Sunday, 30 April 2006

Dance of the wild dolphins!

Uncanny isn't it! Akshi talks about spotting dolphins and right the next day there's literally dozens of them off the ship's stern!!! :D Yes, I tried to take pictures, no, none of them turned out decent enough to post, thanks to low light :(.

But what a sight! It's well into the night and the ship is standing still in the calm waters of the anchorage. All around there are the enclosing islands and outcrops off the mainland, glittering with marker buoys, lights from houses, the dock in the distance... And there's this huge bunch of flying fish attracted to the backdeck lights playing near the gundeck ramp. And attracted to this plentiful supply of food, there are the dolphins and large flocks of these birds:
It was a real treat to watch the dolphins chase the fish around, which were often resorting to flight! But not to be outdone, the dolphins, more often than not, managed to snatch the flying fish right out of the air!!! And the resulting leaps out of the water totally made my otherwise shitty day :D. The sunset, almost over land, was a nice change too :).--
The ship's engines are off and it's unusually quiet.

The only part life that has seemed so perfect till now was suddenly going all wrong. The feeling could probably be most accurately described as choking. But it was just for a little bit, and then it was all back in step. Makes me wonder, is happiness just a fragile illusion, or is it an elaborate defence mechanism?

I love meals where I don't have to look at what I'm eating. Like ice-cream and jello, mixed, but not too thoroughly. While I'm reading of "hooked fingers and sudden smiles", a sudden, unexpected excess of jello... life's back to good, and I'm back to smiling :).

Current mood: precariously happy
Listening to: U2 - All I want is you

Friday, 28 April 2006

Arghhh :(

After a full shift of back-deck work I find that we are not in fact going to port in Dampier, but merely into anchorage!! I mean c'mon!!! You can actually see land, but can't get to it! Because some nutcases decide there's not enough space!! Totally feeling like killing someone or something. Or would have felt like it if I were a little less tired :(. There goes my kangaroo :-<.

Well, back deck wasn't that terrible actually:

Rigs spotted with massive flares visible with the naked eye over 20 miles away : 1
Rigs spotted lit up like a christmas tree in the night: 1
Water snakes seen slithering sideways in the ocean: at least 15
Flying fish seen gliding for over 100 m: 4
Birds seen trying to perch on incoming streamer (despite Richie trying very hard to make it fly away so I couldn't take a pic): 1
Times I pissed Richie off by speaking animatedly with another crew-mate in Hindi while he tried very hard to figure out if we were dissing him: too many :P
Times I hit my head on the fairleads (huge thingies on the back-deck that I keep hitting) to Richie's (and pretty much everyone else's) intense amusement: 12 :|

Heh! Of course I took the pic :D. It's a little shaky tho, thanks to somebody pushing me, no prizes for guessing who.
Right, now to sleep.

ps. Richie is my boss :D.

Feeling: amazed at the number of cuts, scratches etc that have appeared on my hands in just 12 hours!
Listening to: Elliot Smith - Angels

Wednesday, 26 April 2006

Whoooshh! II

A lot closer to the water, a lot scarier, 'cos from here the waves look really big! And practically hundreds of flying fish :). Squadrons of gliding fins glittering in the stark lamps. And if you looked closely enough, a shiny fleet slipping sliding just under the skin of water.

The rest of the guys were trying to figure out how to best disentangle a couple of gunstrings (let's not get into what those are, please). I, on the other hand, satisfied that there was no point in further adding to the already monumental tension, chose to enjoy the summersaults, backflips, high jumps and other such acrobatics in miniature that were so conveniently on display barely 3 metres away. Was tempted to jump in and catch one. Very briefly, before I noticed once again that the waves were taller than me standing on my feet, and remembered that the water was a kilometer deep :|.

Looks like this trip's going to be more sailing around than expected. Given the steadily worsening weather we will soon be heading back to shore to pick up supplies, Dampier in north west Australia to be precise. While that means more back deck work, it also means another chance for me to meet some kangaroos!! :D
Listening to Elliot Smith after a very very long time. Such a shame that he died so young. What a waste :(.

Have realised suddenly, and not because I was knocked on the head by one, that I have no respect for doors...

Maybe I should read a bit. The bookmark hasn't moved in a week.

