Sail along the New Indian Express
Express news service
BENGALURU: As a pediatric surgeon, Dr Antony Robert Charles’ schedule is unpredictable, with no idea what the day holds. In the midst of this, there is one thing that remains constant, its miniature shipbuilding business. A hobby that began eight years ago after he and his team from St John’s Hospital traveled to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as part of the tsunami relief effort, Charles now finds solace in building these ships from scratch. “I guess being there and seeing everything we did on the islands inspired me to come back and want to learn how to make the ships myself. The conventional method would have been to buy the kits and fix them like a puzzle, but I wanted to create something with my own hands, ”says the doctor, who currently practices with Kindersurge.
Ice cream sticks, toothpicks and coffee mixers, none of them are thrown away because they are useful for its business. “I even use buttons that my wife complains about all the time,” he laughs. As part of his collection, he built a monogrammed ship, a bireme, a Viking warship, a Chinese ship, and the Indian Navy’s Rajput INS. “Rajput’s is what we traveled in when we were on the islands. When I returned I sat down with a retired captain of the ship, who had his professional model, and he gave me advice on how to build it.
Unfortunately, a few years ago, Charles’ collection was stolen from his office. “It took me three years to get over it, but I guess it’s human strength there – you have to move on. I am now remaking them all and calling it version 2.0. These are so much better than what I had done earlier, ”he adds.
After his busy schedule at the hospital, he comes home to work on the ships until 3 in the morning, or as he says, “until my wife yells at me to shut everything up and come and sleep.” “. Beyond a simple hobby, Charles finds this activity extremely therapeutic, something that has helped him through phases of depression and addiction. His son, Jonathan Charles, once built a miniature ship, but the doctor understands that this is not exactly his son’s area of interest. “I remember reading an American study that showed that surgeons who remained productive and found an identity outside of their surgical space lived longer. That’s when I started exploring more, ”says Charles.
Ultimately, Charles wants to have a fleet of ships in his kitty. He gives some of his works to close friends but does not plan to turn it into a commercial affair. “Materials are easy to obtain these days. And I do this because it calms me down and keeps me focused. I’m working on three of them at once and will add more to my list. It gives me immense joy to see it all come together, ”he concludes.