Post #101

WordPress recently notified me that I have now posted 100 times on this blog. I remember when I started blogging a long time ago. What spawned out of a necessity became a way of life for me. I have always enjoyed writing freely and speaking my mind out. Some of them have been well thought out posts. Others have been rants. I’ve been through many ups and downs with this blog and it has always been a silent partner in my life. A comforting presence I turn to whenever I feel the need.

Today I find myself in Xiamen, China. My company flew me here so that I could join my ship. Only thing is that the ship isn’t going to berth till tomorrow evening. I had two back to back reasonably decent flights. Reached the hotel and hooked onto the WiFi. Only trouble is, nothing works here. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flipboard, WhatsApp, YouTube nothing. It’s almost pointless to be online. Can’t download podcasts, I can listen to Apple Music for some reason. I can download torrents here.

I stepped down for dinner and I have only seen such places in movies. One wall comprised of several transparent tanks containing a variety of sea creatures with their tentacles and claws etc. I have honestly never seen anything like this before. There were lobsters, crabs, eels, some kind of a fresh water fish, sea cucumbers and other things I didn’t recognise. I browsed through the food menu and everything had something dead in it. Not that I’m a vegetarian, I just don’t experiment with my food. Even my safe choice of chicken was being served with some sea going monstrosity. I picked something with rice and hoped to god that it would be what I imagine it to be. The plate showed up with something on top of the rice and it was covered in some sticky salty gravy. I knocked that thing off the top of the rice mountain and dug in. Had some jasmine tea as well. Came back rather refreshed. I don’t want to know what that thing was or what that gravy was made of and I don’t want to find out either.

It also happens to be a weekend which means premier league football in my world. I manually scanned through all 89 channels and found one sports channel which was showing the local Chinese league instead. Back to the days of relying on text commentary for football games. Most of the channels were in Chinese and I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. I found one English documentary channel and that one sports channel. That’s basically what I’ve watched all day. I was smart enough to download a ton of podcasts at the airport assuming a similar situation. Glad I did that.

Usually, I speak to one particular friend of mine who has always been by my side and understands what I go through whenever I leave to join my ship. It’s a combination of fear, anxiety and sadness. She also knows it only lasts one day and she’s always been patient with me and allowed me to rant useless nonsense even during her work days. But I couldn’t speak to her this time. There is still a communication blackout in Kashmir and I haven’t heard from her in two weeks. I am really worried about her and her comforting presence is being missed a lot especially now. The government is slowly phasing in phone lines and networks back into the valley but I think it’ll be a while before they’ll get internet back. And now that I’m at sea, I can’t reach her unless she has access to the internet. I’m really unhappy with this and I wish things were different. Actions of strangers have led to this massive disruption and have affected so many lives in return. I wouldn’t be here writing this normally. I would be on the phone with her. Just knowing that she is on the other end of the line helped me calm down. But this time I’m on my own.

It’s been a weird day. Nodding off here and there. Airline breakfast and lunch. Watched Avengers Endgame on the flight and got all misty eyed when everyone turns up to fight the army of Thanos. Such a powerful scene. Got dropped at the hotel. Lovely evening rain right before sunset. And that’s been it so far. I board my ship tomorrow and the next three months will be set in stone.

Adios. Thanks for listening.

Random rants : 15th August 2019

I feel like writing today. Nothing particular in mind and no particular direction to follow. It is that time of my life again where I bid adieu to my current status quo and uproot my existence to another location. It is time again to transform myself again to carry on another role I signed up for in my alternate existence. A role I have played well in the past and has led to many self discoveries. In under 24 hours, I am wheels up again, this time to China where I meet my second home.

Doubt always clouds me and it’s a touch demon to overpower. The grass seems greener over here for now. I don’t see a point in leaving. I tell myself things like I have to do what I have to do and drag my zombie steps towards my ship where my transformation happens. Only to do the same thing again in three months only this time when I return from my ship to transform again. It would appear that change is the only constant in my life. Nothing else is constant. Nothing.

