Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Entire Life is a WASTE

We were visiting Vancouver, BC, Canada on 25th September 2011 and enjoying the scenery standing in front of downtown Canada Place.  A few minutes before 6 PM we heard some noise in the corner and went there to see the revelry.  Luxury liner "Diamond Princess" was ready for departure on a cruise to Alaska.  The huge luxury cruise ship was decorated with buntings and balloons and as she set on her journey at 6 PM sharp, we also joined the waving friends and relatives of the cruise going passengers.  The huge ship leaving the dock and majestically moving towards the sea was a wonderful sight.  Cruises to Alaska are available from Vancouver, BC and Seattle, WA, USA.  Some times one can get a last minute seat on the cruise to Alaska for 500 US dollars and cabins with better facilities are available depending on the capacity to pay.  These liners are floating cities and the facilities they have astound us.

Mid January 2012 was a sad period for cruise industry.  When I was watching News on the flight from Frankfurt to Bangalore, the visuals of a sinking cruise liner were being shown.  Italian Cruise Liner "Costa Concordia" was on a cruise in the waters of Tyrrhenian Sea just off Tuscan island of Giglio and hit a rock tearing a 160 feet long hole in her hull.  The ship owned and operated by Costa Cruises was named as "Costa Concordia" to signify the name of the company by the word Costa and "CONCORDIA" meaning the wish for "continuing harmony, unity and peace between European nations".  When it capsized, the ship was carrying 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew members.  Of the 4,252 persons on board, 4,221 were saved, including some Indians who arrived here after a week.  16 persons were dead and their bodies were recovered with another 16 reported missing.  An estimated 2,380 tons of fuel was still left in the storage tankers of the ship which is posing a great challenge in safe removal to avoid an oil spill in the Italian coast. 

The ship "Costa Concordia" was a six year old ship and cost 450 million Euro (about 2,850 Crore rupees).  The 17-deck ship had 1500 cabins, 505 private balconies, 4 swimming pools, a spa, 13 bars excluding coffee and chocolate bars, 3-level theater, a discotheque and a casino!  There were 5 restaurants with two of them were reservation only dining, meaning even in the middle of the sea and with limited passengers on board you have to reserve a seat for dining there.  But that is all history now and one has to go under the sea to see the ruins of these amenities.  Preliminary estimates have declared that it is a "Total Loss" in insurance language, meaning that the ship is gone for ever and cannot sail again.  There were complaints of life boats not being accessible or opening and the crew members not knowing what to do in the crisis situation.  Rescued passengers who arrived in India informed that they swam to the shore in zero degree Celsius freezing water.  Some of the dead were believed to have died due to inability to survive the freezing cold in the sea water.  Some might have died due to not knowing swimming as well.

When I heard of this tragedy, the first name that came to my mind was of Mihir Sen.  I was still a school boy when Mihir Sen was swimming in the seas and making news.  There was no Television in those days and Radio also was a luxury.  I was following his exploits by reading the newspapers and would wait for the arrival of the newspaper in our town municipality office library reading room every morning.  Mihir Sen went to England for a bar-at-law examination but the English Channel attracted him to swimming. He set many records for swimming in the seas and was the first Indian to swim across the English Channel in 1958. He covered the distance in 14 hours and 45 minutes and was awarded  "Padmashri" for this achievement in 1959.  Mihir Sen was not content with this and his love for swimming took him literally across seven seas.  In 1966, he swam in seven seas across five continents including  Palk Strait, Straits of Gibraltar, Straits of Dardanelles, Bosporus and panama Canal.  He swam despite the treacherous sharks in the Pakl Strait, between India and Sri Lanka. This achievement got him the "Padma Bushan" in 1967.

I had written a blog titled "Why poverty in words?' sometime back. (Click here to read "Why poverty in Words?")  A similar story comes to my mind now.  A Pundit had to cross a full flowing river to go to the other side and got into a boat.  The Pundit was very proud of his knowledge and would tease anyone less knowledgeable and he had plenty of them.  Once in the boat he asked the boatman, "Do you know Ramayana?'.  The boatman said he did not know.  Pundit said, "A quarter of your life life is a waste. Do you know Mahabharata?".  The boatman said he did not know.  Pundit said, "Half of your life is wasted.  Do you at least know Bhagavata?".  Boatman said he did not know that too.  Pundit enjoyed this and told the boatman, "Three fourth of your life has become a waste".  The boatman felt very sad that he did know anything and his life was wasted in ferrying people across the river whereas the pundit had so much of knowledge.  The boat had reached the middle of the river and the pundit wanted to ask one more question.  In the meanwhile there was a sudden flash flood in the river and the boat started sinking.  Despite his best efforts the boatman could not control the boat.  The boatman now asked the Pundit, "Do you know swimming?".  Pundit said he did not know.  "Your entire life is a waste" said the boatman, jumped into the flood waters and swam to safety.  The Pundit with all his knowledge was swallowed by the swirling waters.

Those aboard Costa Concordia and knew swimming escaped to safety.  Those who did not know swimming died taking all their knowledge and wealth with them.  It is advisable to teach swimming, cycling and driving etc. to children when they are young.  Remember the cyclists in the film "Great Escape".  Who knows when these skills can save their lives in future!


  1. I couldn't agree with you more about making a child to learn especially swimming as well as
    cycling, driving and other ones. These are a must learn skills.

    1. cycling and driving they learn on their own according to their age. Parents should make them learn swimming soon after the child reaches 5th year of its age. As a matter of fact i do not know swimming.

    2. I understand one way of teaching to kids is to push them deliberately into the swimming pool so that they forcibly learn to swim.I donot know whether it is a right practice

    3. I understand in some schools the hesitating kids are deliberately pushed into the swimming pool to overcome the fear of water subsequently and boldly learn swimming. i donot know whether it is a right method

  2. Now a days parents want to teach so many things, that too not galli games they want coaching by specialists or trainers that natural simple playing and learning has gone, we want them to so we force them. They can't have their own personality.