Saturday, May 27, 2006

Today was a pretty good day.

Not many deckies working'; many people are seasick, and so extra deckies are taking on other's seawatches, and so on, so not many day-workers. Tomorrow there are only 3 of us!

Anyway. The Bosun asked me to wirebrush/clean/paint one of the compass stands on the bridge, which was a good job. Went well too. Hopefully the rain the rest of the day wont have messed it up too much....

Then in the afternoon we had fire attack-team training. Which basically envolved learning about how the breathing-apperatus worked (BA-sets). Then putting them on, and going about the ship, all of us getting shut inside a small compartment/fan-room togeather (to make sure we could cope with such spaces, and not get claustrophobic), crawling along mainstreet (the main corridoor of the ship) using only hands and feet (knees not being protected enough) and then we went up to the funnel, climbing down through inside of the funnel structure inside the engine room, (very very hot! while wearing heavy BA-sets too...) to give us an idea of how it is like inside a fire, then we had to go out along the propellor tunnel shaft (small, hot, and with the propellor axel/pole spinning half a meter away from you the whole time) and climb up the emergency escape shaft.

Then our instructor (one of the ship's firemen) went and lay down somewhere in the lower engine room, and we had to go in to find him, and carry him out as a casualty, the whole time wearing our BA-sets. The normal cylinders we are using here for air give about 45 minutes, so the whole thing didn't take THAT long, but it sure felt like it, as it was so hot, and carrying a human body about while wearing a set is quite hard. One of the people on the training mis-attached his BA tube to his mask, and so had to stop half way through, and go on the rest of the time just breathing normal air, with his BA-set detatched, and one of the others ran out of air 10 minutes before then end, as he is less fit or something, and so was using up air faster. But we got out in the end.

I enjoyed it a lot. For some reason many of the others didn't. Most of the others got burns on their hands while we were climbing down through the smokestack funnel, -- it was that hot. I didn't. Family asbestos fingers coming into play, I think. Anyway. They ended up walking around the rest of the day clutching plastic bags of icecubes. One of the others as well was feeling too sick to participate. But one of the other guys, from Germany, was really really good. Very competent, and good to work with. I'm sure he will be on the attack team soon, and good too.

So yeah..

We left India yesterday. Kind of sad. I will miss India a lot. A lot of people on board are glad to leave, as it has been very stressful for them, what with many of the visitors being so pushy and all. For me, I didn't get so stressed by it, even when on gangway watch, with many people coming and asking for tours, and for permission to walk about the ship and stuff like that.

I was thinking about it, and many of the cultural traits which ship people were finding hard to deal with, and much of the culture are pretty similar to Cypriot culture.... just imagine a Cypriot culture that had continued for 3000 years without being invaded every 100 years like Cyprus has.... then imagine their religion teaching that they were spiritually better than others, and that the others were trash, lower than dogs, because of bad stuff they had done in previous lives, not even to be pitied. But the aspects of everyone being out for himself, but caring about his family, or family image. Not wanting to look bad, trying to get the best for himself out of every situation, thinking he knows best, and so on. Very similar to Cypriot culture. Maybe that's why I didn't have such a problem.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Two days ago we got the new deck schedule for this month. no news about jobs or anything, BUT, I found I had an extra 2 days of 12-4 gangway watch this week, as some people are on re-entry training. That's not good news. So I did 12-4 today. I'm SO tired. I wasnt ready and so didnt get enough sleep or anything, and I still have tomorrow to do.

BUT the good news: one of the other blokes wandered into my cabin just now, we were chatting, and he said, "just 2 days of 12-4? That would totally wreck your whole sleeping pattern. 1 day is fine though. How about we swap tomorrow? I'll do your 12-4 tonight and tomorrow afternoon, and you can do my cleaning team." He just phoned to say he confirmed it with the bo'sun. COOL!!!!!

He said he quite likes gangway. So many people tell me that. I just dont get it.

Re-entry training is brief 2 day training about getting ready for going back home. We have about 8 or 9 deckies leaving in the next few months, so it may be quite unlikely that I leave deck any time soon. I hope I'll get the lifeboat job and that it works out as well as I hope.

I spoke with the bosun, and he knows that Im quite practical and good with my hands and stuff, and so he would quite like me in lifeboats, but the watermen want me to join them too (specifically asked for me). And he knows I'd quite like the lifeboat job. I told him that I am interested in moving from deck into creative ministies or AV or videographer job in the future, so if it is better for the deck to get someone who doesn't want to leave deck ever (which would be good if there was someone to do lifeboats for 1 and half years! very good for the department), then maybe is better I stay in normal deck work. He was happy I told him. unhappy that I may not stay a deckie, but he really appreciates openness.