I spent majority of my break in Mumbai for a course and I had a fun time. I didn’t speak to anyone, I didn’t go out much. I went to class and came back. I was surrounded by my own thoughts all the time. People around me stared in bewilderment. But i was happy. My life packed nothing. I had peace. I was surrounded by beauty. It was a life I could’ve lived forever. But the circle of life never lets the good times last. You have to earn these moments. You have to work to live such days as a reward. I don’t work for money. I work for peace.

Soon I’ll be in another realm where I’ll be with my thoughts again amidst a lot of responsibility. The page has turned. The lines are written in stone. Time to go back to sea again.

Departure

One of the sad truths about life is that you’re going to lose people. Im not referring to death in this case. One way or another people find a reason to leave or you find a reason to leave them.

It could be a matter of being unsure and not taking the adequate steps to keep that person around. It could be giving into your insecurities and doubts and taking the easy way out. It could be an assumption that this is the best course of action for the both of you. It could be a million different things.

No one is going to pause their life forever for you. People have their own paths and their own destinies. Everything worth having in life is worth fighting for. But you can’t have everything either. That’s just how it works. One choice will be good news for some and the opposite for everyone else.

Doing nothing and waiting to see what happens is a popular choice among those shrouded in the clouds of self doubt, confusion and a general need to find the best way out. It’s about looking beyond the short term selfish motives and focusing on the bigger picture. We can’t predict the future. And we mustn’t turn back either. Life is all about making choices. You make one and you don’t look back. For at that moment, that was the right choice.

Most people won’t get picked. They will be sidelined. You’ll miss them and think about them and wonder many years later where they ended up. You’ll wonder what might have happened if you just had the courage to take that step. If you had just not been too picky and full of yourself. If you had found a good clean heart and decided to let it go for a fictitious another.

People will leave you and make their own way. No one will stick around and nor should they. I mean look at the bigger picture. There are bigger things afoot. No one cares about you. Except the person who sat in front of you one evening many years ago. But you were too much of a coward to do anything about it.

Battered, bruised and broken

Life has taught me to be cautious. My overzealous heart has often fled the comforts of solitude and chased dead ends, returning battered, bruised and broken. It was a lesson I had to lean the hard way. No one could’ve taught me this. No human, no textbook. It’s one of those mistakes I had to make to learn. I knew that this could no longer be done. The world was different. The people were different and I had to recalibrate.

I’ve been on dating apps for a while now with a moderate level of matches. I’ve met all kinds of women. In 90% of the cases they do end up liking me and want to take things further. But my experiences have made me apprehensive. I am no longer adventurous in the matters of the heart, nor do I want to hurt anyone in the process while I deal with my dilemma. My screening process has slowed down. My level of judgement has skyrocketed. I tend to seek flaws and reasons for not pursuing a particular match. Women have expressed what they feel and in my hesitation and confusion I have kept my distance. Just today, someone told me she likes me. But I am unsure. I have insufficient data. And while I like to take my time now, I feel if I end up spending more time being with them, I’ll end up sending the wrong signals. In the end if I feel that she isn’t right for me, I’ll end up leaving her high and dry. And speaking from experience, it’s not a good place to be. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I can’t have that on my conscience. Not that I haven’t hurt people before intentionally or unintentionally. I don’t feel great about it.

I do wish that women were more open about these things. Like if a particular match doesn’t work out, the possibility of being friends exists as well. I had matched with a lady officer in the Navy a few months ago. She was sweet and I had a good time talking to her. I didn’t feel I was that into her but I could tell that she was. I would initiate a conversation or send pictures of the sea but she would almost always start flirting and ask for pictures of me instead. I had met her once and I didn’t feel that drawn to her. In my apprehension, I distanced myself slowly. Six months later, she was married to someone else. I found out through Facebook.

