Capt. Rajesh Todiwan and mine has been a partnership of the equals in more ways than one. I would like to highlight here the things that have added meaning and adventure, making our lives the most enjoyable rollercoaster, though I have never sat on one myself!
When we were getting married I said to my seafarer husband, “Your job is important to you and so is mine”; that was the beginning of an equal partnership between the two of us. We got married, soon learnt that I was expecting, he stayed home a bit longer, made the first couple of visits to the doctor together. He went back on ship and I back to my work. Visits to the doctor were on my own, saw other couples coming together. I missed my hubby but then it was a choice that we made together. I went into a long labour but then had to go in for an emergency c- section. Son arrived before his father whose sign off had got delayed and my partner reached home promoted as the brand new dad. Not to miss that promotion came before his professional one; so it was the dad Chief Officer who took up the mantle of the Master on his next contract.
Left my government job to take up another that was closer home so that I could balance my work and life which was being a single parent half of the year. 7 minutes travel time to work can only come to a few in the city of dreams and I was one of the lucky ones.
Time for the baby number two; hubby having missed it all the first time took up a job in a company that had its ships sailing close to India and dry docking in Mumbai. So I could have a pizza party before my delivery that was a planned one. The baby roared to the cheers of my folks and his daddy dearest holding fort. Everyone was overjoyed to have another prince joining my brood except my mom who felt I deserved a doting daughter.
Dear husband made up this time for all things we missed for the first one. We complimented each other yet again. I had to go to the US for a higher course, my sailor ensured that he was home to manage my kingdom and he did it beautifully. He also added a few dollars to my allowance which I got back with some bonus!
We made up for one another over the years; him out at sea and me taking charge of the home front and relations.
This one takes the cherry on the top; I had a fall causing an ACL tear in my knee. I went through it alone and managed without a surgery, pushing myself to the limit. I actually played to the hilt mind- body- soul coordination. Guess what? …He matched me there as well tearing a ligament in his own knee. He told me that an AB on his vessel had an injury like mine, I shared the medicines and the exercises which he said he was making the AB do. Only when he got home the AB turned out to be none other than my Master Mariner hubby. This is the height of matching every knee…. I mean every step!
He has stayed in most of my hotels and I know about every vessel of his. He can give a lesson or two to the hoteliers and I have been writing for Seafarer magazines. This is where we match each other on yet another level. As they say, “Only the best man can go to the sea and only the best woman can be with the best man!”
I had a dream to visit his ship but there wasn’t a suitable time that gave me the wings to be with my man sailing with him; owing to the many commitments; first 6 years being building our family. Then children’s school, my work- matching that with hubby’s job on parcel chemical tankers was a tough assignment. After being married for over 17 years I finally got an opportunity to visit his ship. It was in my city and I can’t thank his company Thome Ship Management to make my dream a reality.
A visit to the vessel
When I learnt I could visit his ship as he was joining from Mumbai, I was very excited and had butterflies in my tummy! If you have experienced first love… this is what it felt like. I was teasing hubby with my standard line of speech, “Yo man I going to the ship and I am so excited …I love it!” in the style of Abdu Rozik. Must have done that every time I got an opportunity and Capt. Todiwan would burst out laughing. Thome Ship Management office and the agents Mr. Prashant Kapase GAC shipping; were making arrangements to facilitate the visit. In fact the office team too planned a visit to the ship; after all they are the ones doing the groundwork- looking into crew management, liaisoning and making logistic arrangements. It is important that the office team gets to see the work conditions on board and the crew gets to meet the people it generally communicate with. Putting a face to the person has its own advantages. Coming from the hospitality background I have done enough research on it.
It is said that a business keeps its stakeholders by treating them right every time and you can do that only when you know them well.
A consistently superior experience cultivates loyalty, strengthens the brand value and helps generate better revenues. It also turns the stakeholders into fans or the advocates of the company. In today’s extremely competitive market, it’s just not enough to have the best product or service but requires much more. To survive, sustain and progress; the business must deliver a great engagement generally referred to a ‘wow!’
Could see the office team Mr. Chetan Bhandari, Vaibhav, Mansi, Anita and Preety as excited as Nargis the Chief Officer’s wife and me. We felt like a bunch of school kids on a study tour. The process took long, clearing from the Port Trust, waiting at the Yellow gate but we had build a strong camaraderie and were fine with the delay. Finally it was time to get going and head to the vessel. A short drive to the boat that finally took us to the ship. The 30 minutes were the most promising ones as we were going to meet the crew; for the two of us ladies we were going to meet our husbands.
The sight of the magnificent vessel was a moment to behold. We kept inching towards the vessel. Were greeted by Chief Officer Atul Pratap Singh but I couldn’t see my husband I knew he would be busy with taking over. We were escorted to the Master’s office. It was a delight to see Capt. Alexander Mikic the off signing master and my dear husband the new master onboard. Chief Engineer Mr. Nicolae Ciprian Tudor graciously welcomed us onboard. Met the duty officers on the deck and headed to have a quick lunch. This was followed by a tour of the vessel; Capt. took us around the deck and 2nd Engineer Mr. Diniz Delick showed us the engine room. Found the ship to be in great shape and order, she looked majestic in the true sense. The crew was busy with their work as discharging operation was in progress. After a tour of the vessel we all headed to the mess where the goodies that we carried were there for all to sample and a pre Xmas cake cutting sort of ceremony was done; all thanks to Nargis for being very thoughtful carrying not 1 but 3 cakes. We all had a good conversation, plenty of laughter and were happy to have met.
Icing on the cake was the team spirit that we saw among the officers, especially Capt. Alexander’s sense of humour; he is truly blessed with that! Saw Chetan interacting with the crew members moving to their work areas. For some of the office staff it was their first visit onboard hence it was special for them and a good learning too. Saw them capturing the moments on their cell phones.
My takeaways from this visit; I understood my husband’s work fairly well but this was an eye opener. I learnt it was tougher than what I had imagined. The engine room was humangous going to many decks and work conditions very tough. My respect for them has gone many notches higher. There is a great team spirit on board, every seafarer is a thorough professional – committed and humble. The office staff is a great support system for the people at sea. Safety is always the top priority and every action has to be the best one!
I come back with gratitude and the satisfaction of having ticked an item in my bucket list.