Saturday, 25 September 2010

Elephanta Island

On the 24th the Bosun of m/y Ashena, Mohsin, asked if I would like to visit the Island and I thanked yes as I had not gone there yet (as it often happens in many places, you stay a long time but you never see the sights thinking "Oh, I still got plenty of time to do that).

The train from jetty to shore

Souvenirs, anyone?

The 1st cave

Mohsin has his own ferry boat to bring people from Gateway to Elephanta so I got special treatment as he knew everyone there but I still had to pay admission. Anyway, it went for a good cause as long as the money is used to maintain the Museum site on the Island and not fatten some Official's pocket.


As the shores are very shallow the jetty naturally is very long until it reaches acceptable depths for the ferries. There is a mini-train that can carry passengers all way to the shore. Nice touch but probably the lack of maintenance of the engine had the train leaking oil at the end stations which showed as a large black stain.


We walked the whole jetty to shore and then there was a shallow staircase leading up to the caves. The staircase was lined with souvenir shops selling knick knacks for every taste. Closer to the top there was even a few restaurants and guest houses. The Island does not have electricity so the rooms are without A/C or fan.

Big Lingam in the background

After this we reached the entrance gate where I shelled out the 500 Rs foreigner fee. We walked forward and soon enough arrived to the first cave. It was carved straight into the mountain as were all the caves there, probably from existing caves that were shaped out to rooms, pillars, etc.

..another cave..

The path went from west onto the east side of the Island where I could see the JNPT container terminal on the main land and the Elephanta Island three villages and the fresh water dam supplying them. The path was lined with monkeys looking for food, some people bought bananas to give to them.

...and another...

The Island water reservoir

Unfortunately when I had reached the east side we had to turn back and walk back the same way as there was no path around (at least not officially). Once we arrived back to the entrance we exited and followed signs to the "Old cannon" which was a longer climb up on the top of the Island. There are 2 old cannons perched on the top of the Island during the English era. The cannon's with their muzzles turned down and locks removed most likely due to possible terror attacks.

The Cannon

Mohsin & Cannon

Mohsin told me that there was supposedly a tunnel connecting the two cannons but I did not feel tempted to go explore old military catacombs. We soon turned back and headed back down. In between we stopped at a drink vendor to enjoy a refreshing lemon soda. After finishing the soda we ventured down to the shore and got our tender back. Quite enjoyable afternoon.

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Thursday, 23 September 2010

Ganesh Chaturthi ending

Was getting a bit tired of hearing all the "Ganpati Bappa Mouriya" shouting and experiencing all the traffic jams caused by the big Ganpati's erected on roads, but today was the last day of the festival when the Ganesh idol was taken from the house or the shrine and immersed in water.

Ganesh idol in a makeshift shrine

When I first heard of this I thought the Maharashtra coast must be littered by thousands of Ganesh idols but then I learned that these idols dissolve in water. There is also strict rules of using nature friendly materials and paints when making the idols.

A family preparing the idol

As all were quite busy onboard, I took alone a few hours off in the afternoon and went with our driver nearby Seawoods Darave to a water tank to see how the immersion ritual was taking place. As I have seen with all hindu rituals it is a complex process with a lot of chanting, clapping, cymbals, flowers and incense burning, but then again, if I'd been born a hindu I would probably think all of it as part of life.

Ganesh Chaturthi processions

Soon enough when I had seen the ritual I headed back to the ship as people were starting to come out with all their Ganesh idols and downtown Mumbai was totally congested, better to stay onboard and watch the festivities on the news channel.
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Sunday, 12 September 2010

Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh temple at Mira road

On 11th was the start of Ganesh Chaturthi festival and I had been invited together with Saini to go to a Ganesh Mandir on Mira road where one of our contractors was launching her music VCD.

The artists and production team

As Mira road is across town we left early with Saini at the wheel and me as pilot. My GPS app in my phone is proving quite useful at times like this when our driver had decided to take a day off on his own. I saw the oddest things on the highway - stranded trucks in the middle of the road that had not been hauled aside nor was there any warning triangles or anything indicating of this hazard. At one place was a truck in the middle of the road and astern of it was a small Suzuki half way crammed under the bumper. Maybe some driver had not realized the truck is stationary and just gone full throttle smack into it, some shock it must've been (to the driver).

Mr. Kumar and Ms. Vinaya

We arrived on time and there was some other party just wrapping up their pooja. We stood around and looked at people milling around while also meeting Ms. Vinaya and her husband Mr. Moses Kumar. They introduced us to their Producer, Composer, Lyricist, Music Director, Video Director and who else, all the names blurred up in my mind.

The mechanical pooja drummer

Finally it was time for the pooja and music started playing and chanting went on. Me and Saini sat outside watching the proceedings and as the came to a finish there was a lot of photo taking with the music VCD that was being published with all the involved people in it. Even we had to pose for it a couple of times.

London Pilsner

After this it was time to eat and we had a light lunch blessed by the monk. Having fed and done our appearance, we thanked our hosts we made our way to the car and left back for Belapur. On the way I saw an ad for London Pilsner and we stopped in Belapur bottle shop to get a few, it is a nice brew, also by UB Group.