Friends and family have told me to be selfish in this selfish world. But I’ve been at the receiving end. I’ve suffered, I’ve endured, I’ve built myself back up again. I can’t put someone else through that process. I just don’t have it in me. So, to the handful of matches who liked me, I’m sorry. I guess I am still healing. My spirit of adventure hasn’t returned and I don’t know if it ever will. Although, you deserve to be with someone who is sure about you. Someone who wakes up with that clarity every single morning. I will remain a well wisher and a friend if you need me. I am a damn good friend and I can be counted on. I always reply even when I’m thousands of miles away in a different quadrant of the world.

I wish things were different and I didn’t have to keep the reins of my wild heart tight. It wants to gallop away but I know it won’t survive the next time it returns battered, bruised and broken.

People are like footballers.. and not in a good way!

People like these have become like modern day footballers. And not in a good way. Any football fan out there will know what I’m talking about. There’s a tendency for modern footballers to dive at the slightest contact. Right after they go down, they look to the referee with a shocked expression asking for a foul to be given. That’s how people are these days.

They no longer want to stay on their feet and fight. They feel entitled and any sign of life throwing tackles at them, they fall to the ground looking to be appeased. They post stuff on social media. They call their friends. They reach out to anyone who will listen. And they want to be held and comforted. They want to hear that they were a victim and everyone who gets a little tough with them is an asshole who deserves to disappear from this planet.

You might think you’re doing the right thing by being there for a friend but you’re making them more and more dependent on others making them feel good after a setback. Tell them instead to grow up and fight their own battles and not go on rolling on the floor the way Neymar does. He doesn’t get anyone’s respect and neither should anyone who behaves that way.

Get your shit together, dust off your clothes and get back in the game like you’re supposed to. Don’t be a modern day footballer.

The fear of infinity

I was at sea a few months ago and it was a Saturday afternoon. I was fast asleep in my bed when I got a call from my 4th engineer and he said there was a problem in the engine room. He said the cooling water was leaking from one of the air coolers. Being half asleep and reluctant to get out of bed, I asked if it was something he could handle. He said he could try but I should come down and take a look. I hung up the phone and hurried my face in my pillow. I hate it when my sleep gets interrupted. But work is work. I got out of bed and went down to the engine room. When I got to the scene, it wasn’t a minor leak like I had imagined. It was a river flowing out of the air cooler. Suddenly, I wasn’t sleepy anymore.

I made some calls to the chief and other engineers and went back to my cabin to wear my work clothes. We spent hours. The ship was stopped. We tried to fix it one way, it didn’t work. We tried something else, nada. Tried every trick in the book, nope. It showed no signs of stopping and we were losing cooling water. Some 7-8 hours in, nearing midnight, I remember thinking, what if this never gets fixed? What if we can’t fix it? What if the ship just stays dead in the water? The fear of infinity kicked in.

We tend to believe that our current state will continue forever. The future is unknown and that’s what drives us to make decisions out of fear. That’s why we settle for jobs with security rather than follow our dreams and passions. What if it doesn’t work out and I end up with no money? That’s why we get married to total strangers. What if I get sick and there’s no one to take care of me? That’s why we have children. Who will take care of me when I’m older? That’s why we take insurance. What will happen if something happens to me?

We believe that our bad times will last forever and our good times won’t last long. We are afraid of the unknown. We fear our future and take steps to make it predictable. We fear the concept of infinity. Being alone forever, having no money whatsoever. There cake a point that day when I feared the worst and thought this will never get fixed. I mean it looked rather simple but nothing was working. Nothing worked. It was as if the ship had made up a mind of its own and decided that I’m not going to move no matter what you do. All our efforts failed that day.

But soon after, we made some provisions so that we could make it to our next port. We opened up the cover, fixed the damage and voila, good as new. Turns out my fear of being stuck in this situation for infinity was unnecessary. Yes the future is scary and uncertainty isn’t ideal. We spend our lives preparing for the future without realising how far we have walked and how we passed the point of no return years ago. That’s when you find yourself stuck in dead end jobs and loveless marriages, to name a few.

While it is prudent to cover your bases, it is unwise to feel compelled to do things out of fear. One thing I’ve realised from being at sea is that in the end, it always gets fixed. It always works out. You’ve got to trust your instincts and have the courage to walk on in the face of adversity. Trust that you’ll take care of yourself. Even if you have to do so alone, for infinity.

