Monday, 31 July 2006


Sad really, that this had to happen today, just as my life had begun it's crawl back to normalcy, what with back-deck work being done and all. Last night, my laptop decided to crash without any signs of a possible revival. Apart from the fact that this deprives me of my single most treasured source of entertainment on the ship, it has also caused the loss of a lot of the pictures I've taken this trip!! :(( Thank God for my blogs, 'cos I'm actually retrieving some of the lost pics by saving them off the web :|.

So that's goodbye photoblogging for a while I guess, which is too bad, since I had some nice ones from yesterday's small boat trip :-<.

Feeling: distraught
Listening to: Coldplay - Everything's not lost (ironic?)

Friday, 28 July 2006

Port call

It's getting cold. Have been mosty too tired or too wired to put down any of the stuff that's been happening. Or even to keep in touch with people actually :(. Anyway, so we landed up in Dampier instead of Karratha, which isn't such a big deal really, 'cos the port was almost as far from either town. I didn't bother visiting them either, partly since by the time I got off shift at midnight there'd be nothing worth visiting anyway. And the people who did go into town were of the opinion that even at other times of the day there wasn't much worth visiting :P.I got lucky with 6 hours of gangway watch per shift :D. One of the things keeping me amused during that time was this eagle's nest. The birds got somewhat aggressive when I got too close. But the port authorities seemed even more concerned than the birds :|.What I had hoped to do was walk around a bit and maybe land up at some of the rather inviting spots I spied by the water some way off. All that I did manage was to explore some bits by the faraway lights of the warfs.All this was a couple of days back actually and we are currently heading back to work, laying gear out on the way . Another week maybe, till various parts of my body stop aching, throbbing or otherwise feeling generally miserable :-<. In the mean time, this blog has quietly grown a year old while I wonder how many times deja vu equals boredom, or how long might it take for an adventure to turn into just a job...

tired, but happy to be back in my single cabin :)
Listening to: Tori Amos - Goodbye Pisces

Some port pics here.

Sunday, 23 July 2006

Dreams unlimited :D

Welome to the Trident Open Barnacle Snipping Competition. Regulations of this extremely exciting and challenging contest entail two contestants lining up on either side of incoming streamer, decimating instruments at the ready and by any and every means possible/necessary preventing even a single barnacle from slipping past unharmed.

:D... =)). All those with absolutely NO clue put your hands up now! Okay, so explanations: for the uninitiated, barnacles are yucky slimy oozy pathetic things which stick to streamers. And it is the unhappy task of trainees like me to clean them off 'cos once these already obnoxious creatures die (which is inevitable since they can't survive outside water), they stink. By stink I mean a really realy horrifying stench that sticks to your palms even after you've washed them raw, permeate your coveralls as well as the clothes you were under your coveralls. Then it spreads to the laundries and beyond. Eventually even people living in cabins far up in the front of the ship give you (seismic crew) dirty looks whenever they pass you in the corridors :|.

Spent the better part of the afternoon in a rather sullen mood. As we neared the coast we were reaching the path of the migrating whales. By about 3 o'clock everyone on the ship had seen at least one whale doing a backflip not more than a few hundred metres from the ship. EXCEPT me. Then I was also informed that I'd have to give up my single cabin for extra people arriving at port X-(. Finally it took a concerted effort from about 3 or 4 humpbacks for me to finally see a whale actually leap out of the water :).

It was only towards the end of the shift that me and a new trainee (again, older than me :-<, still waiting for a junior junior) figured we'll spice things up a bit :D. The other chaps debated if we were each paid a dollar for every barnacle snipped/slashed/battered, how many of us would end up millionnaires :P. That and the 'competition' led to the quickest last hour of shift I have seen yet :D.

stinking :-<
Listening to: Chumbawamba - Tubthumping

Friday, 21 July 2006

A series of unfortunate incidents

It all started yesterday :(. Despite the respite from dwindling supplies by the Sikorskys the fact remained that we were low on fuel. So BANG! Port call! Now that wouldn't in itself be such a bad thing, but we can't very well land up at Karratha towing 6Km long streamers now can we? /:) id est, on the back deck today picking up gear.

Strike 2: Pick-up's going... well, not exactly smoothly, but close enough. Suddenly I see the streamer rise like a whiplash and shoot from the reel straight out into the sea! The first time I'd ever seen a cable snap, and I was almost in the way!!

Heading for disaster: (as if the cable snap wasn't disaster enough) Extremely hurried preparations for small boat launch to try and recover/locate streamer underway. Everyone except me is worried to hell, the Sun's setting in 30 minutes. I'm not 'cos I've never been out in a small boat after dark. Had I known, there's a slight chance I'd not have jumped up and volunteered. I knew there had to be a good reason why mine was the only hand that went up :|.

