Wednesday, 31 August 2005


I don't know what to say! I feel really terrible about allowing myself to get depressed yesterday. Okay I know that sounds a little warped, but get a load of this: I have a wonderful day on Monday, end up feeling at the top of the world. And then yesterday, plunge into the deepest gloom in a long long time, simply because nothing seemed to be happening. And this morning it was almost as if fate was reproaching me for gross ingratitude, 'cos there I was again, out on a small boat! :D
Well, it was actually much better than two days back. This was a nice quick trip from our ship to the chase boat lying a few miles away, to transfer a passenger. And I had nothing to do other than grab the rail, wedge myself firmly at the bow and enjoy the ride! The sky was grey, and the sea a considerably darker shade of the same, but the world wasn't totally sans colour, the brim of the sky was touched with a light clear blue. It was just as cold as the other day, much to my deligt for some reason, and it started raining as well! Now, I'm not the kind of guy you will find standing out in the rain just for the fun of it, but out in the open sea, with the white spray from the boat's prow drenching my water-proof immersion suit, it was about as ideal a situation for rain as possible.
The sea was different today. The water was less choppy, but the swell's were much huger! I don't quite know how to explain this, you have to see it to believe it! But instead of metre high waves crashing against the boat, we had the sea turning into a huge undulating mass that carried us with it. No jerks, just smooth upheavals, if that makes any sense. And there was the usual company of curious birds flying low within a cable's length of the boat. And though I still didn't trust myself with my cam in the water, one of the guys, Dave had taken his along, and here's a pic.

Later in the day, I was coming up from the gun-deck from some errand when though the starboard hatch an extraordinary sight greeted me. I ran for my cam, and rushed up to the heli-deck. The sky was ablaze. It seriously was. Imagine a huge comet! With the sun at the edge of the horizon as the head, and the tail streaking out, sweeping along the horizon in a blinding arc. I saw my whale-watcher friend clicking away merrily with an SLR, but this time he had chosen his Canon digital SLR, I couldn't even ask for copies. He smiled apologetically at my cam. But I'm not too unhappy with my pics either. They don't come even close to doing justice to the spectacle I witnessed today, but will serve to refresh the images blazed across my mind.

PS. At the end of my shift, I got the best card I've been given in many, many years! And that made today even more special :).

Tuesday, 30 August 2005

Shattered glass

Brilliant movie. Something got me thinking about it today. Something to do with the fragility of joy. It's true then, when you are at the top, the only way to go is down.

It's down to this
I've got to make this life make sense
Can anyone tell what I've done
I miss the life
I miss the colours of the world
Can anyone tell where I am

'Cause now again I've found myself
So far down, away from the sun
That shines into the darkest place
I'm so far down, away from the sun
That shines to light the way for me
To find my way back into the arms
That care about the ones like me
I'm so far down, away from the sun again

It's down to this

I've got to make this life make sense
And now I can't tell what I've done

And now again I've found myself

So far down, away from the sun
That shines to light the way for me

- Away from the Sun
Three Doors Down

Monday, 29 August 2005

A W E S O M E !

And for those who know what it means: 'Kray - awesome'. Haven't got time now, but watch this space.
[7 hours earlier]
Ah, finally! I had the best day ever! I had landed up at the data processing station for another day of office work sitting in front of comps. But surprise, surprise! Barely an hour into shift I was told that I had been cleared to accompany the maintenance crew for a work-boat trip!
For those who can't quite grasp the 'awesome-ness' of the matter: the Trident is a 90 m long ship. It tows cables with sensors behind it over an area of roughly 5 Km by 1 Km. The work-boat is about 5-6 m long. And the sea this afternoon was fairly choppy with waves rearing upto 2 m. A typical maintenance trip constitutes criss-crossing this huge area to replace various components on the sensor cables, in that tiny boat! And most importantly: for the last 2 weeks I have been repeatedly reminded that I cannot possibly go out on these trips since I'm too inexperienced! And there was nothing I could do to make my seniors understand that that was precisely why I wanted to go!
Anyway, so the three other members of the work-boat crew accompanied me to the bridge for a tool-box meeting (briefing) where I was repeatedly told to concentrate on keeping myself onboard and reminded that if I did fall overboard, I had less than 10 minutes to get rescued, after which I would just freeze :D. (Oh, okay they weren't that menacing, but the message was pretty much the above.)
So eventually I made out to the launching bay (they lower the boat into the sea from about 10-15 ft high with towing lines) suitably swaddled in an immersion suit over my coveralls. Once out in the water, for the first few minutes I just couldn't stop grinning :D. One of the other guys, Neil, kept laughing, he said I reminded him of his first small boat trip. The sea was choppy, as I said before, and while it had translated to a benign, barely discernable rolling on the ship, it sent the workboat pitching and rolling like a roller coaster. I'm sure this was actually better than a roller-coaster, for you never know what's gonna hit you! One moment you are riding high on the crest of a huge wave, the next moment the water's gone from beneath you and you plunge down into the void! Boy, it was the most fantastic ride I've ever been on, and this was just the beginning!!

