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Embedded Photos: 1-2.The East End, Kadmat, Lakshadweep 3.Local Boys  4.Sunset, Kadmat, Lakshadweep 5.Florescence Blob, Kadmat, Lakshadweep 6.The "Resort", Kadmat, Lakshadweep
Two Years & Twice Around the World...  

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November 30 - December 4. LAKSHADWEEP (continued) The tourist brochures from Sport showed a western woman on the beach in a bathing suit.  Supposedly bathing suits were okay within the resort grounds but I never felt comfortable enough to wear one.  The two Brits were off diving and I would have been the only woman in a bathing suit.  We Lakshadweep, India weren't supposed to wander off the resort but the locals were able to wander in and every day a group would cycle through.  The local women would swim fully covered.  I would have felt like an idiot in a bathing suit and would have been quite a spectacle.  It seemed that the locals came for a bit of tourist ogling, not just to enjoy the beach.  One afternoon I was sitting on the beach near our room, trying to read.  I was wearing a sarong down to my ankles but had dared to wear a tank top.  A group of local women came down the path and looked startled to find me. There was pointing and giggling.  I couldn't really blame them for their curiosity but it wasn't comfortable so I just went inside.   

With the stunning beauty and unique island culture of Lakshadweep it was a shame that the Indian government had done such a bad job of setting up a resort.  They created the right appeal with their supposed eco-friendly resort but then neglected to put trash cans anywhere so naturally people littered.  The Brits were chastised by the Indian tourists for picking up their trash and were told that littering was okay in India.  India is hardly alone in battling those attitudes but the resort did nothing to enforce or even encourageLakshadweep, India eco-friendliness.   They also did nothing to enforce the drinking rules.  Instead the Indian tour group gathered at our end of the resort to drink and make merry, very loudly I might add.  It was an inconvenience to us but I really felt sorry for a Muslim family that was staying in another nearby bungalow.  They were tourists as well but probably had not bargained on drunken businessmen during their Lakshadweep trip either.  I commented to the Brits on how pathetic the Indian tour group was, not even being able to give up drinking for a few days.  They looked at me like my head had fallen off and I later learned that they were partying along with Indian men every night, so much for being culturally sensitive.  But the funny thing about that was that some of the men were clearly hitting on them, totally unaware that they were a couple!  

The only resort "activity" that we participated in was a visit the the local village.  In order to "protect" the indigenous culture from tourism we weren't supposed to wander the island on our own so this was our only opportunity to see what local life was like.  The mini bus filled up quickly with the Indian businessmen so we happily hopped into one of the tuk tuks that were brought around to handle the overflow.  The roads on the island were more like wide sidewalks and there weren't many vehicles on Kadmat.  We drove several kilometers into Lakshadweep, India the center of the island and stopped to visit a coconut processing factory and a coir making factory.  The workers, mostly women, were shy but politely accommodated our intrusion. Outside the coconut factory we chatted with some of our fellow tourists, putting aside how frustrated we were with their late night drinking.  The owner of this group of paint shop employees from Kerela, it turned out, was from the U.S.  He was quickly introduced to us but we didn't chat.  It wasn't a proud association for us.  The Muslim family asked to take our photo and we obliged but they were reticent when we asked to take theirs in return.  But, in the end, they obliged.  They were traveling with a son and daughter. 

The village on Kadmat was embedded in  palm trees in the center of the island, away from the exposed shores.  The trees made the village feel cool.  We saw people walking from place to place, casually looking at us, but the village was mostly quiet and had that laid back atmosphere that seems to permeate island cultures the world over.  The well covered women of Lakshadweep were oceans apart from the topless women of Yap but that easy islander feeling was still present in both.  After the coir making factory we walked through part of the village, past some little shops, a church, and a cemetery.  The tour leaders seemed quite concerned that we stay together and not wander off.  Our freedom was rather short lived and they soon put us back on the bus and tuk tuks and took us out to the east end of the island.  It was the more exposed and rugged end of the island, not as well suited to a resort but still very beautiful.  While we were wandering around the shore a group of teenage boys emerged from the trees.  Apparently there was a school not far off and these guys were curious about the foreigners.  I was the only non-Indian woman in the group so there was a bit of poinLakshadweep, Indiating and they asked Rob if I was his wife.  He had fun joking with the boys and I got some good photos. At the end of the tour we were shuffled back onto our tuk tuk and taken back to the resort.  The Muslim family was in the other tuk tuk but the bus load of Indian men headed off in a different direction and we didn't know why.

