45. At Last I’ve Been Dealt the Perfect Hand – Friday morning

January 1959

Friday morning at last and yes, go to work.  It would only be for an hour and a half and I absolutely wouldn’t be late for my 10a oath swearing!  This time I had asked the boss, Mr. W for the rest of the morning off.  

He must’ve figured I had some courthouse stuff to tend to.  “Go on then Nand.” he said with a casual smile.  Mr W was a genuine soul, a very good man.

I headed out for my 10 minute walk to the consulate’s office.  After Theresa acknowledged my arrival with a smile, I sat and waited for a few minutes.  She then called me to the back office for my appointment.  

In my presence the gentleman briefly looked over everything one more time and said to me, “Mr. Masala.  I see you’ve paid your fee and we’ve got your valid passport.  Along with all the proper forms and required documents, everything is in order and you’re well on your way.”  My excitement was mounting and it was time to take my oath.  

Yes and while this whole thing took place ever so long ago, I can tell you it consisted of this basic idea:  to uphold the laws of the United States of America, strive to be a model resident, and not take advantage of the system but earn the privileges.  One day I’d be able to apply for citizenship through the process of Naturalization, etc …

This gentleman then signed a couple of papers, put everything into an envelope and sealed it officially.  He reminded me to not open it.  “It must only be opened by the immigration officials in Honolulu at which time they will issue you the proper identification, granting you legal access to reside and work in America.”  

My face was a tale of delight to say the least.  I stole a quick glance Theresa’s way with a satisfied grin.  She was smiling.

The officer continued, “God bless you Mr. Masala and all the very best to you.  United States is a big country,” he spoke so sincerely.  “Good luck and be sure to make the best of what America has to offer you.”  He shook my hand firmly and honestly.  I was moved by this experience I tell you.  

I came out of the office with Theresa and into the reception area.  I was on a cloud for sure! and it was time for me to be on my way.  I wanted to say goodbye to her with a hug, I was so happy you know.

Instead, I thanked her warmly for her wonderful help.  “Good luck with all you set out to do!  I have faith in you Mr. Masala.  There’s a part of my that still cannot believe the speed with which you did this!”  Her smile was infectious.

“I’ve got to tell you, after the determination you’ve demonstrated with all of this, I know you can make it big!”  And there was my verbal hug.

C - Salinas mountains' Honeysuckle -signed (12 x 18)

What a morning!  I returned to work.  I felt all eyes on me, at least on the big envelope under my arm.

Jules knew what it was and I’m certain she quickly read the look upon my face and came right up to me with a great big hug.  “Nand I cannot tell you how happy I am for you!”  

Back in the workshop my uncle asked me what was in the envelope and I said, ‘It’s my visa to take to the United States!’

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9. Fog in My Pocket With an American Touch 🇺🇸 part 2

Another clear memory I have was the fog being so thick this one particular night.  I felt as though I could reach out, grab a handful of the stuff and keep it in my pocket!

Almost funny is the next day when it was perfectly clear, I looked out to see where I thought I had been the night before and then realized; had I taken one more step, I’d have dropped straight into the icy waters of the ocean!

I remember watching too that day, as our ship was receiving the last of the load, how it had sunk half way under the water due to the additional weight!  But this also meant a better night’s sleep!  😴  How so you might ask?

We’d benefit with a smoother sail, there would be less shake from the vibration of the heavy propellers, the ship simply rolled better.  Everything up to and including food service and walking was easier to do and objects didn’t fly off the shelves as easily.

Another seven days at sea en route to Honolulu.  More of the same in that we’d get fresh water, exchange mail and whatever necessary supplies are needed.  Although the ship was docked here for 8 hours, we’d be allowed a couple of hours shore leave for souvenir shopping or whatever.

I picked up some Hawaiian shirts for the guys, candies and such for the young ones and muumuus for the gals.  Of course I just had to indulge my taste buds with a watermelon shake again and I remembered exactly where to go and get it!

⚓️  Anchor up!  Another seven days and we have arrived back in Suva.  🤗  My family is there waiting at the docks, it’s a happy reunion.  We take a cab home.  I have a full week to spend with my family.  I’d sleep at home in the night instead of on the ship and have my dinners with the family.

Of course I still had to report for breakfast, lunch and dinner shifts on the ship; there are still passengers on board who would like to have a bite to eat every now again, in case they hadn’t gone ashore!

Laboring hands would come from all over the island to load and unload the ship.  Fiji received its share of lumber and mail.  In addition to the existing load of lumber, our ship took up fresh cargo of sugar, banana and coconut and the always present mail bags for delivery to New Zealand, our next port.

And it is time again for the teardrops to roll as we say our goodbyes once again, especially my mother.

I am on board the SS Lakemba and we are once more sailing out from Suva.  As we gently ply the waters, another ship was entering the harbor; nothing uncommon but for this one, the skipper’s voice came over the intercom announcing the incoming ship as the Royal Yacht, the Gothic and it was carrying HRM Queen Elizabeth II and her Prince.  I believe they were on a portion of her  👑 coronation 🌎 tour.

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As this new year unfolds, we should all encourage one another to pursue our heart-felt dreams, don’t you agree?  Thank you once again for stopping by and sitting in on another little bit of Little Blue Masala’s beginning adventures.  Lots more to come!

7. Diamonds & Lumber – part 1

At this time Honolulu was protected by United States but still independent from America.

This first experience I had on this job was a seven-day journey from Fiji to Hawaii; this was just the first leg.  My shipboard position placed me in the pantry, which is where we prepared the foods that were just cooked in the kitchen for the waiters to serve the passengers in the dinning room.

Even though this was a cargo ship, there would be passengers on board.  These people paid good money to be on a cargo ship instead of a cruise ship mainly because the stops in port were for longer periods of time.  Plus it’s not as crowded.

While on the ship we worked every day but we also had several long breaks in between meal times.  The routine is easy to follow and it works flawlessly.  My new friends, workmates and I would always listen to music, we’d play cards a lot and enjoy a beer or two along with lots of great conversations; life-stories and what have you.

I did my best to take my time off responsibly as call of duty was 6am regardless, there were no excuses and no exceptions; passengers were my duty, that’s it!

I will tell you some thoughts I initially had while out at sea on this very first adventure of mine. I missed my mother terribly, my sister-in-law’s cooking and my close family members and friends.

I was not scared about anything; I loved the ocean so very much.  I felt its beauty as I saw its power and in its calm and rough faces I knew I made the right choice.  I have to admit here, I did experience seasickness at a point for a couple of days, and then it was over and thankfully didn’t occur while I was at my post.

And just so you have a little idea of how the mornings went along, I share this:  after breakfast service was over, we’d clean the dining room and set up for lunch service.

Then we could order from the chef anything we wanted to eat and it was our turn to enjoy a very nice breakfast. I do recall the chef definitely took pride in his meal preparations for anyone that would be eating his food and a bonus; he was a very nice man.

After breakfast it was time for us to get into the passengers’ rooms and tidy them up.  We were multi-taskers as this ship was not staffed the same as a luxury liner would be.

The captain’s boy who had originally set me up for this position on board the SS Lakemba kept me at his side and we’d handle the skipper’s quarters.  Once all the rooms were done, we had to get our own cabins cleaned up.

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Once again I thank you for checking back with us.  I hope everyone has been enjoying the holiday season in one form or another.  The Little Blue Masala has finally set sail, tasting the open sea and different climates too!  Well, at some point we all have to get our feet wet don’t we?