with Stan
As we went sailing up and down the cables, pulling sections onboard every now and then, I also noticed the sea birds up close for the first time. These are pretty large birds, with wingspans reaching upwards of 3 feet. Neil told me that they were called storm pestrels. And to my utter joy, one came and settled on the water barely a metre away from the boat and sailed along with us for a while. I swear it kept looking at us and glaring darkly, it probably thought we were poaching into it's fish supplies :D.
About an hour into the trip the cold was beginning to seep in through three layers of clothing. And imagine what my face, the only part exposed to the wind, was going through. I don't quite know, 'cos I couldn't feel a thing. The salt water sprayed all over us every now and then and the work on the cables meant most of my suit was wet with the cold sea water. My gloved hands couldn't provide much relief to my frozen face. Eventually I started blowing air over my nose. Remember Michelle Pfeiffer in One Fine Day when she blows her hair off her face? Well, I wasn't aiming for my hair, I was just trying to warm up my nose!! The attempt sent Stan, the coxwain, completely overboard for some reason. When we had gotten back to the ship another hour or so later, he was still laughing. (Oh c'mon! not actually overboard!!)
Oh, I almost forgot! At some point of time the bridge of the Trident informed us that they had spotted whales!! I was excited, till Stan told me that while they stay clear of bigger ships, whales usually come sniffing when they hear small boats. He also rather vividly describled to me the possible outcomes of a 10 m whale attempting to satisfy it's curiosiy about a boat half it's size. Of course we didn't see any whales, or I wouldn't be in a state to be writing this.
So the rest of the day I spent dutifully helping my boss teach me onboard data processing. My boss currently is Neil by the way, and he spends almost as much time discussing tactics for the Fantasy Premier League as anything else, so the day sped off like a dream! I love my job! I love my life! It is so AWESSOME!!! :P

Sunday, 28 August 2005


It's been proved yet again. I'm a bad influence. I moved into a new department today, and my new boss (I have a different boss in evey department and two more bosses overall. That makes it 6 bosses! Pheww.) had his worst day of this whole trip. As they say, everything that could go wrong, went wrong. By the end of the day, that is now, even I've learnt quite a few obscure UNIX commands that deal with vague problems affecting even vague-er systems and software.
I also realised, during the course of the day, that putting thoughts into words is not an easy thing, at least for me. Since, when I do happen to put my thoughts onto paper (or into a comp, same difference), they turn out to be difficult for other people to understand. And hey, I'm accepting this as a fact. Too many people have told me this for me to quietly turn my back on it and say, 'Duh! I'm not like that!!!' Anyway, since I'm temporarily at a loss as to how to deal with this, I'll ignore it anyway and get on with life :D.
Today seems to have been a day for introspection. Another thing that struck me was the vicious cycle that I get trapped into everytime I'm thinking about something. First I'm just plain thinking. Then at some point of time, I'll decide on evesdropping on my thoughts. That's where the trouble starts, soon enough I'm wallowing around trying to draw a line between my thoughts and my thoughts about those thoughts. You know what I mean? Of course you don't. Sometimes it's just easier to not think.... I'm currently reading Philip K Dick's 'Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep' and maybe that's gotto do something with these warped ramblings. Or maybe it's just me.

Saturday, 27 August 2005

It gets better or it gets worse.

It never stays the same. Life, that is. Why this profound sounding statement? It's just that no two days for the last couple of weeks seem to have gone quite the same way.
It is an extremely satisfying feeling to get your hands dirty at work. What I'm trying to say is that at the end of the day when you finally clean up the grease etc., and make yourself a hot cuppa tea, it actually feels as though you've earned it! And thankfully, today things weren't nearly as bad as yesterday, so I managed to have dinner on time as well as watch the gorgeous sunset, happily clicking away :D.