Feeling: lazy :P
Listening to: Elliot Smith - Clementine

The one-day delay in posting's thanks to the vessel net choosing to crash last night :(.

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Whoooshh. . .

Seas always turn out so different from each other! Of course I only have the rather meagre experience of sailing on four, and one might argue that the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean don't count as different. But while the former, with it's overly calm weather, struck me much like a pond (a hugeass pond no doubt, but still), the stretch of water I'm in now could almost dupe you into believing you were at the beach! Just that it would be a bloody tiny island. And it would be floating. But that wasn't the point. The rolling waves rushing in, only to break forcefully into a million pieces and then slipping back into the inky black. It's so like gazing over Worli seaface at night!!

The best part is watching the white heads rear up from the complete darkness all around and thrash against the ship's side. The shudder it sends through the entire ship, and through me as I lean over the stern, the huge froth of spray that goes shooting back into the sea, instant extacy :). It's fun to try and predict the next big burst too! You go ballistic when you are right to the split second, turn as if there was someone you could say "I knew that would happen" to, grow just a little sadder when nobody's there.

But then there was suddenly a different, erratic, out of place bunch of splashes in the heaving water. It took me a while to realise that the streaking spot of silver was the old flying fish from my Mayanmese trip! A huge big bunch of them actually :D. If you tried to see them you couldn't find even one, but when you weren't looking, you'd catch one bounding from one wave to another in the corner of your eye :). Caught up with another acquiantance today, spotted the Milky Way in the clear moonless sky. Then of course there had to be the big gull type thing that swung out of the night and scared the living daylights out of me!!! Didn't they say that birds don't fly at night? And this was no owl in the middle of the ocean :|.

Tchah! I'm terrible at this shit ain't I?! I'm sure I couldn't get across even an iota of the magic of my evening leaning off the back-deck :(. That's why I like pictures, you don't need so many words... Then again there are times when I look at an old picture, only to have the real shatter the wonderful image of memories laced with a dash of euphoria and a pinch of optimistic imagination :-<.

Feeling: optimistic :D
Listening to: Silk Route - Dooba dooba

Saturday, 22 April 2006

Settling back into the schedule, getting used to the hours, the bunk, the rolling... the customary just-missed-the-sunset pic. Two days and now it feels like I never even got off the ship!
And excitement presented itself today in the form of the great humpbacked whale that chose to appear right when I was on the bridge on whale watch :D. Did I neglect to mention that I tend to be insanely lucky in these vague kind of ways more often than I can remember? And guess what, I had my camera right there, in the pocket of my coveralls. But sadly, the 3x zoom my baby offers would have given me nothing more than a grey blur and a whole lot of whooshing spray :(. (Another reason for me to buy that Canon Eos I've been dying to buy for a while now, 12x optical!!!!) So I chose to watch Pico (my name for my first whale, don't ask me why) with the best binocs they have up in the bridge. Pico gave me absolutely fabulous company for all of half an hour, when I remembered that my watch should actually have been only 10 minutes long :P.

The greatest and most welcome change this trip is the brilliant food that the new Aussie galley staff are serving up each and every meal! Might even put fight to wake up for breakfast one of these days!

And in business news today, Schlumberger has finally realised, about half a decade too late that they should buy all of WesternGeco. Would have saved me the trouble of trying to explain the whole 30% - 70% malarkey like a million n a half times since I got the job :-<.

Feeling: sleepy (becoming a regular thing, this)
Listening to: Beethoven - Fur Elise

Friday, 21 April 2006

Back to work :D!

