Kandooma Island, Maldives

Pearl crushed to a powdery consistency,
50 shades of blue with turquoise as the ring leader,
a dash of chartreuse green seeping in from the magoo shrubs,
the slow dance of the shredded palm leaves,
the riyaaz of the sea breeze,
sunlight spilling from an unfathomable jar,
a pinch of moonlight to accentuate the pearly attire
...

AAAND Voila!  Paradise was born as promised by the creator. Maldives is woven with dreams and to have our honeymoon knitted in the same magic yarn fills us with gratitude.

We tied the knot on 5th Feb 2017. The exhilarating excitement of the week-long wedding festivities, across 2 cities (Kolkata and Delhi) was coming to an end and it brought about a sense of glum.

Thankfully, life works in sinusoidal waves and each passing day was also bringing us closer to our Maldivian date.

11th Feb 2017 – The sound of the alarm blaring at 3 AM sounded sweeter than windchimes. We quickly got dressed and headed off to Delhi International Airport (T3). The first leg of our journey would take us 3 hours and our plan was to sleep through it. Even the thought of feeling tired on reaching Maldives seemed outright unethical. 

The plan execution was top notch and we woke up to the thud of the airplane landing at Kochi (Cochin) airport. The time to reach Male from Cochin is only 1.5 hours.

Our flight to Male was a propeller aircraft and it cruised above the dark blue Arabian waters.

Strings of islands (atolls) with water villas mandated a drastic change of the watercolor and the turquoise happily obliged and snuggled close to it.

The trail of water foam left behind by speedboats added a touch of white, as did the cotton clouds fluttering across the sky.

We landed at Velana International Airport at Male and happy streaks were flying all across. Visa was on arrival and our passports blushed on being stamped.

One small situation attempted to dampen the mood but couldn’t quite succeed. Alcohol is not permitted in Maldives since it is an Islamic country, although all the resorts have a special license to serve liquor (usually at a premium price). The custom officials made us deposit our bottle of vintage champagne but reassured that we could pick it up during the return journey. So yes, happiness level was quickly reinstated.

Maldives is like walking on a dream. Where else do you find azure waters gleaming right outside the airport building, enticing and guiding you towards the speedboat lapping softly against it?

We had booked our stay at Holiday Inn Resort in Kandooma islands, one of the 1200 atolls of this archipelagic country. The hotel representative who was waiting for us in the arrival hall, helped us get settled in the speedboat for a 45 mins rather bumpy ride to the island resort. Can you complain when you are yourself internally bungee jumping with joy? Maybe the sea was just trying to mimic us and give us company.

The entire island is part of the Holiday Inn property. It is a slice of heaven painted in the best quality, super pigmented hues.

We had unknowingly entered inside a poetry in fluid motion, and our senses were blissfully numb.

A buggy took us to the beautiful check in area, which was an interesting conical structure with  the walls having the texture of straws/coconut husks, giving it a raw and rugged appeal. Designated tables were assigned to each couple, easily identifiable by the names hand painted on a big leaf. Chilled fragrant face towels and tropical fruit juice made the check in formalities a breeze. Soon, we were off to our beautiful Beach Villa.

Our beach villa had an outdoor rain shower with a tiled bathtub and an attached wash area, a balcony with private beach access and a hammock to lie in for the best conversations with the sea. Juicer, coffee maker, iPod docking stations, high speed Wi-Fi were pleasant add-ons.

We rested for a while and took off to explore. The crystal-clear sugar crusted sand felt too delicate to step on. 

As we were way past lunch time and were full from snacks, we decided to skip lunch. Plopping onto the beach beds with some chilled beer and nuts, we marveled at the hypnotizing views.

As time rolled on, the sun wanted to set, but the sky was repellant. A fight broke out, smearing the orange color in thick unruly strokes. This fight was a daily affair, as it later turned out.

In the evening, florescent lights flooded the beach sitting area and a performer sang soulful songs that caressed our hearts.

A candle lit dinner by the poolside restaurant overlooking the sea, made it to our dictionary as the definition of a perfect dinner date.

What followed was the perfect end to the day. Our beach villa was decked with flowers and towel art as is customary for newly-weds, and it looked as pretty as a bride. A complimentary bottle of champagne sat on the decorated bed, almost apologizing for the teeny tiny hassle at the airport.

12th Feb 2017 – Sleep had drugged our mind. When we woke up, the tranquilizer effects wore off in an instant, and we fell in love with this place ALL OVER AGAIN.

We stuffed our beach bags with towels, sunscreen and the complimentary snorkeling equipment and off we went to create our own sunshine.

