Sunday, April 22, 2007


The weather’s heavenly nowadays. Sunny skies, a cool breeze and a temperature which hovers benignly between 18 to 20 degrees. It’s almost a crime not to head out on a Saturday and enjoy the day. P complained of a slight indisposition but changed his mind after a while.

The SS Great Britain had been awarded the museum of the year in UK for the year 2006. It’s actually just a very old ship, built in the year 1843 and is known as the world’s first great ocean liner. It transported around 700 people on each trip, across the Atlantic, to Australia as thousands went to start their lives in that new continent then and also to Asia and India. It was also involved in the Crimean War and the 1857 Indian war of independence as it transported troops. The sea routes at that time were very pretty long and treacherous. One had to round off the choppy waters of the Cape of Good Hope to get to India and Australia and Cape Horn to get to San Francisco. Suez and Panama canals were still to arrive. In 1861 she carried the first ever English cricket team to tour Australia. After she was no longer suitable as a passenger ship, she transported coal and wheat between Europe and the Americas. She ran aground in the Falkland Islands at end of the 19th century where she was abandoned till the 1960s when a massive restoration exercise was undertaken in light of her historic importance to bring her back to the Bristol Dockyard where she was born.

The walk along the dockyard was quite pleasant as we watched the boats lined up all the way on the banks and a team of girls who were rowing away in a canoe. I was suddenly reminded of a visit that I had made to see the INS Viraat in Cochin, where I was working then, almost four years ago. A friend of mine had a contact among the crew and he showed us around the massive aircraft carrier with some pride. I remember it was dusk then, when I was standing alone on the airstrip on that ship looking out into that Arabian Sea of nothingness, rapidly descending into darkness. Those were my last few days in Cochin and I would miss the beautiful state soon. It was a serene moment, with the waves timidly lapping the huge monster of a ship, a few raucous crows overhead and the last glimpses of the orange sun setting on the western horizon. My mind was preoccupied with other thoughts and plans that year. Life has changed a bit since then.

I took quite a few photographs on the Great Britain, on her deck, dining rooms, living quarters and the old boilers and engines. We both thought that the bunk beds on the ship seemed to be too small for a comfortable lie down. P mentioned that the toilet facilities even a hundred years ago were quite up to date. I told him that those facilities were meant for us tourists and did not exist a hundred years ago. Thankfully he had not entered the ladies washroom in his enthusiasm. We had some coffee and doughnuts in a café nearby and took a ferry back to the city center.

Back home, I cooked some Veg Pulao . Didn’t come out too badly considering it was a first attempt. Also watched a French movie called Nelly and Mr. Arnaud, a film by Claude Sauter.

Good timepass.

No comments: