Wednesday, 28 September 2005

Old movies

Everyone has favourite movies. Movies they watch once, and are touched by what they see. And then are compelled to see them again, and again. It's probably why reruns never really go empty. Of course since these days we can watch movies on comps without stepping out of our rooms (in my case my bedroom), watching old movies is a really great way of passing time.

It's not just the movies all the time. It's the people who you watched it with. Every once in a while you will come across a bit of dialogue that reminds you of what a friend had said when (s)he was sitting by your side, watching the same thing. A lot of times it's just the movie though. Especially with people like me, who watch a lot of movies alone. On a comp. I know it's a little pathetic in a way... sometimes you end up wishing there was someone else with whom you could share a laugh. . .


A friend mentioned the other day how when a lot of stuff's happening in life we dont really have the time to think about it. It's only when everything's over that you sit back and go over it all again in your mind. When I sit back and go over the last four years, I wish I could just go back and live it again from the start. Sadly enough, life's not a movie. I know it's cliched, but it's true.

--This is especially for Lksdy: that's what the sunset looks like from my window. A little more, and the Sun is lost in the haze.

Monday, 26 September 2005


The full meaning of the word often escapes most of us. But I think the feeling that hit me with full force as the plane lifted off Mumbai airport, and banking wide out over the Arabian Sea, turned back and passed almost directly over the Powai and Vihar lakes, gave me a pretty clear picture of exactly what it means.

I'm rather embarrassed to say that it actually took me a while to get my bearings right and spot the tiny grey buildings for what they were: departments, hostels, the guest house. . . I imagined I could see myself walking down the roads, hurrying to classes or labs. Or strolling by the lakeside. The tall Sameer hill looked ridiculously small from up there. The vast Powai lake lost much of it's expanse at a height of 20 thousand feet.

The familiar landscape was gone in seconds. The memories lingered for so much longer.


A lax flight staward led to an uncleared table in front of me. This in turn hindered me from accessing my cam which was under the seat ahead of me. Thus went my first sunset from the sky :(

Diary of a home-bound sailor.

11th September - 05:43 am

I can't possibly make blog entries right now for the simple reason that there's no way I can connect to the net. So I'm doing the next best thing, making entries anyway with the intention of posting them at some point of time in future.

-Friday, 9th September:

I did make it to breakfast on friday morning, but missed the sunrise. I went up to the helideck as soon as I saw light filter in through my port hole though. Only to find dark clouds stretching the full length and breadth of the sky. I waited, sure that I would see something at least that spoke of the sunrise. After waiting for an hour I realised I'd been mistaken.

Incidentally the crew transfer happened a couple of hours earlier than scheduled, so my last few minutes on board the Trident were furiously busy, trying to make sure all my luggage was packed in waterproof bags, the stuff I'd borrowed was properly returned, etc. The trip across to the Toisa Mariner was pretty swift, the transfer boat ripping through the swells and often flying off a particularly large one to land back on water with a somewhat alarming thump!

Lack of sleep finally caught up with me and I slept like a log in the afternoon.

-Saturday, 10th September:

Started reading a copy of Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy that I'd borrowed off a friend. Slept the major part of the day while the rather substantially smaller size of this ship amplified the rolling and pitching pretty alarmingly. Watched the Sun set, well, till it disappeared behind some clouds that is. But by then I had had enough of the insanely cold wind freezing the left side of my body anyway.

16 hours of sleep in a day can make sleeping in the night a pretty difficult thing to achieve. So I chose to read the book instead. And ended up finishing the first book out of the four. (This is the ultimate edition with all four books in one.) Turned out to be a pretty cool read.

By the time I'd finished I could see light shining through my port hole again! And sure enough the sun was just breaking through in the east! So I finally caught my first sunrise on a ship. And on this momentous occasion I chose to make myself a breakfast of cold-coffee and sandwiches with mayonnaise, cheese slices and a rather dubious looking something called Danish Morello Cherry Extract. Now I guess I'll turn in, and hopefully wake up for lunch :P.

