A woman is like an ocean, beautiful, mysterious, wild and free. For anyone who ever had a marine in the family would know the pain of being apart from loved ones for months or sometimes even years. Each day begins with the sun rising from the sea with no horizon as far as the eyes can see. Sea sickness plus the usual hardships of running a giant metal box over the endless oceans is surely a tough job.
Let’s admit it, when we search through various job portals, jobs that require rigorous strength always come with the clause: “For male only”
Even though we are in 21st century, women are still considered weak and just a thing of beauty. Breaking these stereotypes is a woman from Odisha who is now Odisha’s first woman marine engineer in a cargo ship called MV BISWAMALHAR. As a child Bibhushita Das loved to gaze over the colourful pictures of blue oceans and tropical islands and the grandeur of port cities around the world.
With the aim of being a globetrotter and the wish of owning a ship, the life of a mariner seemed to be the obvious choice for her. Books with stories on sea voyages and expeditions always seemed to catch her eyes. Her choice of career and passion would have had been all in vain if not for her supportive parents who despite of having no link with the marine sector helped her pursue her goals of being the first female marine engineer in a male dominated sector. Currently Bibhusita is house is at Koel Nagar, Rourkela. Her father Kurunakar Das who is a retired BSNL employee made it easier for her to defy the societal pressure with his tremendous support.
Before choosing the life of a marine, she graduated with marine engineering at CV RAMAN college in Bhubaneswar in 2007, followed by being a lecturer in Tirunelveli for six months. Within a short span of 8 days she was promoted from the post of fourth engineer to the post of third engineer in the shipping corporation of India in 2008, which is the country’s largest shipping company. Out of the 7 girls in her engineering batch, she was the only one who opted for onboard sailing and was often bombarded with the bitter hard truth via the teachers that no one would hire her because its male dominated job and had she not been passionate enough and given in to the societal norms, she wouldn’t have been standing a proud marine while being felicitated by the Paradip port trust.
Recalling the experience of her first stay on the ship, the mariner says:
“My first stay taught me a lot about a woman’s place in society. It was tough but very exciting. The fact that I was the lone woman officer in a crew wasn’t a problem. When I joined my first vessel going from Chennai to Port Blair in 2008, I developed sea sickness. My master Mariner was not impressed. The mariners on board thought that I had made a mistake of plunging into a rigorous profession. For being a woman, they felt that I might not with stand prolong sailing and sea exposure. But I stuck to the task with tenacity and renewed vigor. I proved them wrong.”
Her proudest moment was when her chief engineer praised her for sorting a difficult problem amidst a huge cyclone. The chief engineer never expected her to sort out a major problem without any help. She proved her position and worth among the crew. With various hurdles like relatives calling up the parents to stop her from pursuing the life of marine as career, she pushed and prodded herself to a position many men would envy.
With Kalpana Chawla as her role model and everlasting support of her parents and husband Swagat Mohanty, Bibhusita Das is an inspiration for everyone to pursue their passion regardless of their gender.
All we can say is You Nailed It & We’re Proud Of You!!