All sights are possible on a train journey in India, but not this one. Grooming was essential for this railway staff, who would not want to face a new day with unruly stubbles. A generous application of shaving foam was more for a facial massage than for a smooth shave, I thought. The shaving brush must have moved up and down his face a thousand times; not in the next thousand train journey would I get to witness such a rare spectacle, I guessed. The best part was his shaving tool – the age old type where one loads a razor blade – in most countries these are now museum pieces.
Picking up conversation with a Train Ticket Examiner the following day, I was told that Indian Military men who travel by train are able to shave holding naked blade in their hand, and that too without any mirror. I may be able to take courage and attempt a similar feat. But not on a moving train.
5 Aug 2012. Train journey from Goa to Mangalore. Poorna Express.
Sitting precariously near the fast moving train, i have been waiting for more than an hour to freeze a good moving scene. The train was fast. The sun was calling it a day. My patience was fading. Just as i decided to wind up waiting, unexpectedly this train staff’s rictual caught my attention. Click, said my Nikon. Wow, said I.
28 Aug 2012
I stayed at the Mahindra Varca Beach Resort in Goa from 3rd till 5th August 2012. Though I have visited Goa twice before, the big difference I saw this time was the presence of organized lifeguards. Not just the lifeguards and their beach patrol jeeps, but a good system was in place.
I saw red flags hoisted up throughout different locations along the beach. I went for a long beach walk one early morning and met up with a lifeguard and his faithful dog, while they were busy planting a red flag. Curious to know about the significance of the flag, I made several attempts to build conversations, and finally I broke ice and managed to learn more about the red flag, their organization and the life of these ‘knights in red’.
Surf Life Saving Goa (SLSG) is the largest and premier water safety and rescue service in India. Operated and managed by Drishti Special Response Services Pvt Ltd. They operate throughout the beach in Goa, and there are no similar successful organizations anywhere else in India.
The lifeguards deployed are mostly local youths from the State of Goa, almost 99 % have Goa as their domicile. At the time of writing, SLSG has selected and trained over 600 lifeguards. These lifeguards were selected and trained by Lifeguard Instructors of the group training company Special Rescue Training Academy Pvt Ltd (SRTA). This company ensures that the lifeguards receive the appropriate skill sets by calling upon Instructors from Red Cross Hawaii and IRIA (International Rescue Instructors Authority) Canada. Currently SLSG deploys 429 beach lifeguards at Goa beaches every day (7.30 am till sunset), covering 105 km of beach. They cover a total of 39 beaches (15 Beaches in North Goa & 24 Beaches in South Goa).
Work and responsibility is very tough work, said my ‘red knight’. It entails being on the alert all the time whilst on duty. The work is strenuous and stressful. Vacationers come to the beach for fun, and to be disciplined is the last thing in the mind of these fun seekers. Lifeguards need to be very strict, and have to use force sometimes to contain unruly lot. Their task gets most difficult when handling drunken youth, who have no clue about the dangers of the sea, especially during the rough monsoon season.
Many lifeguards do not last very long in their job. They come with the image of ‘Baywatch’ and ‘Pamela Anderson’ in their mind, but reality hit them hard and fast. The work of surf lifeguarding is not for the weak and meek. As most of the beach lifeguards are in the tender age between 18 – 24 years, the distractions are many. Many trained lifeguards have left for easier career opportunities, leaving SLSG to train more and more to ensure the deployment of the minimum number of lifeguards required to attain the objective of the work.