12th September - 03:24 am

-Sunday, 11th September:

I didn't wake up for lunch. In fact I did wake up, but the desire to just turn over and fall asleep again was so strong, I chose to give in :D. Woke up late in the afternoon instead, feeling ravenously hungry.

Spent whatever time was left in the day watching the swelling sea smash against the Mariner's bows and rise up as tall white sheets of fine mist. In fact I was spending as much time looking over the guard rail as ducking under the flying spray. Didn't quite succeed in dodging all the time though.

Somehow, sunsets seem to be a lot colder than sunrises...

Oh, we shifted back one hour today, difference between Sakhalin time and Japan time. Should be reaching Wakkanai sometime tomorrow, or maybe early day after. Looking forward to setting my feet on solid land for a change! And also to sleeping in a bed that doesn't move :-<.

Fun fact of the day: seamen (at least on this ship) have holidays on Sundays, and only the officers and engineers work!! So technically, if the ship starts sinking the Bo'sun might very well go 'It's a Sunday, I won't start the lifeboat'! Or maybe not.

13th September - 12:05 am

-Monday, 12th September:

Caught the sunrise again, and rather remarkably, came across an abrupt stretch of land on the starboard side. All this was early in the day,before I went to sleep. By the time I had woken up a couple of hours later, a thick fog and driving rain had blanketed the surroundings. We reached land in the afternoon! Once the ship had pulled alongside the jetty, we went for a walk, on solid land after more than a month! The rain was a bother though. Spending the night in the Mariner itself before catching my flight for Tokyo tomorrow. My last night in a bunk for rather quite a while I think.

Saturday, 17 September 2005


As of this Friday, I have finally been certified a graduate :D.
The sinking feeling that gradually dawned on me was that arguably the most fun time of my life is officially over, and in some ways, life can never get better from this point on. That same feeling hits home all the more as I see-off friends who had come down for the Convocation.

Thursday, 15 September 2005

Back to Bom!

After 4 long days in the crew boat and another two days flying all over the place, I'm finally back in Mumbai! And the rain was there to bid me a warm (and very humid) welcome. When time permits, I'll post some stuff I'd put down while in the ship.

Thursday, 8 September 2005

Going home!!

I'm supposed to anyway.. tomorrow morning. But all of today and as far as I can judge in the darkness, all night, a dense fog has descended all around us. Visibility has been reduced to barely a hundred metres or so. It's not very cold outside, surprisingly, just depressingly clammy.

Pretty much all day I've been thinking about the trip. What I'd expected against what it turned out to be, if it was tougher or easier than I'd thought it would be, stuff like that. It seems though, that I'd sort of forced myself not to expect anything in particular! I say this because now that I do know what it's like, I can't for the life of me find anything in my mind to compare it with!!

Okay, that's not entirely true. I keep comparing my life on board this ship with my last four years in hostel. And the similarities are pretty amusing. For starters the late to bed, late to rise schedule :P. Mess food, and bitching about it (regardless of actual quality), trying to fit in with seniors, feeling like a freshie even at the end of a month.... And yes being ordered about. It's apparently a custom on board that the offsigning crew clean the siesmic operations area (instrument room, back deck, gun deck etc) for the next crew to come in. So yesterday my boss asks me to get started with a mop and I confidently laugh in his face, assuming that he's joking. A few minutes later I see several other members of the crew get into action with dusters and mops! So today I obediently finished up my 'quota' of cleaning while my boss could hardly contain his 'I told you so' smirk all through :D.

Come to think of it, I couldn't have hoped for a better trip. My colleagues here hardly give off the 'office' and 'corporate' feel that I was very afraid of. On the contrary, they actually treat kids like me (trainees) with a great deal of familiarity. Soon you're work buddies, and they'll be recounting experiences and cracking jokes with you. Of course they won't let go of a single chance to take your case, and Richie, my boss for the longest time here is a superb example of that! But as I finished my last shift a few minutes back and bade the guys goodnight, I realised this might be the last time I ever see them. It filled me with a little bit of sadness. Somehow the trip reminds me of a long train journey. You meet people whom you are sure you will never forget and just as surely will never meet ever again.

