The ship entered the Cape Town harbour and got the berth at Fruit Port Terminal (FPT). It looks like South Africa is a major fruit exporting nation, that is why a separate terminal for fruits. The ship was anchored by 7 am. We were divided into four teams to go to the town for sightseeing and shopping. There were four vans hired for the purpose. Mr Javed Beg, Director (Logistics) at NCAOR, has flown from Goa to supervise all arrangements for our arrival and stay. We could all go out by 11 am only as some formalities were to be completed. We headed for a nearby huge shopping mall, Canal Walk. I had not planned for much shopping. Coming back into the city, I totally forgot all about Antarctica, ship journey, or all the rolling and pitching. It was a strange feeling when I deliberately wanted to reminisce about last four months: every thing looked so distant. When I enter the city life back home, I suspect all about Antarctica would get hazy like a dream.
At a superstore, Pick & Pay, I bought some chocolates and totally forgot about tooth paste. I wanted to buy the book that I wrote about, but found it quite expensive at 219 rand (Rs 1500). In hard cover, it looked beautiful and paperback was not available. We went around the Table Top Mountain for a long beautiful drive to reach a ferry point for going to Seal Island. The ticket for ferry was expensive and almost no one in our group was interested, but Ramakrishna agreed for this 1 hour trip. This was a small island and must be having some kind of record to have more than six thousand seals. It was amazing with seals of all sizes and age groups. Then I made the phone calls. In 20 rand phone card, I talked to Chitra, Jiji, Babuji, Gargi and Bose auntie. Bhabhi was not at home. Auntie’s memory for places and persons is remarkable, like Naniji; she immediately asked me if I had been to the Table Top mountain. I do not think she ever visited South Africa.
In the evening Mr Beg had organized dinner at an Indian restaurant in Water Front shopping mall. No prizes for guessing the name of the restaurant: Jewel of India. Some people from the local Indian Consulate office were invited. It served such a lousy food. I was looking for some fresh green vegetables and fruits. It served the most unimaginative food, nothing different from, or may be worse, what we had been eating for last four months: dal makhani, chholey, and aloo-paneer followed by vanilla ice cream. I am sure going to tell Mr Beg that a salad and fruit bar would have been much more welcome. But then, everyone does not think like me. When people get free booze, they are willing to accept any kind of food. It is amazing to see people’s capacity to drink when it is free, and they can have it everyday. I refrained from any alcohol this evening.
The only good thing about the dinner was that we were being served on the table and the table or the hall was totally stationery. Heheh :)