UAE is synonymous to its wealth. Often the glamorous lifestyle of Dubai is the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind when thinking about UAE. Here in this series you are given a chance to see the other side of UAE.
There is one seaport somewhere near the Corniche street in Sharjah. It is a beautiful walk way along the side of the sea, like any other cornice can see here. Unlike other ports, people do have a direct access to the port and even to the vessels in the jetty.
There were an array of wooden boats. But those seamen considered it to be ship and they take those boats on international journey. Well they are not like the rich boys who takes their yachts and go to some fancy destinations.
These people takes cargo from one place and goes to another place. It might take them for months some times to go from one country to another in that small wooden ship.
I was just walking around the port with my camera. This camera is something that grabs attention. It sometimes results into some interesting conversations too. This time it was a bit different.
I saw a few people near one of those boats. I tried to take the pictures of the boat from a distance. Then these people got curious and they also wanted some pictures. I gladly agreed and took some pictures for them.
You can’t mistake the Indian look. And guess what. I was right. They were from Gujarat, India.
After breaking the ice, they invited me to their home and workplace. To the ship.
Through the narrow wooden bridge, I entered their home for 10 months in a year.
They had left their home town a few months ago. They were just going from one place to another carrying various cargoes. For almost 10 months in a year, they would be doing this. And the rest 2 months, they would go home and spend their time with their near and dear ones. Wanderers of another kind for sure.
There were more people inside the boat.
They were all from the same place and working together in this sea going life for many years. Most of them started when they were really young.
When most of the country dreamed of becoming an engineer, a doctor or a CA, their only dream was to go to sea and earn a living. You can understand it by checking the number of people from Gujarat in the Shipping Industry.
When asked, they said, they didn’t even feel like going back home. They were pretty comfortable living the sea life. They liked a life, like a Christopher McCandless quote, “new horizon and new suns every day”.
They invited me to join them inside their home. And I was inside the dark rooms of ship amidst those strangers I just met.
They treated me like a guest. They offered me tea. And showed me around the ship and shared their story.
The cargo work was going on while I was inside the ship/boat.
Finally I wanted to see the engine room of that wooden ship. Engine room will be below the water level as the propeller should immerse in the water. Through very narrow wooden steps I went down to the engine room.
Before I was leaving, they asked me to come back on the next Friday to have a biriyani with them. As I had other plans on that Friday- UAE weekend, I had to turn down their generous offer.
After noting down their email id and whatsapp number to send them the pictures, I left from the home of those seafarers. On my way back, I was wondering about the hospitality of random strangers. This world indeed is a wonderful place to live in.
Here is another example of kindness at the heart of Sharjah, when the tourist officials decided to give me a free tour.