It is very important to say the final good-bye though, and there's always the hint that maybe, maybe it's not so final. The world after all, is not such a big place :).
Happiest moment on the Trident! (Off it actually :D)
I guess this will be my last posting for a while. What follows is a 5 day journey, disconnected from all the world for all practical purposes. Oh, and I'm planning to stay up all night, hoping to catch the sunrise! (And breakfast :P.)

Wednesday, 7 September 2005

Eternal sunshine in a spotless sky

Horrible take on a terrific movie, but I couldn't find any better way to describe the scene that lay spread out before me today as we were lowered down to the sea on te work-boat. (YES!!! Two days in a row, sunny sky and boat rides >:) this is the good life!)

My successive outings have been a continuous learning process:
Day 1: Never wear a wrist watch under an immersion suit, the supertight (they are supposed to be waterproof) wrist bands tightening on top of the wristlet makes it bite into your skin and after a while, the pain is unbelievable!
Day 2: Trying to do accomplish any act requiring dexterity is impossible with gloves on. Since the work has to be done, and you can't afford mistakes, ignore the insane cold and the numbing icy water for just as long as it takes to finish the job. (DO NOT forget to put the gloves back on, you don't wanna feel the blood slowly recirculating through each minute capillary, it's excrutiating.)
Day 3: Wear proper headgear, normal hard hats tend to fly away while you are enjoying the fresh air on your face.
Day 4: Wearing safety glasses keeps both the wind and the salty, stinging, tear-bringing water out.
So getting to the actual ride, I have never seen the sea as calm as it was this afternoon. Of course that means no spray and minimal pitching. Neil and Stan took this opportunity to catch some shut eye.

Today I also received my final appraisal from my managers onboard the Trident, so now I have officially accomplished everything I'd come here to do! Yippie :D. And I just noticed that I'm yet to put up a decent picture of the ship on this blog!!

The Western Trident


I've been meaning to write this for a couple of days, but keep forgetting somehow. Philip K Dick SUCKS! Bigtime. The book (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) is totally psycho! That's one author I'm swearing off. I lay reading the book, couldn't let go, there were just a few more pages to go, I kept telling myself. And by the end of it the clock was showing 5:30 am, I was sitting on my bunk, dazed and utterly confused! A sensation very close to panic was coursing it's way just below the surface of my consciousness. Every time the guns went off, the ship swayed, I swayed with it, and the dull thump of the shot kept jolting my harried nerves in the most unpleasant manner :(. I can't really remember if I slept after that. I was early for work the next day though.


I couldn't not post two snaps of today's sunset, it was so gorgeous! Some more are there on my photoblog. (Heh, I know, this is almost a photoblog itself, but the other one has just pics :P.)

Before it slipped behind the clouds...

...and then it peeped out again!

Tuesday, 6 September 2005


My third trip in the small boat, and yes, finally the Sun was shining! I realised that leaving behind my safety glasses had been a mistake, the glare was blinding. The light is so bright that you cannot possibly look up at the sky (any part of it, even far away from the sun), and the rippling waters below do a brilliant job of making sure you are squinting hard to see anything at all. But in a while I could feel one very major difference, with the sunshine, the cold was much less pervasive. The wind was still biting, but when I got back today, it took me substantially less time to thaw :D.
Having gathered my bearings in the previous trips, and the confidence that under most conditions it wasn't too difficult to stay within the boat, I decided to take my camera with me. The aim was to capture a bird floating on the water, but I was deprived of that pleasure. But looking at the prop-wash of the work-boat I couldn't but think of the similarity between the waves we left behind and the splashing tail of a diving whale!

Ya I know, it always looks better for real than in pictures. What to do. But today I gained renewed faith in my camera. The sea was choppy and spray was raining onto us within the work-boat. Especially on me since I chose to stand right up front at the bows :P. And I had the cam in my hand for the most part. Despite the copious amounts of sea water that splashed on it, my cam was working just fine! Of course it helps that the micro sized lens is so much easier to guard :D.

