Some may dream of a white Christmas for purely aesthetic reasons: a light dusting of snow conjures up dreams of being inside, huddled around a fire and sipping hot coffee or something more potent. For me, being around any unnecessary sources of heat would prove unbearable; indeed I pine for only a brief respite from the tropical sun that would be adequately provided by some good old sub-zero temperatures. The only chance that I have had for this sort of pleasure today was running the air conditioning in the car during trips to the “ablution block” to fill up 30 liter jugs of water. They were used to fill a small water tank so that we could test our newly reassembled outboard engine, which after an air intake and flow chamber fix, fired up beautifully and needed only a small engine idle speed adjustment. Talk about gifts that keep on giving! This 30 hp engine will be needed when we transit the Suez Canal, which has a minimum speed requirement of 6 knots, which our twin electric engines are not equipped to deliver.
Besides that unique satisfaction that comes from slowly but surely crossing off to-do items on a preparation for sea checklist, we received a humble gift from the INS (Indian Naval Ship) Mysore consisting of extra flares, that need to be fired out of a flare gun of a size which I can scarcely comprehend. It would be the equivalent of say, a 00 gauge shotgun that could handle the diameter of these flares. Or a cannon, perhaps. We do however have the past director of an Indian research institute aboard, so we could likely find an only somewhat hazardous way to discharge these flares, which may be able to alert some of the planets around Betelgeuse that we are requiring assistance.
There have also been other things on my mind besides the boat and whether we will be ready to leave before Rad’s visa expires on Dec. 31, thoughts more in tune (perhaps…) with the holiday spirit. No, I am not speaking of the, as my father once put it, “miracle” of the virgin birth (to quote: “There is no such thing as immaculate conception” said over an x-mas eve fire in order to remind us children to accept responsibility for our actions) but rather of the much more believable commercial aspect! Who can possibly forget gift giving, especially when so much energy is spent trying to find the perfect gift for that second cousin of yours, who you see perhaps thrice a year? In my perhaps heat stroke induced musings, I have come up with the only acceptable gift that can ever be given, besides books. New underwear. I came to this realization when a prominent Indian physician, whom I recently of had the pleasure to meet, noted that the Omani’s do not wear underwear beneath their dishdash, which is I believe the name for the one piece dress worn by the followers of the Islamic tradition. The disturbing part about this dress code violation is that 90% of the dishdashes are colored white…so if we are to truly believe that our western notions of (blank) are superior, we should all join together in celebration of new, clean, and present undergarments, and make sure that everybody that we care for will never have to worry about a lack thereof.
(For those of you who may protest that I am not being faithful to the spirit of christmas, I am presently enveloped in a cloud of frankincense, which was incidentally one of the trio of gifts that resulted in us all getting new underwear at this time of year.)
Rantings and ravings aside, I would like to extend a warm greeting to all of my friends and family. In talking to my family this afternoon, I learned that I missed a collective showing last night of my favorite family of four brothers (and now two sisters), so to (briefly) Bob, Dave, Bry and Drew (Diane as well) I wish a Merry Christmas. Same goes for everyone else.