Tuesday, 30 May 2006

The end is nigh!!

Right, so I'm finally into my last day onboard, effectively :D. See, you don't count the day I'm getting off, and today's almost over anyway :P. Reminds me of end of first sem in college when my next door freshie neighbour and I used to count the days left to the end of sem :). The really great bit is that I'm on the first chopper out! The not so great bit is that I'll have to wait till the last chopper arrives on Barrow Island for the fixed wing back to Perth. Barrow Is. being the most barren, dry, hot piece of earth I've ever laid eyes on :(. Richie of course maintains he'd rather sit in the desert than stay longer on the ship, he isn't on the first chopper ;).
It takes time to sink in, but this has really been a very very long trip :-<. Now that it's drawing to an end, the urge to just let go is getting stronger and stronger :). I really wonder how the Filipino crew-members manage to pull 6-month-long trips!
I've been leading a rather insular life this trip... You know it's insular when people who bother to read your blog know more about your life than most of your relatives, almost all your friends and even a majority of the people you live and work with everyday /:). Worst thing is, I'm beginning to get comfortable with this :O.

Anyway, the prospect of the ship-to-shore chopper safety video tomorrow morning has driven all of that way back into the background :).

Currently: mildly worried but mostly trying not too look too excited :D
Listening to: Avril Lavigne - My happy ending

Sunday, 28 May 2006


There was much ado over cyclones and other such turbulent sea conditions when I was about to board the ship in mid April. But for the better part of the trip since then, we've had not perfect, but reasonable weather. Since about midday yesterday all that's changed, and now for over 24 hours we have shut down for bad weather. Looks like the heavens have taken offence at my declaration to a friend that weather-wise the trip had turned out to be an anti-climax :).
It was pretty amazing watching the sea today. The waves were coming up from the stern, and these insanely huge swells were literally lifting up the back end of the ship some 4-5 metres. And as they passed on forward, the ship fell back onto the water with a gigantic splash! The gunners had washed the gun-deck in vain yesterday, the sea was doing their work for them all over again :P.Since the afternoon however, things have calmed down, though only slightly. I'm hoping of course, that it's nice and sunny by Thursday! Can't imagine crew-change getting delayed!!

Currently: jobless :D
Listening to: The Beatles - A hard day's night :P

Saturday, 27 May 2006

Of pasta and microwaves

:D nevermind the title.
Despite having dismissed Interpreter of Maladies as a bit of a letdown, I am now thankful that I chose to read till the last story. Rather liked the completely ordinary and understated tone of it.
Okay, maybe a slight concession to the header :). Made myself a proper dinner for the first time this trip. Hence realized how invaluable a microwave is to those completely ignorant (and a little scared) of cooking, like me. Reading The Last and Final Continent (the last story) made me wonder why I've never taken to the milk and cereal routine though....
Feeling: sleepy
Listening to: Enigma - Return to innocence

Thursday, 25 May 2006

Past clicks!

Came across this link today. Strongly suggest people go to the 5 album pages on the left! Has some truly awesome pics of Calcutta in 1945-46. On the one hand I was struck by a rush of nostalgia, and then a fellow ex-Kolkata friend reminded me how much of the city today looks like a brushed-up, colour version of the pictures. And I wonder, is this 60 years' worth of advancement? Or have we carried attachment-to-the-past to a point beyond reason? But instead of hating my city, I feel sorry for it. Imagine lugging an ever-growing, ever increasingly demanding population through six decades and having very little to show by way of kindness returned.


That dark deceptively calm looking water hid at least 2 whales that were barely a hundred metres or so from the ship :(. They were there for all of 20 minutes, then I got to the bridge, and they promptly disappeared!

The other, rather substantially more nasty thing that happened to me today was a full blown attack of 'Hot English Mustard'! The tiniest smatterring in my sandwich, and I had the most horrid sensation ever inflicted upon me by any kind of food!! The closest I can come to comprehending the symptoms is that it felt like I was being throttled, being forced to sneeze and being scalped, all at the same time :-&. And all this because I was too lazy to go get the regular mustard from the fridge :-<.

Well, there's still some good news, now it's just 6 more days and a wake-up :D.

Feeling: terrorized... by food /:)
Listening to: The Waifs - Highway one

Tuesday, 23 May 2006


I wish I was invisible. For no particular reason. No specific motive or preceeding train of thought. If this wish is granted though, I wonder if I'll be able to see myself... I also wish this was actually going somewhere. It isn't.For the last 4 hours I've had this impossibly persistent headache which has suddenly disappeared. And now I'm desperately trying to figure out exactly what I did to make it go away (for future reference :D), but can't :(. Rather annoying, this. Anyway, surprisingly in keeping with my hopes, this stint at the back-deck is over after a mere 3 days \:D/. Even more surprisingly, it now looks like I will actually spend some time at the office in Perth! I have never been this pleased at not being given a visa promptly :P.

