Port of Pascagoula, Mississippi
Aboard the SS Dolphin
New Delhi, India
As Julia Mae was leaving the church service one Sunday evening, she saw an attractive finely dressed couple standing alone in the pew. He was dressed in a black captain’s attire with golden waves of the sea on his cuffs and across his captain’s hat. Both looked very exotic.
She was dressed in a beautiful silk gown. A dark bluish color with a pattern of soft blue waves woven into the fabric. Her gown was covered with a sheer chiffon midnight blue covering with a pattern of shimmering stars across it. The attire appeared to be glittering gold stars atop a deep blue sea. “Just stunning” thought Julia.
Julia acknowledged the couple with a genuine friendly smile. She said in her Southern Belle tone of voice, “I’m Julia. Visitors in town?”
“Yes,” he said. We’re docked at the port. My ship is a freightliner. We’re here to deliver goods from the Far East.” Julia said “Are you from India?” “Yes, Julia, we are from India. New Delhi is our home when we are there, but most of the time we are at sea.”
“Well, welcome to town. I’m Julia. Actually, Julia Mae.” “I’m Ansee and this is my husband Nestor. He’s captain of our ship.” “Julia Mae, said Ansee, I just love your Southern hospitality and we appreciate it.” “Julia Mae, you are a magnolia blossom. I just love your Southern accent” said Ansee.
Julia said, “Well it’s how most of us sound around here. We do have some foreigners here, but mostly visitors from the port like you.” Julia to Ansee, “Any dinner plans?” “Not yet, Julia.” “Well, would you like to be my guests for dinner at my home? It will be a simple meal. I have some jambalaya.” Ansee said “I’ve heard of it. Crawfish pie, filet gumbo, me-oh-my-oh”
Julia continues “Red beans and rice and my famous Southern potato salad.” “It’s hard to pass that up, Julia, but we must go. Next time, me-oh-my-oh.” said Nestor. Ansee to Julia “You are so gracious and thank you. We must decline, our ship leaves from port in early morn. A long journey back, across the sea, to our home in New Delhi.”
Ansee to Julia and looking at Nestor for agreement. “You know, Julia Mae, our dinner on board is at seven thirty. Thirty minutes from now. Would you join us?” Julia said “I would love to come aboard.”
Nestor says “All right, ladies, let’s go. We will all ride together. Our limousine is waiting outside.” Ansee to Julia “It’s not ours, but we like to travel in luxury when we are ashore. We are forever on that ship and need to touch the earth every once in awhile.” They both laughed. Driver opens the door for the two ladies, then Nestor enters the car.
En route to the port. Julia says “I have never ridden in a limousine before, this is very nice.” Nestor to Julia “It’s not ours, but when we are ashore, we like to ride in style.” Again, Ansee says “Julia, we are forever on that boat, we’ve got to touch solid ground. All we know is how to float!” They all laugh.
The limo pulls up at the dock. It’s still twilight and the ship is visible to the eye. Nestor says to Julia “We are the third ship berthed at the dock, see it?” Julia sees a large blue vessel. The name of the ship on the side of the bow reads “SS Dolphin” stenciled in gold and below it in an Indian language which Ansee interprets “Safe Voyage.” On the back of the ship, also in gold, is the vessel’s name “SS Dolphin” and directly under it “New Delhi, India.”
The Indian flag flies below the American flag. It’s considered by them, a protocol for their vessel entering any U.S. port. It’s like their ship is a guest to America and certainly these folks, from their conversation with Julia, come in good will.
“Julia” said Nestor. “Our port city is actually Calcutta. New Delhi is quite a ways from there. We have a small condo in Calcutta, near the port, so when we are ready sail, we are ready to go.” “Occasionally we get back to Delhi, but most of the time we are at sea” said Ansee.
The ship’s second captain, Amal, wearing a light blue T, blue jeans, brown deck shoes and a red ball cap atop his head. He hurriedly walks down the plank to the dock. Ansee says to Amal “This is Julia Mae. She’s our guest for dinner.” Amal says to Julia “Greetings and welcome aboard.” Amal removes his cap, bows to Julia with his hands folded, then he rises back up saying in Hindi, “Namaste.” Ansee to Julia, “It means you are divine.” Julia smiled.
