There are two distinct advantages of being a seafarer.
The view and the air.
Most of the air we breathe is clean because there isn’t a factory nearby for miles…nor there is traffic,nor any methane farting cows… just miles and miles of open sea and the salty trade winds.
At sea, I never utter the word ‘Dust Allergy’
The other is the view.
Seafarers get to watch the most exquisite sunrises and sunsets everyday that is lost to most of you.(yes, you included)
We are always trying to outrace the ever advancing insuperable mirage of a horizon that lies ahead of us.
We get to see clouds that people have only heard about.
We get to see weather phenomenon as it happens-the advancing line of sleet,the raindrops from heaven,the occasional enveloping fog, soft falling snow and the occasional mirage.
We also get to see the stars like no one else can.
At night, out at sea, there is no light pollution.
There is the all surrounding darkness and you,
and no one and nothing around for miles.
On clear cloudless nights, the heavens are set ablaze by tiny pin pricks of stars, and every night you can see the complex interplay of the celestial sphere and it’s inhabitants.
I can identify most zodiac constellations.
Orion and Scorpius are the most beautiful and readily apparent constellations apart from the Big Dipper,but some constellations don’t live up to their names…they look nothing like their names suggest- Aries- are ya crazy, you can’t even make it out properly with your naked eyes, Taurus looks like a big ‘V’, Gemini-phooey, what twins?, Cancer-WTF?,
Leo- looks nothing like a lion…on its best day, it comes close to resembling an Equus Hemionus.
There are times, when I stare at the heavens above and cramp my neck that I think about God.
Oh God! I’ve got a crick in my neck.Looks like I won’t be sleeping tonight.
That’s when I remember what the Bosun (or Boatswain) told me one day.
He said that he realised that he was God. (Nice segue, huh?)
I mean…Isn’t that a little bit pretentious?
I mean,if given a choice,I’d ask for a better model of God.
The Bosun was on the wrong side of fifty,smooth as an egg shell, false teeth and a cranky irritating voice.
He was me! I was Him!
This is what I’d be in about thirty years.
But God? Hell No!
I asked him to explain.
He said that while working, the Walkie-Talkie he carried with him got wet and had some complications.
Because of the water ingress, the circuits were all messed up and due to some strange reason, he could hear whatever was transmitted by others, but himself could not reply back.
At that moment, he explains, that he felt like God, who could hear all our prayers but so far would not (could not?) reply back.
In fact That was his theory of Divinity.
God was a Bosun with a faulty one way walkie-talkie!
According to him, God was just some tired old overworked sailor working on a celestial ship sailing in the celestial skies who was in a cranky mood because his walkie-talkie was not working.And he was tired of the people who were calling him continuously, because all he could do was just listen to them and hope that somehow they found their own solutions to their problems.
That’s a nice concept Bosun, I said…have you ever read anything about the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the theory of gravity according to FSMism?
Yeah, I’m a closet Pastafarian myself…but so was George Bush, so there’s nothing to brag about, but according to Scott Adams, God got bored one day, and self destructed, and the resultant universe that we have now is the remnants and parts of God’s Debris, which now is slowly coalescing together to become a single entity- i.e God again.
Pretty Neat Huh?
I also saw a blue fishing boat called ‘Heaven’ around the east coast of India.If god was a Bosun, then it is quite plausible that Heaven is a blue fishing boat in the Indian Ocean, don’t you think?
A few days ago, our employers sent a stern message to all the ship staff. (Hmm…No segue this time)
It seemed that they were concerned about our health and well being… so effective immediately, they would enforce a No Smoking regulation in their entire fleet.(Apparently their insurance premiums skyrocketed this year after a few back to back smoking related deaths)
No more second hand smoke.
Yessss! (commence doing the chicken dance)
And along with it was an advisory that told people to eat more greens,less fried stuff, more grilled meat,less processed food…yada yada yada.
Most ships have already enforced a ‘Zero Alchohol Policy’
Now , no more cigarettes.
I was slightly worried about how the crew would react.
Even prisoners get cigarettes!
I didn’t know how people would react when they thought their employers were telling them what to eat,drink,sleep,live- basically trying to run their lives.
Surprisingly most people welcomed the No Smoking Policy.
Most of them only smoked out at sea (at homes their wives would nag them to death if caught) and most of them wanted to or had unsuccessfully tried to quit.
Most agreed that smoking was dangerous.(Most die hard smokers know that Smoking is Dangerous, but it is something they do to relax.)
Most said that now they would be forced to quit, and that they were happy that they could finally quit.
Sitting in the Smoke Room (which will now be renamed Crew Recreation Room) I asked the Bosun…,’So, your holiness, how do you feel about not smoking?’
Out came his usual cranky reply…’Ahhhh!’
which could mean almost anything in the world.
I usually sit with the Bosun so that he can translate filipino movies to me.He’s also teaching me filipino.
Man…So many syllables jammed in a single word!
Filipino ain’t easy…but thanks to my familiarty with spanish, I can see how much spanish language has influenced the filipino languages.
I’m hooked to southeast asian movies.They are so different.
I also think filipinas have the cutest accents.It’s hard not to get swayed.I usually listen even though I don’t understand a word.(Men have to listen, but don’t necessarily have to understand women. Women know that we don’t understand them anyway)
I told this to the guys and they were amused.
So far three seamen have told me that I have to marry a filipina.
