Imran took us to our accommodation and informed us that we would go out for lunch in another hour or so. I excused myself for a shower while uncle and aunt were discussing things with Imran. The underground water is pumped into the tanks on top of the houses which will be serving the daily purposes. Never ever try to open your mouth while taking a shower unless you are a big fan of salt, b’coz the water here tastes too salty! The government of Lakshadweep however provides the localities desalinated water from the desalination plant which is located on the eastern side of Agatti Island.
Everyone else too refreshed themselves and were now ready to go for lunch. There are no big restaurants or hotels except few small ones to provide food in the island. However, the resorts which will be accommodating the tourists who opted the tourism packages would provide them with food, but they don’t provide for people like us who came through some known people in the island. There are only two modes of transport here in the absence of public transport like buses. Either we should go by an auto-rickshaw or ride a bicycle or go by a bike or car if we own one! Jamaal, a locality who works for Imran quickly arranged us four bicycles as aunt has insisted for them 🙂
We started riding our bicycles on the narrow concrete roads paved through the coconut grooves and Imran informed us that one should pre-book the meals in advance if they plan to eat it from outside and he booked them for us! Thanks to him, I am really hungry 🙂 . After like a km ride, we reached the Hotel Al Mubarak. It is a small house which has got two partitions, most likely like the family partition and an ordinary one where in which people sit for a tea and a crunchy vada. The owner of the hotel guided us to the family partition and we comforted ourselves at a table. Imran order 3 vegetarian meals for uncle, aunt and me while he ordered himself a non-vegan.
The meal is simple. They served us some white rice, with Avial (a preparation with all varieties of vegetables), thoran (mix of boiled green gram and coconut), sambar, curd and a papad. The non-vegan meal consists of fish curry and fish fry instead of our green gram thoran! The food tasted good. Done with our meal, we cycled back to our room and laid down for sometime before setting out to explore the island. After a good sleep of about 2 hours, we ventured out to see the beauty of the Agatti Island.
Agatti island is 10 km long and 6 km wide at the broadest point. Importantly, the only airport which serves the entire archipelago is situated here. This is also the transit point for the people who choose to go to the island Bangaram. We chose the bicycles again and started following Imran who is guiding us. The island is absolutely peaceful as there was no much traffic for that matter no big motors like trucks, buses and lorries etc. Mostly all the people here uses bicycles, some motor bikes, others auto-rickshaws and a car here and there! Limited tourist infrastructure here makes for an unusual but good experience. A ride of around 3 kms took us to the port officer’s office from where one can get the ship tickets for his/her voyage.
There is a long bridge which connected us to the jetty from the island. At the entrance of the bridge, there is a board warning us that collection, destruction or selling away any kind of corals and turtles is a punishable offence under the Wildlife Protection Act and we made a mental note of it. This is the eastern jetty where the cargo ship ‘Sagar Yuvraj’ is loading off the barrels of diesel which is the source of generation of electricity in the island. Agatti has one of the most beautiful lagoons in the Lakshadweep archipelago. The lagoon on the island side and the deep blue sea on the jetty side is a postcard scene! One can see the desalination plant from here.
The jetty was full of activity. People sitting on the walls talking among themselves and wishing the others who passes by, while few people were fishing with their fishing rods, probably for a fish or two to cook in the evening, and the crew of the ship off-loading the barrels of fuel and people like us clicking photographs and doing all crazy stuff! In all, the life in island is simple. Everyone knows everyone else in the island and it’s like a close-knitted family 🙂