Oh, and today I decided to make my first digi-cam video! The first one turned out pretty cool, though all it had was 30 seconds of propeller wash (under the back deck lights, and looking cool, but seemed a little boring). So I decided to star in the next one. And for convenience I held the cam vertical while recording. Back in my room when I uploaded the videos and pics onto my comp I realised that in the last video I was animatedly saying stuff about the coolness of life on board a ship, all the time rotated by ninety degrees to the vertical. And I have absolutely no clue how to turn the video upright :(.
Another rather interesting experiment that I tried today had to do with the moon. It was a half moon tonight, flitting in and out of clouds. With a little time on my hands I decided to put the Swift Seahawk to use. (That's what the manufacturers have chosen to call the waterproof binoculars.) After prolonged efforts, marred by the clouds and even more by the simple fact that it was a rather ludicrous idea. So eventually after managed a rather blurred quarted disk, I turned my attentions to a more attainable goal: any pic taken through the binocs :D.

Ah yes, I did manage a rather decent picture of a few birds today. All in all a very satisfying day's work indeed!

Friday, 26 August 2005

Of migrating birds and twisted entangled gunstrings.

Firstly, I'm sorry for not being able to post any pictures today. But, since I had to spend more than half of today's shift sorting out the horrendous mess that wayward propellers and an unforgiving sea had landed us in, there simply wasn't the chance to take any. I wonder whether I'm the one causing all this... One day onboard, and we get the worst weather of the season... one day on the gundeck, and the worst gunstring snarl of the whole trip! It's like, with me around, Murphy's law strikes with a vengeance.

Earlier in the day though, with the seas much calmer and the day clear and bright, I was back to the A-deck with my waterproof binoculars. And while following the entertaining course of birds skimming the sea, I noticed a flock that was flying much higher up in the sky. I noticed that these birds flew in an extremely ordered fashion. Not for them the sudden swoops and dives. Every now and then they would change places in a loosely buint but very distinctive formation. I guess when you are going long distance, minor details become important, and showing off is simply a big waste.

Thursday, 25 August 2005

Beautiful day!

I've been living in the middle of the sea for a couple of weeks now but only today did I manage to spend a better part of my day actually looking out over the sea. I finally shifted out of my usual workstation in the instrument room to the gun deck. And given that all the guns chose to behave themselves and I managed to finish my scheduled training tasks in remarkably short order, there was a lot of time on my hands and not nearly enough space in the tiny gun-shack. So I decided to stroll about on the multilevel workdeck instead.
You can spend any amount of time just looking out over the sea. (At least I can :P.) Watching the waves swell up and break in an incessant rhythm. And every now and then you are rewarded with something special. A wave breaks to create a tiny mist that splits the Sun's bright rays into a miniature rainbow. Or a large pearlescent jellyfish swims up to the surface and you see the colour of the parachute like body change rapidly from a dingy gray through a very faint yellow, light green and finally into a brilliant aquamarine! Or maybe just the quite lapping of the water against the hull, and the sun turning about half the sea into a golden dream.
There is of course more that one can do with four levels of deck-space available. The topmost open deck provides a rather commanding view. Of course, one still manages to see only water, but it's all about perspective. When you peek over the guard-rail (very very carefully mind you) it's rather scary. The water seems to be far away and the sound of the waves barely reaches the ear. (For some reason I was reminded of the scene in The Matrix when Neo, trying to escape from the agents, attempts to climb out to the scaffold and misses a step.)
The next deck below I found rather less appealing, though the bright red and yellow streamers hanging out from their giant pulleys does have a festive look. The bottom most gun deck was too cluttered (and too close to to the gun-shack for comfort). So I settled on the one just above, the A level deck. By this time the Sun was low enough in the sky to spread onto the deck and high enough to drive the chill out of the breeze. I had spied a rather old and battered pair of binocs (marked 'waterproof' and 'Nitrogen filled'! I found it rather fascinating, for some reason) in the gun shack, it was time I put them to some use. For a while I'd had the feeling that the horizon on the starboard side wasn't merely a meeting of the sky and the sea, but it was impossible to say for sure without additional optical aid. Sure enough, I could make out the faint outline of hills rendered minuscule by the distance. And that's when something went flying up out of the water, much closer to me!
By the time I could refocus there was nothing to be seen. Except for a pair of bright red (actually pretty dark red, maybe just black that looked red 'cos of the light, oh whatthehell!) birds that seemed to be trying to out do each other's antics. It was almost like an arial game of hide and seek. The birds were flying so close to the water that every now and then they'd be lost behind a passing wave. It took me a while to realise that it was one of these I had seen 'flying out of the water' :(. So much for my hopes of seeing flying fish .

