Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Mumbai blues

I arrived well on the 19th from Maldives and next few days are spent writing reports and price estimates for the proposed project in case it takes off. The funny thing happening is now that Mumbai Port Trust or the immigration (according to agent) is not issuing me a dock pass. I can sign on the yacht but not go ashore (unless e.g. visiting a Doctor). The other option I suggested then was to designate me as the ship superintendent and I got a pass but I could not stay overnight, I am told by the agent to stay at a hotel. Catch 22 situation...

Victoria Docks being filled up, a historical landmark soon gone

Old sheds being demolished at Victoria Docks

Further had to run to FRRO offices to apply for visa extension and here another problem arises in the form of paid taxes. As I receive my salary abroad to an offshore account I don't pay any taxes in India and explaining this to the bureaucrats was like explaining quantum mechanics to a slum dweller. Well, the 20th I stayed onboard overnight and nobody's alarm bells rang.

Basin being land filled at Victoria Docks

Old pilot boat

An era gone by

On the 21st the agent asks me 20.000 rupees for the visa extension, on the 23rd & 24th I still run in the FRRO office and the Tax office re: the tax issue. Our agent is proving to be useful like a donkey with tits. At least I get some real work done too as all UB boats are sent upstream to Belapur for the monsoon and I crash at Thomas place as we finish very late in the evening.

M/y Linse on the way to Belapur

Gateway of India, side view

25th is the final time I visit the FRRO office, they grant me a 3mths extension that can be extended another 9mths provided I get them the tax paper. Needless to say this is not going to happen and other things are brewing so I take it in my stride. No point in arguing with a desk person.

Mumbai architecture

Mumbai architecture

26th I'm dealing with paperwork and in the evening I go to the Comedy Club at Phoenix Mills to watch some standup comedy with Anahita Marker, quite entertaining in the end. Afterwards we have a veg dinner at the Punjab Grill and I'm totally stuffed.

Mumbai architecture

Victoria train station

27th I prepare my final handover notes and am invited to a farewell dinner at Aashim's pad. On the 28th I start my handover and on the 29th I'm flying again, this time to Europe. I arrive at 2am Nice, France on the 30th May and take a taxi to Monaco to sign on Indian Empress. I arrive just in time to see all the festivities winding down and get my bags onboard and crash to start next morning as Chief Officer.
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Friday, 20 May 2011


Next morning 17th I wake up and start phoning Mr. Shafeeq for finding out contacts on the Island. He appoints me one of his clerks to take me around, not a big job actually but better to go with one that has the local knowledge already instead of re-inventing the wheel.

Residential Is


Thilafushi Is.

So, I was picked up by Mr. Arish on his trusty Honda Dream and after a small discussion of what I wanted to see we started our round. I ended up visitin gon MaleƤ the Yamaha showroom, the Suzuki showroom, Northern Lights rep. and then the Furuno shop. After this we took the ferry over to the Thilafushi Island (unofficially called the Garbage Island as all waste is processed there (read: burned)) but it also houses all the heavy industry and services one could need on an Island. On the way I could see more underwater reef was being claimed for Thilafushi and Arish explained to me that all the godown's on Male' Island are being relocated in way of residential requirements.


Wooden dhoni

Once we arrived we went to see the Gulfcraft yard and met with their rep. and discussed a possible overhaul. Usually yards give slots out but here they told me that tell us when you want to come and we'll see...(!?). Well, I could see they were pretty full as they are the biggest yard with the largest lifting capacity and the season was coming to an end so there was a lot of boats queuing up for service. Our next stop was at UEL, they did not have the capacity to lift the yacht but they had a good refit jetty. The foreman was a paan chewing chap in his 50's and we spent half an hour chatting with him via Arish translation as well as sampling his paan. I learned that he was originally from Indonesia but had somehow stranded on Maldives in his early age. After this it was late lunch time and Arish took me to an eatery for the workers on Thilafushi, the facility was clean and airy and the food was really good, it came as a real surprise.

