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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Adventures of New-Orleans



After the Canal De panama escapade, our next fixed voyage was Mississippi -New Orleans –Louisiana. To reach the historic port of call New Orleans, one needs to transit the famous Mississippi road river. It’s a total of 22 hours course which bestow the ultimate experience of enchanting Mississippi heritage. The river provides a true slice of Americana- serene landscapes, green panoramic views, quaint towns, bustling ports and massive ship traffic. Known to be the fourth longest river of the world, it passes through 10 different states of America. Round the year, the illustrious river is bustling with tourist hopped in state of the art Ocean going Cruisers.




Past the two day long stream, we anchored in New Orleans-a major United States port and metropolitan area in the province of Louisiana. “NOLA” as they call evolves around the holy trinity, jazz, food and entertainment. Everybody on the ship was first timers to visit the place. So after browsing through net we rounded few sites to explore through out the day. Our first destination was the famous “French Quarters”-the heart and cultural center of the city. I was totally enthralled by my first overview of the place. High-energy, vibrant surroundings, musical streets, aromatic air and mounts of exuberance. 


 















Heart and soul of the French quarters is the Bourbon Street. It’s the most happening and wildest thoroughfare of the quarters with sounds of jazz music, country western, colorful decked-up girls and Mardi grass beads. The street gets the peak of its liveliness in the evening and it feels like you are a part of a carnival. We even gotta chance to relish a limousine ride all around the place. Beware the street is prohibited for kids as it jammed up with strip clubs, free flowing spirits and some adult stuff.




From there we rented a three wheeler rickshaw paddled by a girl. She took us to the famous “Jackson square”. The street was meandering with beautiful artwork from the super talented artist. It was one of my favourite place to walk through due to the different displays of artcrafts hanging on fence by artist to sell. The place was brimming with musician’s, street performers, Crazy costumes, fortune tellers and even voodoo specialist. The square is also famous for St Louis Cathedral and the Andrew Jackson monument.







After strolling for few hours and due to my hunger pangs, we took a cab to Magazine Street for our much anticipated Indian cuisine. The buffet was mouth watering and we hogged like beggars. 



Loaded with food we went to Wal-Mart for some retail therapy .But my expectations doomed as most of the merchandise was of inferior quality. Halfheartedly we did some cosmetic shopping, souvenirs for family and friends and a nice handbag for myself.



We still had a couple of hours remaining before heading back towards our cocoon. Being an animal lover, I always loved visiting zoos and Aquariums. Audubon Aquarium of Americas is one family friendly activity in the city. Best display was the underwater tunnel, the Amazon rain forest and an open ocean tank. Life size aquariums, whales, penguins and white alligator, the place is a must visit for animal enthusiasts. 



With heart full of unparalleled memories of one of the most phenomenal place, we reluctantly trudged en-route to our vessel.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mard Ko Bhi Dard Hota Hai................



My mind is reeling with a whirlwind of thoughts. A bit of vacillation a bit of uncertainty, whether to pour out my heart on this insignificant issue. How many people will reverberate with my feelings? 

After the Delhi and Mumbai rape case, numerous debates & speculation had been conducted on the recent crimes against women. Demands for Law amendments, better security, women’s liberation and empowerment have been soaring since then. Undeniably women are known to be the inferior sex. Numerous initiatives and movements are in progress towards Women’s amelioration. But not even once I hear about men’s predicament. Following the heinous incidents, we perceive all men’s to be either rapist, misogynist, masculinist. The same men we call our father, husband, brother or son. Never saw anybody advocating towards male emancipation. Are they not belong to human race?

Remember the old poem "Girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice; boys are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails." Is it not bigotry?



Last year I received a random message form a girl on my FB page asking whether am Anurag’s school mate. ANURAG my seventh standard class mate and who got in touch through social media over fifteen years. Out of inquisitiveness, I talked to her for some time. After few minutes of chatting, she informed me about his untimely demise. Shell shocked, I couldn’t breath for a while. Embracing my wits, I conveyed my condolence and inquest about the mishap. Another shocker bounced. His wife of one month filed a false case against the whole family including his sister’s one year old daughter. Police came to apprehend the whole family at midnight. Around that period Anurag was working in another city. He was shocked and panicked as it was his love marriage. He could not believe that the girl who once claimed to love him so much filed a false against him.He along with two other friends soon started off to Lucknow. On the way his car collided with the truck and all three young boys died on the spot. After a month of his death, another case of domestic violence along with 498a was registered by the girl. It’s been three years now and this ironlady is fighting for her dead brother’s dignity. She is an MRA activist and now helping other martyrs of false cases against biased laws.


