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  • Writer's pictureL.J. Singh

Transiting through Suez Canal and Panama Canal with Suez Singh & Panama Singh.

Suez Canal, Mediterranean Sea
Suez Canal

While serving in the Indian Merchant Navy, the significance and benefits of the two man-made waterways, the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal can never be undermined nor underestimated by persons serving on ships and the shipping company's sea trade. Suez Canal joins the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea, which shortens the distance between the Arabian Sea and the Atlantic Sea by thousands of miles. And Panama Canal which connects the Atlantic Sea with the Pacific Sea also saves a very long sea travel time and running costs. Although for the world's overseas trade, these two waterways are very important because of the huge cost and time saved. But for me, these very Canals brought me memorable moments of my personal happiness.

Panama Canal, Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean
Panama Canal

While joining Merchant Navy with India's pioneer shipping company Scindia Navigation Co. Ltd. Bombay after my marriage, news received by letter from home about my first son's birth was on a date and time when my ship was transiting through Suez Canal. Similarly, after four years when I was serving as First Engineer, next to the rank of Chief Engineer, I got the news of my second son's birth, I found from the date and time mentioned in my letter that then I was again in another man-made waterway, the great Panama Canal. And it was not just a coincidence, but later when I became a Chief Engineer and was allowed to carry my wife along with my elder son, for a round voyage my ship bound from Bombay to Europe ports, once again our passage was through the Suez Canal. And again when my wife joined me on the ship with my younger son, on a voyage to West Coast US ports for discharging full cargo, we were asked to go to US East Coast ports to load cargo for Indian ports.

So once again we were in the Panama Canal with my son who was born on the date when I was in this very waterway. When I was penning this coincidental anecdote, and later on I narrated to a friend with whom I often share my memoirs giving shape to my biography, he jokingly suggested that I should have named my sons as Suez Singh and Panama Singh. Now I wonder if I had really given these names at their birth, how could they have reacted when they made their own good careers. The elder one Suez Singh was Acting Chief Engineer in IMN when he had to leave his service after being medically unfit due to an accident in the ship. And younger one Panama Singh, an IITian, who is now a senior professor at GND University Amritsar. They would have certainly cursed me and would surely have got their name changed to the existing ones, Arbinder Lal Singh and Maninder Lal Singh, the names their mother, now deceased, had chosen which include my own name too. Somehow even after resigning prematurely from my service due to some domestic exigencies, I keep recollecting my far-forgotten anecdotes which may be helping me to keep going, even after the recent demise of my nearly seven decades life companion. I still remember when I had told her about the name suggested by my friend, she was so furious she even tried to get up from her long bedridden position to scold me.

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Retd Chief Engineer(IMS)

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