By this time, the light reflected off the deck floor had turned from bright yellow to a darkening red and the time had come for my daily ritual of fetching the camera. I watched the round disc of the sun gradually get eaten up by the horizon. But it didn't disappear altogether, instead, for a long time there remained a thin red line lingering on the edge of the sea.
And as if that wasn't enough, the sea gave me a parting gift as I left the deck after dark:

Fire on the high seas eh?! Nah, that's just the propeller wash under the deck night lights :).

Wednesday, 24 August 2005

Lightbulb Sun

Yes yes, I'm obsessed with Porcupine Tree, but that's just 'cos they are good! Anyway, coming to the point of the Sun and the lightbulb. As far as I could make out, the only difference is that the Sun doesn't go phuttt! and burst into shards of glass. You would think I've borken a lightbulb today wouldn't you! :))
Nevermind that. It often surprises me how a day ends up going nowhere near where I thought it would go at the beginning of the day. It happens so often to me that you'd think I would have gotten used to it by now. But it's one of those things that never fail to surprise me. And that's good. Being able to forsee stuff would kind'a take the fun out of life wouldn't it. So it was a pretty nice surprise when I found the sky bright and clear this evening. The day had been pretty foggy.
I wonder why I keep reading books I knew I would hate from the start. This is the second in a row, and I'm sure I'll read the next one in the series as well. Thank God it'll be the last one!! I guess some things you just can't live without knowing the end of. Wonder if that's what put me in such a bad mood yesterday.
The beginning of I, Robot looks promising though. But then, I'm yet to read an Asimov that's let me down!

Tuesday, 23 August 2005

Dislocated day

This hasn't been a good day. Got up well in time, went to work on time, but don't seem to have gotten much done. Even the stroll on the deck was cut short because of rain. Not anything excessive, just big drops lazily splattering on the deck. Just enough to make sure I couldn't stay there as long as I'd have wished to.
I've realised that hope can be a terrible thing. It can take you to the pinnacle of expectation, and from up there the plunge to the bottom is even worse than say, from the not-so-dizzying heights of (heavily) guarded optimism. I know what they say, that hope is what keeps us from getting depressed with most of what happens in our lives. 'Cos let's face it, how often does something great happen? Not that often, or it wouldn't be that great anyway. But we keep hoping that something better's going to happen. When I wake up tomorrow, there'll be . . . Let's not even get started with what I hope there'll be when I wake up tomorrow, as this can go on and on forever. And in the meantime, I fail to see the cosy bed, the somewhat unfamiliar, but nonetheless decent enough food, the net connection in the middle of nowhere!!!
So I gather I'm better off just refusing to feel too bad about the current state of my life, rather than keep hoping that it'll turn into something better!
Oh, I did get a pic worth putting up, rain or no rain :).

And if someone's wondering why there's nothing but the sea and the sky in my recent pics, that's because there is nothing but the sea and the sky! But I'm not complaining, I just got to know that I'm getting off a full week earlier than I thought I would ;).

Monday, 22 August 2005

The silver lining

I desperately need a good camera. I mean no disrespect towards my Sony DSC - L1. It fits wonderfully into my trouser pocket, is extremely light, looks very cool, takes beautiful pictures of people and places, but when aimed repeatedly at the horizon, in an attempt to capture a glorious sunset or a lonely sea-gull, it seems to say to me: 'C'mon! Gimme a break will ya! I've got a lens system 'bout the size half yer thumb! What kind'a pictures d'ya think ye'll get?!' Guess I'll have to ask Vinod sometime.
The acuteness of the problem struck me while trying to get a decent take on today's horizon. It's been a very cold and clammy day. And since noon the ship has been surrounded by a deep fog. It clears once in a while, only to settle in once again. I knew this of course, since I'd had to go out on the back deck a fair number of times today. So when I went out for my daily pre-sunset time out, I'd wrapped my jacket over my coveralls. The intensity of the cold still caught me off guard.
Standing on the deck, staring out over the sea at today's peculiar sunset as my arms and legs broke into involuntary shivers every now and then, I fell to wondering why I do this to myself each day. My eyes and nose started watering in a little while, but I kept standing there, looking at the sea. The strong cold breeze blew the mist over the deck, obscuring even the opposite edge of the deck where I stood, the mist felt depressingly chilly against my already numb face. Then the mist blew over, and once again I could see the distant waters where the cloud no longer blotted out the sunlight. Far away, I saw the bright light reflected on the water creating a white brim around the edge of the gloomy world. I felt relieved. The sun was still out there, somewhere. A feeling of contentment stole over me, and that's when I realised that my right hand had frozen onto the steel of my camera. I hurried back inside, but even the painful return of sensation to my numb hands and face couldn't completely overcome the glad feeling inside of me.