If women want to file a complaint, there is a provision of recording it as a criminal complaint under national statistic of crime against women but if male goes with an authentic grievance, they merely have to console with non cognizable offence. Due to these serious loopholes in our laws, it termed as a legal terrorism for men and their families.



There is another famous case of Munish Dalal, who suffered nine years jail imprisonment due to misuse of dowry law by his wife. He along with his family has been acquitted by Noida court after continuous 10 year ordeal. Adding more to their dilemma, the government incorporated the incident in NCERT textbooks that is still taught to children in Class VI. Later the girl’s charge junked due to her confession of an affair and cooking up a false story to wriggle out from nuptial. Will anything bring back his lost ten years?



Remember Capt Saurabh Kalia who fought for his country in kargil war 1999.The brave soldier was badly treated by Pakistan troops. His body was mutilated to unbearable extent. Since then his father an ex-air force personnel is running pillar to post and still struggling to prove his death as crime. We have signed so many petitions against rape’s, marched candle lights for the victims , made black bindi images as out profile pictures against crime towards women. But this old man is fighting alone for justice. 



Have we ever stand-up or demanded justice for a man same way we do for women's rights? Am not claiming that all cases against men are false or counterfeiting women’s quandary.But in some cases we need to consider man as victims and not accused. Next time don’t judge a man till he is “guilty as proven” not “guilty as charged”. Crime and criminals have no gender. Punishment to the criminal has to be equal irrespective of gender. Am neither a feminist nor misogynist but a daughter, wife, sister and a friend of a man who pays a penny to their emotion and feel compassion. 

DO YOU????





This post is not intended to violate or disregard or disrespect any provisions of the laws of our land nor are they intended for casting aspersions on any individual or for defaming or maligning anybody whomsoever.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Road Journey To Paradise……………….



Six months back, when I was about to join my husband on yet another sailing spree, my brother gave me a bouncer of relocating abroad. I knew we were not going to see each other for a long time. That night I slept with a heavy heart. But morning brought sunshine tidings from my sister. She along with her husband planned out a prompt farewell road trip before my brother pursues greener pastures. After a lot of argument, we rounded up on the Switzerland of India “Dalhousie and Khajjiar”in Himachal Pradesh.


Me, my two sisters and brother along with their better half’s and children designed to kick start our journey with the rush of dawn. But our best laid plan got doomed due to heavy rain. Anyways we hit the road at about 6:00 in the morning from Chandigarh.We followed the Hoshiarpur-Pathankot-Dalhousie route which was pretty good. We stopped for in-between breaks for snacks due to the children’s unruly demands of nature call. It was total of 8-hr trip and we were hoping to reach Dalhousie by 4: pm in the evening. But destiny plays its own game. Enroute there was a landslide a few feet ahead of us. We were almost stranded there for two hours and resumed our voyage after army brigade's intervention.





After the two hour hitch we reached Dalhousie without much of hiccups. Although the last 50 miles turned out a bit dreary to navigate. The best part of the whole journey was the magnificent views, scattered lush green meadows with plenty of deodar trees. We bunged on various bewitched places for posing and capturing the unparalleled essence of nature. Crazily, even did an impromptu gig which rewarded us whistles and applauses from fellow nomads.




At last we touched Dalhousie at around 6:30ish in the evening and went straight to our pre-booked guest house. After a hot shower and refreshments, along with over excited kids we decided to explore Dalhousie on the same day. Built on and around five hills, Dalhousie is located on the west of the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas. It has two main famous chowks, one being Gandhi Chowk, and the other  Subhash Chowk . The whole place was fully congested with tourist. After relishing hot pakoras and badam milk under sprinkles of rain, we call it a day.



The next day was full of leisurely strolls and trekking around the hills. Gorged on some sinful cuisine and visited the indo/Tibetan market. Spend money on useless things and bought a few souvenirs from the local shops. Explored Panchpulla, gurgling waters of Satdhara and beautiful architectures of St Francis church. By evening we were all dead tired and headed back to our cocoons.



