A Mariner’s Wife Depicts how Life is aboard a Merchant Vessel

Waking up every day to an absolutely unexplored alluring piece of earth is an enigmatic feeling, isn’t it? I am sure most of you reading this befit the category of ‘been there, done that.’ And, for those special ladies belonging to all the more extraordinary sailors, who are still awaiting that joy-ride, here’s a forthright warning- always be ‘camera-ready!’

It took me years of wishing and months of struggling with the never-ending paperwork to reach there. Believe me, it was worth every single effort. I was utterly psyched to be with my husband on board and explore the world with him. Who wouldn’t give their eyeteeth for an amazing experience like this?

screen-shot-1938-06-23-at-10-14-16-pm-minEvery morning I’d leap out of bed, (a hush-hush lunge it would be, ensuring that the husband dear back in the cabin from a tough work schedule is still in an undisturbed state of rest), nimbly peep out of the porthole, squeak a mental-scream and frantically run out to capture the mystifying beauty in my camera, “God, this is gorgeous!”- This ritual recounts my initial days on board. Luckily, my early days were not tyrannized by the so-called ‘sea-sickness.’ Thanks to the smooth seas and the fair winds which welcomed me with not very ‘high-spirits.’ Everything, just about everything, caught my fascination on the ship. I was no different from a curious baby who wants to lay its hands on everything that crosses its eyes. Hence, I would bombard my husband with a zillion questions, sometimes, so annoying that he would totally lose his cool. “Why on earth would you want to learn about ballasting and piston-pulling?” And, there would shoot back the irked guy! But for the rest of the situations, I can’t exalt him enough for gladly familiarizing me with everything on board and letting me be his shadow, practically all the time! Wherever he’d go, I’d follow! Oh, how much I loved being his assistant! I am quite an inquisitive soul, one of my major quirks and, often a reason to be yelled back at.

Well, all the while, I had been pretty excited to be on board thinking about our exclusive ‘husband-wife time’- the upmost reason, of course! Secondly, I knew I was going to get to see a lot of new places. Thirdly, the imagination that had been sprinting graphically in my head all these years, ever since he started sailing as a cadet nine years back, was going to come to life. Finally! I nearly had my eyes popped out of my head on seeing that the ‘bridge’ looked nothing close to the bridge of my imagination, (embarrassed to admit that I literally presumed it to be some sort of overpass connecting the two ends of the ship.. whoops!) and the engine room doesn’t appear even a wee bit like the dark and creepy dungeons I see in spine-chilling flicks. Kill me for my demented imagery which is as good (read: bad) as the whimsies of a seven year old! Alright, you might be thinking I wanted to click pictures of the ‘equator’. No, that definitely did NOT happen! Hang on! Are you still wrecking your brains to find out what I pictured the ‘monkey island’ to be? Can someone humanly be so inane? No!

One of the many things I was quite thrilled about was, seeing time retard.  Who says that the time once lost doesn’t come back?! I saw it happening. Not once, not twice but freaking innumerable times! The clock ticking backwards would almost have me giggling and clapping. Perhaps, the one who said time is irreversible didn’t know that ‘time flies’, too. Clocks hastily advancing made me contemplate how time scoots away before you realize that it’s too late. That’s the ‘philosophical me’ talking! The rest of me is usually curious and dumb!

One of the biggest perks of sailing across the globe is that you’ll possibly know every place on this earth with each passing voyage you undertake. Get ready for a perfect déjà vu of your apparently insipid and uphill Geography classes. Marking locations correctly on physical maps was my weakness in school. Throw me back in time, spread the maps and let me reattempt my papers, I quite know it now! Well, why shouldn’t I owe this oozing confidence to my first ever trip?

People and forces around you might customarily pull you back when you decide to set out for your first sail. You might more often than not hear unsolicited and amusing opinions like, ‘life at sea is dreadful’, ‘you’ll have nothing to do on the ship’, ‘giving up your career to sail with your husband is highly illogical’, ‘sea- sickness will choke you’,  ‘vegetarians die on board’.


My advice, no matter how uncalled it might seem to you right now, will always be- just listen to your heart! This experience is worth every sacrifice that you can dream of making in your life. You just don’t see things there, you feel them, and you live them!

Of the enthralling sunrises and the serene sunsets, of the gigantic ships and the lively ferries, of the marooned islands and the colossal mountains, of the timid dolphins and the raspy seagulls, of the sleety rains and the gleaming sun-shines, of the vivid rainbows and the sparkling sea-waves, of the twinkling stars and the silent afternoons, of the barbecue parties and the gaming-sessions, of the new friends you make and the family back home you terribly miss, of the shore-leaves and the long sailing stretches, this is , after all, a yarn of the different shades of sea!





Now, ‘signing off’ with a huge gesture of gratitude to everyone I met on board for making myexperience a cherished one and a profound promise to the mighty seas, I’ll sea..er..see you again

very soon!


Written by: Aditi Gairola Kathpalia

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