The first one promised,’You won’t be disappointed,I promise’
The second one told, ‘Avoid girls from Manila.You’re better off with girls from the provinces – batangas…maybe mariveles…’
The third one said that he’d be willing to set me up with some relative of his, and promised that she was one of the most beautiful girls ever.
With a FHM in hand, he showed me Cindy Kurleto’s picture, and promised that this girl looked exactly like Ms.Kurleto.
Ah guys, I’m flattered. Thank you for even considering me.It feels great to be accepted.
You don’t know what it means when you say that to an outsider.
My only problem is my vegetarianism.
I know people in most asian countries eat a variety of seafood and meat.
I have no qualms about ‘marrying’ a south east asian (they are so damn cute), but I don’t want her to change her food habits just for me.
At the same time, I don’t want to change my food habits either.
You see my dilemma?
Mom is having a near apoplexic attack when she thinks of the girls I might marry.
What if you marry a chinese?
But what if she uses kung fu on me.’
Don’t be ridiculous ma.You don’t have to know kung fu to be chinese.That’s not a requirement.
I bet there are many chinese people who know nothing about kung Fu.
But what about Pork…chicken…snake stew and bat salad? Waaah!
Mom, I’ll marry someone who’s a vegetarian,ok?
I’ll also ask her not to use martial arts on you,ok?
So damn hard to keep everyone satisfied.Phew.
And thanks to the Bosun, I’ve become a Pacquiao fan. It’s hard not root for the underdog.Manny Pacquiao’s classic rags-to-riches story or his fighting style or his general success makes him worthy of adulation.
I’ve been following all his fights…and got really disappointed that the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight got cancelled.I too think this would be the greatest fight of the century.
Speaking of fans, even the huge hulk of a wrestler Batista (who is a Filigreek or a Greekapino) is a fan of Manny.
But people like to see Manny fight, not sing or act like he’s doing now, and they definitely don’t want him to run for president.They don’t want him to be a politician of all the things, because then he’ll cease to be a hero.
Ah! What were we talking about? Ok, we talked about the sea,no smoking,Pacman…oh yeah…the view from the ship.
Sometimes I stand outside all night waiting for shooting stars.I usually catch atleast one every night.On good days, I can sight well over a dozen.
That’s what we do when we get bored.
As soon as we see a shooting star we make a wish.
I’ve been playing this game for a long time now.
These days my wishes have become nobler.
I’m usually wishing for vague non-concrete stuff…World Peace, happiness, to find peace, to do what I love…
or on some occasions the desperate ‘Please Don’t let me die a virgin…Please Don’t let me die a virgin…oh please oh please oh please’
But I’m not too worried.If I die now, I’ll always have reincarnation.Reincarnation is not something I look forward to, but in case I die now, I might want to finish some unfinished business…but knowing what I know now, I know that girls wont necessarily be easy in my next life either.I mean, women will be women always.
But a few days ago, one of the A/Bs told me to add a new twist to make my wishes more potent.
He saw this in some movie, but he swears that this works.
The next time you see a shooting star and want to make a wish, put your handsin your pockets first, and then watch as all your wishes come true.
Whoa! Who knew things were as easy as putting your hands in your pockets, huh?
Ok.Here goes nothing.
Put hands in pockets.
Make a wish.
Please Don’t let me die a virgin…Please Don’t let me die a virgin…oh please oh please oh please’.
Ain’t this cool.Thanks to this wish, I’m practically invunerable until I have sex (or make love or whatever you want to call it)
I could be a superhero!
Supermonk to the rescue!
Up Up and away!
His kryptonite is Lust.
His Lex Luthor is Carmen Electra with her top off.
He is always superunsatisfied and superdesperate!
The pocket wish technique works.
A few days ago, one of my colleagues wished that he could go home and two days later he is going home! It works! Hallelujah!
Supermonk to the rescue!
(Cue in theme of X-Files)
And then there are things amongst the stars that no one dares to name.
Things that go Zoop! in the night.
(cue in creepy music from theremin)
Sometimes when watching stars and sighting shooting stars, we’ve seen strange stuff in the sky.
I’m not going all X-filesy on you , but I’ve seen UFOs.
They are not commercial aircrafts.Commercial aircrafts should at all times during flight display red and blue sidelights and a flashing white light.
At sea, you can see the white flashing light even when the aircrafts are at cruising altitudes.
But what we’ve seen is totally different.
They are too high to be aircrafts…and they move too fast.
I’ve showed to it to several people just so that I could convince myself that I was not delusional.
I’m not .
Others are jusy as perplexed as I am to see these lights in the sky so high, moving at incredible speeds.
They are so high that one needs specialised equipment to document them.
They move fast, but in a straight line horizontally…so they are not meteorites or comets or stuf like that.
I’ve seen three at once diverging from a common point.
They usually travel in straight lines, but sometimes they seem to go zig-zag.
On clear cloudless nights, if we are bored of catching shooting stars, we go Hunting for aliens.
Somedays you can catch upto three separate sightings of these UFOs.
Our best theory is that they are either low altitude satellites (which are visible to the naked eye when their solar sails reflect sunlight) or top secret aircrafts.
Nah…I don’t think they are aliens.Aliens would be much smarter than get seen by a bunch of sailors.
As a sailor you have two distinct advantages.
And the view.
You’ll never know what you’re gonna see.
That’s why I keep on playing the games of sighting shooting stars and Hunting for Aliens.