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On Ground, Air and Sea – All in a day

27 May 2010 No Comment

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It started one fine Monday morning, while most of “rest of the world” was asleep. The time was 4 AM. “Starting the week early” probably gets redefined by this. The taxi arrived on time, despite being booked online the previous night and a vague SMS confirming that my request had been logged was the only confirmation for this.

The fact that I had gotten only about 8 hours of sleept (cumulatively) in the past 50 hours or so did not seem to matter. Confident that I will catch up on sleep on the way to the airport (which is quite a painful 43 Km from my house) which in itself is a journey before the journey. May this be called the Pre-journey, very much akin to Pre Board or Pre Heat or Pre cook?? (how easy it is to deviate).

Anyway, the ride to the airport was smooth and fast, as fast the GPS system would allow the driver to go. Didn’t sleep. Then I decided, since I was booked on the Konnect series, that I will sleep for whole hour and half or so it takes to reach Mumbai from Bangalore. The line for the security check at 6 AM, and this is the brand new (does 1 year qualify) airport created since the old one was small and cramped, was more or less like the Great Wall of China folded and compacted in a small space. I really pity the “smart people” who carry large bags and not check them in to save time at baggage claim. One thing I found out, it would irritate the most patient of people to stand for such a long time AFTER the long queue for the check in. It seems that an hour before the flight at 6 AM is just not sufficient these days.

I finally managed to get to the gate just about 10 mins before departure and slept like a baby. Well, almost literally. I only could not curl up due to lack of space. The Terminal 1C was like a breath of fresh air. Must say, GVK is doing quite a nice job of revamping the airport.

After waiting for about an hour for another person who was flying in from Delhi (and whose flight was scheduled to arrive 10 mins before mine) we finally headed towards the launch. The reason we were in Mumbai was for what we call a Reconnaissance Survey (Recci in short) for a new project that is to come up (hopefully). This would connect 2 parts of the city that are suffering heavy traffic.

You might have noticed the lack of mention of food till now. That is because there was none involved.

We, now a large team of about 14, went to the jetty and boarded a boat. This was a rather mid size boat, a bit smaller than the ones you may have seen ferrying people across creeks in Mumbai. We set sail, amidst no fanfare, to travel against the tide to the other point in the city. (I apologize for the generic nature but cannot mention specifics until this project happens. So I earnestly hope that you will either have forgotten about this post by the time the project comes up or that I will be around to answer questions, if any).

End of May is the period where the expectancy of monsoon begins (may not be the case for most of us, but for the maritime board at least). I was told that the Western waters of our country are more troubled than the ones on the East coast. I was also told that we were lucky to have gotten a “single hull” boat than a “double hull” as this would mean more stability and lesser probability of seasickness.

The sea was quite calm for the first 15 mins or so and given my enthusiasm for experiences, I climbed up to the roof of the boat, where the professional videographer we had hired was filming as a requirement for the survey. It was getting quite hard to even stand without a strong support and we were moving around like toddlers, hanging on to whatever railing or other people around us. It felt good, I must admit, for the first 20 mins or so. I was taking pictures, helping people up and around the roof, quite the able bodied feeling.

Then it started. The small uncomfortable feeling you can only experience on a boat. The want to go to a stable place and not move in 3 directions simultaneously. The sea seemed quite angry at us for entering into places we were not allowed (at least it seemed so at that time). The sun seemed to second her opinion and beat down on us harshly. The time was about 11.30 AM.

I decided to go to the lower deck from the roof before I was unable to do so by myself. Ah, what a nice feeling it was to come down to the shelter of the shade. The wind here was cool, the upheaval not so violent and I felt much better. I had control once again.

I sat down on one corner of the boat. Another 15 mins passed. Then it came again. That strike of seasickness that is absolutely cannot be reasoned with. The one good thing about being seasick on a boat is that you don’t have to run to find a suitable place every time there is an attack. You just have to find the edge and lean over. (I don’t mean go overboard contradictory to everyone eles’s opinion there).  It was like you see in Sci Fi movies when robotic tentacles appear from nowhere to hold a falling object and put it back where it was. I felt 2 pairs of hands appear out of nowhere and hold me from falling overboard (yes, they must have been cursed by a few if not all).

Once I was done with the ordeal, I was told “Next time, call. We can’t have you fall off”. The first thought that hit me was “NEXT TIME?????” I don’t want to do this. I did not volunteer. It just happened.

Despite all that, it relapsed. Twice. The “driver” asked me to just lie down and close my eyes and I would be fine. Magical words had never been spoken before. Indeed.

Once we arrived on ground and my head was able to understand that we were stationary, I thanked the kind people who saved my life by holding me during my times of crisis.

We rested just before lunch so that everyone would sync with being stationary and out of the sea. I, being the “worst affected” (their words, not mine) was the benchmark for everyone to feel better. YES, Me – a benchmark. For all the wrong reasons, but nonetheless, once in my life – a benchmark.

We discussed the project and what would be required, the possible hindrances, future plans to be considered etc. This was probably the highlight of my day.  I was able to contribute well and my views were considered by people with lots of experience under their belt. Feels nice to be heard and responded to by someone who knows what they’re doing and have done it before.

During and after a very nice lunch (I hadn’t eaten all this while, remember) everyone expressed their concern about my “health” (embaressing, yes) and departed wishing me to either take care or recover soon. (Did I just qualify for sick, literally??)

I was dropped off at the airport and had over 2 hours for my flight (which I had initially thought was too early). It seems that I had even consumed a tablet on the boat, in a desparate bid to stop the sickness. And yes, I am aware that it takes a tablet about 3 hours to show any effect and I am one to avoid medication even during times of pain. What we do in times of desparation!

This tablet began its effect – Drowsiness would be an understatement. I slept, uncomfortably, waiting for my flight to start boarding, confident that they would not leave without me (Did not really have an option, did I?) When I suddenly awoke, my flight had already started boarding and the line was diminishing. I rushed, only to find that the queue has moved from the gate to the flight and not inside. Relieved, you’d think. Frustrated, I was.

I finally boarded the flight and nodded off even before the doors were closed. I woke up to a falling feeling and realised that we were landing back in Bangalore. I felt strangely refreshed. Never happened to me after a flight, that too one that had gotten delayed, that I felt refreshed.

On my way home, wide awake now, I notice that the car was slowing down every minute or so and then back to speed. I asked the driver if there was anything wrong which was when he stopped the car and started to get out. When questioned, he said that he was sleepy!!! He’d been driving since the previous night. He washed his face and we were away, homebound. I did not want more trouble on the same day. So I kept my eye on him, asking him if he was alright everytime he seemed to slow down without reason.

A turbulent sea and 2 flights had not killed me. I certainly didn’t want a cab, relatively close to home, to finish it for me (or finish me). The great gods had delivered me home, safe and sound.

I only realised the next day that it was the medication that had induced so much sleep in me. I have now decided that I will beat the monster that is seasickness. I will return to the same turbulent waters, better prepared (and no, I don’t mean carrying paper bags. We don’t need them at sea 😉 ).

I shall sea you again.

…Contributed by : Nishanth Pai

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