Letters From Chennai: Anti-Piracy Crew's Six Months of Hell, Part 2/3

(AFP/Scanpix)
4/11/2014 11:21 AM

The ETV investigative television program Pealtnägija obtained letters sent home by Lauri Ader, one of the Estonian seamen detained in October held by Indian authorities until their release late last week. The letters were reprinted by ERR last month with permission from family members. They have now been translated by ERR News's journalinguists.

 The Estonian "pirate hunters" were detained in India on October 12 for alleged arms violations in territorial waters. The 25 crew members - including 14 Estonians - were arrested by Indian authorities six days later.
Italics indicate use of English in the original. 
 
18 January 2014
I’ve been thinking about getting out. Maybe the Scouts Battalion could put together a care package along with some military equipment. We'd get out of here under our own power, triumphantly.
/---/
Is Bulldog Pub in downtown Nõmme still in business? I’m dreaming of a certain dish and a cold beer. I don’t remember the name of it but there are three different kinds of expertly roasted meat. A nice place to hang, good friends and good service. There are other things I dream about but I wouldn’t be seemly to express them here.
/---/
We hope to get out before winter is over. I wouldn’t have imagined it, but it would be nice to see snow.
We had a visitor one evening. It was a snake of an unknown species that swam up out of the parasha [latrine]. Then some cat-sized rats. The sound of laughter a man makes when a rat tries to snuggle up with him. Inspiring, I tell you.
/---/
One day I was walking with Billy [fellow prisoner William Irving of the UK] and the guard shouted from the tower: ''How do you like India?''. I haven’t ever let loose such a string of curse words as I did then. He had a lot of nerve .
26 January 2014
Total blackout. No information. Billy’s father and his girl visited. We got a little information but nothing specific. We have all kinds of theories. We’re trying not to let our imaginations run away with us. We have so many questions, but no answers. We know three facts: 1) We’re in prison, 2) We don’t know when we’ll get out, 3) We get all of our facts from Margus :)
/---/
We get along really well (which is a big surprise for me). We stick together and it seems the other prisoners are afraid of us. From time to time there are minor incidents on the way to the kitchen, but nothing that a little muscle and righteous anger can’t get the better of.
/---/
Health is more or less OK. I have some problem with my knee. The concrete floor is rough on it, I think. The knee is constantly in pain and it radiates down the bone to the shin and sometimes up into the hip. And my lower back is killing me as well. Fortunately we now have some sorts of mattresses so maybe it’ll subside. But enough complaining. We all knew the risks the job entailed.
1 February 2014
Kitchen! And boy is it ever the keyword of this letter. KITCHEN. A separate kitchen was opened for us here. We share it with Nigerian dealers, Iranian producers and extremely dangerous Sri Lankan coastal fishermen. It’s clean. There are two ranges. With real gas. Miraculously, they even installed running water. Our quality of life is improving. I guess our hunger strike has had some effect.
/---/
If it turns out I'm locked up here for many more months, I'll need clothing, personal hygiene products, multivitamins.
When we get out, the whole business of our imprisonment, the conditions and human rights has got to be brought up in international court. I don’t yet imagine what and how, but I want India to buy me a seaside house in Estonia, on a forested plot of land :)
/---/
I’ve been trying to focus on the positive and making bad news sound good. Our energy is running out, and I can’t find positivism within me. For a few weeks now, I’ve been looking for solitude, been walking around in the block, dreaming of wintry Estonia.

/---/
I had a visitor from Estonia. The guard came and gave me a paper grandly stating that my brother has come to see me. My amazement was great and one of my fellow sufferers and I went to see what was up. Waiting at the gate, I caught a glimpse, through the bars, of a white guy who had an ashen face. He didn’t introduce himself but he mentioned he was from the press. We greeted each other, me and this stranger, and we walked toward the warden’s office. I learned from the paper that he was one Mr. Kivi.
We spoke, and he replied that he had not claimed to be my brother and that it must be some mistake on the prison side. He asked me questions about conditions in prison and explained that it was so the Estonian people might know what was going on. I replied to about 10 questions and then Mr. Kivi said he’d waited for our encounter for some 90 minutes. He was with a car and he had left the telephone and documents there he didn’t dare spend more time here. As he said goodbye, he gave me two Eesti Ekspress magazines. So I guess it was an Ekspress journalist.
 
Mr. Kivi, one brave guy :). I have to hand it to him. They lock you up here for every minor infraction. I wouldn’t come here voluntarily.
 
[Krister Kivi and Ader were required to converse in English, and Kivi had to pose as a family member to gain access to Ader.] 
 
6 February 2014
We got some more money loaded to the prison account and that will allow us to buy cleaning supplies. The day before yesterday, we got a scouring brush and the parashas are now gleaming. Today is sunny weather and we can warm our ulcerated mosquito bites in the sunshine. The local insects are cretins. When a normal Estonian mosquito bites you, it does so to feed, but the mosquitoes here try to mess you up so thoroughly that you feel ill all over. They don’t even make a normal whining sound but bite you in the most idiotic places. Soles of feet, cuticles, earlobes, eyelids, the skin between toes. Idiotic I tell you.
(Part 3 coming next week)

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