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   I have the highest regard for our fishermen. (June 21, 1996)

They risk their lives so that we eat prawns and pomfret and surmai and squid. Many years ago, my sailing friend, Hiro Shroff, offered to organise a trip for me on a fishing vessel. We would be out on the sea for four, five days, or till we had a full catch, then come back. I could write about them, take pictures (no, I did not have a camera, so I could not have taken pictures), experience their life and work. I agreed, but at the last minute I developed cold feet. What if there was a storm, I did not swim.That is the nearest I have been on a fishing vessel. I also have not been on many other vessels. My journies have been earlier by train and now by air.I have, however, traveled from Bombay to Basrah and back on British India Steam Navigation ships, Dwarka and Daressa. Some years later, one of the BI ships capsised at sea, many people were drowned.I was a deck passenger and my fellow-passengers were carpenters, dhobis, barbers, from India and Pakistan, going to Muscat and Bahrain for work. At later ports, Arabs joined us, and I found that the Indians and Pakistanis were united against the Arabs. History proved a greater bond than religion.On another occasion I sailed from Bombay to Goa and back, one-way Scindia, return Mughal Lines. It was a different experience from flying Indian Airlines or Jet Airways. Different even from the Damania hydrofoil, or whatever it is. The voyage took a day and a night; the ship supplied food, its crew, unofficially, feni, and the passengers guitar and songs. It was also my first visit to Goa, so it was a perfect introduction.

The only other sailing experience I remember is across the English Channel. If memory serves, I

had breakfast and red wine with some dock workers at Calais, bought a ticket and got on the ship. It was a short trip and most of it was spent in watching the white cliffs of Dover pproaching. There were no immigration problems in those days and I walked out of Dover comfortably, with a friendly wave and a welcome-to-England from the immigration-customs.On another occasion, I took a train from Victoria Station, London, at 7.45 p.m., moved through the dreary suburbia, and it is dreary, all uniform houses with uniform gardens, and reached Dover in a couple of hours. There was a ship waiting and I sat in what looked like a large reception room, with slot machines, a bar and a duty-free shop. At Calais, the French Railways train was waiting, faster smoother, much better equipped than British Railways.As we moved out of the maritime station, dawn was breaking and I could smell the aromatic French café au lait, as a uniformed man rolled his coffee wagon through the aisles. Next stop, Gare de Nord, Paris.

 
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