Sunday, 21 August 2005

Remains of the day. . .

Another day, another night and yet again, another sunset, as has been the case his past week, uniquely beautiful. It seems like everyday when I step out onto the deck, the horizon has something new to offer. And today it was a heavily clouded sky with the sun right at the horizon. Not its usual fiery self, just fighting off the biting wind and gathering clouds long enough for me to grab a few pics :).

But that in itself presented a rather major problem. You see, the wind outside was biting cold. And today's Sunday, so as a mark of deference to the non existant weekend, I'd chosen to appear for work, not in my regular coveralls and boots, but in a pair of shorts and sneakers. The heavy jacket over my sweatshirt did absolutely nothing to lessen the chill that was setting in. And it was freakin' difficult to hold the camera steady for any length of time. And that meant I had to click several pictures before I could get a few respectable ones. By the time I was done, the horizon had changed into something quite different!

So there, every day is a new day, and I'm definitely thankful for each one of them. But I guess the idea of life without weekends is going take a little time to get used to.

It started raining in the evening. Pretty redundant if you ask me, rain in the middle of the sea. But then I guess it's right up there with not wearing workclothes on a Sunday when one has to work anyway.....

Saturday, 20 August 2005

Sunset and moonrise

So my boss had to go and get himself an ingrown hair at the base of his spine. He had to go off duty to get operated on and I was left with a whole lot more work than I am used to :(. But I couldn't hold it against him, he was clearly in a lot of pain, so I set about doing everything as accurately as I could. With a fire drill (i.e. real fire in the laundry) thrown in, my day was so full, the whole obsession about watching a sunset over the sea was thrown right out of my mind.

By the time I could relax a bit it was already close to 9 p.m. I went up to the heli-deck anyway, just to stretch my legs a bit, and get some fresh air. What greeted me as soon as I opened the hatch was the biggest, brightest moon I have seen in my entire life!
Adding to the effect was the unbroken reflection of moonlight right from the horizon upto the very forefoot of the Trident! I rushed off to get my cam, waking my poor cabin mate (he works the midnight shift, so he wasnt very pleased). But I did get my first very own pictures from onboard this ship :D.
And it doesn't stop there, right on the opposite side, were the last remains of the sunset, the tell-tale crimson in the gathering darkness.

Please trust me, both pictures were taken within 2 minutes of each other! And that is how stark the difference was between the western and the eastern horizon.

Friday, 19 August 2005

Just another day.

It started off pretty much like any other day. I woke up way too late to watch the first rays of the sun stretch over the ocean. By the time I was up blindingly bright rays of light were struggling to get past the thick jacket I'd draped over the porthole in my cabin. With barely a half hour left for beginning of shift I had to rush off for a hasty lunch after a hasty bath. Made it to my workstation without raising too many eyebrows about the slightly late entry.
The rest of the day went pretty much the same as the rest of the week, till I decided around 8 that I'd had enough of watching over computer screens for a while and went up to the helideck for a stroll. Now I'd missed the sunset yesterday, so I made sure I was there well in time today. When I did get to the deck, the Sun was very much above the horizon. The entire sky was a startlingly clear blue, and the water, broken up a bit by the strengthening wind, was still a deep blue and not a frothy grey. But there was this small cloud, dark and ominous, smack on top of the sun!
I guess you can't exactly say that a cloud might get on top of the sun, but it effectively blotted out any chance I had of actually watching the sun set over the water. However, soon enough, I wasn't complaining any more. The sun seemed to have set the cloud on fire! The edges took on a fiery crimson hue and from all around the cloud, clear bright rays of sunlight struck out into the sky like a halo of gigantic proportions! Slowly, though, a deeper darkness began spreading out to cover up the light, till there was nothing but a deep purple after-glow left hanging on the eastern edge of the sea.
Ironically enough, the cloud seemed to have disappeared with the sun and the night-sky, full of a million twinkling stars, was completely unblemished.
Well, tomorrow I'll try again!

Thursday, 18 August 2005

Think big!

