It is excitement all over Maitri station with the arrival of ship yesterday and 2 choppers making sorties bringing people and personal baggage as well as equipment. Till this evening 20 members of the 27th expedition have arrived here from the ship. So right now there are 70 people here. A few more are on the ship but they will come much later when some of the members go from here to the ship for onward journey back home. The most important task right now is to offload the material and equipment for Earth Station. The construction of the platform for it and installation of equipment has to be done in next one month before the ISRO and Space Application Centre scientists leave for India next month. Then it will be made operational from centres in India by end March. It will be major milestone in the history of IAE. There will be 24 hour internet connectivity for scientists to send data every day back to their institutions in India. Currently, such data goes with them at the end of their assignment, that is, after more than a year. At individual levels, people will be able to enjoy web browsing and personal internet connectivity 24×7 from their own computers. There may be a possibility of cheaper telephonic connectivity also.
There are number of people now here with whom I spent time at Auli. They will be with me now till we reach Goa towards the end of March. They are mostly young people, and there are at least 5 of them who have only recently finished their postgraduate studies and are carrying out the project work on behalf of their professors or senior scientists. I shall be recording their interviews about their projects on camcorder. I have also recorded interviews of other scientists also.
I got back the suitcase that I had left at Goa. Every thing in it has been intact. Or rather, the three wine bottles have come unbroken. You know my weakness for buying wine; it was so cheap in Goa at less than half the Delhi price. So I bought 3 bottles of wine and one bottle of single malt whisky. I did not know India produces single malt. All came in about Rs 800/-. Manju Mehta, who was with me when I did this shopping, was surprised. The single malt whisky had come with me. Now I wondering all the time to bring all this back to India, or treat people with it. I don't drink alone, don't drink much, and can't offer to people easily. But people here mostly love Rum (regular use medicine) here or inexpensive brands of whisky. Army and ex-Army men have brought trunk (the real tin trunk) loads to last the entire winter. However, I was waiting for my suitcase eagerly not for wine, but for my towel. The first was lost during my shifting of hut on the 1st Jan.