We should never start counting the days! Since I started counting the days that remained for me to sign off, that is all I've been thinking about. And I tell you, it's such a pain to keep finding your thoughts turning to the calculation of the number of hours left, and then trying to reduce that number by underhand means like deducting hours spent sleeping etc.


What I'm passing off as today's sunset :P :

Monday, 5 September 2005

Bubble wrap!

So about 2 or 3 months back, when I was back in campus and was hurtling through the myriad requirements of joining work, a friend of mine used to pain me with this theory. You see, at that point of time all I knew about my job was that I was to go looking for oil under the sea-bed. So Bolli's theory was that the process to be used for the above purpose was to send off people on boats with oil tanks, with warnings that they will be shot if they returned without their tanks full!
And that wasn't all, in deference to it's status as the world's largest seismic company, Bolli credited them with one major sophistication in personnel safety: bubble wrap! Each person would be provided a huge sheet of bubble wrap, which would serve the dual purpose of bouyancy, as well as air supply (the air within the bubbles, in case you are bewildered ;) ).
As it turned out, this theory (thankfully!!) isn't in practice :DD. But while tinkering around in the workshop today guess what I ran into!! Giant sheets of bubble wrap :)). And while standing there nostalgically bursting the giant bubbles, my thoughts ran back to those days of midsummer rains, the green campus, the shining sun! Just three more days to go, and I can't wait to be back!
Oh, and today's sunset :).

Sunday, 4 September 2005

After the sunset

The wind has come down to manageable levels. I'm finally done with all training related work for this trip. Work's still suspended (we had to stop yesterday 'cos of the inclement weather). That left me with pretty much the whole day and nothing to do. So I tried to make myself useful. (Read: went out to the back-deck, looked around while crew members did what they did everytime the weather fucked us up.)
Haven't had too many opportunities of lazing around on the backdeck early in the afternoon, when the sun is at it's highest in the sky, so I made the most of it. Entirely unbidden, a few thoughts came to me. As I looked out, my eyes scanning the horizon, I was met with a view not too many would have enjoyed. Absolute desolation. No man or man-made object in sight with the exception of the ship on which I stood. An image came floating back to me. The last sunset I'd seen from my window back home. The difference struck me. In that image there were houses, trees, water tanks and all the rest that you would find in a settlement. And I remember having cursed them all, for not allowing me an untainted view of the sunset. To quote M: 'Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony'. Nothing blocked my view today.
I had the sense to not feel dejected. True, for a month I have been living a life rather extreme, away from all civilization (though not cut off from it, thankfully!). Working with no weekends, no exceptions to the daily schedule of midday to midnight. But with that comes the fantastic world where human activity is of no significance. The waves rear up their curled heads. The wind swoops down n snatches off their tips! White spray. There might as well have been nobody watching. I felt like I had intruded upon the interplay of powers way beyond my grasp. Not everybody was welcome into this world. Not everyone got the chance to be a part of it in their entire lives. Believe me, when I say it's cold here, I mean bitter in a way you cannot imagine, unless you have felt it seep through any amount of clothing and slowly chill your very bones!

My Orkut 'Today's fortune' said: You are going to have a very comfortable old age. :D. But I guess one should think about it every once in a while, old age that is. . . Nah! not today.
After dark I got back to my desk (had to, the wind was picking up again, and I had no wish of taking a dip in the sea). I was aimlessly pottering about the net when, entirely accidentally, I stumbled upon a blog I recognised! And thereafter onto others. The hours went by in a flash, a fresh cup of coffee and 3 slices of a delicious cake every hour significantly assisted the passage, I may add. Incidents rejvinating memories, bringing a smile on my face. Pictures opening flood-gates of recollections, leaving a slight ache in my heart.
Ever noticed how music seems to superimpose itself on the reading it accompanies? Today it was Third Eye Blind. I still think of The Count of Monte Cristo whenever I listen to Summer Sunshine. . .
A while back I was pleasantly srprised when I heard the soundtrack of 'Bunty aur Bubly' blaring from the instrument room music system!! It was clearly for me, 'cos none of my colleagues underatand a syllable of Hindi :D. I like my workmates, most of whom are senior to me by over a decade. Despite that, they have a bright sense of humour, the movie has been topping the UK charts it seems :)).