And a whale is about as big as it gets. Yes that's right, we sighted whales in the sea today! Let me clarify, the we here refers to those lucky few on the ship's bridge, and some of them were whale-watchers. Those guys see these things all the time! Some guys have all the luck in the world.
As soon as I heard that we had to suspend operations because the guns we use might hurt whales that had been sighted ahead (though how a big bubble of air can hurt something like a whale is beyone me), I went running to the for'ard heli-deck (yep, there's one of those on the ship too). But there wasn't a thing to see there, except of course the sparkling blue water stretching out to the horizon on all sides. When I finally reached the bridge, the Russian whale-watcher muttered something to me, which, the burly Polish interpreter clarified, meant that the whales had dissappeared about 10 minutes back. Dejected, I came back to my workstation, faced with the aftermath of the whale sighting - a huge amount of extra work required to restart the suspended operations.
As luck would have it, a little while later operations came to standstill once again and guess what?! More whales. This time I went straight up to the bridge! The burly interpreter handed me a pair of field glasses n pointed out towards the horizon, and I barely caught a glipse of the big black shape slip under a passing deep blue swell with a jet of spray squirted into the air. And that was the end of it.
I did get a picture of a whale though, from my friend, the Russian whale-watcher :).

Wednesday, 17 August 2005

Sunny side up

They had eggs at dinner tonight.
And the sun's been up too! Almost on cue to my prayers the seas have calmed down considerably since yesterday and I have completed my first whole week at sea, sea-sickness free and absolutely fit and fine in every possible way. Speaking of the sun, as may be expected at 55 degrees North of the Equator at this time of the year, the days here are extremely long, and usually end with absolutely spectacular sunsets! (I work till midnight and hence have not had the chance to be awake to witness the sunrise yet.)
Now there's just another month to go!

Monday, 15 August 2005

Rough weather

It's bad almost wherever you are. A case to point is of course the havoc wreaked by the weather conditions in Mumbai a couple of weeks back. However, the effect is rather more alarming when you are on a ship which in turn is in very cold waters, far far away from any land.
And that's exactly where I have been for the last two days, on board a ship in the very cold waters of the Sea of Okhotsk, wallowing in extremely rough weather. Yesterday morning when I woke up, the Trident (a friend of mine says the name conjures up images of some fantasy expedition!) was surrounded by dense fog. And the reason why I woke up in the first place was the banging of the cupboard door thanks to the insane pitching and rolling of the ship!
Now the Trident, at 8,000 tons, is not a small ship, but the sea kept buffeting it every which way it felt like. When later in the day I went out to the deck, I was greeted by a fairly terrifying sight, the sea all around was white foam! Waves swelling to well over 10 feet were thrashing against the hull and sending spray high into the air.
One day later, things have improved, but only just. Chairs are still sliding all over the place making it rather difficult to work or eat. Now I'll have to try and get some sleep, and the rolling is way too strong for comfort, especially since I have been assigned the top bunk in a cabin for two!! Please God, let there be some nice sunny weather with calm seas!

Saturday, 13 August 2005

Of the ocean and living beings therein.

So for the last 4 days I'd been holed up on a ship, not just any ship, a rather small supply vessel going by the ungainly name of the Toisa Mariner. This being my first real voyage by ship, I was suitably awestruck by the immensity of the sea.

As a matter of fact I was sailing in the world's largest waterbody - the Pacific Ocean. I must mention thought, that the ship was pretty much skirting around the edge of it, in case anyone is thinking about some massive trans-Pacific voyage! Be as it may, the appearance of desolation is pretty much absolute. It is as though we were the only humans on the face of the earth.

Oh there were other living beings of course! On the second day of the journey we saw dolphins!! Trust me, they are every bit as adorable as they are made out to be, swimming along with the ship, often easily out-pacing it, leaping out of the water n diving back in with a splash.... Lovely creatures!

And then there were the jellyfish. I have never seen anything more boring in my life. They do nothing! Just float by like some lifeless thing. In fact the resemblance they bear to a floating plastic bag is rather remarkable.

Finally there are the birds. Now this particular morning, I was standing alone on the for'ard deck braving the rather chilly wind (seamen would call it only a light fresh breeze but do not be deceived!), when I noticed it. A white bird, looking rather like a sea gull, flying very close to the water. I looked around, no land in sight. I even went up to the bridge to check if there was some convenient piece of land where the bird could have come from, but there was nothing for more than 50 miles all around. And then I saw the bird do a rather strange thing. It dipped very close to the water, and refused to emerge from among the waves. In a little while I spotted it comfortably sitting on the water (duck-like), no wonder they can come so far out into the sea. But I do wonder, with the water temperature well below 10 degrees, what in the world was saving the bird's butt from the cold?!!