You can make out I'm happy when I'm screwing things up :P. It's true! I can only work really well when I'm a little depressed, when I'm happy I'm too excited to concentrate well enough on work :D. Going by that yardstick, I was extemely happy to get back on the Trident today!
My two day stay at Perth was rather nice. Australia is big. It is bloody huge, and there are too few people. So everywhere and in everything there's this immense sense of spaciousness! Which is of course a very welcome change from the usual Indian metropolis. But the thing that really got to me was the really cool mix of natural beauty and developed infrastructure. There doesn't seem to be any attempt at all to altering nature to try and make it look more beautiful, they just work around it. And there's always enough space.
The only irritating bit was the dog at the airport. Now don't get me wrong, I love dogs. But we are talking about four rather large sniffer dogs on the lookout for passengers smuggling drugs. And when one of these dogs turns overly friendly and gives you a (supposedly) longer-than-usual look, you have to end up being the last one off your flight to walk out of the airport :|. And also endure lengthy advice on mackerel fishing off Barrow Island in the bargain!
The flight from Perth to Barrow Island was totally spectaclar though, and all credit goes to the shoreline of Western Australia. As one might have noted in the past month, my shutter happy disposition had gone into temporary abeyance, but the bright blues, the deep greens, the dark reds served as a very effective jumpstart!
I had my face wedged between the seat ahead and the window for the better part of the flight. But there are either no kangaroos in WA, or it's incredibly difficult to spot a 2 m marsupial from 7.5 Kms up in the sky :(. So I'm still waiting for the shock of seeing 'a giant rat hopping down the road on it's hind legs', as someone put it.And then it was the short little shuttle in the Super Puma back to the ship! The weather's been good, but the ship's pitching and rolling rather ominously. There is a cyclone brewing just over the horizon, and I'm waiting for a Force 10 to give me the ride of my life >:)!!!

Yep, pics are definitely back on my blog :D and check out more shoreline pics on the photoblog!

Feeling: tired but happy!
Listening to: Long Beach dub Allstars - Sunny hours (s/t: Joey)

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

The Terminal!

This is like the ultimate day-in-transit. Dinner in the air, couldn't sleep 'cos of the cramped leg space, so watched Syriana instead. (Awesome movie btw.) Watched the sun rise as we landed in Singapore. Brushed my teeth at the airport and followed that up with a sub and a cup of coffee :D.
Trouble is, I need to catch up on sleep, badly. But the next flight boards in an hour and I'm desperately hoping I don't sleep off in that extremely cosy-looking recliner I can see :-S. Hopefully I shall make it to Perth by afternoon!
Feeling: jet-lagged
Listening to: Hans Zimmer - Burra burra (ost: Black Hawk Down)

Monday, 17 April 2006

And then the bubble burst. . .

The clouds hover overhead. But none of the impressive cumulo-nimbus types rearing up their grey heads to intimidate and cower. Just an unbroken sheet stretching across the sky and shedding a few meagre drops now and then. Almost looks like the rain god is feeling lazy :(.

Done packing. But then I was done packing almost 3 weeks back. Realised with a bit of a start the other day that this would be the southern hemisphere, i.e. right now it's late autumn instead of early summer. And in a month it'll be winter there :-<. I hope it's not going to be too cold. With the usual weight limit on luggage, I haven't packed much by way of winterwear.

Ah yes, a somewhat belated Shubho Nabobarsho (happy Bengali New Year) to everyone. The last year has been pretty cool when it comes to festivals. I managed to be with my family for Durga pujo (/Dussehra), Poush mela (/Christmas), New Year, Dol (/Holi) as well as Poila Boisakh! Only thing I did miss was my birthday, which I spent rocking about in the Sea of Okhotsk :P. With a little bit of luck I might actually make it home for Durga pujo again this year. And spend another birthday on the ship in the bargain... But given the choice I'd rather it stays that way :).

Feeling: lazy
Listening to: Moby - Extreme ways (closing credits: Bourne Identity/Bourne Supremacy)

Thursday, 13 April 2006

All set!

That of course does not mean that I got my Malaysian visa. However, since my trip to KL now stands cancelled, that doesn't matter any more. So I'm finally leaving directly for Australia on Monday and since the heavens (read: consulates and ticketing offices) have been particularly kind, I have my Aussie visa as well as my tickets! Perth, here I come!!! :D On the way to get those tickets however, I managed to get stuck in the Metro compartment doors! Thankfully they don't shut too hard, otherwise it could have turned really nasty :|.

After my accidentally extended stay at home, I'm distinctly less than raring to get back to the ship actually. And that has nothing to do with having to leave home. The Trident is currently off the Barrow Islands (N W of Australia) and has recently had too many cyclones brush way too close for comfort. Doesn't make for a very comfortable berth, getting chucked around by the waves. And with 60% of all the in-sea gear lost (that means the cables 'n stuff just snapped and floated away in the storm), I really don't envy the chaps pulling shifts right now.

