We all have a story. It is not only about where we came from, who or what our parents were, and what we or our families have become today.
But it often gets stuck there. That's OK, that's not our fault, but it is the fault of the day and age we live in.
Never mind. So, over the last few days, I've been digging deeper and deeper into the stories of people who were on the RAK AFRIKANA as well as the ASPHALT VENTURE. And I've received a fair number of telephone calls from people who I did not know before.
One, ofcourse, was a series of calls and eMails from the Big People at the Big House in Ballard Estate where it began for many of us, Directorate General of Shipping, DGS, Jahaz Bhavan. A few days after the demise of Captain Prem Kumar, and a few weeks after the big media circus on his return from the RAK AFRIKANA for which everybody from the Foreign Secretary to assorted politicians and union leaders and others took credit - they wanted to know where Prem's family lived so that they could condole.
Make what you want of this - but it just goes to show, there is no time or room for post episode debrief. A seafarer dead and gone is a statistic. A seafarer who returns is an embarrassment. And one who returns and then dies is extra work.
I got quite a few other calls around the same time, in connection with the ASPHALT VENTURE, and what do I say - as one put it, if we had announced a cocktail party, hundreds of seafarers in and around Delhi would have made it, but to visit and offer simple moral support to the families of the ASPHALT VENTURE detainees - see DGS above, an embarrassment and extra work.
Private and quiet salutes to the few who did reach across, especially the wives, thank you SC, TC, RK, PM, RR, and RR . . . and others.
But the call that really brought me back to my story was one from Prateek Rishi, from far away New York, and I shall reproduce one of his eMails below. It says it all, and it gives me the strength to place my next post in a few hours from now, even at the risk of curdling my own future story.
See, I have reached a point where my memories of being at sea have become bigger than the dreams I have of my future. That's kind of dangerous, the next step would be senility. So, spent over a year getting my old ticket re-validated, and getting ready to go backl to sea - and now, by taking DGS head-on, am risking all that again.
Fair and square, if Indian seafarers have gone on ships through RPS companies, then the responsibility is with the DG Shipping to ensure their safety. If, on the other hand, the DG Shipping made conditions so lax and unethical that RPS companies could send Indian seafarers onboard ships which were registered behind the usual "care-of" kind of tax-haven FOC addresses, then that was and is certainly DG Shipping's fault.
And that's where this is heading for next - even if I risk my return to sea, as people tell me I am doing. But then, I would not be doing justice to my story, on why I chucked up sailing decades ago, right?