INS Tarangini visits Old Montreal
INS Tarangini, a Varuna Class sail and training ship, docked at the Montreal Old Port, just behind the Centre des Sciences Montreal on Saturday, 31st August 2003. This tall ship, which is on a goodwill circum-navigation trip around the globe sailed from Sarnia, where it took part in the Tall Ships Celebration. I was waiting in anticipation for more than 3 months to see this ship and meet Indian sailors; I also put off all appointments for the long Labour Day weekend and reserved it entirely to this ship. I was not to be disappointed. From Rue De La Commune, a busy tourist street in the Old Montreal running parallel to the St. Laurent River facing Pont Jacques Cartier, Parc Jean-Drapeau and the Montreal Biosphere - more than 500 meters away, the overwhelming sight of the massive and majestic Indian national tricolour just could not be missed. The ship being so tall, one could clearly see the Indian flag flying away in all it's radiant glory, marking it's unmistakeable and glorified presence. The Indian immigrant community seemed to also make their presence felt; however the ship was predominantly visited by the local Canadian and Quebecor and American tourist community. Old and young alike, were amazed that a country from the other side of the planet had decided to send a sail ship without any engines so far away to spread the message of love and peace. It was truly remarkable to have the brave and tough Indian sailors keep their duty to the nation foremost in mind; sacrificing personal pleasures for the better part of 18 months to sail around the world at the call of the nation.
As I first saw the tricolour, I started clicking away frantically...and just couldn't stop. Once I almost managed to fall over and plunge down into the water - more than 40 feet below...not to be comforted by the fact that I don't know how to swim. As I approached the ship, my heart started to pound faster, eyes welled up, and with a great sense of pride and belonging, I went aboard the ship - to be greeted by the effervescent Indian salutation, Namaste. The ship looks a little bit small in pictures, but in reality is quite huge. I have almost no knowledge of sail ships, so cannot really describe it completely here. However, the commander's lookout was amazing with a 360º panoramic view with all the sails folded. Certain sections of the ship were however, out of bounds for everybody. I managed to stay on the ship a little bit longer, feeling a little proud that my feeble contribution made to India a couple of years ago through the way of taxes helped to build this ship. After talking to the crew onboard, it seemed to me that in spite of being away from their near and dear ones for a very long time, they were all smiles, braving it all. Eager to meet one and all, they were explaining the various aspects of sailing, training and seamanship - most of which was more complicated than rocket science to me. All in all, it was a truly exhilarating experience. I dearly wish that the Indian Armed Forces embark on more goodwill missions such as these in the future. I was also blessed by beautiful skies, slightly cool weather and crisp air to take some really nice pictures. Being an amateur photographer at heart, I was really lucky to have captured this massive sail ship on my tiny little lens, and in my mind and memories forever....Jai Hind!
Images © Ashutosh