Infinity of the Ocean

Through the Wovensouls gallery, I once connected with a young girl from Iceland.  A country that I had never thought of before the time I met her.

She had bought something from my antique silver gallery and we had stayed in touch. She was visiting Singapore and we agreed to meet for lunch.

Over that interesting lunch, we exchanged life stories, as much as it is possible to in an hour.

And one thing from her life stayed with me, impressed me and made me envy her.

Sometime in her past she had worked on a fishing trawler. The ship would be out at sea off the coast of Denmark for weeks, and fish would not only be caught but also cleaned and processed onboard. She was a part of the fish-cleaning crew.

She was assigned a bunk and some shelves for her things, and a workstation. And she worked in shifts for some hours and while she worked on the fish, she entertained herself with her ipod. Then for several hours a day she was free to do as she pleased. On board.

And that was the part that really attracted me. To be on the high seas with nothing else to do.

AT that time, I thought about this wistfully – lamenting that such an opportunity could never have come my way living my youth in a Mumbai.

A lot HAD come my way living in Mumbai and although I was grateful about all that I was being greedy - I wanted it ALL.

So the young girl left. And a few years passed.

 And the opportunity to sail came to me almost out of nowhere, very very suddenly. 

Exactly within one month and one day from the first email on the subject, I was sailing on one of the most luxurious cruise liners in the world as an invited guest lecturer delivering a series of four lectures on the subject of culture to the guest.

The cruise ship

I did not realise until the 6th day of the cruise as I stared out at the infinite waves that I was living the life I had envied my Iceland friend for! 

Life had granted me one more dream!!!

I lived luxuriously as a guest, ate more than I needed to, took shore excursions to Ho Chi Minh, Kowloon, Okinawa, Jeju & Shanghai.

But the funnest part of it all was to sit in the upper decks. Watching the waves endlessly, allowing any and every thought to bloom into articulation, dozing off and waking up without any guilt, being in my own cocoon unaware of anything other than the sea and myself. IMG_3782

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[caption id="attachment_10203" align="aligncenter" width="470"]IMG_3859 Spectacular entry into Hong Kong[/caption]

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[caption id="attachment_10206" align="aligncenter" width="470"]IMG_3924 Docking at Okinawa[/caption]

Some days in the south China sea the winds were really strong on the upper decks – I think this is what they mean by ‘gales’.  Going forward the wind was so strong at the front of the ship that I had to muster all my strength to take one step forward – the wind was pushing back with greater force than I had in me, and 2 or 3 times my feet seemed to be obeying a power outside myself. Once I felt the moment of complete loss of control and an unarticulated thought of doom arose ….I was caught in a whirlwind but it lasted only a fraction of a second. The shape of the deck was narrow at the very front and then at some the deck broadened offering a balcony that for a few meteres was perpendicular to our forward direction. That point also got really strong wind. It was my favorite spot because there was a railing to hold on to an the sense of ‘loss of control’ did not come. I stood there for about half an hour getting completely assaulted and ravaged by the wind. It was getting cold – so I went down and got my shawl – a woolen thick shawl from Kinnaur in the Himalayas. It may as well have been tissue paper for all the protection it provided against the wind!

The sense of the wind was so much that it was impossible to even think. I felt that I needed to hold on to different parts of myself to make sue my cheeks, my nose and my ears didn’t get ripped off. They certainly were trying! It was the same jelly-like form that my face had assumed when I had jumped from an airplane during a skydiving flight in New Zealand.

 

[caption id="attachment_10209" align="aligncenter" width="470"] The boring grey sky offering no hint at all of the spectacle that is about to unfold[/caption]

On one evening sitting on one of the deck chairs and watching the sunset in a half asleep the nondescript sunset filled with grey clouds, within minutes transformed unannounced into a dazzling display of bright orange and shimmering gold and deep blues – giving me one more moment of connection to the universe. I  thought of the wonderful people my life is filled with, my wonderful childhood and closeknit extended family, my own family,  and all the people who had made an impact on me.

[caption id="attachment_10210" align="aligncenter" width="470"]The breathtaking Blue & Gold sunset The breathtaking Blue & Gold sunset[/caption]

And of course I thought of Anand – a.k.a. Rajesh Khanna who can never be separated from the long-horizon-orange-sunset (click to view video) emotion

“Kaheen door jab din din dhal jaaye

Saanjh ki dulhan badan churaaye

Chupke se aaye

Mere khayaalo ke aangan mein

Koi sapno ke deep jalaaye “

 

This poem is a gem.

 

And I am certain that without the help of Bollywood and Bollywod music and lyrics, the emotional bandwidth of India would not be half as wide nor have half the dramatic depth.

 

 

As we moved out of Singapore to Ho Chi Minh – the deep ocean was a shade of deep Sapphire. And the water was better disciplined as it ought to be around Singapore. And now as we move out of HK towards Okinawa the water is dark grey, the waves are huge and look quite scary. Yesterday when the waves were smaller but they made the ship (& me ) sway much more. Today we are steady. Am unaware of the physics of waves & swaying but it seems worth finding out about.

Time to go stare at the waves and become one soul with the ocean.

This cruise was a completely different experience from my regular travel and this experience offered fresh food for thought that will uploaded on this blog soon.

[caption id="attachment_10207" align="aligncenter" width="470"]IMG_4012 Farewell to the ship from Shanghai port[/caption]

jm

June 2013




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