“Jana Tha Japan, Pahoonch Gaye Cheen” – My Life On A Cruise Ship
The 6 years that I spent working on cruise liners have been filled with excitement, fun, adventure, romance, happiness and sorrow. I was lucky to have done my cruise ship stunt at the age when I could take it all in my stride and remember them for years to come.
Here are a few incidents I would like to share with you that happened during my cruise ship days.
Please Note: - These incidents and the narration are real and not a figment of my imagination.
We have all grown up listening to this song and using this phrase sometime or the other. The literal translation of this phrase means that “wanted to go to some place but eventually reached some other”. Well something of this sort literally happened to me also. And it was not just about reaching a different place in the same city or reaching a different city in the same country, it was more, infact much more.
I leave you guys guessing what must have happened as I write down the details of my story. The narration will be posted soon, so let’s keep guessing till then
@Deky, Why is this not in Travelogues?
I make no guesses!
So when is the narration starting ? Working on cruise liners must have been really exciting indeed !
I was contemplating as to which heading this thing should go into but the following footnote at the Travelogue section made my choice easier
To prevent a lot of 1-liner guesses, we are currently closing this thread. Please report this post or PM any of the mods when you are ready with your post and we will have this re-opened.
P.S : We too are waiting further updates on this thread!
Jaana Tha Japan Pahoonch Gaye Cheen- Contd
It was almost one month since I had joined my ship for this contract. As expected I got a call from the ship’s Purser regarding some courses that I had to do, but I had not done before joining the ship. These basic courses are mandatory for all seamen working on a sea going vessel. As per the STCW 95, the maritime law states that everyone, irrespective of the fact that the crew is working on the Deck side, the engine side or the Hotel side of the cruise ship has to attend the following courses
It wasn’t salary day that day so I knew exactly why I was called to the Purser’s office; well it was time to finish the two pending courses. During those days our ship was sailing in the Spanish Canary Islands, hence the Crew Purser had decided to send me to some Maritime Institute in Southampton, England. England was the closest to Spain plus our company also had the head office there, so they thought, organizing for my stay plus the course and also the travel documents would be the easiest in England.
The plan was that I leave the ship on coming Monday from Arrecife (Lanzarote) take a flight To Heathrow via Madrid, finish the 2 pending courses on Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri and fly back on Sat again via Madrid and join the ship back in Las Palmas.
Soon the D-day came when I was suppose to leave for England. Since I would be out only for 4 days I decided not to pack much. I had a small bag with a couple of change of clothes, swimming costume and a towel for PST training, an overall (dungaree) for EPFF training and shoes apart from the toiletries. We all on the ship know that England can get expensive so shopping is always a no-no there. And since I was already told that all my travel expenses plus the accommodation and food has already been paid for by the company I also did not carry much money. 200GBP + a few Spanish Pesetas for a cup of coffee at the airport (that time Spain was still with Pesetas) was all the money I had on me.
The Crew Purser gave me my ticket and my passport which had the Visa stamped on it. The Crew Purser was English so she also requested me to carry back a packet for her that would be handed over to me in Southampton and since she was also a friend I agreed. The formalities for disembarking the ship were completed and I was ready to leave in the taxi waiting for me. She bid farewell to me and said “see you in Las Palmas on Saturday”
Little did I know that “That Saturday” would never come as the things started to go wrong from here onwards.
I reached the airport well in time for the flight. Arrcife is a small place with mostly tourists coming to enjoy the sun and the beaches. The airport was quiet and I did the immigration the security and the check-in within no time. Since I had toiletries in my bag I had no choice but to put my luggage with the checked in luggage. And since it was the same airline career taking me ahead to England from Madrid I checked in my bag straight to my destination, the airlines was also kind enough to give me a boarding pass for my connecting flight from Madrid too.
After a couple of hours in the flight I reached Madrid, there was still time for my connecting flight. Since my luggage was already checked-in and I already had the boarding pass I decided to roam around in the terminal, have a cup of coffee and a small bite. The departure of my flight was announced and I proceeded towards the gate to stand in the queue to board. My turn came and the lady at the counter asked me to show my passport and the boarding pass, which I produced. She looked at me and said in her broken English with a heavy Spanish accent
Lady : You going to England?
Me : Yes
Lady : You can not go.
Me : why? Here is the boarding pass.
Lady : Yeah, but no Visa for England.
Me : Its here look.
Lady : This is a Schengen Visa, not valid for you in England
Me : But I was told this is sufficient
Lady : No, you can not, please step aside of the queue.
