Love this photo of the open book and the hurricane lantern. I grew up in 1960s (when our modest house at Pandanadu wasn’t electrified), and the lantern played a significant role of Guru (dispeller of darkness) in my childhood.
My task as a kid was to keep the the glass of the lantern as clear as possible. In hindsight, it taught me (without any leadership training) the importance of keeping the body and mind clean to emanate the energy within. I am not very sure whether I enjoyed cleaning the soot stained glass from the kerosene, but it didn’t matter. I did it, changed the wick, filled kerosene and ensured it’s fit for purpose and can light up the room as bright as it could with the glass, i cleaned personally.
Little did I know then that:
- I will end up at sea for earning my livelihood and command foreign merchant ships from 1990, as clear of hurricanes as possible with focus of safety of lives on my ships, cargo and ships
- I will later inspire 4200+ people at sea and on shore to manage 117 ships safely in good and bad weather from shore and remain accountable and responsible for their safety and work.
I was also given indirect lessons on protection of environment and minimisation of energy consumption by heating the bath water with sunlight (rather than with firewood or dry leaves in the backyard except on overcast days) in a big circular vessel in 1960s. We drew well water, we conserved water and couldn't think of wasting any. If we wanted a luxurious bath, we ran to river, swam and once I was nearly washed away in the strong current in the Pampa river, which is another story.
Little did I know then that I will be pondering on de-carbonisation of shipping in this 21st century and will be involved in Paris accord, EEXI, CII as IMO ISWG meets this week ahead of MEPC in June 2021 to rule on the medium term GHG reduction measures from 2023.
Little did I know when I joined S.S Indian Renown in 1976-a ship which was driven by oil fired boiler and steam turbine - that I will be looking into future fuels Ammonia, Hydrogen etc in the 2020s to phase out fossil fuels in this century from ships to leave the planet better (if not worse than we found it). While I started off with steamship in 1976, all the next ships in my career were driven by Diesel Engines.
We expect future fuels, Green Ammonia, Green Hydrogen..... and new Engines soon by 2023-2025, so that the ship owners with deep pockets can order them from 2023. Shipping will change for good to make the freight cost affordable just like the containerisation of cargoes traditionally carried on General Cargo ships, which I sailed most of my early sea career. Those small ships took us around the world and they remained in port cities for a week or so giving us an opportunity to explore the port and get an insight into the country and its people. Containerisation made these ships obsolete and Container ships emerged with 1,000 TEU capacity. They have evolved to make it as economical as possible and 24,000 TEU vessels are being ordered now.
We cannot write our future, though we could influence our future with what we do today. It’s a blessing that we can’t look into the future pages of our book of life and miss the excitement and anticipation.
As the pages of the book was turned, task of changing fused bulbs replaced the chore of cleaning glass of the hurricane lantern!