The UEL foreman & me

Modern glassfibre dhoni

On the 18th I meet with the underwriters, Mr. Deeptha from Ceylinco and discuss the premium of the yacht and chat with him for a good hour. The quote is fairly high for a yacht this size and Mr. Deeptha explains me that the claims in Maldives are massive on an annual basis, no underwriter will give any cheaper price. I have my doubts but I can well understand their point of view and I also believe there is a good number of accidents as well.

People waiting for the ferry

Rubbish trucks coming from Male'

In the afternoon I was supposed to see the dive dhoni but it is allegedly still at the other resort with steering gear problems (how convenient). At this point I have all my points on the list crossed out so I book my flight for the next day to depart for India. I also happened to get in touch with an old acquaintance, Ms Victoria Hilley who is working on a nearby resort as Marketing Manager. She invites me for dinner and get instructions of how to come to the Island by their ferry. I arrive at the staff jetty and am fairly soon picked up Victoria and we head for the Japanese restaurant on the resort. The setting is very nice as always is in Maldives and we order dinner accompanied with one bottle of sake. During the course of dinner we catch up on things that has happened since we last met in Langkawi in 2008. Soon she notices that the last ferry to Male' is about to leave so we hurry to the jetty and I say my goodbye until next time, time runs fast in good company.


Time travel available in Maldives

19th I wake up 8am for breakfast and prepare myself for taking the flight to Bangalore and onwards to Mumbai. All goes well and I arrive Mumbai at 7pm and get to spend the night in Elphinstone Hotel as I don't have a gate pass to board Kalizma now at the M-wall.
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Tuesday, 17 May 2011

In Maldives

Next morning I wake up at 6am to the sound of rain and I looked out it was raining as well as sun was shining. Luckily the rain shower passes quickly and I grab my goggles and snorkel and go for swim. The reef is pretty shallow to start with but I float carefully over all the razor sharp corals like a crocodile and finally reach the edge of the reef. There I start snorkeling along the edge watching the scenery below me. I swim slowly to the dredged marina, past it and around the Island to the other side and get out of the water at the shallow natural lagoon.

The open air bathroom

Swimming pool

From there I walk to the welcoming jetty and walk over to the dredged Islet. It is hard walking as the sharp coral bits try to penetrate my soles. A bit like walking on glass. I discover the Islet is more used as a garbage handling facility, there are several traces of burnt rubbish all over the water line. I think not very much in line according to rule of law but as the outfit is Maldivian maybe different rules apply.

Welcome jetty and walkway

Another view

I walk back to my cabana to have a shower and get ready for breakfast and the work we were supposed to do. The bathroom is an open area enclosed by 4 walls, pretty ingenious idea. At breakfast I get a masala omelet and enjoy it in the company of Cmde Mongia and after finishing our chai we walk off to find the Maldivian Captain.

Maldivian Captain & Cmde Mongia

The Island

Once we get hold of him we sit down and have a chat about the boats and we find out that the dive dhoni is not the one designated to the Island, it has been brought here from another resort as the other dhoni was only a year old. By the looks of the one now in the marina it is ready to sink anytime. Equally we were told that the speed boat is also old and in dire need of overhaul as well as the OBM's. Then when we come to the issue of the yacht that is connected tot he Island, it is 12year old Gulfcraft 86 Majesty bought secondhand. Last drydocking was 3 years ago and as the story goes on I see my to-do list grow mile long.


After this we ask the Captain to give us a seatrial so we could see the performance of the boat and how it is running.The Captain takes us onboard and the first thing I notice is the teak decks that have been oiled over and the peeling paint work, obviously yachting is not the forte over here. When we inspect the interior it all looks nice but almost nothing is working, aircon, sewage system, AV system, fresh water system etc. etc.


View from observation terrace

After this move onto propulsion/ electrical supply and we discover many gauges out of order. The gensets do not have any working gauges nor any safeties and the chug along sounding very tired. Finally we start the main engines and go for a spin. The engines run alright but when we come to higher revs it sounds like one engine is either over speeding or the clutch is slipping. We moor the boat back to the buoy and go back ashore our work done. I easily see a 300k USD overhaul looming at the horizon if we will take charge.

