Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Say hello, wave goodbye

At least it's been sort of fair, this is only the second New Year's Eve I've spent on board the vessel out of the last four. I suppose I do this now with more of a sense of deja vu than before. Which is not to say that this year has been anything like any other before :). As a matter of fact it has not. An ambivalence that quite neatly fits into the way I've felt about a lot of things over these past months.
Honestly? I don't even know where this year went! One thing that seems to permeate most of my memories of the year is a feeling of constantly moving (or maybe having to move would be a better way of putting it). And with that, leaving so many things behind when I wanted, maybe a closer look, or another word, a last walk, perhaps one more chance... And yes, as always, untold good-byes, or at best half-said ones. (If I were to believe in New Year's resolutions, that would be one!)

This has been a year of partings, come to think of it. Some that were obvious at the moment, others that became apparent a long time afterwards. It has also been a year of chance meetings, with old acquaintances. Sometimes old friends. And new faces that have left their mark.
Getting back to the moving, I guess to put it in perspective, I've actually managed to visit twelve different countries within the last twelve months :). Now the Americas are the only two inhabited continents I am yet to set foot on. If that sounds good, let me tell you, there are people I know, and obviously feel very jealous of, who've managed all 6 already! One day, I keep telling myself, one day :). But then there's the flip side of that.

The good thing, I suppose, is that in the midst of all that, I've somehow managed to find the time to travel more of my own accord than I have before. Of course it helped that there seemed to be company available. I don't know if I have mentioned this, but I absolutely cannot travel all on my own. When the travelling is not merely the act of getting from point A to point B, that is, as a matter of necessity.
But there's always been that sense of losing myself. Dissolving into the white noise, or background, or whatever you want to call it. I guess what I am looking for are defining moments. And everywhere I look, I come up short :-<. Maybe it's just the frame of mind I find myself in. More likely is the fact that I'm just not looking in the right directions... there's always that :)). And more often than not for good reason too...

I suppose it's easier while on the boat to suspend the present and look back. It's better that way anyway. No? Everyday I get a little more used to it, and find it scary. But a little less scarier than yesterday. Is that better or worse? I don't know. What I do know, is that it has been a good year, no matter what it feels like right now :). And I couldn't ask for more for the next. Even at as much, I might be pushing my luck :D.
Happy New Year! :)

Currently: seeking the refuge of silent memories
Listening to: Dixie Chicks - Easy silence

PS. I'm quite surprised at how many people I know who are sailing some ocean or other right at this moment!! But I guess I shouldn't be, not any more.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Sunburns and shooting stars

I'd almost forgotten how much fun it is to be on a really fast boat, seeing how few and far between good weather days and decent jet boats have been over the last couple of years. But when the opportunity finally did arrive, I discovered how much more fun it was to be in the driver's seat :). Upwards of 35 knots, wind blasting your face, and I never even maxed out the throttle. Not even close >:).

I'd say fun was a relative thing, but it isn't. This Christmas was not fun. But I suppose it could have been worse.I like the fact that I have a little time these days, enough at least to go up to the bridge in the night and stare at the boats around us, festooned in light. Little pinpricks of colour, red green and white, on a pitch black canvas. The wakes turn into little swirling monsters wreathed in foam snapping at the lights.

I hate the fact that I don't have time for much else. But for the moment, I'm taking what I can get. At least there's a new, pretty awesome, soundtrack to it all :).

Currently: in limbo
Listening to: Eels - My beloved monster

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Contemplating dark clouds on a bright day.

There was a time when the first small boat trip with a new camera would have been a seriously big deal... Well, yesterday I took my 870 out. I'm getting used to the big screen, I think :). Something that even this somewhat more cynical and jaded me cannot help but think of as a big deal, is the arrival of another WG boat close by! And no less than the current fleet flagship, the only one larger than the Trident :).
M/V Geco Eagle
Right, so the first week's gone in a hurry, and suddenly it's almost Christmas Eve! It seems while I've been busy, plans are being made for some sort of celebrations... Let's see how that goes.... I could do with a bit of cheer :|. Despite nothing being particularly terribly wrong, I can feel this trip going rather badly :-<. Somewhat unusually, I'm envying all the people getting to be at home over New Year's Eve... I must say though, the nice weather's a welcome change. And the boat rides everyday tend to provide a bit of an escape.

Feeling: not happy
Listening to: Moby - Everyday it's 1989

Thursday, 18 December 2008


Will keep this brief. Tired. Hopelessly. Made it to Frankfurt. Tailed some people down town. German beer rocks. So does my 870IS :). Christmas fairs are awesome. Especially almost-boiling gluweine and spiced up hot dogs :D.Flight to Luanda sucked. Luanda was strange. I'm stuck here for a whole year :|. I think. More new faces. Even less familiar faces. The usual. The break's catching up with me. I need a proper holiday. Soon.Love the zoom on the Tamron. The speed of the 450D. Need to work on exposure though :|. Moby rocks. Got some more :). Finally!!! The Atlantic is dirtier than the Indian :P. Oceans: 4 down 1 to go :).

