Sep 28, 2023
Sep 28, 2023
Mumbai - Part IV - Mumbai High
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On another day Sukumar came home and asked whether we would be willing to take a trip to one of the drilling platforms of Bombay High. My first reaction was who would allow us on a drilling platform and then one had to take a ride in a helicopter. Logistics were plainly against us but Sukumar with his never-say-die-attitude would have none of it. He brusquely told me to leave all that to him.
True enough he was able to swing it as he rang up to say one morning we would be leaving for the Juhu airfield around 11. Juhu was the place from where Pawanhans helicopters used to ferry men and material to the ONGC drilling platforms. In 1987, for it was that year when we took the ride in a Pawanhans helicopter, the reputation of the outfit was yet to be sullied. In later years there was a series of crashes, especially in the North-east region, one of the victims being a chief minister.
We drove down to Juhu and completed some formalities including signing away some disclaimers. The flying machine took off around 11.30 AM and within no time we were flying over the Arabian Sea. As the copter was flying at not very high altitude one could see massive fishes, presumably tunas, swimming in formation. About an hour and a half later we arrived at the top of the platform the name of which eludes me. The helicopter turned around and aligned itself with the markers to touch down. We were whisked down in lifts to the lower level.
In the hall we were shown in people were seen working with monitors in front. There were about a couple of dozen men. We were told that they work for 15 days and they are taken back to Juhu from where they head home. Some of them belonged to Bihar and they would catch a train for home the booking for which they would have done on arrival back from home. To go home and come back they would lose two days in travelling and that would give them 13 days of comfort at home.
At the platform they seemed to be quite happy. The accommodation though was cramped yet it was comfortable. The food was good as we shared their lunch. All in all they seemed to be a happy bunch of men. One, of course, could not get rid of the feeling of isolation, situated in mid ocean as they were in a confined space. The ONGC does take care to provide for their every need. They were all pleasantly happy we did not come across a worker who was grumpy.
As we collected on the helipad for the ride back the platform in-charge went close to my wife to tell her that she had become only the second woman to have stepped on to it after Indira Gandhi. While on our back I couldn’t help thinking that more people should be exposed to the way the men function on the platform. I felt a greater awareness about the conditions in which they work would be of help.
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More by : Proloy Bagchi