Ansee to Julia “Fold your hands, bow and rise up with a Southern greeting.” Julia bows and rises up and says “Well, welcome you all.” Everyone laughs and then board the ship.
Amal says “Ladies, follow me.” They enter the captain’s quarters. Julia was just amazed with the fine decor. Paneled walls of cherry veneer with murals of the sea hand painted within frames in the wall. And, of course, the center mural was of dolphins rising up and down into the sea. Just spectacular!
The table was made of the finest teak and was covered with a linen tablecloth. On it’s four corners, the tablecloth was embroidered with dolphins and sea waves. The lighting above the table was a translucent chandelier made of Capiz shells with strings of clear beaded glass. Magnificent!
The center piece of the table was a tall squared sculptured glass vase of sea green which flared out at the lip with a bluish white foamy sea. The vase was filled with yellow roses, Ansee’s favorite rose. Surrounding the vase was an assortment of golden candles all aglow.
All are seated at the table. Julia seated first at the center. Then Ansee at one end and Nestor at the other end. The rest of the crew joined at the table as well. Nestor stands asked an Indian prayer and blessing. He said “Julia Mae, you are our friend and friends are friends forever.” He raised his crystal goblet and everyone raised their glasses as well. “A toast to you, Julia Mae.” All crystal clang in unison. Nestor said, “Let’s enjoy our Indian feast.”
As dinner went on, Julia compliments Ansee on her dress. “Your gown is so beautiful, Ansee.” “Julia it’s not a gown, but a sari. It’s a wrap. One piece of fabric, and this is silk, about 6 yards long. Julia, it fits all women, no matter what your figure. I have one for you.” “I don’t know, Ansee, it doesn’t seem to be me.” “It is you, Julia. Let’s choose one for you, I will wrap you and then you can make your debut.”
“Let’s go to my quarters and I’ll show you what I have.” Julia said “I can’t wait to see them all.” “Come on in, Julia. Here’s my closet. Take a look.” “Ah, so many of them and so exquisite.” “This one is perfect for you. See, it’s a pattern of red roses across a purple wrap of silk. Okay, let’s wrap you. Julia, now don’t be bashful. You must remove all your clothing except your lingerie. It’s just you and me. No one can get in here and you will look just stunning in it.” Julia hesitantly agrees.
“Now let me start. I’ve done this a thousand times. I’ll have you wrapped and covered in less than five minutes.” Both laugh. “You’re done, Julia. Let’s take a look.” “That’s me,” said Julia. “That’s you,” said Ansee. “Well, are you ready to make your debut, Julia?” Ansee further says “Let’s go to the dining room. Oh, I nearly forgot, you need a red dot, a bindi. See, I have one. Here we go, a red dot for you. Now, let’s go to the dining room.”
“Amal, we are ready.” Amal asked all to stand. Ansee leads the way followed by Julia. Ansee says “Everyone, presenting Julia Mae, this is her ‘Sari Night.'” Everyone applauds and bows to Julia. Julia bows back gracefully with a beaming smile. Nestor walks up to Julia and escorts her to the head of the table. All are seated for a light dessert of a saffron yogurt mousse. Coffee and tea are also served.
After dinner all bid farewell to Julia. All say “me-oh-my-oh!” Julia says back “me-oh-my-oh, y’all.” Everyone laughs and party is ended.
Nestor and Ansee escort Julia down to the dock with the limo waiting for her. Julia says “Ansee, I haven’t changed back into my clothes.” “No need to, Julia, this sari is yours to keep. I have your other clothes packed and they are already loaded in the trunk.”
“Oh, Ansee, that is so generous of you.” Nestor to Julia “Remember we are friends forever. Me-oh-my-oh.” Ansee says “yes, indeed, Julia, we are friends forever. Next time. Me-oh-my-oh! A hug a piece and Julia is helped into the limousine. She waves and off they go their separate ways. “Me-oh-my-oh!”
Copyright 2012 Frank Clark
Indian actress Deepika Padukone