Sunday, August 4, 2013

Titanic's Resurrection

Written By: Fizzah Aziz

On April 10, 1912 the largest and most luxurious of the Olympic-class Ocean liners, RMS Titanic sailed from Southampton, England bound for New York on its maiden voyage. Just four days later it lay entombed in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic, 380 miles southeast of Newfoundland.  The iceberg’s brush with the ship on the starboard side had resulted in the buckling of the steel plates, flooding in five of the ship’s watertight compartments. The ship had been designed to stay afloat only with the first four compartments flooded. 1495 out of the total 2207 people on board perished that night.

Titanic was labeled “The Unsinkable Ship” on local and international media. It boasted of the most advance technological equipment of the time and luxury for which the historians write that  “the second-class rooms equaled the first-class rooms of most of the other ships at the time”. The ship’s first-class amenities included a specialty restaurant called the Café Parisien, two sunlit Verandah Cafés. numerous promenades, a swimming pool and a squash court, a Gymnasium, a Turkish Bath, a smoking room, a reading and writing room, reception rooms, and two grand staircases. First-class accommodations were adorned with mahogany paneling and furniture, and on the maiden voyage were filled with some of the wealthiest people in the world.

All this went down in a matter of few hours and became history. History indeed, but one to which numerous mysteries and myths attached themselves as it lay undiscovered in the depths of the ocean for decades.

Among the 712 survivors we see some really interesting stories:

·  Millvina Dean was just two months old when she was rescued for the sinking ship, she passed away in 2010 a the age of 98.
·  Miss Edith Louise Rosenbaum of Ohio who had been in Paris to report on spring fashions, escaped on life boat 11; her lucky ceramic pig, her possession left with her.
·  Fashion designer Lady Duff Gordon and her husband, aristocrat Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon both escaped aboard Lifeboat 1, and were the only passengers called to testify in British hearings.
·  Henry Blank, who felt the shuddering impacts, discovered they were from an iceberg and saw seawater flooding the squash courts on Deck F ,was one of the first people into the first lifeboat, number 7, which left the ship around an hour after the iceberg struck.
· Colonel JJ Astor ridiculed the passengers boarding the lifeboats, insisting that the Titanic was safer. Eventually when he realized otherwise he was just able to save his wife, and he, himself died.
· Dr. Henry William Frauenthal, his newlywed wife Clara and his brother was also aboard. All three escaped aboard Lifeboat 5. During the escape, a large man leaped aboard and landed upon Clara, breaking several of her ribs.
· Frederick Dent Ray, a saloon steward, boarded the half-full Lifeboat 13. An infant was tossed down into the boat and Ray bought it to safety.
· The French brothers Michel, 4 and Edmond, 2 became famous as the “Orphans of the Titanic”. To board the ship, their father (who had kidnapped the boys from his estranged wife) assumed the name Louis Hoffman and used their nicknames, Lolo and Mamon. The children were rescued aboard Collapsible D while their father perished in the sinking. As neither child could speak English, they were temporarily housed by fellow survivor Miss Margaret Hayes until they could be identified. Mme Navratil saw their pictures in the paper and was brought to New York by White Star Line, where she was reunited with her sons on May 16.

With time the hype died down, survivors resumed their lives and the event became history. Then in 1997 James Cameron’s Blockbuster “Titanic” bought it all back to life, archeological and discovery expeditions started again, and it was Titanic-Mania all over again. This movie touched the hearts of the viewers, charmed the critics and made it to the top of box-office successes.

Now more than a century after the catastrophic events of April 14th, 1912 another news has made it to the breaking news segment! “Another Titanic is being build” say the news casters. The eccentric Australian mining billionaire, Clive Palmer is having a near replica of the original Titanic built by his company, The Blue Star Line; expect unlike the original, it will have enough life boats for all those it carries. It is reported to set sail in August 2016; and will probably take the same route as that followed by the original.

”Passengers will be given 1920s period costumes to wear, and sticking with that theme, the ship may be sparse on other modern amenities, such as Internet and TV”, said Palmer. “The area [for] passengers will be authentic with the same design and facilities, but there will be modern things such as air conditioning and other features we are debating, such as Internet on the ship. I'm against it. I think you should relax on vacation. There won't be TVs in the state rooms though.” he further added.

The first ship dubbed "unsinkable" now rests at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, its grandeur flooded and covered in slimy algae, left to rot there for another century; its remains even now shrouded with mystery, fear and doubt. But now one man is willing to resurrect the splendor of the Titanic, make another “Unsinkable Giant”. Will he be successful? Or will this resurrected Titanic meet the same end? These are the questions everyone’s debating about ever since the news.

If this Titanic II becomes reality will you chance to sail on it? If yes, won’t the ghosts of hundreds of Roses and Jack Dawsons haunt you as you stand on the deck watching the vast ocean unfold before you? As you move down the “Grand Staircase”, won’t the screams and shouts of those long ago drowning people fill your ears? Won’t the similar hallways, furniture and crockery freak you out quite a bit? Will you stick to the superstitions or would you renounce them? Would you be a man of logic rather than popular beliefs?

Given a chance to be on board Titanic II, will you take it? I would love to but dread it too, what would you do?

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