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Friday, 3 September 2010

Krishna Janmashtami

As I was out on errands and the end of the day was coming I kept seeing the Dahi Handi's (claypot filled with milkcurd) being rigged over streets, over parking lots and any large open area any sponsor had managed to come over. It was the day of Lord Krishna's birthday and this festival was called Krishna Janmasthami.

Pyramid starting and handi rigged up in the air

The celebration is done by making human pyramids to reach up tot he handi and break it. The people doing the pyramids are called Govinda's. They travel around the city trying to break as many handi's they can as some of them present large cash gifts (given by political parties or wealthy societies).

It was late afternoon and I decided to stay onshore this evening as the breaking of the pots were going to take place then. You could see the Govinda's everywhere on trucks and at the festival sites gearing up for the evening trial. And so I went with Saini to Kharghar and had some chai while waiting for his family to get ready to go outside.

Govindas in Khargar, Navi Mumbai

We could not get a tuk-tuk as all people were going somewhere for the festival so we resorted to walking. When we finally arrived there we learned that the handi was going to be broken later at about 10-11pm. It was too late for Saini's daughters so we walked to the other end of the township to a newly opened Krishna temple to make merit and afterwards we ate prasad. After this it was again back to walking and we arrived to Saini's flat 9pm. Then we watched the rest of the evening Govinda's performing at the more popular sites and I saw a world record being made of a human pyramid of 9 layers high.

Next day I could read from news papers that Mumbaikars had celebrated Janmashtami with great fervour, but not all Govinda's were so lucky. There hadn't been any fatalities but at least 18 are lying in hospital for critical injuries.

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Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Captain's blog August 2010

So August has gone by and we have seen more rain that we would ever prefer. It has been raining hard, poured down with water, torrential rains, drizzled, rained moderately, rained vertically, horizontally and intermittently. Any description of rain that you may have, we have seen.

Sunset over Mumbai

Pouring rain at Cuffe Parade

The rain has not done any good to Kalizma, the decks are turning green from mold and when we don't have rains we wash the decks in order to remove the mold. Another scourge we have is wood rot from the rain, I have now had Carpenters onboard changing rotten wood on railings and other places where it is necessary.

Architecture on P. D'Mello road

Perhaps Poseidon?

For a week we had really good weather, the sea was calm as mirror and we got only a few showers now and then. Little did we know it was the prelude to a 3 day water fest that led into the Pakistani floods and in Mumbai it amounted to 550mm (in Finland it rains abt 600mm/ year). The dams are overflowing and farmers are happy. At same time on the eastern side of the country in Bihar they are suffering from drought. What can I say? India is really big.

m/y Linse at Reti Bunder

Rajaram's & Sunil's birthday party

Our tenders have each done abt 600nm in tendering since we arrived at our current anchorage, so they are also starting to show signs of fatigue and requires service. Contractors are crawling all over the ship now as we're gearing up for the upcoming highseason. Repairing lacquer works and renewing carpets inside, engine and A/C maintenance, valve overhauls and exterior carpentry, on bridge radio and safety maintenance.

Licorice from UK that kept my tummy working just fine...

Richard has returned from his annual vacation and is resuming his duties as Chef and also Chief Steward. Rajaram is back too. Sunil went to UK for his Y3 orals and onwards to France to learn how to maintain a cigarette boat. He was so kind as to bring me a box of licorice to satisfy my craving. Finally, Kalpana is studying for her Hotel Management course with big backup in the evenings from the crew helping her out in her projects. On the 14th we celebrated the combined birthday for Rajaram & Sunil.

Fishing boat being refitted at Mandwa

In addition all the other boats are eating up our time and we're busy running after quotes all over town and planning overhauls. M/y Linse is getting a total recall with engine overhaul, hull paint work and interior refit. About time for the 30yr old Italian lady. Other boats we're sanding and doing up for the season, new A/F on all hulls. Some glassfibre works and engine overhauls. It would be easy unless the Indian contractors would not always promise more than they can chew. It is constantly coming up, promises are broken, specs are altered, phones are not picked up - very frustrating. Anyway, despite it all we plod on, day by day.

Oil pollution from MSC Chitra

It also did us no good to witness the pollution resulting from the collision of Khalijia III and MSC Chitra. Our waterline was black from heavy fuel oil and our tenders too. Even weeks afterwards we can still see a container stranded in the Belapur mangroves and also at times cookies floating by in the sea from their cargo.

Women dancing at the beach

Men wrestling

Went to Mandwa with Avnish to check out some future potential yacht storage places, very promising ventures in the air but this will be actual only next year after the season. Same time I had the pleasure of witnessing the fishermen opening the fishing season. Women were dancing on the beach while men were wrestling (Naryal Purnima).

Joel Alvarez & daughter

On the 28th I was invitd by Avnish to come to Jazz by the Bay and listen to some live music and for his farewell party as he was leaving for Indian Empress. The music was fantastic and the singer looked like our Boss as well as his daughter had an amazing singing voice.

Well, busy as a bee and the show goes on, need to get cracking so the boats will get ready for the high season...

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