Cut to the chase: Everything's going well, except for the rather choppy sea and the fact that with every degree the Sun drops the wind strengthens and the air gets ominously chillier! The the streamer finds us before we find the streamer. A wicked loop's resolutely stuck under the small-boat and now we are dying to get rid of the thing we found :-S.
Ominous? It isn't from today. There was no time for cam.
A better part of an hour passes and we are still stuck. At this point, I'm really, really scared. It's pitch black except for a faint dull glow in the horizon. Worse, the blinding back-deck lights of the Trident have coalesced into a fast-disappearing dot on the horizon. Every now and then, a wave engulfs hope as even that dot is veiled.

I firmly believe in guardian angels. A desperate plan. We are fumbling in the now murky waters when the currents achieve what we couldn't, we're free of the cable!! But when we hand over the cable to the chase boat that's been watching us from the distance (MoB crew at the ready, I'm sure), we find out that we are a good 15 km's away from the Trident: at least an hour to get back!

The sky's clear. It's spectacularly beautiful with the Milky Way laid out in all it's glittering brilliance. Lying back on the deck of your personal yatch, a glass of [put in favourite beverage here] in your hand and agreeable company to share it with, it's the perfect night. The feeling's not quite the same when you're freezing your balls off, soaked to the skin and hanging on for dear life :|.

I have never been more profoundly grateful when stepping onto the Trident. EVER. And then there were 4 more hours of shift, on the back deck X-((((.

Good to know the blog-ban fiasco's been more or less resolved in India. Unfortunately, I've been somewhat side-tracked in my intent of following the matter closely due to extenuating circumstances.

Feeling: drained
Listening to: U2 - Where the streets have no name

Wednesday, 19 July 2006

Access DENIED!!!


I woke up this morning, blissfully unaware that for the last 5 days or so, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) in India have progressively blocked access to all blogs hosted on the blogspot and typepad domains, as well as Yahoo! Geocities homepages! This began apparently because of a directive from the Department of Telecommunications last Friday, requiring the blocking of a limited number of websites. No one seems to know exactly how many, claims range from 17 sites to "a 22 page list" of websites :O!! But ISPs ended up blocking entire domains!

I ran into this article while on my daily round of blogs this morning (well, a little after noon actually, but anyway). From then on there's been quite an avalanche of stuff! After all, this has been raging for almost a whole week now!! First and foremost, there's Bloggers Against Censorship with a fair amount of information and some resources to bypass the blocking etc. I urge people concerned by this turn of events to join the BloggersCollective group and voice their concerns as best as they can. Let people know that there's more than a small handful feeling outraged by this grossly undemocratic crap!

For those who still have absolutely no clue as to what I'm so bothered about, these links should give you some idea how the entire situation unfolded:
Blogger blocked by some ISPs in India?
What is Up with Blogspot (Blogger) Sites in India?
So what's the status on India's blogspot blockade?

Here's more mainstream news coverage of the whole mess. Feel free to add to the list in case you come across something new.

It's good to know that not everyone's sitting on their hands doing nothing though! A number of people have filed RTIs to seek information that should rightfully be public, but is being held from the masses. And it really doesn't sound like a very difficult thing to do! Here's what Nandan, Dina and Abhishek did. I heard something about PILs being lodged as well. It'll be great to see this thing resolved sometime soon!

And if you want to read more:
We Must Have Silence
Blogger has been blocked in India being blocked by some Indian ISPs?
"Somebody must have blocked some sites. What is your problem?"
mr. orwell, i presume

On a more mundane, albeit more physically significant, local note, we finally had two S 76 choppers deliver the much awaited emergency supplies consisting mainly of somewhat over 2 tons of food :). Hopefully that would be the end of the 'imaginative recipes' from the cooks!

Feeling: outraged X-(!!
Listening to: Pearl Jam - Do the evolution

Monday, 17 July 2006

Dire straits

This I hadn't quite bargained for. We are running out of fuel. Ditto fresh water and food provisions :O!! The culprit has been the weather for the most part. Usually, while we are shooting somewhat far off the coast, there's a supply vessel ferrying stuff to and from shore. Trouble is, the sea's been way too rough for any supply transfer to be possible from the supply boat to the Trident. And that's how it's been for the entire time that I was off the ship! So now we have to make do with the most imaginitive stuff that the galley staff can conjure up in the name of food /:). And it's not pretty. In the meanwhile, a few thousand kilos of provisions lie within containers on the supply vessel sailing barely half a mile away :-<. Looks like it'll be back to the shore soon. How soon depends on how much longer the Captain can stand the current fare dished out in the mess I guess :).

