agatti. It took us another half hour before the ship anchored there. We were the first to climb out of the ship into the waiting fishing boats. We could see piers about 300 meters away. Land…!
Now, we had to find our host, Mr. Jamalluddin. From the numerous times I had called him to make arrangements for stay, he never came across as a friendly man. He sounded like an elderly person and we were hesitant about dealing with him. And our instincts were absolutely right.
We had booked our rooms at Choiceland Lodge, a relatively new place. If I could say so, the place was in the centre of town at “Society Junction”. There were coconut trees all around and sandy beaches everywhere, which was expected. There were single-lane roads which were concrete with clearly-marked junctions. Houses and other buildings flanked either side of these roads. There were not many people around. Cycles were the major mode of transport and from the cap and beard it was evident that the population was majorly Muslim. Burkha-clad women were everywhere and so were the children in attire that gave away the religion they were born into.
THE EASE OF SETTLING IN
No sooner had we checked into our lodge than our host insisted that we visit the ‘dive centre’, run by his brother Mr. Kamaruddin. Also he decided that shorts would be in order and insisted we change into them. Since we saw sense in the order we behaved obediently. Sure, we were looking for any opportunity to shake him off our tail. We wanted to walk but he was adamant to take us in his Maruti Omni. We agreed. It was a straight drive. As we moved on we realized that the island was getting narrower and soon we could see the beach on both sides. We reached the ‘dive centre’ – A lone shack built on the beach with a few chairs strewn on the beach. Mr. Kamaruddin got up from one of these chairs, casually dressed in a flowery shirt and trousers. We were introduced and soon felt at home. He seemed to be nothing like his brother. He spoke freely and gave us ample information about the islands, the life there and some problems faced by the people.
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