Woke up early next day for the much anticipated trip to Khajjair also christened “Gulmarg of Himachal. From Dalhousie it was approximately 22 kms and the road run through Kalatop wildlife sanctuary. The road was bit bumpy but the picturesque landscapes thoroughly made-up for it. I was awe-struck and flabbergasted by my first view of the God send place. Panorama views of natural beauty. This saucer shaped green meadow, chimed by Devadar and long pines have a lake in the middle complete with floating island.



We all yelled at our allocated cottage run by HP tourism which was ideally placed in front of the main sporting grounds. Mesmerized by the clean, pristine surroundings, we headed out soon for exploring the combination of forest, lake and grassland.Hired horses and chased around the whole perimeter of the orbit.  Visited the famous Khajji nag temple, clicked pictures in traditional dress and enjoyed the roasted corn. There was a sarangi vala tuning the local folk songs. Enjoyed a few shakes and tip the man heartily. We ended our day with loud music, funny dancing, mouth watering food and inebriated cocktails.



At Aurora, we started our drive back home. Uneventful for the most part, the four day trip along with crazy road experience came to an end. Although due to my sailing life, I have been to many beautiful countries but this small memorable trip will always share a special place in our hearts.




Last but the most thrilling part of our journey was the travel media - my sister’s brands new Safari “Storme”. Though it’s usually recommended to bring small cars in hilly stations but not even once we regretted our decision. This SUV is a mixture of opulence and rowdiness. It’s an eight seater monster with lots of luggage and legroom. Due to its spacious and ultra comfy character, we are planning to repeat another crazy road trip to Leh  Ladakh during my brothers next India trip.





Post written for “I Am Explorer” contest hosted by Indiblogger in association with Tata Safari.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chronicles of Pirate attack survivor…………………




Date: 09 Sep 2009

Time: 12.00 noon


It was a normal routine day. After hours of grinding, all the crew members along with officers including me were salivating on Indian desi food in duty officer’s mess. Sharing sea tales, banters or news from home was regular practice in around the lunch hour. All of a sudden, the duty officer on bridge called for Captain on the speaker which was unusual as amplifiers are used only for specific announcements. Befuddled, we all got alarmed by hearing his panicky voice. Nobody ever anticipated an attack on the area we were sailing. We had almost transited the high risk area and in the safe waters. With bated breadth, everyone waited for the inevitable. Another announcement came within seconds. Our Ship is under attack!!

Our ship BW LION was attacked some 400 nautical miles north-east of the Seychelles. This was the longest range of pirate attack off the Somalia coast ever.

Bw Lion before the attack

 All hell broke loose.Instantly all ran for their muster points.Two other supernumerary congregate and myself on bridge as it was our muster station on emergencies. Using binoculars, I saw two speeding white skiff boats just 10 miles away from our liner. Due to the enormous size of vessel and being loaded with crude oil, we could only increase the speed to some extent. But the skiffs rapidly came towards us.



I looked out of the bridge window and saw one small boat with five black people just 20 yards away. All of them clearly were carrying the rifles. Kudos to the officers including my husband who went away on deck to turn on the water/fire hoses. Within minutes we heard an almighty bang. One of the men carrying a bazooka aimed right at us. The grenade struck one level below. It was the Captain’s day room.The fire alarm went berserk as the rocket propeller pierced into the walls and the entire quarters engulfed in blazes. Few of the crew members scurried towards fire spot with extinguishers to prevent the flames spread across other areas.We heard continuous plunk of bullets.

Somalian pirates with rocket launchers and AK-47


The bombardment lasted for more than two hours, and several areas of the ship, including the front bridge area, were damaged by Ak-47 and rocket launchers. Two of the pirates even gestured towards us to stop the engines. But that was out of the question. The only measure was to take evasive actions, repelling the attackers not to board the vessel.
Concurrently a distress call and radio mayday was sent to the office and to international maritime security services. Throughout the two hour ordeal, people from UKMTO were in constant touch and guided us with further actions.

Needless to say we all were scared shit, especially the wives. Our security was the top priority for them. One of the officers was with us at all times. The main intention was to drag  the pirates as long till they ran out of fuel to make it to shore. At last after continuous chasing the Master and crew were able to prevent the marauders to board, through a combination of evasive maneuvering,  maintaining full sea speed, effective use of water hoses and anti-boarding measures. Also we got air help from the French naval in nick of time.

Picture captured from air plane during the attack


We were directed to sail towards the nearest shore possible. We burst into a round of applause and happy tears when were told the pirates had been defeated and now are in safer waters. Everybody took a sigh of relief.