Residential Island Viligili next to Male'

Sunset over Male'

The afternoon goes on until late and we get ready to leave. We are greeted by our hosts and packed in the seaplane and soon enough we are flying towards Male'. Once in Male' I am ordered to stay back to find out what the repair facilities are in Male' as well as quotes for the possible work ahead. Mr. Shafeeq books me into the Mookai hotel and I settle in for the night as it is already late. I laugh to myself at the hotel name as directly translated to Thai it means Pork-Chicken, I reckon no self respecting muslim would want that in his hotel name...
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Monday, 16 May 2011

Sign off Kalizma

So on the 12th I moved Kalizma alongsoide M-wall as directed by the Management. The trip from Gateway to he M-wall was short and went in a normal manner. Was chatting away with the pilot and had to bribe him with the usual whisky bottle as is customary.

Planes at the Hulhumale airport Island

Arial glimpse of Male'

On the 14th I sign off from Kalizma at the Yellow Gate police station. I was scheduled to fly to the Maldives to inspect an Island and it's water transport arrangements in light of opening a resort. I spend the night in Elphinstone Hotel again and have dinner in Balgi near the Yellow Gate.

Atolls enroute

Atolls enroute

15th morning early wake up call to make it to the Chhatrapati Shivaji airport. I was flying to Bangalore with Cmde Mongia to join other people that was going to the same destination but with other tasks. We land in Bangalore at abt 10am and are guided to the KFA lounge to wait for our connection. Slowly other people start to appear and dicussions start. At noon we get the call to get to the aiplane and we board the bus that takes us to the corporate airplane.

Sancia at the Filitheyo International

Our destination

Soon we take off and head for Male', the capital of Maldives. Our flight lasts for abt 2 hrs and I can soon see how we circle above Male's airport and the pilot is orientating himself for landing. Landing goes smoothly and we are met on the tarmac by our local agent and guide, Mr. Ibrahim Shafeeq of MVK. From here we are hustled into a small propeller plane, a de Havilland Twin Otter.

M/y Rania

Sun is setting

Soon we are taking off again, this time on sea and we are heading south for our destination. The flight takes abt 45 minutes and we land again in the sea and make fast to a pontoon that says "International airport". Soon after the plane has left we are picked up the Islands speedboat and it takes us to our destination. At the Island we arrive to a man made lagoon with a jetty and are greeted with a welcome drink.


After walking around the Island a bit I and other guests were allocated their own beach cabana. The Island was not very big, actually it took barely 10 minutes to walk around it. At one end near the jetty there was another Islet that had come about when the marina had been dredged into the coral. The center of the Island was taken up by the auxiliary equipment and staff quarters. Those who does not know: it is compulsory by Maldivian law to generate your own power (by generators), making your own freshwater (reverse osmosis plants), sewage treatment (usually a biological plant) and garbage handling (usually by incinerating) before a resort can operate.


As it soon grew dark I could not do much about the water transport inspection so I had the pleasure of meeting the Maldivian Captain in charge of the yacht that was sort of  attached to the Island as a marketing tool. There was also the small speedboat and a glassfibre dive dhoni (a traditional boat of Maldives). Later in the evening we were served dinner and pretty soon after that people drifted off to their cabanas as I did too.

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Thursday, 12 May 2011

Kala Ghoda

I had been wanting to buy the movie about Phoolan Devi after reading the book about her (author: Mala Sen). She was a notorious dacoit in the Uttar Pradesh backwaters that got embroiled in a bitter caste feud that ended in her allegedly killing several men in a village that had violated her. Later she surrendered and was imprisoned for several years, after her release she went into politics and was gunned down in the streets of New Delhi in 2001.

Maharashtra Police headquarters

Kala Ghoda

Army & Navy building

Kala Ghoda residences

Kala Ghoda residences

Victoria train station (actually not in Kala Ghoda anymore)

Anyway, I was advised by Sunil that the place to go was the Rhythm House in Kala Ghoda to find the movie, if anyone would stock it, they would. As it was close to the Gateway of India we went by foot and I was surprised that after such a long time I had not discovered this area in Mumbai, and it was so close too. Sunil explained that most building are Owned by wealthy Parsis that are very successful business people.

Once in Rhythm House I asked for the movie and got it in no-time. The shop was stocked up to the rafters with music, movies from every genre and every format.
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