I was shocked; I was not expecting such a thing to happen. Even before I knew what is happening I saw the boarding gates close and my flight being taxied away to the runway. I saw my Visa again and remembered very clearly my Crew Purser telling me that all Visa’s and the travel documents have been taken care off.
Well now it seemed that apparently they have not been. The Uk visa that was the most essential was missing. The Schengen Visa was only valid till Madrid. I was amazed that even at the Arrecife airport check-in they had not raised this issue and let me continue till here.
Now the ground reality was that I was stuck in Madrid, with my luggage in England and my ship in Arrecife.
...to be contd!!
Very interesting, keep writing. schengen visa is applicable to only 15 European member countries and england is not included in Schengen visa.
Wow great beginning. Shipping is somethin i always wanted to do but life had other plans like the way your trip is!
Waiting for more
nice title and interesting first episode, how long was it back btw ??
waiting for more
Welcome back Deky. I love reading your logues as they are very very inspiring and bring about a great factor of adventure. Couple this with the way you write. You should seriously quit your current job and start writing thriller / adventure novels dude.
Hopefully, this ship doesn't burn. I was once stuck in a similar predicament. Coming back from US, without a DATV that allows one to pass through UK to the Indian subcontinent, my company still managed to book tickets through LHR. How I managed to reach Mumbai from New york with the ticket that takes me through London is another adventure. Your story poised at this point has refreshed those memories!
I still thank god and the kind check in counter person who helped me reach home safe without breaking any laws anywhere. May be that story will figure somewhere later. But want to hear about how you got off this fix dude.
Don't keep us waiting for long.
Jaana Tha Japan Pahoonch Gaye Cheen- Contd
The ship usually has a satellite phone connection and calling it is way too expensive. So I decided to call the head office in England to explain my predicament. Whatever Pesetas I had left on me, I changed them all into coins for using at the pay phone. Calling was also expensive; the pay phone was eating money like a slot machine at a casino. And to add to the misery, with these company telephones you are always greeted with a recorded message with 10’s of option to choose from. Finally I got through the right person and explained her the problem, she got concerned and asked me to call her back in 30 minutes for her to find a solution till then. Luckily she gave me her direct number so that I would not have to go through the voice recordings again.
I called back after 30 minutes. The news she gave me was not encouraging at all. They had indeed got the wrong visa stamped for me for England. But the encouraging news was that she told me that she has got in touch with our Spanish agent who will organize for a hotel room for me to stay in Madrid. But to know which hotel to go too I will have to call her back in another 1 hour.
My mind was working over time, I knew if I had to stay in Madrid the money I had left on me would not be enough, so instinctively I gave her the number of the pay phone I was using. Thank God that in Europe they have public pay phones with their numbers written on it. I told her that I would be near the pay phone and whenever it rings I will answer it. Also I was cursing the fact that the debit cards I had with me clearly stated “valid only in India and Nepal”
Anyways the wait started, I felt like a fool sitting close to the phone and staring at it and cursing anyone who came to use it. Finally the phone rang and as expected it was from the lady at my head office. She informed that finding accommodation in Madrid was proving to be difficult as all the hotels that were under the company’s listing were full. The option in front of me now was to either go and find a hotel on my own, pay the expenses and get it refunded once I join the ship or wait at the airport till the company finds an accommodation for me. Being a little tight on cash, I decided on the second option. The only problem with the second option was that neither one of us knew, how long that wait would be.
It was past midnight and I had spent almost 5 hrs at the airport now. I was pretty sure that by now my head office would be shut and I would here from them only tomorrow. I could not go out of the terminal because if I went out I could not have re-entered it and the life line I had in Madrid was that particular pay phone in the terminal. So know ways I was leaving that place.
Unlike India lots of European airports do not allow night flights and same was the case was Madrid. All the shops and café’s had shut by now, you could hardly see any passengers left inside the terminal. If someone had asked me the propose of my presence at that time inside the airport I would have had no answer. I had no forward ticket to justify my being there and the reason that I was waiting for a phone call at the pay phone would have been too silly to give.
To Be Contd.....
Story becoming very adventurous and interesting. Subscribed this thread to get update
Deky, post quickly na!!
Its like reading an adventure novel, except that these are real life incidents!!Glued to this thread.
PS: My refresh button has conked, you are getting me a new key board:p
Hey good stuff man. I like.
I once spent a similar adventurous night like you - penniless and broke, but with a SLR around my neck, in party clothes,in Rome. I walked the streets the full night. It was s*** scary then and I can only thank my lucky stars I wasn't robbed. But in just 7 years, I've forgotten many details. Unlike your photographic memory!
You sir, will make a fantastic grandfather :D Kudos.
Now get ON with it!!
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