There's an upside of course (as always :P). With the present terrible weather conditions, there's enough time to... well, do anything that takes your fancy really! I'm currently content with listening to the latest albums from Pearl Jam and the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the thumping instrument rooom system, and picking my way through Foucault's Pendulum :D.

Quite a radical shift as far as reading goes though, from The Kite Runner to this one! But I'd had quite enough of the stressfully heart-rending types :-<. That said, I must add that Hosseini's book has to be the best I've read in a while! It's also the first that I've read entirely on aircrafts on in airports :).

Currently: blogging :D
Listening to: Red Hot Chili Peppers - She looks to me

Friday, 14 July 2006

Best laid plans

Right, so everyone knows what happens to those. But even those that aren't laid that well do often go awry. Case illustrating the above point is obviously my plans of meeting some of my friends who are very soon going to disappear from the face of the country. Well, not this one, but anyway.

I think I've fretted and fumed enough already about missing movies in theatres 'cos of my offshore trips, especially when Ice Age 2 and V released in Kolkata days after I left last time. I ended up watching both on the last flight to Perth :|. While V was clearly not worth the fuss I was making over it, The Meltdown just as clearly was!! I think I rather annoyed the chap sitting beside me with my convulsive laughter :D. Tried to keep it silent, but I dunno how well that worked eventually :P.Anyway, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was releasing in India again just after I was leaving, so I went looking for release dates in Aussie, and sure enough, it'd already released here on the 6th! Now unlike Indian cinemas, those in Perth have extremely detailed and more importantly, reliable info up on the net! So I hatched plans to catch a show in the familiar Hoyts multiplex in downtown, 2 minutes from the place I'd stayed in on my last visit :). Trouble was, the crew party in Fremantle meant I could only catch the late night show. Fortunately I even had company!!

I hadn't counted on the 3 hr runtime though, and when we emerged at half past midnight, my friend having spent a better part of that time comfortably curled up on the seat /:), I thought we were rather lucky to get a cab as easily as we did. Not to mention the peppermint :|. And of course the 6 hrs of sleep in two days didn't come in handy at all as I landed up at the wrong end of a 12 hr shift... But hey, at least the movie was good :D.

And this time I have a cabin all to myself \:D/. Oh, and the post-World Cup discussions are in full swing, with hilarious consequences :D.

Current Mood: happy! (shift's almost over :P)
Listening to: Bush - Glycerine

Wednesday, 12 July 2006


It's been eventful alright! Missed getting wet on the tarmac at Kolkata by a whisker. I took my seat, and the windows blurred :). It's raining these days like I remember the monsoons in my childhood. It used to rain so hard you couldn't see the building across the street! And the wind would blow the sheets of water so they'd be making fairly crazy acute angles to the ground!! Used to be fun just watching :).

A little later, it looked like we'd never make it through the cloud cover at all! It just seemed to last forever! Eventually I could make out we were above a swirling grey sea, I thought it seemed so dark 'cos it was already past sundown! A sudden flash of red from the West proved me wrong. We were merely flying through a little clear pocket, surrounded by thunderclouds. It's not pretty to see the lightning flash and realize you aren't safely (relatively) on the ground... Then this gigantic column reached up from below and met the clouds above and that was that, all grey.

Touchdown at Mumbai was much the same, the Eastern Expressway flitting in and through the veil of low-lying clouds. It was on the tarmac that I realized something was horribly wrong! Cellphones weren't connecting, and those that did left people gasping, with words like 'blasts', 'casualties' and 'disaster' thickening the air with fear! I finally got through to H and heard that 5 to 8 bombs had exploded in First Class compartments of several Western line locals!! The cab driver told me they'd taken place between 6 and 8 pm.

It was a horrible mess at the domestic exit! Too many people waiting to catch the now irregular shuttle bus to the international terminal (in Mumbai you need to transit from the domestic to the international terminal through the city). I figured I'd take a cab, and given the situation I thought 150 was cheap! It was only a km. later when I realized that it was 150 USD I was expected to shell out that I jumped out! Barely any ricks, or cabs for that matter, wanted to go to the international terminal :(. Eventually I found a cabbie who did, without charging me more money than I was carrying. In INR!!

Frantic calls from parents, to friends in the city... Everyone I could get through to was fine, though one had been in a compartment adjascent to one that'd blown up :-S. Needless to say no one was stupid enough to try and come meet me :). Now I have an hour at Changi Intl 'cos my flight to Perth's been delayed. It's just as dark and overcast here as anywhere else, no luck on the "bright 'n sunny" today, it seems.

Feeling: horrified!!
Listening to: The Prodigy - Minefields

Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Surprise stop!

