Gentle breeze that caressed the face and gave one a reprieve from the lethargy of a troubled day, the rhythmic sound of lapping waves around the boat, the hoarse sirens from the boat at regular intervals that often startled those who were taking forty winks; a boat journey offered all these and much more to the people of Mulavukad.

A generation of islanders, for whom travelling always meant boarding a boat, would vouch for that.

Amid the hue and cry for widening the road in their island, they bemoan what the new generation is losing even as they nostalgically recall the colourful memories associated with those journeys.

Distant memories

And with the inauguration of the Goshree Bridges in 2004, they became just that, distant memories.

“Those boat journeys were the lifeline of the social life of this island. During those days everyone from the nook and corner of the island used to know each other thanks to those journeys,” recalls N.J. David, a retired district supply official and a resident of Ponnarimangalam, part of the island. Left to each other's company during that 30 or 45-minute journeys, they shared all those little snippets of life.

Births, deaths, marriages, no one missed out on anything about anyone in the island, says Mr. David.

Fewer boats

“Those days when we wanted to meet someone, we used to catch the evening boat,” Baburaj, a resident of Mulavukad who now works with a private company in Delhi, recollects nostalgically.

“Now, people are so reluctant to take that short walk to the boat jetty. They want to board the bus or autorickshaw right in front of their house even if that means a tiresome journey compared to the pleasant trip on a boat,” says Pramod V.V., a member of the Mulavukad panchayat.

Back then there were 15-odd boats serving the island with each boat operating four trips, he said.

As the bridge reached out to the island, that number fell drastically.

Now, only one boat of the government and three private boats operate services from here.

Even the limited occupancy in these services is set to fall further with three more mini buses to hit the road on the Ernakulam-Mulavukad route in addition to the existing three buses. “Earlier, the boat employees used to threaten to leave the shore before all the passengers boarded the boat. Now, they request and even wait but there are not many passengers to listen,” Mr. David has the last word on the losing interest in boat journey among the islanders.

Keywords: water transport

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