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ANTARCTICA ON 23.11.2007 :

Let me begin today's mail with the weather report: Max 0.6, Min -5.8, wind speed 30 knots (84 kmph) and Min wind chill temp -28. Today I witnessed my first snowfall of the Antarctica. It was for perhaps only for an hour with sparse and very small flakes. It is still a news. You already know that Antarctica is the most cold continent of this planet. During summer time, its average temperature at coastal areas is -5 to -10 C, while at the hills or plateau it is -25 to -30 C. During winter, the coastal areas experience temp of -40 C while on the plateau it goes down to -70 to -80 C. At the Russian station, Vostok, the minimum temp of the Earth was recorded at -89 C in 1983. The coastal area of Antarctica is less than 10 percent, while rest is a huge plateau with average height of more that 2 KM. No continent of the Earth can match this average height. However, the air at Antarctica is devoid of humidity. Whenever there is some moisture, it precipitates and falls as snow. This precipitation is so little, only 10 cm a year, that it is the most dry continent dryer than India's Thar of Sahara desert.

In the evening I went for a walk. All around our station, there is rocky area. So we have to walk through big boulders and tread very carefully. After each elevation, you suddenly come across a lake, mostly frozen. If you walk for nearly 1-2 km in any direction, you come across big ice-shelf - just white and white stretch as much as your sight goes. The wind speed was not very high, but it was so cold from left side that my left side of the face and left hand felt numb. It was a funny feeling like you get after dental anaesthesia. Throughout my walk, I was rubbing left side of my face.

In the evening, we celebrated marriage anniversaries of two members of 26th IAE, and birthday of 2 of 27th. These two young men from the 26th IAE are celebrating their second marriage anniversary. They celebrated their first also here. Just a few weeks after their marriages, they left for Antarctica. My hut-mate has had a drink too many (that is the expression?) and has been repeating Pakeezah's dialogue over and over again - 'yeh daldal per bani kohre ki haveli...' It is 10.30 pm here.

Tomorrow is the day of 'shram-daan' when we all the Maitrians will clean the station and its surroundings. Now besides being a Kailashi, I am a Maitrian too!


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