There's a fair amount of indignant protest happening these days against the whole 49.5% reservation in IITs and IIMs. And I can't avoid feeling rather depressed by the fact that all this barely seems to be making a difference to those who matter in this case. These institutions are supposedly 'autonomous'. What sense does that make if you have some politicians decide who gets in and who doesn't, on the basis of a report now over a quarter of a century old!! And they call us the largest democracy on the planet :-<.

Well, I'm off. Away from the bustling city for a quick trip to Shantiniketan. And this time I'm driving. Nothing like a nice 200 Km drive down superb 4-6 lane highways to lift sagging spirits :). And maybe I'll use my camera. Haven't uploaded a single pic on either of my blogs for over a month. Which is a shame really... summer thunderstorms in Kolkata are usually rather spectacular affairs.

Listening to: Pearl Jam - Release

Monday, 10 April 2006

Through the looking glass.

We see our imperfections mirrorred in the ones we love. Fathers, sons, brothers, sisters, daughters, those closest of friends.... (mothers are always perfect). Wisdom is in righting the wrongs in ourselves. But greatness is in reaching out through the looking glass to heal the rest.

Current mood: Life, in a bubble.
Listening to: Switchfoot - Stars

Saturday, 8 April 2006

Happy birthday!!

To my newborn cousin brother! As if having 2 cousins two full decades younger wasn't enough, I now have one twenty-two years younger :D!! To think that by the time this kid is old enough to go to high school, I'll already be middle-aged!!! Makes me feel like I'm already too old... :-<.

And already there are those irritating comparisons! I mean comeon!! The kid's barely six hours old, how can you tell if he'll look more like me or my older, more handsome looking cousin?!!! /:)

Met a friend a couple of days back under extremely unlikely circumstances. We'd been literally following each other around in Mumbai and Delhi, and had my Malaysian visa not been rejected, would have been the same story all over again in Kolkata! Fate?.. Naah, not feeling that lucky :D. But it was a rather intricate coincidence!

Found out that my best friend from high school is shifting to Mumbai in June. Coincidentally, the last of my batchmates in hostel are passing out in the same month. So although my erstwhile place of residence in the city is gone, another has very obligingly cropped up :D. Yes yes, all those people I went around telling 'I don't know if I'll ever come back here' can go, "We told you so!!" :P.

Currently am totally taken with two bands that have been around for a long time, but in whom I had never invested much time or liking! INXS and AC DC. Back in Black rocks, btw!!

Feeling: excited!!
Listening to: INXS - Afterglow

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

Speed demon!

Didn't know it was still there, lurking at the back of my mind. But with repeated power cuts through the day, additional net and cable outages, the increasing heat and humidity all piling up, I figured I'd either kill myself or do something very stupid. The latter seemed a safer choice. So I took the car out for a spin on the emptiest road I could think of.

Blazing down the bypass with the window down at a hundred thirty-five, watching the fields, the ponds, the coconut palms all whizz by in a dizzying blur and the Sun setting over the sea of green as if in fast-forward. Aahhhh! I've missed that pure rush of blood to the head for too long!!

Feeling: wild >:)
Listening to: Lunatic Calm - Leave you far behind

Saturday, 1 April 2006

Manty Rocks!!!!

So it had taken me two months to finish half of The Manticore's Secret. Mainly 'cos of my insane travel plan. But now that I'm effectively stuck at home, finished the rest in this afternoon and evening :). And yes, it was an awesome read! Funny, not too particularly gripping, but interesting nonetheless, and of course the bits of Basu's hilarious cockyness hidden in Bong phrases in English alphabet :D.

An example:
"I know everything.
You're all knowing?
That is another way of putting it, yes. Omniscient is yet another. Or Eitiktikitamohapechoonpaka, which in the forgotten language of [blah] meant Magnificent Saurian Whose Very Foundations Emit Wisdom."
Of course the fact that the omniscient being in question is a lizard, puts things in an entirely different light >:).

Feeling: sleepy, obviously!
Listening to: Rang de Basanti ost - Ik Onkaar

I apologise for the oversight: for non-Bengalis, 'Ei tiktiki ta moha pechoon paka' translates roughly to 'This lizard is such a smartass'! :D