On our last night at the resort was a culmination of the behavior from the first two nights.  When the Indian tour went off into the village earlier that day it seems that they arranged for some young men from the village to come perform a traditional dance at the resort.  That was fine but by the time the dancers arrived the men were staggering drunk and you could smell several of them from a distance.  We were invited to watch (it was the only time the big A/C conference room was ever put to use) but the whole situation was just gross.  There was something really wrong with a group of young Muslim guys having to dance for a bunch of drunken men.  

When it finally came time to leave Kadmat we were actually relieved.  The boat left in the morning so we hauled our bags back to the pier to wait for the boats.  The group of Indian men were milling around the dining tent and just watched us take our bags all of the way to the end of the pier before they waived us back.  It seemed that we were leaving by bus to a pier at the other end of the island and a truck had arrived to take our bags.  We were about ten feet away from the truck and it drove off.  The loudest mouthed of the Indian men just looked as us and watched the truck drive away.  He was standing right next to the truck but didn't even try to stop it Lakshadweep, India for us.  He was the guy in the group that pretended to befriend everyone and was exceedingly annoying.  In the course of his "friendliness" he managed to interject rude comments and you can only forgive so much for the sake of "cultural understanding".  When we asked him why he hadn't stopped the truck he just shrugged and laughed.  Perhaps he really didn't understand why we were annoyed but he soon found out.  We went off on what a pleasure it had been traveling with them, keeping us up at night and disrespecting local customs.  After their example we thought it would be appropriate to wear our shoes in a Hindu temple and bring a hamburger!  His face quickly went straight.  We just dropped it and walked away.  We didn't speak to any of them or the other foreigners during the entire trip back to Kochi.

The trip back was longer because we had to stop at another island but the boat was the very same one.  They didn't give us reserved seats for the return trip so we were lucky to snag a couple of seats together.  The Muslim family from the resort were sitting up ahead of us and their kids waived when they passed by our seats.  Across the aisle there was a family with a little boy.  He must have been two or three years old.  His mother was dressed in a long gown that covered her down to her wrists and ankles but that didn't stop her from stretchingLakshadweep, India out across the floor on a blanket to sleep.  It was a hard floor but she still managed to doze off.  She tried to get her son to lie down beside her but he was less interested in sleep.  They had given him a little inflatable pillow but he kept deflating it.  He stayed beside his mother but was wide awake.  He noticed us looking at him and started to play a game of peek-a-boo with us, covering his face and then turning to look at us again.  When he looked at us I gave him a quick look back, which made him hide his face again. His mother opened her eyes a couple of times and gave us a smile.  Finally he fell asleep. 

SRI LANKA Colombo Oct 25 Oct 26 Oct 27-29 Nuwara Eliya Oct 30 Oct 31 Kandy Nov 1-5 (1) Nov 1-5 (II) Polonnaruwa Nov 6 Sigiriya & Dambulla Nov 7 Colombo Nov 8

INDIA Ft.Cochin Nov 9-15 (I) Nov 9-15 (II) Nov 16 Nov 17-18 Madurai Nov 19 Nov 20 Tiruchirapalli Nov 21 Nov 22 Nov 23 Chennai Nov 24 Nov 25-26 Nov 27-28 Ft.Cochin Nov 29 Lakshadweep Nov 30-Dec 4 (I) Nov 30-Dec 4 (II) Trans-India Train Dec 5-7 (I) Dec 5-7 (II) Siliguri Dec 8 Darjeeling Dec 9 Dec 10-13 Dec 14 Sikkim Dec 15 Dec 16-20 Dec 21-23 Dec 24 Dec 25 Darjeeling Dec 26 Dec 27-Jan 2 Siliguri Jan 3 Jaigon (Bhutan) Jan 4 Kolkata Jan 5-6

THAILAND Bangkok Jan 6-13 (I) Jan 6-13 (II) Jan 6-13 (III)