Feeling: drained
Listening to: Radiohead - Stop whispering

Sunday, 21 May 2006

Little joys, tiny sorrows. . .

Working on the back deck isn't too bad by itself. I get to see the sunsets, stand in the cool breeze watching the seagulls. On a rough day like this afternoon, I get to see the tips of the tallest waves snipped of by the wind and the resulting fine spray creating a momentary but strikingly clear rainbow!

It's only when the days roll into weeks that the outlook begins to change :P. But I'm hoping that won't happen this time :).

This would have been just an ordinary day, except for the little bird that flew in and crashed unceremoniously on the cable-deck floor around 11 in the night! We picked it up a couple of times to let it fly off again, only to see it crash headlong into something or other each time :(. Figuring that it was probably thoroughly exhausted, we got it some food and a little bit of water, but the bird wasn't interested. I figured we might as well let it fly away and perched it on the railing. But a couple of tentative flaps made it clear that even if it did fly off, it wouldn't make it too far.

Sorry about the shaky pic,
but I was worried another exposure to the bright orange pre-shot light
might scare the poor thing to death :(

So I just put it into a bucket so it wouldn't fly into a cable reel or something. And a crew-mate, who has a mildly annoying habit of addressing all living organisms of undetermined sex as 'she', almost broke the poor thing's neck trying to forcefeed it tiny particles of bread :|. In all this commotion it was suddenly shift change, so we cautioned the other chaps about the bird, hoping they wouldn't throw a spanner or wrench into the bucket assuming it to be empty.

I was kinda hoping I'd be able to see the bird tomorrow, maybe find it in better shape and see it fly off in the daylight. But that was not to be. I heard just now that it'd taken the plunge into the night and while it might be doing fine... something tells me this is another false hope :-<.

Feeling: disappointed
Listening to : The Waifs - Take it in

Saturday, 20 May 2006

False starts

At the beginning of this trip I was sure of working at the office in Perth. And with it there were hopes of seeing more of the land down under. However, some people are trying to get me a Malaysian visa instead to go do office in KL, so hopes of kangaroo sightings are rather effectively dashed.
At the beginning of this weekend I was relieved that there would be no more protracted back-deck work this trip. Tomorrow we will be back to retrieving gear, and then putting it back out again :(. I have noticed that Sundays (with some notable exceptions) tend to be the busiest days of the week for me while on the ship!
Yesterday was crew-change. No, I obviously didn't get off the boat. It was the marine crew swapping over with the other rotation. We watched the choppers come and go with an extremely uncharacteristic disinterest. Now the fresh bunch of galley staff have totally trashed the high standards set by the ones that left :(. I mean how dificult is it to leave decent left-overs so I can make myself an interesting after-shift meal!
Have been reading Interpreter of Maladies. It's been quite a while since I've read any short stories, since I, Robot actually. And even that I refuse to classify as merely a bunch of short stories. Anyway, the first story had me thinking for a very long time, wondering who would turn the lights on again, and then... Reminded me of Tagore's definition of the short story :). Apologies, but I don't think I'm quite capable of providing even a rough translation.
Oh, and I was quite excited about the Asansol reference in one of the other stories :D. Was almost hoping there'll be some description on the place. But it started and ended on the road to Konarak, sadly.
Feeling: amused
Listening to: The Waifs - Crazy train

Thursday, 18 May 2006

Less than perfect.

It was supposed to be the perfect Champions League final, between Arsenal and Barcelona, but I was left with a distinctly less than perfect feeling. And that's even more surprising since the team I was supporting won! First the red card, the first in a final in 50 years, leaving Arsenal with 10 men. Then the terrible free kick decision that handed Arsenal their goal! Add to that the defensive way in which Barca played even when they were a goal down, and you definitely don't get a quality game :(. Even the famed Ronaldinho failed to impress, having the ball taken away from him during half hearted attacks and shooting wide on at least four attempts on goal! At the end I couldn't but feel a little sympathetic towads Almunia. It was good to see an old-timer like Henrik Larsson appear at the end to set things somewhat right!
Probably the main reason I was so unhappy with the match was the unexpected 45 minute delay at the start! I'd heard the transmission was to start at 2 am, but hadn't counted on the protracted opening ceremony :(. Anyway, at least I got to see the match :).