Watermen job is (in my opinion) not fun. Others think it sounds great. Basically no hard physical work at all; they are in charge of the ship's drinking water, so when trucks come, they have to come and get it attached and coming to the right tanks, moving water from one tank to another so the ship doesn't get lopsided, checking the water making sure it's OK, testing the depths of each tank. There's also a bunch of other random jobs (like looking after the baggage locker, making the new keys for the ship, repairing shoes, etc) mostly it doesn't require too much work, but not exciting.

AND... many times they end up being "on call" all evening, and having to rush off to do water trucks at all hours, which would be really really is bad for me, as I'd almost never be able to totally confirm with a programme organiser, "yes I can be in a programme to do a drama" so they would not want me in dramas at all, as I might have to keep rushing off. So you can see how some people like the job. No hard physical work.

Sometimes they don't ask if you want a job, though, they just assign. It's the chief mate's decision in the end. Apparently what happens is that all the department heads meet up to discuss what people they want, and then negotiate it all out, and then after that each deparement head assigns jobs out within the department according to which people they have left, and so on.

According to the AV people I'm almost certainly on the list of people they will request, but because of me being quite strong and a guy, I will almost certainly stay in deck for the first year. The thing is, AV will be SO short staffed in the next few months. I know I could do the AV job, and many people could not, and so I dont want to commit to the deck department of getting the extra training and stuff of the lifeboat job, if I will then end up having to dump them in a few months if AV cannot find enough other people. Its not fair to the department. So it's all quite complicated. That's why I told the bosun.

At the moment, though, I'm just glad about not having 12 to 4 again tomorrow!

I missed lunch today as I had to give a tour for my "little brother"s family at 11:30. So I went and brought an icecream from the book-ex shop, then made a chocolate spread and jam sandwhich and put the icecream on top. Scrummy. Then I had some dinner too, but not much. I put the rest in the fridge for later. But i'f I'm not on watch I wont need it...

Gangway watch is so bad for eating too. You never feel hungry at normal times, and then need energy quickly at random times, and waking up at like 2 am, and so end up eating really bad stuff, chocolate spread sandwhiches, choclate bars, tea with loads of sugar,cereal with sugary squash juice stuff as the Doulos milk is not nice.

We were supposed to go on an extra trip on my off-day, all of our group, to do a special programme at an old peoples home. But the driver didn't turn up, and so we were waiting for ages. Then when he did turn up, we got taken off to the wrong place - the same place where we did some building. They wanted us to start building again, but none of us were in building clothes. All the girls were in punjabis and all . I remembered the house of a local guy we had met before, so we went there, and phoned to the real guy, and explained the problem ... and then it began to totally chuck it down with rain. So we hid under the veranda and played music and sang songs with the local slum kids, which was really cool. They sung us their Sunday school songs. Really nice.

Then somehow the guy turned up, found us a jeep, and drove us back to the ship. On the way we stopped at a really nice cheap Indian fast food/resurant place and had lovely lovely lovely Indian food. A whole huge meal. The whole meal, plus drinks and dessert, and auto ride home cost us 50 rupees each!!!! 50 rupees is about 50 CY cents [approx $1 US].

It was too late to go where we were supposed to go - everyone had gone home.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Today has been pretty good. Sunday service music practice at 7am. I went early, to warm up, then we practiced until 8:20, service started at 8:30, so about 5 minutes for breakfast. Then after the service cleaning duty, so went outside to start cleaning. Barely started when an absolute torrent of rain started. So we ran around lashing down all the canvasses, lowering the engine room hatch, etc. Got totally soaked. Totally!

Ship seems SO clean now. It's lovely. Everyone said "God is on cleaning duty today!"

Yesterday was i-night, at an outside quasi-amphitheatre venue, a 4000 seater. We packed it!!!!! We were praying for no rain on Saturday for the last 3 weeks or so. So it was really great getting soaked today, and thinking, "This rain might have come yesterday, and ruined all our equipment, and wrecked the whole night, but God made it rain today!" so we didn't mind getting wet at all.

Then after lunch I did the rubbish, had a 10 minute rehearsal for a drama, finished the rubbish, had a shower, went and performed the drama, played guitar for a few minutess, got some props from creative ministires, practised with 4 others for a drama tomorrow. Then I got ready for gangway relief, went and did relief for half an hour while the watchman (watchwoman) went for dinner. Then I put the lights on on the ship, lowered the flag, ate dinner myself, then came back to clean up my bunk a bit. It was covered in random stuff from i-night and all.

I was in two acts in the i-night. Scottish dance, and then TWO minutes later, the "parade of nations" as Cyprus, so very rushed to change. I wear the closest I can find to Cyprus costume: black trousers, white shirt, and a black "Spanish" waistcoat from the costume locker. Looks kind of silly to me, but (a) no one in the audience knows any better (b) if it really looked stupid, they wouldn't keep assigning me to parade of nations (c) most of the costumes look a bit "made up" or fake, so yeah.

