Friday, January 18, 2008

Festival Time!

Day 1....
Traditionally we should be celebrating Makar Sankranti, Pongal and Bihu today on the 14th Jan but when I wished some members from Tamilnadu for Pongal they reiterated that message has come from back home that it is being celebrating on the 15th. Someone here has looked at Panchaag to confirm that it also mentions 15th January for Makar Sankranti. So Maitri will celebrate these festivals tomorrow when we celebrate Army Day too.

Day 2....
Tomorrow Maitri station celebrates all the festivals as mentioned above as well as Army Day. There will be flag hoisting in the morning and a 20-20 cricket match between teams of 26th IAE and 27th IAE. In the evening there will be cultural evening. Of course, I am also practicing.

Day 3....
Yesterday we celebrated many things, however, the major function was the Army Day. The Indian Army celebrated perhaps its 268th anniversary. It takes into account the time when East India Company started recruiting Indian soldiers. It started with flag hoisting in the morning. The evening function started at 7 pm where four Russians from their Novo station were the guests. Since I was participating in the evening programme and rehearsal was scheduled for the afternoon, I missed the chance for chopper flight. Currently both the choppers are parked at Maitri with their two pilots and one engineer. They are living in the summer camp and use the same facility of toilet and bath as us. It is quite praiseworthy of them to agree to this arrangement. They take the same food as all of us; make no extra or special demand. It is very unlike the earlier times when NCAOR was resourcing its chopper requirement from within the country. A team of 14 people would come with two choppers. I am not sure if they ever lived in the Maitri station. By having these choppers here with the crew offers an advantage for the scientists who have to go to field some distance away for collection of their samples; notably scientists from the fields of Geology, Limnology, Paleo-botany, Environmental Sciences, Survey of India, etc. They are dropped and picked up by the chopper with the help of GPS and walkie-talkie. They leave soon after breakfast with packed lunch and can return by late evening.

The usual pattern of evening function at Maitri is music and singing and later dancing. Alcohol is on the house, usually whisky and rum. Yesterday there was beer too gifted by Russian guests. Of course, the toast for the Army Day was proposed over champagne. I had participated in singing 3 songs, two solo and one chorus. I was given the chance to start the evening with song, 'ae mere pyare watan, ae mere bichhure chaman, tujh pe dil kurbaan'. This remains one of my most favourite patriotic songs, not because that was the first such song that I learnt as a school student but for many other reasons. Manna Dey sang it in his soul touching voice for a movie "Kabuli-wala" based on a story by Rabindra Nath Tagore. After this I joined in a chorus for a song from 'Border', "sandese aate hain, humein tadpaate hain, likho ki ghar kab aaoge, ki tum bin ye ghar suna suna hai". Finally, I sang a Hemant Kumar number, "naa yeh chaand hoga, naa taare rahenge, magar hum hamesha tumahre rahenge". The Russians had brought some fresh green cucumbers from their green house and I got two pieces this morning as 'prasad'.

3 comments:

Ashish said...

it felt nice to read a blog written by an indian at the farthest end of the world :)

loads of good luck and wishes for your journey doc, i shall now be a regular follower of your writing here :)

Øystein said...

Just found your blog (linked from indian news site). Interesting stuff! We're fellow travellers - I'm the current doctor at the norwegian Troll station. I've linked your blog now, for broader coverage of us docs on the ice planet. My site: oysteinantarctica.blogspot.com

Suruchi said...

Dear Mr. Khandelwal
I found your blog while surfing an Indian educational website. I am not a doctor, nor in the army, neither a student of science...just another fellow Indian who likes nature and writing travelogues. I really appreciate the work you and the Indian team is doing there. Please accept my best wishes for your endevours.
Suruchi Chopra