Friday, 31 August 2012

The realm of Nehalennia

Surprising though it may be, this is actually the first time I find myself sailing in the North Sea. Why should that be surprising, you ask? Well, that would require a trip down the history of marine seismic, which I shall give a wide berth to. Suffice to say, do what I do long enough, it is inevitable that you'd find yourself in these waters.

And now I can somewhat appreciate the legendary status that the North Sea weather has achieved with mariners. Not fame, exactly :). I suppose a video would have worked. But I hate videos, so this will have to do.

It's not that I haven't been in bad weather before, but the fact that the Pride is a fair bit smaller than the Trident makes for more interesting moments ;). And then there's the rapidity with which the weather slams into you. Out of the blue is the norm rather than the exception.

Either way, this is supposed to be just the opening act in the weather drama. Come September, things generally take a turn for the more spectacular. Or so I am told. I guess we shall see!

Currently: pitching and rolling away
Listening to: Yael Naim - New soul

Saturday, 25 August 2012


All good things come to an end. So there was a sense of inevitability as the break wound down and turned into a slightly long haul back the the boat. But before the end, there were still some good times to be had :).

Apparently there are a lot of buses that ply the road between Boston and New Haven, so come the last weekend of the break, I hopped on one of those and headed west! I don't think I'd ever been driven down that sort of a distance. Usually, on the interstates, I do all the driving :). This was a welcome change.

I watched the scenery fly by in a bit of a daze. The rain made obscure patterns on the world, blurs, streams, the occasional solitary drop sliding by. I wondered where it all was headed. There was also the rather entertaining and somewhat cathartic Book of Awesome! So there are other people in the world who believe that the small joys of life deserve our affection :).

I arrived, at what has become rather a fondly familiar address by now, in rather high spirits. Things just got better from there! I imagine the old liver would have a word or two to say about that. But hey, a good birthday party is a good birthday party, the whopping hangover is acceptable collateral damage :).

I suppose there are certain advantages to packing the bag a gazillion times. I can get it right even with most of my senses on hiatus. Thus it was, that I headed to New York, cringing behind the sun glasses at the slightest hint of sunshine, thanking the rather well maintained train tracks for a reasonably bump-and-rattle-free ride into Manhattan.

A shower, some food and a quick nap can do a world of good in many a trying situation I guess, and I was feeling almost myself again by early afternoon as I set off to explore parts of the city I'd thus far never seen. In the process, we went all the way from Brooklyn to Jackson Heights, took in a screening of The Bourne Legacy downtown, and even packed in an awesome dinner surrounded by the celebrations of Eid.

I must say, my state of happiness wasn't at all hurt when I finally managed to find that Kindle in a store! I wish I could say I grabbed the last remaining box over the outstretched arms of a bunch of other people. But in fact there were two. I suppose the joy of grabbing what appeared to be the last Kindle Touch in the North Eastern United States was destined to fall to another :).

I took it easy on the last day, woke up late :). There was one final stop before the flight out. I have to say, kids do grow up faster when they are little. Between almost-one, and almost-three, this one had turned into a full fledged person! With a knack for inventing indecipherable languages and a fondness for Hot Wheels!! Instant time travel, I swear!

And with that, the break was finally over. I got a fairly nice look at the Manhattan skyline in the rear-view mirror on the way to JFK, and then, surprisingly, given the weather, the best look I have had yet at London. The tower bridge, Westminster Abbey, the Gherkin, the Big Ben, all floated past under a grey overcast sky. All distinctly detailed and perfectly unreachable, as the aircraft circled above, waiting to touch down at LHR.

After that it was just another hop skip and a jump on to Aberdeen, and a long, sleepy ride out to the middle of the sea while I finished off with that last paperback, Gaiman's Anansi Boys. I have to say, the man just keeps growing on you!

But now it's back to work. And I suppose it could be worse :).

Thinking: oh! what an end to the last few weeks :)
Listening to: Thomas Newman - Road to perdition

Friday, 17 August 2012

Boston and August

One of these days. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that phrase, to be quite honest. Those less cynical would count on it to bring hope. Others would merely see folly and a synonym for never.

