On Valentine’s Day a man was feeding seagulls on the shore of the Black Sea. Tens of seagulls were flying in front of him, screaming. The man was tearing small pieces of bread and throwing them to the birds. Some of them were catching the bread while it was still in the air, others picked it from the pavement and flew away as soon as they got the morsel in their beaks. “I used to feed them small fish when I was working on the sea” he said.
On my last day at the spa in Techirghiol, I spoke to a retired Italian driver who was getting treatment for his shoulder. He told me how he met Berlusconi and Princess Diana (“bella donna”, he said). He lives near the Adriatic Sea. He wants to be buried in an Orthodox cemetery, the Catholic ones are too grim for his taste, he said: “People eat and drink in an Orthodox cemetery, I like that”.
That same evening, I met a ship’s captain who had travelled the world by sea. He was caught in terrible storms near the Norwegian coast and explained that a ship on an angry sea is like a toy in the waves and in those situations the ship has to go against the wind. He also traversed the Bermuda triangle in early 1990s and I asked him if he wasn’t scared of all the stories of ships being lost forever in that area. He said he thought about going around the Bermuda but then changed his mind and told the crew: “Let’s see what happens.”
He reminded me of Joseph Conrad’s stories of the sea and his descriptions of the storm:
“The world was nothing but an immensity of great foaming waves rushing at us, under a sky low enough to touch with the hand and dirty liked a smoked ceiling. In the stormy space surrounding us there was as much flying spray as air. Day after day and night after night there was nothing round the ship but the howl of the wind, the tumult of the sea, the noise of water pouring over her deck. There was no rest for her and for us.”
I sometimes hear the calling of the sea. I reach its shores and watch its immensity, hypnotised by the waves, the horizon soothing the agitated mind.