Before hitting the beach, we headed over to the main restaurant area and had a wholesome breakfast, selecting the most extravagant and tropically appealing dishes from a lavish buffet spread.

While we were having breakfast, Aqua Yoga practice was in session in the adjacent swimming pool. We contemplated if we should join the next session or be a lazy beach bum.

We all know what happened next. In our defense, the beach beds were winking at us, how were we to resist the temptation?!

After a while, it was time for snorkeling lessons by a trained instructor in the pool. As newbies in the snorkeling world, we jumped at the opportunity and easily grasped the concept, realizing it was no rocket science. All you had to do, was swim (or float) and breathe normally. There were plenty of other water activities to be explored, but we wanted a breezy vacation. So snorkeling was our best bet.

We slipped into the sea and soon the play date turned addictive. There was a whole new world out there, and the diversity of colors could make a crayon box cry in shame.

Below the surface of the briny water, the lazy sound and translucent light had an intoxicating effect.

We had earned access to the Little Mermaid’s world, and the characters were coming to life today. There were fishes in different shapes and sizes. We played with the schools of fishes that came rushing at us, and occasionally chased the shy loner, which refused to befriend a human.

The snorkeling session had worked up a massive appetite, so we treated ourselves to some food and drink therapy at the beach bar and a quick power nap.

Later, we basked in the rich sunlight and glided around the entire island, almost levitating with the absorbed peace and serenity.

Walking hand in hand, we headed to the wooden pontoon and the jetty area, and that’s when the sun-sky breakup episode recurred.

The fight turned brutal and the angry sun bled spilling tangerine hues all over the sky. Soon afterwards, dusk took over bringing promises of a new dawn.

Our life would see many such sunsets, some would be dull, some dramatic. Today we promised each other, love and trust through all of it. This faith would eventually guide us to a bright new day, every time. If winter has come, can spring be far behind?

A candlelit dinner followed by a moonlit walk blended into the night and created memories so pure they became a part of the Universe.

13th Feb 2017 – We woke up starry eyed as today was our planned rendezvous with the Overwater Villa. Post breakfast, we spent some time inside the Beach Villa, lounging on the hammock – expressing our gratitude and exchanging goodbyes.

The buggy picked us and our luggage, drove across the wooden pontoon protruding into the ocean and dropped us off in front of our home for next 24 hours.

Like a sea crane, the water villa had a snow-white exterior and stood on narrow stilts over the shallow turquoise waters.

The interiors had chic and contemporary aesthetics, with the contrasting play of neutral white and shades borrowed from the peacock. Apart from the bed, there was a lounge/sitting area, an outdoor shower area and bathtub, an indoor washroom, a balcony overlooking the personal sea deck, stairs leading down to the ocean and of course, unparalleled views of – Yours Truly, The Indian Ocean.

We were lovestruck by this villa and completely caught up under its bewitching spell. After taming down the racing hearts, we went for a quick snorkeling session, this time from our personal sea deck.

The water was warm, and the level remained constant for a very large radius, eliminating any risk for newbies like us. We played hide and seek with baby sharks, sting rays and many colorful fishes.

Snorkeling is therapeutic; the peace and serenity that we felt after the session, was unearthly.

We had absolutely no plans of stepping out of our magical villa, so we ordered in room dining and enjoyed lunch on our balcony. As we lay on the sea deck, the sea breeze cradled and coaxed us into a quick power nap.

Later we sat on the netted hammock, watching the vast expanse of the limitless ocean and sharing our dreams and fears.

The ocean is a great listener and an even better secret keeper.
But it never shares its secrets.
Maybe they are far too dignified to be fathomable by insignificant humans like us.
Maybe a lone sailor has managed to pick up cues from the rhythm of the sea sprays and the sea breeze, successfully deciphered its script and dialect.

Maybe the sea is an illusion to the human eye.

The world is an oasis of possibilities and we are mere puppets in the hands of space time continuum.

The interesting flow of discussion intrigued the interest of the sun and it made its presence felt by scarring the sky with bright marigold stains.

We were on the verge of losing daylight, so we stepped out of the villa to enjoy our pretty island for the last night.

Post dinner, we returned to our villa and enjoyed the starry night sky while listening to music and sipping on champagne.

The clock struck 12 and we were glad to be miles away from all the Valentine’s Day frenzy. This moment was the best gift we could give each other.

14th Feb 2017 – We woke up rather early to watch the sunrise. We took a quick dip and snorkeled in the ocean. We were checking out today and were feeling blue.

Post breakfast, we walked the entire length of the island, making sure to say goodbye to every nook and corner.

But the hardest goodbye was to our water villa, which had magnified the magical quotient multifold.

We left Maldives with our hearts full and a promise to be meet again soon.

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