Inspirational story from Cadet to Captain!

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Inspirational story from Cadet to Captain!

It was Teacher’s Day last week and I was featured on a learning platform the Encovate. It was a beautiful gesture acknowledging and felicitating educators. I was wondering if I had made any contributions to the growth stories of my students or trainees. I traveled down the memory lane over 22 of years of my corporate and academic career and many faces appeared in front of my eyes so did many transformational stories. I don’t know if I can take any credit for those empowering and incredible stories but I feel blessed to have touched base with people with perseverance, grit and resilience. I have learnt from each one of them; learning is indeed a two way street. Even today I learn from my students, we grow together!

There are teachers and there are people who we learn our lessons for life from. They are our true mentors, guides and philosophers. It reiterates my belief that teaching and training are not departments but mindsets. I have been wanting to write one inspirational story that my husband had shared with me. It was on my mind while we were celebrating teacher’s day, finally it steps out of my mind and onto the blog. I’d like others to read it and think about all those unsung heroes who contributed to their growth stories. We must have gratitude for them; not many times we express our gratitude but when we do that it’s a feel good for all those who have been doing  wonderful job of creating successful professionals. If you have someone like that in your life reach out to him or her, if you are not in touch; look up for them, see where they are and connect. It will be one satisfying moment for you; happiness comes in many forms. They say catch people doing the right things, have you done that ever? Also the connection between two hearts is a story; let that story unfold today. I have received many such notes and they make me wealthy.

Let me take you to the story that has inspired me, it goes back to almost two and a half decades. It is about my husband and some of his seniors who have contributed immensely in shaping his perspective and professionalism. This story starts with me in fact, I was invited as a speaker at one of the maritime events Samudra Kshitij hosted by Bhandarkar Shipping News, it was a well organized and well attended event. The focus was to create awareness about the Maritime industry and careers among the school students. The who’s who of the industry were there and the chief guest was the Mayor of Mumbai. The programme was hosted by Capt. A Karkare; I was very impressed by his persona style of presentation. I host programmes too and I know the efforts that go in it. There was a lot of similarity between our styles. He had his script ready and he spoke in impeccable Marathi. After the event I spoke to my husband who was onboard at that time, I told him all and shared some pictures. I didn’t miss to speak about Capt. Karkade the very impressive elderly gentleman. He asked me for his picture. Thankfully I had it and that’s when my husband Rajesh spoke of his instructor, the course officer at the pre-sea training. He said that Capt. Karkade was so thorough with his job that whatever he taught is all ingrained in his memory. I wanted contacts of Capt. Karkade but didn’t get any so the story ended there. When Rajesh came back home I asked him about his cadet ship days and we got discussing many aspects of his early career. I found his experiences so rich that I wanted to document them. Hope you enjoy reading this story and also you think about your own mentors.

In the early 90’s my husband Rajesh Todiwan was a cadet with V Ships then and it was his second ship. He had worked on a General Cargo vessel and this one was a Tanker.  He reached onboard the tanker MT Sulpy. The Chief Officer wasn’t too happy seeing a cadet who wouldn’t be of much help as he hadn’t have tanker experience. He also had a senior cadet with him who had done 2 contracts on tankers and then my husband who was brand new to the fleet. When the Chief Officer met Rajesh he told him to clean the office and arrange all files, spruce them up and take care of tea/coffee. Basically asked him to have a good time on that contract and go back to general cargo as tankers were a different ball game.

Rajesh got on with the work entrusted to him. All files were covered, logs updated, office spic and span. Dare anyone find any dust particle! All glasses and the other surfaces shined with a beautiful glow. It took him one week to do that. In the meantime he had gone through all files browsing through the content and updating on his knowledge, things taught during his training ship. Rajesh wasn’t the one to sit in office and look at files, he can’t still do it. He is a hands on person who is curious about new concepts, loves to try out new things and has a special liking for adventure. He wasn’t the one to settle for the cosy life in the air conditioned cabins of the tanker.

He met the Chief Officer and told him that the work that was given to him was done. The Chief Officer inspected every nook and corner of the office and checked each and every file for correctness and aesthetics. He couldn’t pin point anything. When Rajesh asked him what next, the Chief Officer told him to read up, learn and spend the time of his contract. Rajesh told him that all was done; if there wasn’t work for him then he was ready to sign off and asked the C/O to send him home.  It made the C/O think and he told Rajesh that he should be happy to have a smooth contract. When Rajesh was adamant the C/O asked the senior cadet to do his viva to check his knowledge of tankers. The senior cadet started asking him questions. Rajesh knew almost everything to which the Senior Cadet asked in surprise if he had done tankers earlier. Rajesh hadn’t but he had a great Instructor who had taught about tankers during his cadetship course; he remembered all of that. After doing viva for almost 3 days the senior cadet had tested enough. Then they both reported to the C/O and it was then his turn to ask questions. Rajesh did well there too, the C/O was impressed and then he started assigning jobs to Rajesh and also keeping an eye an him if he was learning. Rajesh had numerous questions for the C/O who according to him has been one of the best seafarer he knows. Very hands on person; who did the job thoroughly and with precision. He believed that one must focus on the deck work and learn all about the vessel, navigation can be learnt later as there is ample time to master that. But cadet days don’t come back so the foundation should be made as strong as one can during that time. Would never rest while he was tired but would take rest only when he was done; completing the job to the best of his abilities and satisfaction. He didn’t trust others with jobs, would always check each job if it was done correctly and the best way possible- something Rajesh picked up and has been the mantra for him.

The Captain of the vessel heard the story and he got Rajesh to do the painting job and gave him the name of Primer man and the Denso man as the Master Capt. DeTemple felt that the cadet did a wonderful job. The cadet never gave up and changed his situation from dejection to adulation. All these motivated him to put in his best.

Such are great teachers and managers who equip you with the best professional and life skills. The Chief Officer was Capt. Prashaant Mirchandani and the instructor was Capt. Arun Karkare. These two men have mentored an equally worthy seafarer Capt. Rajesh Todiwan who has sailed for over 25 years and is known as one of the best in his profession. I am so very proud of this Primer man!

PS: Pictures are taken from google with due credits

Dr. Laxmi Todiwan
Dr. Laxmi Todiwan
Founder Indian Women in Hospitality. She is a Professor, Corporate Trainer, Motivational Speaker and a Blogger. A multiple award winning hospitality professional with a career spanning over two decades; people engagement, training and development are close to her heart. She writes for hospitality journals, online platforms and columns in the local newspapers. Married to a Master Mariner she loves to write on the maritime industry as well as the lives and relationships of the fraternity. She expresses her thoughts on her blog and website,

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