Currently: sinking into oblivion
Listening to: Moby - Temptation

Friday, 12 December 2008

The upside of traveling light

But really, how light do you have to get before you actually see it?

For once I'm not overly thrilled to be heading to a new country. For one, there's the supposedly ubiquitous female Anopheles mosquito :|. Then there are the job related issues that I will spare you from. And then of course there is the travel arrangement itself. To sum up (and significantly simplify) the confusion that is rife on that last matter: I have been trying to figure out a way to pack my check-in bag in such a way as to cause myself least distress in case I never get it back :-<.

Not an easy task. Fortunately, (though that word doesn't really fit in here) the last time I temporarily lost my bag, gave me a rather stark insight into what would cause me distress. I'm trying to learn from the past here. We've been officially asked not to check in any baggage when flying into Luanda, Angola. If we ever want to see the baggage again, that is.

What I'm also trying to do is set things up so that I don't have to check in baggage at all, in the future. There's a most terrible, though not very obvious consequence of that. I'd be very effectively decimating my chances of randomly shooting off for little trips here and there. Unless of course, I end up carrying around a significantly larger piece of 'cabin baggage' :|. Something to think about on my long flight to Frankfurt later tonight. Any bets on if there will be in-seat video? Here's a clue, I'm flying Lufthansa :|.
To flashback a little, I did manage to attend the other half of that wedding :). But it involved a day of a lot of driving and very little sleep :-<. Unfortunately, since then a family medical situation has had me clocking three digit trips every single day, in central Kolkata traffic :(. Definitely not for the fainthearted.

So yet another short trip home shot right past me. I think it's significant enough to note that Anuj and I failed to see a planned meeting materialize, yet again :)). There's something about the two of us trying to meet in Cal. It's been what, 5 or 6 years now? Spooky :). And of course, I'm no less tired and stressed than I was before I got here. I think, one of these days, it'll be nice to have a proper quiet break at home. Just for the heck of it :D.

Currently: stressed :-<
Listening to: Moby - Sweet apocalypse

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Half a wedding, a 450D and Nina Simone

I'm back home, and there's stuff to write about :). First a bit of groaning though :|. I seem to be having like the worst luck with flights lately! For one, I've gone 3 months or so without a single flight with in-seat video! (And that includes quite a few 10+ hour flights! Which were all on Lufthansa, unfortunately :-<.) And to add to the string of woes, both the crafts on my longer legs this time were probably a good deal older than me and consequently, not the most comfortable :-<.
Once I did get back though, I was just in time for the wedding! The first of my closest bunch of friends from school was getting married :). There weren't too many of us who could make it, unfortunately. Some even from the not-so-far-away cities here couldn't make it. Makes you think I was lucky to be there eh?! :D It'd been absolutely ages since I'd been to a full-on Bong wedding! So that part of it was pretty cool. But of course you quickly realize how hard they make it with all the rituals and what not :|. I'm definitely hoping to be able to make it to the other part in Asansol tomorrow though :).--

Right, this part of the story has been some time in the making :D. Back when we were in Singapore, tied up alongside, I'd made a few forays into the camera and lens shops downtown. The first piece of information that I caught me by surprise (the whooping in joy kind :D) was that the latest Tamron lens, announced not so long ago, was actually available in the shops!! The next piece of news wasn't so good. These lenses were notoriously hard to find :|. What made it worse was over a few trips it became painfully obvious that even though one might manage to get one of these lenses with a Nikon mount, one with a Canon mount was pretty much impossible to get :(. I was planning to use it with an EOS! Oh, and why that particular lens? Find out here.

Despite my usual misgivings about online buying (I'm the kind that actually wants to see the object before taking ownership) I ended up registering on e-bay. And sure enough! The Tamron 18-270mm VC was available, with a Canon mount! I wasn't nearly done though. The whole payment thing became way too confused and irritating, and I had to resort to seeking help from more seasoned online buyers :). Then of course it was just a matter of chewing my nails while I waited for the elusive lens to show up at home!

In the mean time, I chose not to buy a camera body :|. Don't ask me why. But halfway through my stay in Asker my mum told me that a little box had arrived from Hong Kong! So now I had the lens but no body for it!! Thankfully I got just what I wanted on my way out in Oslo, so I did actually lay hands on my camera body before I got to the lens :D.Now of course, I'll have to actually get around to making good use of the thing. And at a bit over a kilo, it's not really easing my luggage worries any....

Currently: tired, still! (alternatively, already :-<)
Listening to: Moby - La Meme Nuit

ps: Was pleasantly surprised by the kind of music I managed to lay hands on at the local CD store!!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Good, or no good?

