REGISTRAR OF NEWSPAPERS OF INDIA
NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
official media partner of national maritime foundation
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Malini V Shankar, (DG Shipping) : The Sea And Me
By SEA AND COAST | 02/02/2017

Sea makes for an enchanting sight. It pulls a lump up the throat and a chord deep inside the hearts of many. The tides and twirls of water stir emotions, casting a spell and a giving a therapeutic break from the mundane life. Nobel laureate Ernest Hemingway’s ‘old man and the sea’ is a classic novel reflecting the struggle of an old man desperate to end the long streak of bad luck. Expanse of infiniteness has a therapeutic effect on the seafarers or the mariners. Depth of the ocean is hypnotic. It is unlike a flowing river. Malini V Shankar, (DG Shipping, Union Ministry of Shipping, Govt of India) reminisces her childhood along the Marina beach in Chennai. She may have since left Marina beach moving to the several places across the world but Marina beach has not left her.

 

Which individual is not fascinated by the sea and its seemingly endless waters? Which child has not wondered if the ships would fall off the earth once it reached the edges of the ocean? Who amongst us has not wanted to play with the waves? I was no exception. I was born and brought up in a coastal city. The sea was a part of my daily life, taken for granted. The clear blue skies merged into the blue-grey waters at the horizon, and the picture perfect silhouette of the faraway ship completed the old world charm. The city boasted of a long uninterrupted coastline and a string of beaches each with its own character. From splashing in the wild waters to listening to the open air broadcast of songs from the public AIR transmitter, from eating corn on the cob to catching up on gossip, the wide sands of Madras beaches was every inch a part of quotidian life.

One of my earliest childhood memories of the coast and the sea is of going to the Marina beach in Madras (as Chennai was known then) and being awed by the wreckage of a ship that had reportedly been washed ashore during a strong cyclone. This was in the late sixties. Like every child, my brothers and I would build castles in the sand, and play peekaboo with the waves. But it was the remains of the ship that held my imagination, kindled by avid readings of piracy novels - I wondered who sailed in the ship, whatever happened to the people, were there any treasures in its innards.

Even as we visited the seas, we never ventured beyond a few feet from the shore. The waves were strong and the sand below our feet slipped to leave deep depressions within a few seconds. Years later, in high school, geography lessons explained how the deep continental slope on the Coromandel Coast posed a risk to seaside adventures. As years passed by, the beach was cleared of the wreck, the visits became very few and far between, and one went on to explore the hills and countryside across the seas. Higher studies took me to the USA, and I found myself in the midst of a colonial campus replete with sienna leaves in the autumn and softest snowflakes in the winter. Yet, for the first time, I missed the sights and sounds of the Bay of Bengal -a truly “coastal girl” in a landlocked region, I never realised I will miss the vast expanse of water so much!

As it happened, my career revolved around waters – from drinking water to industrial water to irrigation, from environment to flood management. And like the rivers that run their natural course towards the seas, so did my professional path!.




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