It's crew-x time again, leaving home tonight for Thursday's crew change. Such a relief it is too, I have e-tickets, so no rushing off to some airline city office. And I'm going back to Australia, so no running around for visa either :D. That's a very good thing, given the way it's started pouring here these last few days!

As luck would have it, I'm flying via Mumbai! And no, I did not have anything to do with this :D. If I did, I'd have put in at least a night's stay-over rather than the measly 2 hrs that I have now :(. B, A and H are planning to come over. I hope I get to met them at least. Otherwise there are dire threats of being beaten up at the next opportunity :P.

Currently: packing... again
Listening to: 3 Doors Down - Here without you

Monday, 10 July 2006

It's over

It went the length alright. Right down to the last penalty in the shootout. Wasn't quite like a World Cup final though, I thought.
As for the semis, one had me whooping with joy with the two goals thumped in by Italy in the dying minutes against Germany! It was just so evilly gratifying to see the smug look wiped right off Jurgen Klinsmann's face >:). The other was extremely disappointing, a lone penalty the reason why France defeated a better Portugese team.
And like a charm France was gifted an undeserved penalty in the final! Only, Italy pulled one back in spectacular fashion. The play was hurried, losing posession rather than winning it looked like the norm :(. Then of course, the moment of madness. How does it feel, I wonder, to know that you have possibly killed a nation's hopes in a moment's indiscretion? I watched Italy celebrate, found myself feeling no sympathy for France, no elation for Italy. Switched off the TV and caught some long overdue sleep.

Currently: smelling the wet-grass smell of the monsoon that's just begun
Listening to: Hans Zimmer - Gortoz a ran (OST, Black Hawk Down)

Sunday, 9 July 2006


my cousins :)
There's so much that can be said about watching a kid grow! But you gotto see it for yourself to realize what a package it is! Just when you think it's the most amazing thing in the world, a wicked scream will jolt you out from the dream world of cute, sensible kids into the world of stubborn devils :-<. Ah well, thankfully, I spent most of the time by the sidelines. Designated babysitting was there to be done of course, but I was spared the worst :D. Was a good fun week for the most part. Visited the deer park I'd last seen when I was 13. But I am back home a day later than I'd hoped (sentimental relatives are a difficult bunch to convince). And I'm leaving a day earlier than I'd expected (crew-x flight details are beyond my scope of understanding). Which of course mean there's the same old last minute rush in setting off for the ship.

But I'm grateful that I did make it back home in one piece. The monsoon that had been lurking ominously in the horizon chose precisely this day to strike with a ferocity I have not seen in many many years. (No, I wasn't in Mumbai a year back when the shit hit the fan :|.) For prolonged periods in the eventually 5 hr long drive back from Shantiniketan, I was seriously worried as the wiperblades whirred in a frenzy on the windshield, with barely any effect on visibility :-S. Majorly scary it was!!

Feeling: out of sorts
Listening to: Darude - Feel the beat

Saturday, 1 July 2006

WHOA ! ! !

The difference is tremendous!! Watching the team you support play and watching a match where you really don't give a damn who wins :). For one you can judge without prejudice of course (the way I see it, every fan has the right to act with extreme prejudice for his team). ;) In any case, I have to admit Rooney's dismissal was tough, but then he was plain acting stupid shoving C. Ronaldo right in front of the referee after he'd stepped all over Carvalho!

Anyway, England never looked like they were going to win. Especialy given the way they sprayed chances all around the Portugese woodwork. Notable of course was Lampard's miss early in the second half! Eventually it was again down to the goalies, and Ricardo turned out to be outstanding! Seconds before the shootout, I heard the 'experts' declare Robinson the better goalkeeper :)). If Viana's strike had not been wide, things would have been decided a little earlier.I was actually pretty sure Lampard would miss. He's had what, almost 30 odd shots at goal in his 5 matches? And how many times had he scored? That's right, NONE. But the real shocker by far was when Ricardo read Gerrard's strike to perfection, and right there, England had lost.My thoughts were of course on Richie. Tough luck, especially since Carra's miss made it not one but two Liverpool players missing in the shoot-out!! In the end of course this man won it for Portugal, guessing it right every single time and beaten only once. Even that one time he'd got his hand to the ball :).--
Tomorrow I'm off to Shantiniketan again, very likely to be entertained for a whole week by my kid cousin's antics :D. And consequently be away from the internet till after the Finals! Sadly, that also means I'll miss Brazil - France :(. Anyway, in the mean time, G O Portugal!! Or Brazil, or Italy. I don't really care as long as it isnt France or Germany :D.

Currently: packing
Listening to: Darude - Feel the beat