Hours after the chaotic moment’s reality smacked. Not a soul ever wanted to imagine the aftermaths of being captured.Salute to Captain and other officers who showed tremendous courage and professionalism throughout the nightmare.

After signing off from the ship, me and my husband was invited to Singapore office and a lavish party was organized in our honor. I still get goose bumps whenever I revisit the incident. But the black memorabilia is a thing of the past  and it had made me more stronger. I do not live in constant fear now and the unpleasant incident certainly does not dissuade me to sail again.
After all……………………………...................................................................................................

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”





Saturday, September 21, 2013

One Lovely Appreciation.........................




One month of blogging and a recipient for honor. Thank you Vishal for recommending my name for “The lovely blog award”. It positively hit the right cord. Your own blog http://vishalbheeroo.wordpress.com/ is full of heartwarming poems, funny fictions and sanguine writing. If you desire to indulge in some splendid stuff do visit his blog.

 Initially I started writing for myself but all the comments and appreciations from fellow bloggers stimulated me to take it seriously. For me reading new blogs and interacting with virtual world is my best reward ever. My blog is my secret den and do not wish to share it with my 400 FB friends.I want my post to be read with unbiased eye.

Now for the One Lovely Blog Award I’ll share eight facts about myself, share five lovely writing quotes, and nominate five other bloggers for this award. There aren’t any rules for this award so nominees are welcome to share eight facts about themselves and pass the award on.

   Selfie facts …


  1. Emotional donkey. Two drops of tears can melt me with flicker of an eye.
  2. Passionate about collecting books, currencies and diaries.
  3. Gym Obsessed
  4. Firm believer of “Dress to the nines”
  5. Hopeless romantic
  6. Gigantic gossipmonger
  7. Gold medalist in National shooting championship
  8. Forever craving for home cooked maa ke haath ka bana khana..

These are just partly facts about me. If you want an introduction for another crazier side of me tab HERE.


Five quotes of wisdom……………….

  • The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything they just make the     most of everything that comes along their way.
  • “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
  • I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.
  • “Hare k friend zaroori hota hai”
  • I don’t do fashion, I AM fashion.

Worth a nomination………………..



I can still add infinite numbers to the list.

Hearty thanks to all for their support and kind comments. Congratulations to the winners.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

One Helluva Transit - Panama De Canal




My sailing life has given me few incredible lifetime experiences. When my husband told me about our next voyage, I was on cloud nine. The Panama De Canal- one of the seven man –made wonders of the modern world and monument of the Millennium. It’s a 50 mile ship canal that connects Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The sole reason behind constructing the most difficult engineering wonder till now was to enable ships to avoid long navigations and made it possible for them to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific in half the time previously required.


In the canal ship crosses three set of locks, The Gatun, The Pedro Miguel and Mira Flores locks. Unlike the Suez, which is at sea level for its entire length, the landmass is above the mean sea level. These locks have been created to lift ships upto 85 ft above the sea. Although there are 12 sets of locks total, there are only six massive pairs of locks that ships use for transit, each 1,000 feet long and 110 feet wide.  Each filled with water or emptied in less than 10 minutes, and each pair of lock gates takes two minutes to open.You can read more detailed history of the canal up here.

Due to the large size of our ship, it took us almost 20 hours to complete the transit. And without wink, camera in hand I enjoyed the whole ride with a gaped mouth. I was dumbfounded by all the work and engineering that went into building the whole design of the canal. Phenomenal sense of human fortitude and ingenuity! I am totally overwhelmed to experience such a magnificient thing up close and personal. Also I came to know about canal’s Live-Cam facility. People can watch you live while you cross. Although I was bit late to get the news, otherwise would have asked my folks to watch the whole transit experience online.

I will include some of my pictures to share with those who have not had the pleasure of seeing it in real life yet. So Hop-in and enjoy a free ride to magical Panama canal.




The ship approaches the lock gates at a reduced speed.
The ship enters the lock gates which is narrow when compared to the
size of the ship
The lock gates are then closed enclosing the ship inside it. To lift up the ship,
water has to be pumped into the lock chambers.

When water is pumped, the level of water increases inside the lock chamber
lifting the ship up.

The lifted height equals the height required for the ship to proceed to the
 next lock chamber.

Gates closed when ship finishes passing through them

When the water level equals the level of the Atlantic ocean side, t
he outward lock gates open up, leading the ship to the sea passage.

Moi


 Bon Voyage......................................................................................................................................