Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dessert, Trading, and Pranayama

Dessert in White Desert

With every evening meal there is dessert. There is more variety than the choice of vegetables. Of course, the most favourite remains the ice cream. People fill their bowl from party pack till it starts spilling over. It is, Frosty, some brand from Goa. I am usually cautious in taking ice cream from unheard brands, but more than that it is the flavours that are available here. There is vanilla, which I can take only if it has been tempered by Chitra with chocolate sauce and caramelized walnuts. The other brand, strawberry, I do not like. Then there is some orange looking flavour called malta-orange which I find quite unappealing. Fresh hot gulab-jamun (made from Gits) is another favourite dessert, and I know at least one whose appetite for it is not less than15-20. My favourite desserts here remain very traditional ones, daal-halwa, besan-ki-burfi or laddoo, and chikki. Of course, the most favourite for me remains jalebi which a Bihari babu has convinced me to take with yoghurt.

Trading in White Desert

Strange but true. And trading is not in snow, ice, or fresh sweet pure water which is available in plenty. Trading is also not for future resources of oil and gas or other precious minerals. In Maitri a brisk but covert trading is going on among the members of 26th and 27th team members. It is in cigarettes, bidi (traditional Indian cigarette), rum or whiskey, and blank CDs. It has so happened that the tobacco and alcohol using members of 26th IAE brought their individual stocks of these items to tide over the winter period. However, a number of them gave up use of tobacco and alcohol here, and have with them unused stocks of these items. Many members of 27th IAE perhaps overestimated their resolve to give up on these habits at Antarctica, and hence brought very limited stocks with them which has exhausted long ago. Though alcohol is served on house on celebrations and functions, some people crave more often. The members of 26th Team have found a ready market for their wares. Members willingly part with or share other items very happily, but some things are more precious and in short supply than the others. (no prizes for guessing what goods) Some still having a few to spare are doing a brisk business.

Pranayama, the Breathing Exercises

Many of us have been here initiated into Pranayama. Every morning there are two groups practicing it, one in the Maitri station and the other in the summer camp. I have also begun on it with the fond hope that it takes care of my chronic sinusitis (which I suffer mostly in Delhi and not in Himalayas). The leader of our group is Sundar who is an accomplished practitioner and can continue to do these exercises for 2 hours at stretch with no sign of boredom or fatigue. He advises us that pranayama should become a part of all our daily activities. I have seen him dancing here, and his movements follow the rhythm of his pranayama breathing rather than the music. One morning I was stupefied while having my bath when I heard his characteristic breathing synchronizing with his pouring water on himself. I have a mind to ask him some day if he makes love in sync with his pranayama.

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