Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Torn pages of a Seaman's Diary - 1

I would like to dedicate this first post of the diary to all those who have a lot of questionnaire for us and have some wrong notions about our profession , also to those who think we are some kind of aliens or maybe out of our minds to choose this BORING profession. I dedicate this to those who feel pity for us and think our lives are screwed and also to those who think we are drunkards , characterless and don't value sentiments or understand the meaning of family and emotions. I dedicate this post to those also who think that we are those millionaires who pluck money every morning from trees and have ample amount of it to donate it and throw it here and there and then we live life like kings and our companies feed us on-board for 6 months and then they pack our bags full of money and then they bow to us and say , " please sir  ,come back after 6 months and enjoy life in a much better way than you enjoyed here in different foreign countries. "

All I want to say is that life is tough. And we mariners are not an exception. But if there has to be a single word adjective to describe the life of a mariner it would be MISCELLANEOUS.  Life of a mariner has emotions , it has immense pain , it has tears of joy and has pride as well.

I am not ashamed to confess that I chose this profession because I had learnt about the money one earns in this profession. I also knew about the foreign visits and I knew that life is tough out at sea as there one sees water and water everywhere in midst of the sea. I had a misconception that one earns a lot without continuing to study a lot. I really had no idea how tough the conditions can become and that study and promotional exams will be a part of the life throughout if one tries to sail along.

Its very hard to describe someone what we do and what our lives are like. Thus they ask the same irritating questions to us when they meet us. It goes like this. The first three questions that comes to us : -
1. When did you come ?        ( that's okay... its normal for someone to ask when I emerged suddenly

after so many months.. )

2. When will you go back ?         ( that's irritating . because we love to stay. Its only because we are

having a contractual job we have to go to work. But nobody like to go to work. Same for us. We love to spend time with family and friends. In childhood we would cry for not going to school and now we are grown ups and have responsibilities so we don't cry but it irritates us specially when it has only been a few days after months of separation from family .... see we are emotional and sensitive. )

3. Where did you go this time ?     ( I feel like telling I was in the engine room doing maintainance of the auxillary engines when the ship visited Singapore and then went for bunkering and worked a total of 14 hours at a stretch and when the Ship visited China I was at dry dock working like a donkey 16 hours a day. Most of the days had to skip a meal for completing some work and after working in that ambience sometimes what I needed was only sleep for a continuous 6 hours atleast. That would be too much to ask for. I visited places like Korea , Iran where I could not go out due to shore leave issues. I visited few places like Egypt and Africa but could not go out as there was civil war. I visited Brazil and only got a few hours to roam in a bar and had to be back as another engineer would also like to go and we can't be out at the same time..............
But what I say is the name of the countries my ship visited )

The person after asking these questions and having his thirst of queries quenched tells , " Oh how wonderful , You are really lucky. "

But again when someone asks me or tells me that my life is ruined or I am having a dead life because I am missing family , I feel the same irritation. Because it was my decision to choose this profession and had it been so irritating I would have left it. In which other profession one can plan so many tours with the family , or spend the whole day and week together and can have continuous parties and hangouts. We leave our family for few months but when we come back we have liberty to stay as much we want ( mind it , its not 6 months in water and 6 months in land ). Its a contractual job. Some of the company contracts are like 2 on 2 off which means a continuous payment throughout the year so one is entitled to join back for 2 months after 2 months of holidays. This profession gave me what I have today. It made me what I am. It gave position in the society , it gave me praises and prestige . When I share the feeling with my dad he says , " No one is happy with his job. All are having their own troubles. You ask me son. I am working in a bank for so many years in an officer rank. Am I happy ? No , I am not. All the jobs have their own positives and negatives. Its you who have to select priorities. "

One lady once asked me that " I heard that mariners have wives in every port ? Is this true ? "
I did not know how to answer that. Do they even know what a ship does ? We are not passengers of a cruise liner that as soon as it would reach the heart of the city we would dress like heroes and take a tour of the city and roam with the girls of that country. Its business of an owner who is taking cargo from one place to another. We are hired to take care of the machineries and the operations. Being in a cargo ship it harbours in the industrial ports far away from the actual city. So we have to be satisfied seeing the small outskirts of the country and also we can not be out for numerous hours as all the engineers and crew can not be out at the same time. So if we come back in time they can also go for few hours. And believe me after a long sailing one  goes out in the new place is search for sim cards so that he can call his family. He buys what he thinks is best found in that place for his family. We talk about family and we count days to come back to our home. We invest one part of our life so that the other part can be filled with joy and superb memories.

Some people ask me you must be happy to see the great figures in your bank account. Yes is the answer. I am happy and infact all are happy but do you know the happiest thing in our life ? Its the day we signed off and came back to our home to see our family and friends. We are paid because of all the conditions we go through. Leaving away from the family , friends , working in the toughest oddest conditions with risk of life and it hurts when someone thinks we get it from trees.

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