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Saturday, September 02, 2006

The irrepressible Jim Petafi

Jimmy Petafi, whose first encounter with Nuzhat and me will get a small but separate telling in Ships and Shoes and Sealing Wax, sailed with us as First Mate in the 70s, when I was in command of a merchant ship.
A combination of tribal ruggedness and semi-feudal attitudes, tempered with a strange softness and warmth that caught most by surprise, he became a wonderful shipmate. His 'Tom Jones voice' was a feature of all our parties, as it was of the bars and clubs we visited at various ports. His amazing belting out of the then popular 'Delilah' at a restaurant in Vizagapatam, where he threw a surprise party for our wedding annivesary, still rings in my ears.
Settled in Liverpool, Jimmy - as far as I knew from other shippies - had become a popular singer at clubs. Almost 2 decades later, through an out-of-the-blue phone call from him, I learnt that - surprise, surprise - he has become a successful businessman. In fact, he even offered to help me set my business right.
We did keep in touch, off and on, exchanging greetings on special occasions, but I had not heard from him in months, when I got this from him early this week: I've finished writing my book , Life Begins After a Heart Attack. Trust Jim to surprise me, again.
And yet again! Following on the heels of the news of his authorship - for which may heart-attack victims have thanked him - comes another, fairly disconnected reason to thank Jimmy. This September 23rd the thanks will come from wives around the world.

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