It is nearly 24 hours now on the ship; I am getting used to the geography of the ship. Zero floor is the engine room, a small gym with swimming pool, and stores; first floor is our kitchen and the dinning hall; on second floor we have our lounge and living rooms; third floor has the washing machines and living rooms; fourth floor is entirely for living rooms of the Russian crew; fifth floor has some living rooms and some restricted area; on top of this are the radio room, navigation hall and observation deck. Hence the radio room (where we make our tele calls) and the observation deck (also called bridge) are very near to my room. By the way, this room has been finally allotted to me for sole occupancy till we reach Goa. Sorry, I got my fact wrong yesterday saying it was on starboard side. No, my room is on the port side meaning that when ship is sailing it is on the left side facing the port. Though there is an elevator, I use stairs for my climbing up and down.
This morning the wind speed had remained 40 knots, usually choppers don’t fly at this speed. However, since another low area is developing over this area which will continue for eight days, these New Zealanders decided to finish the job in the morning: if some job is to be done, it is better done, one of them said. Creditable work ethics. Some men were to be dropped at Maitri, some were to be brought here; loads were to be shifted from the ship to Maitri and the ice shelf. I too participated in this ‘shramdaan’ full time. By lunch it was over. Mr Arun Chaturvedi, leader of the 27th IAE was here and he made a brief ‘thank you and farewell’ speech. I am also getting better in welcome and farewell speeches and made a brief speech myself at the end on behalf of all of us and in response to his thanks. Now our leader is Mr Ajay Dhar from Indian Instt of Geomagnetism (IIG) and veteran of two winters with one as leader.
We should start sailing now towards Larsemann Hill tomorrow morning and will take almost 7-10 days to reach there. The Survey of India team and other scientists will take seven working days to finish off their job. Now it is anyone’s guess how many days this much period will require. Now the time is fast approaching for frequent bad weather. In any case, as per Mr Chaturvedi himself (this is his fourth winter, third as leader), weather has never been so bad like this January and February in his entire experience of Antarctica. Time taken to reach Goa from Larsemann Hill now does not depend on nautical miles or ordinary miles, but entirely on the weather. Though only an ignorant person will hazard a guess, at the risk of proving myself totally wrong this day may be between 5th and 10th April.