Someone asked me the other day which team I'll be suporting in the World Cup, and I replied Argentina without the slightest pause. But then he asked me why, and I was stumped! Eventually I had to put it to the fact that I've supported them in every World Cup I have ever seen :). The first time was when I was 6 and they were the reigning world champions! It was heartbreaking to see them lose in the finals, and I think I've been hoping to set things right since! For not having been old enough to watch them win in '86 :P. In the meantime I've come to love players like Caniggia, Batistuta and Crespo. So I guess until India comes up with a team in the World Cup, it's going to be Argentina for me :). If nothing else, then simply for want of a good enough reason to change old loyalties.

--There's something I find rather touching in this picture. A fragile wisp holding on to the last remnants of a glowing past. Knowing that the light will eventually fade away, leaving it in darkness.

Current Mood: contemplative
Listening to: The Waifs - London still

Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Big surprises, small surprises.

All sorts of stuff has been happening. The vessel net's gone all haywire because the antenna's getting too hot in it's air-conditioned dome /:). The spectre of another long stretch on the back-deck has just been removed, to everyone's immense relief! And I was off again on another small-boat trip today.

The planned activity was something going by the impressive name of the Sippican Probe dip. It's this velocity profiling probe that's sent to the bottom of the ocean and sends back the speed of sound through water at different depths. Why I'm going into so much detail I don't know. But the thing is, the probe's mounted on this cool looking gun-type thingie, so I was kinda expecting something like a harpoon going blasting off, trailing a copper tail or something like that! Instead, they merely tipped the thing over, and continued to look massively bored while the probe sank to 100.. 200... 300.... 400 metres :|. I must have had anti-climax written all over my face, from the looks from the others...And then there was the whale sighting. It wasn't my first this trip, but I must say I was rather surprised with the time it took for me to finally spot this second one! But tracking the successive 'blow's as the rather tiny whale (at least as far as whales go) went scooting all over the place was fun.

I found out today, from another blog, that Pearl Jam have released a new album!!! It has songs with titles like Life wasted, I'm never going back again... Needs to be checked out pronto (i.e. as soon as reasonably practicable :|).

And of course, the thing that has had the instrument room completely stunned for the past 2 days, Richie's got a blog!!! :D I have a sneaky feeling that the clinching factor in overcoming his hithero rather cynical attitude towards blogs, was my last post extolling the achievements of Liverpool, and the possibility of a ready platform for furthering cause of the Liverpool FC :).

Current Mood: still getting over a non-existant weekend :-<
Listening to: U2 - Sweetest thing

Sunday, 14 May 2006

Sunday! Bloody Sunday!!

It was great!! By far the best Sunday I've had on the ship! I probably haven't mentioned on my blog yet that we finally have satellite TV onboard :D. True, for a long time we could only get it heading in a particular direction, but that, and loads of other painful things got sorted out in time for last night's FA Cup final between Liverpool and underdogs West Ham.
Now I'm not particularly into English league football, but there are certain members in the crew who are actually from Liverpool and such other places, and their enthusiasm is infectious. So while some watched the match in the theatre I had to remain satisfied with online updates in the instrument room :(. I was on shift. But the cliffhanger of a match eventually went into overtime, and extended beyond midnight :D. I raced off to change out of my coveralls and made a dash for the theatre ('No work gear allowed!', says the notice on the door) landing up all excited in front of a live football coverage after God knows how long!
It worked as a nice preview to the World Cup, thunderous crowds, the teams trying way beyond the ordinary to conjure a goal out of nowhere, and tensed faces staring into the TV with me! The agony in the "Ahh!" when the transmission snapped for a moment during one of the spot-kicks :). Now I'm really looking forward to the 19 straight days of unadlterated international football coming up in less than a month!
Add to that a really peaceful day and a bright moonlit night with the stars proudly holding their own and the horizon clear as day. Sundays don't often get any better :).

Feeling: enthusiastic
Listening to: U2 - Sunday bloody Sunday (live, War Tour)
Pics from here.

Saturday, 13 May 2006

The God of Loss. The God of Small Things.

