Just a few weeks into our marriage, I bid a very teary eyed and emotional good bye to my husband as he left for the ship. Being a newly wed I couldn’t think of anything worse than being without my husband. I couldn’t wait to join him on the ship. A month passed by and there was no news of my joining ship so far. When you are waiting for something to really happen the time seems to come to a complete standstill. Each day just seemed to drag on and you can imagine my joy when I got a call that the ship was reaching Houston in a week and if I was ready to go. Ready to go, excuse me, I was roaring to go. The only thing was that there was no crew joining in Houston so I would have to travel alone and they wanted to know if I was comfortable to do that. I didn’t even hesitate before I said yes. That’s a luxury you have when you are younger. You don’t complicate situations by over thinking. I had never traveled alone in my life, yet the task of traveling so far didn’t daunt me for a second.
If I thought time had some to a standstill before this, now it was even worse. Now that I was going to the ship, I was so excited that I could barely eat, drink or sleep. Finally the D day came. My entire family came to bid me goodbye at the airport. Many many instructions about how to stay safe and teary good byes over, I was finally on my own as I proceeded to the check in counter.
All formalities done I proceeded to board my flight to Heathrow. The flight took off and I remember the person sitting next to me was a Brit and contrary to the instructions I was given not to talk to strangers we got talking and he told me I reminded him of a gypsy. I really did not know if I was supposed to be flattered or offended. I also remember feeling all grown up and ordering wine and then feeling so disgusted as I took a sip. I stuck to soft drinks after that.
Once we landed and immigration formalities were over I headed to the exit where according to the conversation I had with my husband before I left, there would be someone waiting for me but ….looking up and down and scanning each placard many times still there was no one to get me. I was a bit baffled but for just a few minutes and then decided to go to the help desk to decide further what to do. Soon I was on a shuttle to the Gatwick airport …mouth agape as I took in the sights of London.
To cut a long story short many hours later I landed in Houston airport where Hallelujah there was someone waiting for me. An hour and a half later I was dumped quite unceremoniously at the jetty with my bag and baggage. Here I must tell you that I am an army brat. Being the daughter of an army officer we took many things for granted. Drivers, cooks, orderlies were at our beck and call. Dressed in their uniforms during the day and kamarbunds for parties in the evening we saw our Dad’s and the other officers around us always very prim and proper. We were used to an entire welcome committee when we moved places, so when this guy literally dumped me there I was quite taken aback.
I stood there looking around not sure what to do next. Then, in the distance I saw a man in blue coveralls towards me. I let out a sigh of relief thinking my hubby had sent someone to get me. As the figure approached me I realised to my utter shock it was my husband. He was in dirty coveralls and I looked behind him there was nobody. THERE WAS NO BODY TO PICK UP my bags and on top of that as I said I was used to the uniform and the officers dressed well at all times and my husband was in dirty grubby blue overalls, and though I didn’t say anything probably because I was too speechless my eyes welled up with tears. I had heard some very weird stories of people who pretend to be merchant navy officers but were actually the crew and all of them rang in my ears. I remembered the warnings of many relatives who had told my Dad many times that if you are marrying your daughter to a merchant navy officer, be very very careful. Head low I followed my husband as he picked up my bags and walked towards the Ship, I remember thinking my life was over, thousands of unpleasant things went through my mind and I created every worst possible scenario in my mind. Fearing the worst I missed my first sight of the ship and just followed him trying to control my tears. Luckily for me it wasn’t too long before we reached my husbands cabin and when I saw 2nd officer outside it, I can’t tell you how relieved and happy I was. This time when he hugged me..I hugged him back unlike at the jetty when I was too stunned to do that.
Today I think back and remember this and I laugh at how naive I was. Well that’s not it. Me being me how could I let it end there. I wish we had Google in those days. I would have Googled what to expect on a ship because it would have saved me from my second shiphiasco. Me and my husband had a bit of a fight before I went to sleep. When I woke up still jet lagged and groggy after my long flight, I went to join him on the bridge. When I went up it was middle of the night as his ‘watch’ was from 12am to 4 am. It was pitch dark. Jumping to conclusions ( which is quite a saggitarius trait) I thought my husband was sulking that’s why he had not switched on the lights and had drawn all the curtains. ” oh come on!” I said as I proceeded to switch on the lights ” just because we’ve had a fight doesn’t mean you act all gloomy and don’t switch on….”. The shocked expression on my husbands face stopped me in mid sentence and he immediately ran on to switch off everything. Well I learned the hard way that no lights are allowed on the bridge at night except in a small curtained off section. Very sheepishly I said “I wasn’t supposed to know that did I.” Thankfully he left it at that and wow what a sight it was on the bridge to be surrounded by water as far as you could see and a sky full of beautiful bright stars. The lovely breeze and the magical moonlight…Was there anything more one could ask for?!