Oh, and i've got jazz dance practice in 15 minutes.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I'm working on a puppets script at the moment, for tonight's practice. We brainstormed it last week. Someone else wrote the first draft, and I should have sent it back to them before. But now I have fixed many things, and re-written a few scenes, so I hope it is OK.

I will be BUSY tonight.

6.28: drama performance
6.30: Scottish dance practice (I'll be late though)
7.00: puppets practice
9.00: jazz dance practice
10.00: clarinet practice in foc's'cle
11.00: sleep

The drama will probably actually be nearer 6.40. I still don't know if I'm definitely in the official drama team! One of the other drama team people who is in this drama tonight (which I already knew, and so taught them) told me he thought I was. But who knows? I'm waiting for them to tell me.

Funny thing is, in deck work I am totally NOT busy. There is far too little work for us all to do at the moment. So we're doing silly things, and spending as much time as we can on them. Like cleaning the aft mooring station. Totally pointless, as in three days time it will be filthy again from the coal dust, and takes just as long to clean now as it will in three days, whether or not we clean it now.

We also spent about half an hour re-whipping a rope for the canvas cover for one of the bridge compasses, and then stood down two hours early.

But that's good for me, it means I can finish this script now!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Monday, May 15, 2006

I'm finished watch, but feeling kinda sick/queasy, possibly bad fruit. I did eat four apples just before watch in one go; the fruit had probably been sitting in the backstage of the theatre getting hot and stuff all day. Not serious.

Visak port is even dirtier than the last one but it's rained twice! Lovely. Huge massive torrents of it, with thunderstorms like in Colorado. Lightning hit one of the port floodlight towers, and so the port lost lighting for about 6 hours.

Then we got a page from the book exhibition, "Attention ship's company, we are in need of volunteers to come to the book-ex deck to help save the books."

So of course loads of us charged up there. Water was coming in all the sides, as it wasn't prepared for 45 degree torrents. All the cash desks got soaked too. So I was running around tying canvases down all over stuff. Because it was a sort of i-night last night, most of the ship's company were off-ship, so only about 40 people were on board. A lot of books got a bit wet, but not wrecked.

I spoke to the bosun about the lifeboatman job. He says he wants whoever does it to start working as soon as possible so they learn the job really well before September, when the current guy leaves. When I spoke to one of the firemen, he said that with the lifeboatman and fireman jobs, you can basically work what hours you want to, as long as you get jobs done. So it would be very cool.

Lifeboatman does maintenance of all lifeboats, emergency equipment and so on, also repair of all canvases on board, and nets, ladders etc. They can get as many deckies as they need when they want them. But if just checking rations and water supplies, no others are needed. If I did this, I'd be able to do more dramas and programmes easily, and sleep more at night! Also because I'd be working on my own frequently, I'd be happier socialising during off-time.

It sounds ideal, but then again, the grass is always greener and all that. Heading for almost 4 months on the ship, almost the whole of my preship is a bit fed up with their jobs and want to move/change etc, which is expected. In about 2 months' time, most will probably be happy again.

I don't know if I will do it; they must have this week's team leaders meeting first and see what happens. They will probably decide then, but who knows? Some things happen on board so fast and other things take forever! I still haven't been told definitely that I'm in the drama team...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Here is a poster they showed us in our fire-fighting "training". I'm quite glad we didn't have to actually put one of these on...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Last week has been kind of slow/busy/confused etc. One of the creative ministries people is on an away-team, we had an i-night, I went on an overnight, and am on watch this week (12 till 4), and so on. Also I learned a new mime/dance and performed it the next day. Tomorrow we sail to the next port.

The overnight went well, it was a very good experience. I'm so glad to have gone on an overnight in India. Some of it was not such fun, but very good to have experienced it. Hole-in-the-ground type toilets without toilet paper, for instance...

The book-ex has closed for this port. We were going to be open today, and pack down tomorrow, but today is election day so the local people (port authorities) told us it wasn't a good idea to be open. So we closed today and are doing major clean/pack down. A major, major clean. This is a coal port, so there is black dust caked onto EVERYthing. Horrible. Apparently the next port is even worse...

One of the team leaders asked me yesterday if I would consider the job of lifeboat man!! More flexible hours, I'd be pretty much my own boss, as long as I got the jobs done, no gangway watch or firerounds and so on! I'd have to look after the lifeboats, clean them, make sure all ropes/equipment are correct and good, learning more about how they work, and helping to direct during drills and when using them etc. It should mean I could have more flexible hours as I'd be working on my own most of the time and so I could work around performances/practices with drama and stuff. But I'd still be a deckie, which would also be good. And, I'd get a special letter/chitty/thingy from captain and mates, which would (apparently) pretty much get me a job on any ship anywhere!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

"I'm on a church team tomorrow," said I.