Have I ever felt this shocked by a description?
Have I ever been this enmeshed in a trap of back-and-forth?
Have I ever been left aching so at an end?
No. No. Once only.
Feeling: numb
Listening to: Radiohead - Let down

Wednesday, 10 May 2006


Almost half the trip's over, and finally my first small boat outing this time! Yes yes, I know everyone's thoroughly bored with posts on my small boat trips on which nothing really seems to happen except me being actually off the Trident and still in the middle of nowhere... But you would have to live on a ship for half the year to appreciate the fabulousness of the mere possibility of being off the ship!! (And in case you do live on a ship, you would have to be me :P.)
What was most glaringly obvious for every moment of the 2 hr. trip was that the Sun in a clear sub-tropical sky is a rather painfully bright thing. :| And when you are heading towards sunlight, being the lookout on the bow can be a dodgy task, to put it mildly. But if you keep your eyes off the distant and firmly on the immediate bit ahead, the deep blue with here and there a pool or sudden sharp edge of bright gold will dazzle you momentarily, then get smashed into many many tiny bits of perfect white by the prow. One of those small joys of my life that I choose to enjoy and remember in vivid detail rather than ignore as insignificant. Makes this life so much happier :).

At that close distance you can almost feel the salty sea. And then of course the boat would tumble into a deep trough and you'd be drenched so thoroughly that even if you don't want to, you'll definitely taste the salt water :D. Good thing I took my cam in a water-tight zip-loc bag! Of course, the other option would have been to leave it on-board, but by now pretty much the entire seismic crew knows that I'd much rather ditch my life-jacket than my cam on a small boat trip :P.

But when the huge flying-fish went whizzing past me, scales flashing deep blue and emerald green in the intense sunlight, I was thankful for the bright day. It's quite a surprised to see the rather ordinary looking silvery fish turn into such a brilliant thing! And this was a particularly big one, at least 8 inches long!! Okay, so that isn't exactly gigantic, but believe me, compared to most of the flying fish around here, it was b-i-g!! Then I had to spend a minute frantically looking for the chase boat we were heading towards, but had disappeared in the hyper-bright sunlight reflected in the sea. Funny how things can get hidden 'cos of light :).

Feeling: happy :)
Listening to: Radiohead - My iron lung

Sunday, 7 May 2006

Freedom is . . .

This bird, white wings spread out against the light blue sky. Beyond the reach of the salty spray of the deep blue sea that tries to lap at it. Gliding... swooping... soaring...

Wonder what it thought of the ship, a big blue and white monster? With streamer-tentacles spread far and wide :). And did it see me? As it soared into my picture unbidden as I tried to get the moon, the gull-winged cloud and the sea all at once...

Bad days. Days when you work so hard, it feels like you can go no farther. But all you have to show for your efforts is negative displacement. Tough days. When you feel so stressed out you just want to drop out of your life. Good days. Something, someone, makes you smile. And everything's alright again... Sometimes one day can be so many days.

Feeling: full :D
Listening to: Radiohead - Fake plastic trees

Quote: ".. although you know that one day you will die, you live as if you wont."

Thursday, 4 May 2006

Distant flashes, erratic brilliance.

The big swells and crashing waves are back with a vengeance. And with them there's thunderclouds this time. It didn't rain, but there was a faint rainbow somehow!
It's a funny thing, the ship's pitching and rolling. Eventually you do get used to it. And when the visual proof of the horizontal, i.e. the horizon, is removed (as it was tonight, with no moon and the stars blotted out by clouds), you don't even notice it upto a point! The distant flashes of lightning (couldn't hear the thunder over the hydraulics and the engines n stuff) jerking about erratically gave me a bit of a surprise. And I needed the swinging lights of a nearby ship to confirm that I was the one moving, not the sky. What's even more interesting is that it's much more difficult to ignore the movement indoors than out on the back-deck!
So clouds are back in the sky and drilling platforms around the horizon.

As I'd expected, Ice Age 2 has released all over the planet, including Kolkata by now I suspect, while I'm stuck on a boat. And again, I'm sure it would be nowhere by the time I'm off :((.

Feeling: sleepy as usual
Listening to: Lucky Ali - Mausam

Wednesday, 3 May 2006

Sailing away

Out in the open sea again. Left Dampier a few hours back. I was kinda' getting used to the idle spinning of the ship lying without propulsion in the currents, the scenery rotating ever so slowly and so perfectly that the docks stayed to starboard all day, but miraculously ended up off the port beam after nightfall!
I was quite sad to leave behind the dolphins actually. And the big barracudas that jumped out of the water every now and then to catch me completely off-guard.... The little beach houses with their white-sand beaches and white speed boats, and the promise of a life of my dreams.

My first mango of the season! Or what would be the beginning of the mango season back home. No clue what season it is here. Nonetheless, had one of the huge Aussie mangoes that had appeared suddenly in the mess. And though it wasn't as sweet, reminded me of the season-starters in Asansol :).

Current mood: missing the dolphins :(
Listening to: Dido - Thank you

More Dampier pics!