While at Salalah I had the honour of addressing boys of class 11 and 12 from the Indian International School. The event was organised at the request of the Principal to enlighten the students about Indian Navy as a career option. Their hearty welcome and applause was indeed an indicator of the admiration the Expat community has in all the ports that we visit. After addressing them for about ten minutes the floor was thrown open for questions. This gathering of about 200 students participated enthusiastically with well informed questions about the ship and our voyage. After having boasted for about half an hour, about the life in the Navy, the last question summed up my interaction with them. One of the Prefects asked me a simple and short question, “Why Navy, Why not anything else? Because all that I had told could be found elsewhere also.
To this I told them ,” As a young kid every boy likes to play with ships, guns, trucks, GI Joes and pretends to be a part of them. With time you graduate to video games on the same ships, guns, trucks and GI Joes….. As years pass, most boys grow up and get on with their lives,
We in the Navy, however, are still living our childhood dream. And to add to all that, we are getting paid handsomely for it.”
As the auditorium rose to a resounding applause, I saw my Navigator, Lt Varun Barthwal who had accompanied me on this visit, sitting in the front row smiling and looking might pleased. On the way back as we sat silently in the car I asked the Varun what he thought of the visit. To this he replied,” Sir I don’t know about the students but I have certainly revisited my childhood dream. And by the way Sir, where did you get that line from.”
Having assured him that it was all mine I realised that for most of us may not realise that what we live today must be a dream. Sailing on this fine ship while crossing Suez one can’t help but notice the number of times a crew of a passing boat or a ship takes out their Smart Phones and Cameras to take our pictures. It must be a dream because what we do is admired by all and accomplished by few. It must be a dream because however sun tanned and weather hardened you look, once in your uniform nothing else matters. It must be a dream because you draw the same awe from a child as you draw from a grown up or an elderly.
This leg of the voyage is thus dedicated to all those who get to live this dream.