"Cool. Who's your team leader?" said he.

"I am."

"My goodness? What is the teams co-ordinator smoking to make you team leader?"

... or so (approximately) went a conversation on Saturday.

Yeah. I was a team leader. So, what does that mean? well, basically, a church asked for a team of us to go do a short programme/presentation in their service today, and my job was to find out (a) what they actually wanted, (b) what we would do, and (c) how we would do it. Another question was also (d), who "we" are.

I was told that I was a team leader on Wednesday.

I thought it was Thursday, at the time. So I went to the board, and make a notice that my team should meet on Saturday evening, in the dining room. 6.20pm. Why this time? Well, the sheet of paper they had given me told me we would be collected from the port gate at 6.20am, the next morning. And I thought it kind of appropriate.

I phoned the pastor as well, and found out what he wanted (songs, drama, mime, a couple of testimonies, and a short presentation about the ship. nothing too challenging).



18:20 - I was in the dining room. Waiting for 2 fairly experienced Douloids (both had been on the ship longer than I have), and 2 STEPpers.

18:30 - I phoned the info desk to ask if it was allowed for me to make a page for them to come. They told me no, only on the actual day itself could I page.

OK. No problem. I'll just wait then.

6:35 - one of them turned up! Whoo! One of the experienced Douloids. We chat for a bit about what kind of things we should do. I'd been given one good idea earlier by someone else. As the STEPpers probably don't know any dramas, and probably don't know how to give a good (ie, short) testimony, I could ask them to sing a song in their own languages. Most westerners are horrified at the thought of being asked to sing solo in front of a church, but many Indians don't seem to be. Also, although some don't sing so well, most seem to sing very well indeed.

7:00 - I ask info, and apparently one of the STEPpers is actually out today, with some other team, and hasn't returned yet!

7:30 - no one else decided to turn up. oh well. the both of us leave. I have some work to do, I need to stick some adhesive sandpaper-type tape to the steps to Hold 3, so they are safe to walk up without slipping over. The trouble is that the self adhesive isn't strong enough to hold it in place, and the contact glue I have to use should really be left overnight to dry, that's why I am doing it tonight.

8:00 - My K-group (fellowship/family group) "parents" are leaving, and it's now time to say goodbye, so pretty much the whole of the people who joined the ship at the same time as us are there. Quite sad.

9:00 - I get dressed in work clothes to go do that work. On my way, I pop by the book-exhibition up on deck, as one of the cabin mates of the other STEPper (not the one already away from the ship) told me that he should be working there. I found him! I told him we're meeting at the info desk at 6am, and he says he can sing. Jolly good.

9:45 - While working on the steps down to hold 3, Andy (from the previous pre-ship group to mine) brings the other STEPper down to see me! I ask her if she can sing, she says yes, and although she doesn't like the idea of a 6am start, thats OK.

10:00 - Finished. Bedtime.


6:10 - At info. We're all there! Wow. Pray, discuss briefly what we will do, and head for the port gate.

6:25 - We're in the bus heading for the church!

8:00 - Service finished already. Didn't really go as planned at all. Very short simple baptist style service, which I enjoyed. Old hymns and everything. Not 200 people, as my paper said, but more like 30 or 40. The CD played didn't work properly, which disrupted us a bit, as a mime/dance kind of relied on it. But! One of the STEPpers sang very well, and the other one... could be professional! Lovely voice. Amazing. So, yeah, it all kind of worked.

10:20 - The pastor took us out for an indian breakfast (lovely), and we're now in a taxi on the way back to the ship. Wow...

11:20 - I find my "little brother" port volunteer, and gave him a tour of the ship (I'd been on watch when he joined, and kept missing him, so he hadn't yet had a proper tour! Not so good of me. But he liked the tour.).

And that was it!

It all went well. Afterwards in the team "de-brief" in the mess, while filling out the form about how it went, one of the experienced Douloid team members took the form and in the extra comments she wrote how she liked my leading style, as I was so relaxed, and asked peoples
opinions rather than being a dictator, and how unusual I was. *blink* hm. Thanks!

But maybe that means I'll have to lead many teams in the future! Oh stress!

So, yeah.

Doulos life is still pretty hectic.

We've been having many inspections and stuff this port, so yesterday I was helping to clean up the lifeboatman's office, and in the back, we found an old guitar (without strings), which belonged to one of the lifeboatmen of ages past, and the current one didn't want the guitar, and so said I could have it! Wow! So I now have my own guitar! Today hopefully I can go and buy some strings. I'd just been talking with God a few days ago about not being able to practice guitar so much, so yeah! Doesn't often happen like this, but a nice present. It's even a classical guitar! Whoo!