I’m single..and that’s okay.

I dread coming back home after my time at sea. I stop being a respected rank and I become a person. People who don’t matter suddenly make their presence felt. They present themselves like an apparition and suddenly want to know what’s been up. Being on land feels superficial now. Talking about things that don’t matter to people who don’t matter. And over the past year years, everyone has the same question : when will you get married?

I turned 30 last month and I’ve always had a mental block with that age. I think most people feel it too. You read articles titled “things you should stop doing when you turn 30” and the general perception around that number is that it is a responsible age. You can’t just act like a child anymore. Maturity should now be your forte. Not only am I not married, I have been single for a while now. And there are a number of reasons for that. But somehow, not being married means that something must be wrong with me. My Mum has said a wide variety of things to encourage me to get married. And don’t get me wrong, I am all for finding a suitable and worthy partner for myself. But being a perfectionist in this realm and every other realm of my life, I refuse to settle. That doesn’t mean I think I’m too good, that simply means I haven’t found what I’m looking for. But people don’t get that.

I met a few of my college friends recently. Both married about 2-3 years ago. Me and another unmarried friend went to look them up. Now I don’t know what it was but I found their lives tasteless and devoid of excitement. And as it always happens when an unmarried person engages with married folk, the attention turned to me and why I wasn’t married. I did my best to explain what it was. I explained how I had pursued some interests, however they didn’t work out. Either they found reasons to leave me or I found reasons to leave them. But rather than taking me seriously, they made jokes. They said maybe it was time for me to come out of the closet.

I had the same conversation with a cousin of mine who is much older to me. After explaining my reasons of being single, he looked at me and said “You’re not gay, are you?” I was offended but out of respect for him and his age, I laughed it off.

It got me thinking though how unmarried people are looked at. Its almost always one out of two assumptions : Someone must have broken his heart really badly or he must be gay.

I remember I had gone home to visit the folks on Diwali many years ago. Our elderly neighbour stopped by to distribute sweets and he looked at me and bro and said “it’s high time you boys get married and give us some good news”. Some random stranger came into my home and wanted me to get married. What a world to live in.

There are a wide variety of reasons why a man in his 30’s might be single. Me, personally, I don’t settle for less. I have dated, I have gone on dates with women I met on dating apps, I have met all kinds of women. None fit my description of perfect. I am a hopeless romantic but I will not waste my efforts on someone undeserving.

There was a point during that dinner when my friends stepped out for a smoke and I was sitting with the two wives. They said that this was the first time in months where they stepped out of the house and had an outing. “You should visit more often” they said. I could’ve settled like my friends did. I could’ve taken the easy route and said yes to some girl my parents picked for me or dated any one of these women who showed serious interest and intent. But I don’t want to become a bad husband or a bad boyfriend like these guys. I know I will lose interest if the woman I date/marry doesn’t keep me on my toes and the very sight of her tingles my insides. And because I know myself too well, I make the responsible choice to not be with someone I’m not entirely sure I want to be with. A lifetime is a really long time. And I don’t want to ruin both our lives by taking the easy way out.

Till then, I’m going to be the person that I’ve always been. Despite general consensus, being by yourself has its merits. Being alone doesn’t always have to mean being lonely and sad. It can also mean being liberated and free. I have married friends who are happy. I have married friends who are miserable. I have single friends who are miserable and I am a single man who is happy. The amount of time wasted by me doing something I don’t want to do is next to zero. If I want to read, I pick up a book and read. If I want to watch a movie, I pick a movie and watch it. Tomorrow I might go to a nearby hill station. Or maybe I’ll just stay in bed all day. I haven’t decided but I’ll do whatever I feel like doing at that instant. Yes, physical intimacy is nice but it comes at a price. It is human nature to always be at loggerheads with the person you’re living with. I’ve adapted to the absence of physical intimacy because of being at sea for so long. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I am still a highly functioning, deep thinking, old fashioned, nature loving and hopeless romantic guy.

I’m single. And that’s okay.