And once the P&O Liner Orsova has got herself directional, we look back to barely see specks of people at the docks and really only the coastline is in view.
The haunting Isa Lei is but a faded hum joining in the ever so faint lull of the engines as my mind and the ship tap into the Koro Sea – we have left Viti Levu and all those I love so dearly in the Fiji Islands.
I stood on deck awhile longer taking in the deep ocean blue; I know this was allowing all my thoughts and actions to settle in. After a little while and a lot of sea spray in the face –love that! I went back inside, slowly walking to my cabin.
Sitting on my bed -one of 2- I look across to the other one taking notice of a suitcase, a coat I think and another bag. Smiling to myself I hoped my cabin mate would be of the female species. It’s all really very silly I know – this was not a coed dormitory after all, ha ha!
What? Okay enough daydreaming. I take a moment to unpack my suitcase. No one showed yet so I thought it wise to find the dining room and I may as well get busy checking out the local scene.
I approached the purser’s desk for the evening’s schedule. She naturally was only too glad to share all the lovely details about the SS Orsova. “Our dining room is one deck below. I would recommend that you go down now, if you’re not doing anything else and familiarise yourself with your mealtime accommodations.”
The lady then asked if I was comfortable in my cabin and if I had met my cabin mate. ‘Not yet!’ Thinking again about my earlier thoughts with a slight smirk, she must’ve caught it; she looked up my cabin mate’s name in her book and told me.
This time without another thought I laughed out loud for she gave me the name of a man; a man with a given-Christian first name and an Indian surname. 🔱 My daydream balloon was popped!
I found the dining room. Right away I was able to connect with the dining room captain who briefed me politely on how it all worked. There was always two seatings early/later for meals and my table would remain the same throughout my time on board.
There were four chairs and only two of us assigned to this table although free to move about if invited to another. I see how this works, two available seats if we should find someone to invite to our table. Us? The other dining chair being my cabin mate … okay, makes sense.
It was probably a bit past six in the evening and I thought it good to stroll about for a little while, not that I needed to work up an appetite or anything. I explored my surroundings some more and of course still had hopes of seeing where the ladies might mingle.
Yes, what can I say? This was a semi-important quest for me; can’t help it, I enjoy their company. I know what you’re thinking … don’t worry, Noori is still sitting heavy on my heart and will be there for a very long time. One in a million no doubt about it.
Goodness! It’s 7 o’clock and I should return to the dining room; 1st seating it will be. All this questing was making me hungry. The dining room’s aroma led me right to my table.
I am the only one and I take a seat. A larger-than-life menu is handed to me and my drink request taken. A young man approaches with a beaming smile.
I return the smile and he states, “You must be my cabin mate.” I reached out to introduce myself, we shook hands and he tells me his name which I already knew, “Joseph.” and after seating himself, “I sure am hungry!” Already something in common, nice.
And this is one of the many things I love about shipboard dining, there’s no wasting time on the waitstaff part. It wasn’t long before we two young lads were enjoying an excellent meal and mutual conversation.
Joseph and I parted company after dinner. I wanted to see if I’d find something of interest. Truthfully I cannot recall neither what I had for that first dinner or what I chose to do that night.
I do know I enjoyed breathing in fresh salty air and sort of slipping into a peaceful, half-conscious state. ✨ Are the stars out above the sea going to keep me aligned?
What I really wanted was to stroll the deck with someone, catch a movie, a show or dance a little, you know what I’m saying. It sure would’ve been nice if that someone was Noori.
You know back then a ship was my transportation -prior to that, my employment- not a leisurely cruise for the sake of a vacation. 🌏 I’ve been on a few extensive and leisurely cruises in my life since and apart from how the times and services have changed, being on board a luxury liner or freighter, yacht or speedboat, ferry or any boat really, the joy for me remains the same; it’s the open sea.
It’s the endless horizon, some of the freshest possible air to fill my lungs with, the constant spray of the salt water, 🐬 the giants of the sea 🐳 occasionally accompanying our vessel, the starry sky of night and the twilight of a new morning. I feel the cobwebs of my mind clearing out and if even momentarily, like I can do anything.