Anyhoo, one of these days, I'll figure out quite what I want with my life. Till then, traveling seems to be doing the trick :). Another week, this time in Boston (although, technically, I should say Cambridge, MA, shouldn't I?) has come and nearly gone.

In a year full of places I seem to be re-visiting, this is an exception. Never been here before. And I like it! The food, for one thing, is quite awesome. There's also the river, which allows one to amble at leisure. Plus, the weather's been nicer than the other side of the Atlantic.

There were also some old familiar faces I ran into, by design and otherwise. So I would say it has been a nice week. Of course, catching up with the cousin is always fun.

Seeing how this is my last week of break before heading back to the ship, I suppose I was rather lazy overall. Although, I did manage to finish with Good Omens, and then also with Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions and Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger. Three more different books would be hard to find, I think. In a way.

The first one, true to what I have come to expect from Gaiman now, was thoroughly entertaining :). Odd characters, a strange yet oddly familiar world and a healthy dose of magical irreverence. In fact, I think I should start with Terry Pratchett soon. Although, I rather feel I'll end up getting that copy of Anansi Boys I saw in the bookstore first.

Vonnegut, on the other hand, I found more worrying than entertaining. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I rushed through it in a single day. There is only so much darkness one can take at a go.

After that, Adiga's book was almost a walk in the park really. I like the way the story goes. But somehow, I would have liked to not know the fundamental facts of the narrative within the first few pages. I suppose I'm a bit of a sucker for suspense.

In between all that, I mounted a search for that elusive Kindle Touch. Unfortunately, it appears to be one of those maddeningly popular gadgets that keeps walking out of stores just before I get to them. I suppose there's space for a couple of more paperbacks in the old book case :).

Now all that is left is a couple of pit-stops before I head off to Aberdeen for crew change. I was hoping to get a bit of a look around, but it appears that will not be. Maybe one of these days.


Currently: wondering
Listening to: Regina Spektor - The party

Photos to follow. Soon, hopefully. There, finally :).

Thursday, 9 August 2012

A return to Lisbon

It's terrible how time flies when you are having a good time, eh? What seems like hardly any time after I landed in Lisbon, I'm leaving again. Well, packing anyway, the leaving happens in the morning. In between, six days flashed by.

I am now, shall we say, much better acquainted with Lisbon. Something that furtive rushed sorties after end of shift with the ship alongside, or overnight stays during prolonged, tiring crew-changes didn't quite allow me on my several trips here last year.

The entire story of my stay is probably one for another time, but this I must say, the liberty to just walk without having to worry about the immediate consequences of staying out too late, is quite exhilarating :). Be it on the promenade by the river with its often entertainingly marked walkways, or through convoluted narrow streets cutting through densely packed local residences, or up and down wide boulevards littered with sculptures half hidden by foliage.

So I suppose it is fair to say that the first part of my break's gone quite well :). I cannot wait to see what Boston will bring!

Currently: poised to go trans-Atlantic
Listening to: Geoff Zanelli - Roses for Nika

Friday, 3 August 2012

Cloud castles

And it's time to leave again :). I'm not saying I won't miss this just a little bit. It has been a nice couple of weeks. While I had some work, everyone who could possibly qualify as my boss promptly went on vacation :D. It was very relaxing, I can tell you!

The bike helped of course. And the weather for the most part. I clocked about 50 miles, either on foot or on the bicycle, on roads that I'd never been on before. Plus, like I said, this place can be quite beautiful when the weather decides to cooperate.

So tomorrow it's off to warmer climes. About time too! I'm now again jacket-less, having handed over some luggage to a friend for safe keeping. Those bags would probably qualify as Norwegian by now! They've been here without a break for almost four years now :D.

I must say, I'm frankly quite ridiculously excited about the next couple of weeks :D. I suppose we shall see how it all pans out.

Currently: super thrilled!
Listening to: Regina Spektor - The party