While resizing pics for uploading to the blog, I noticed that I manage to resize and save a picture using just a sequence of keyboard shortcuts:
>select pic >'Win menu' key >h >p
>Ctrl+w >40 (%) >Tab >40 (%) >Enter
>Alt >f >a >' (brevity is a virtue) >Enter
And voila! I have a pic small enough to upload quickly over the rather shaky sattelite net connection :P.

Saturday, 3 September 2005

Blowing in the wind

It's been a rough day. Not specifically for me, but the ship. We have run into some bad weather. Or rather, given that we have been in pretty much the same place for about a month, some bad weather has run into us. From early afternoon the wind had picked up, and was steadily blowing at 30 knots (which is pretty bad given that a normal strong breeze is closer to 10 or 15). Knowing fully well that there wasn't a chance in hell of the slightest glimpse of the sun I went up to the deck. And for the first time this trip, was scared.
At over 70 Kgs, I'm not exactly lightweight, but for the first time in my life I was afraid of being physically blown away. But once I got over the initial shock, it was pretty cool, actually. The ship was pitching pretty wildly, i.e., one moment the bow is pointed well above the horizon, and the next, it's plunging straight into the water! It did not help that wind was blowing across from port, which meant that you had to independently counter the pitching and the blast of the wind. I wonder why this trip keeps reminding me of a roller-coaster. I'm afraid that if and when I do get the chance to be on an actual roller-coaster, it might prove to be a let-down.
I found a slightly sheltered spot and was at once greeted by a pestrel, flying very close to the ship and at almost exactly the same pace. It took me a while to figure out that the birds were probably taking advantage of the protection offered by the ship's superstructure. Every few moments one more bird would join up and before long there was a full squadron of them flying alongside.

Friday, 2 September 2005

Looking from above

Google is GOD! Well, I have had multiple occassions to say this, but this time the reason is Google Earth. Yes I know it was originally Keyhole that started up with the concept of the online 3-D map of the whole planet, but lets not get into propreitory issues.
Currently Google has a free version of the software which I downloaded today, and have had a fabulous time locating the different places that I've been to. Sadly though, the satellite coverage over India isn't too great, clarity ceases to increase with a decrease in altitude lower than 20,000 ft. But it still gave me a prety good view of Mumbai, parts of Kolkata (including Dum Dum, where I live!) and also of Asansol, a small town located roughly at 23 degrees North and 87 degrees East, where I was born!! :D
But I was really amazed by the view I got of Tokyo airport.
And this, it could be me sitting inside that plane, mine took of from the same runway!

Thursday, 1 September 2005

On even keel

Blogging has become pretty much a part of my daily routine these days. Every night, once I'm though my shift, I'd religiously log on to my dashboard. And amazingly enough there always seems to be something to write about. So I'm a little surprised today. I seem to have had a very neutral sort of a day. Didn't manage a boat ride, missed the sunset, almost missed lunch 'cos by the time the steward had woken me up it was already midday :(. (The phenomenon of ignoring my phone alarm is not a new one.) But I've logged in, and now that I have a blank screen in front of me my fingers seem to be typing in stuff with no apparent need of my mind...
I finished reading I, Robot last night. I was right, it did not dissappoint. As with every Asimov book I have read before, when my eyes finally rolled of the last word, I felt a sense of equilibium. There was an immense sense of loss. Of an ending. But the beauty of the world described within refused to let me feel entirely sad.
The sun was out today, and the sky was a clear blue and the sea a deeper shade of the same. It reminded of the same time yesterday, without light there's no colour, simply shades of gray.
There are times when small things can get you down, and seemingly minor gestures get you back to normal.
About the sunset. As I said I'd missed it per se. But what I managed to see did have it's own calm elegance.