MALDIVES From kayaking and sailing to swimming, dancing and eating, PRIYADARSHINI PAITANDY tries out all the action she can on the lovely islands
Iam straddled atop a kayak with someone who can’t swim. We tell the in-charge we are kayaking for the first time. He nods at us, draws a bright yellow kayak into the water and asks us to get on it. Handing us the oars, he waves at us and then gives the boat a gentle push. “Erm…aren’t you coming with us? How do we manoeuvre…?” we sputter after him. But he’s gone. His confidence in us is reassuring. All right, so row in a synchronised manner, we figure. Left. Right. Left. Right… Now we are getting the hang of it even though all we are doing is going round in circles. Twenty minutes later the oars feel heavier. “Let’s head back,” says the fellow kayaker. Sure, if only this thing would turn around. I am about to jump into the water and drag the kayak back when we vaguely remember Newton’s Laws of Motion and there, we crack the code and manage to paddle back to the shore effortlessly.
We are in the Maldives, guests in a sprawling 245-room resort called Club Med Kani on a secluded island that offers complete relaxation but also plenty of events for people like me who want to be on their toes. Which is why, tempting though it is, I set aside the idea of lounging on the beach and reading a book. I want to go sailing, followed by aqua zumba, table-tennis… oh and maybe a relaxing massage at the spa.
Swaggering up to a yacht with neon pink and green sails, we motion to the person in charge. This time, we make sure he’s coming with us. Once aboard the yacht, I hand him my camera and start posing, imagining myself to be one of those flexible and lithe calendar models. As the yacht chops through the mild turquoise waters, colourful little fish cavort around. There’s a mild wind blowing, which makes the terribly hot sun a little bearable. Unfortunately, the wind isn't strong enough for sailing and we have to return.
Two hours and numerous activities later, we are famished, and have just enough time for a relaxed meal before we go swimming in the sea. Clearly, sneaking in a quick meal is not an option. The buffet counters are laden with dishes, cheeses and desserts. We move from counter to counter deciding what to eat, while another group of diners rushes by holding platefuls of food in both hands and glasses of juice precariously balanced on arms!
The pies and macaroons on my plate are far from over but my friends have no patience. The turquoise waters far too tempting. Slathering on sunscreen, we plunge into the coral rich sea. It’s an exceptionally hot day and the cool water feels fabulous. The view is fantastic... the suite villas on stilts loom in front of us, snorkelers swim by, and in the distance seaplanes take off and land dramatically on water. I lie on my back drifting around the lagoon when suddenly a high-pitched squeal breaks the blissful silence. "What is it?" I ask, panicking. "Shark," screams one of my friends. One of the other swimmers, someone we aren't acquainted with, suppresses a grin and tells us it’s just a baby shark and absolutely harmless. Meanwhile, a fairly big manta ray gently glides by..."Also harmless," he continues, trailing the fish to record them on video. Breathing again with relief, we continue swimming till we are tanned and resemble over-baked cookies floating in the sea.
The evenings are dedicated to entertainment. And instead of burly bouncers, we find friendly staff called GOs or Genteel Organisers. Many of the GOs are from India. I bump into a few from Chennai, Nainital and Chandigarh. They are excited to discover we are from India. Singh from Chandigarh tells us he teaches yoga to guests, chatting animatedly with us in Hindi. “I really miss speaking in Hindi,” he says, “not too many Indians come here but in the last two years, I’ve seen a few.” It’s karaoke night and our conversation is being drowned by singing guests. The revelry then shifts to the beach where it’s time to shake a leg. A bunch of GOs climb on a raised platform and show off their moves which the guests then follow.
From Mr. Saxobeat and Gangnam Style to Moves like Jagger, they don't miss a beat. Of course, you are free to do your own steps as well but it’s sheer fun to learn new dance steps. The party continues well into the night, the wine flows, the music gets louder and the guests... well, their spirit keeps soaring.
The writer was a guest of Club Med Kani