Right, I'm back to paper and pen posts from 35,000 feet then. If only to try and make this feel a little more than a blank in my life :).

Actually, it's more than that. It's not like I've been reading particularly voraciously these last few months, but I have been reading. Just finished Nick Hornby's How to be Good. And that should be it, I think I've now read all his fiction. I do, however, disagree strongly with the comment on the back of my (originally borrowed :)) copy. This is so not 'Hornby at his best'!!

Or maybe I'm confusing 'best' with 'what I like most'. It's a terrible book to read at any point in your life when you are anything short of absolutely solidly comfortable with the current state of affairs. If you are the kind that's driven to think about their lives by a bit of fiction, that is.

I didn't find it nearly as funny as the some of the others. I didn't even find it comforting to the least degree, in any way! I'll be honest here, I don't see the point of an utterly depressing read! Some sort of redemption has to be on offer somewhere, I think.

The first real shocker I remember in that vein would have to be Alistair MacLean's HMS Ulysses. Now most of the rest of his books were totally awesome weekend reads! (Mostly borrowed from the school library on Fridays.) The usual hero saves world sort of stuff. Then I heard of his 'most acclaimed' work, the aforementioned shocker, and by the end of it I was devastated! There is not even the slightest hint of a sliver of hope anywhere in the entire story! Not even the slightest let up from the non-stop misery!

Okay, so this was definitely not that bad :). But the continuous harping on how, essentially, all our (well, I guess at least the regular, mostly self-involved populace qualifies here) lives are meaningless, didn't do my present state of mind any good at all :-<.

I should really have read this some other time, shouldn't I? :) Oh well, for the foreseeable future I'm planning to stick faithfully with the remaining volumes of GRRM fantasy.

Currently: have a headache :(
Listening to: Dashboard Confessional - Several ways to die trying

ps: I now have the body too!! :D More later :P.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


I wish they'd invent (discover?) teleportation sometime soon :-<. Strictly as a substitute for air-travel.

These days I'm beginning to get the feeling I end up going sort of immune to the rest of the world for the entire time. Seems to be the only way I can deal with it any more :(. It's kinda like shutting yourself out of your life for a bit. Only, the rate at which I seem to be doing it, the 'bit' seems to keep growing, faster and faster, gobbling up whole days, weeks and possibly even months!

How long before I lose a whole year to the demon of a shrinking world?

Currently: in a daze :-<
Listening to: OneRepublic - Stop and stare

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Once again...

It's funny how I keep buying point and shoot cameras on the 2nd of a month! Three times now. And no, I didn't wait for it, I just realised when I looked up the last time I switched cameras! This time though, the reasons were somewhat different.

I used my IXUS 850IS for 22 months. Exactly, as it turns out. And not once did I have a complaint. Seriously, if Canon were still selling it, I'd probably go and buy another one!! Or at least provide the biggest most heart-felt endorsement ever!! You couldn't buy testimonials like this :). Unfortunately, they don't. Sell the 850IS that is. Not any more.

I can't believe it myself, but in these last 22 months I've managed to click 5 pics short of a pretty insane 11,500 :). And for the last month or so, I'd noticed that the sensor had finally given up, or the lens system had succumbed to the extreme (sometimes rough) use, or the focussing system had had enough... I don't know which, but my once sharp and clear IXUS wasn't quite delivering those crisp, well focussed images any more :-<.

I supposed it says something for how much I like this system that I had to give remarkably little thought to the successor. Which, to put mildly, is rather unlike me :). I settled for Canon's latest offering in the same mould, the IXUS 870IS. There's a few added extras, it now has a marginally longer zoom range of 4x (as against 3.7x) while retaining the super-handy 28mm wide-angle low end. It also comes with AI Servo (focus follows a moving object) though how much practical use that will be remains somewhat dubious. (But it does sound cool dunnit? :P)

There are quite a few changes from the 850IS. And the biggest one would have to be the new DiG!C 4 processor. It does have a lot to live up to though. The other big thing is the LCD. It is BIG!. At 3 inches, it's scary! I'm worried I'll scratch it within the week :(. And there are some small but nice changes, like the battery compartment door, which is now spring loaded. Oh, at the battery indicator!! Though I guess with the spare battery that isn't too big a deal. Going for the same type has its advantages. I now have 2 spare batteries. I'm using the same memory, and it even fits my old camera case! And I suppose I also have a spare USB cable and charger.

I will miss my 850 though :-<. And I'm glad it had been around on all the trips I look back on with fondness over the last couple of years, starting with Sydney, through South Island, Italy, northern Europe, and finally Durban :). I only hope I can say as much for the new one...

Feeling: a little sad...
Listening to: Steadman - Wave goodbye