Skip to main content

A 'Nail Biting' Farewell

I am not lucky even the fourth time. Today I was to have my maiden flight in chopper for going to the ship. The wind speed is not less than 50 knot judging by the jerks my hut is receiving. Weather is worse around the ship. So may be another couple of days here; Maitri ka daana-paani khatam nahin hua hai. Some of the younger lot of the team are quite resentful in not being able to go over the ship. "Why weren't we sent when weather was so clear and we had finished our work here?" they ask indignantly. I am angry on myself. I did not take bath or wash my clothes for last two days leaving it for the ship. I should not have done it believing in Murphy's law. In keeping with this law, may be I shall be able to go tomorrow as I shall bathe today as well as wash some clothes. But it is Antarctica, you never know. One major problem with the delayed departure, if it happens, would be less time for people from Survey of India who were to do detailed study of the topography of Larsemann Hill.
For last three days, there is farewell every evening in small groups on private basis. I am surprised that there was no formal farewell for the ten members of the 26th IAE either by the remaining members or by the 27th team when every now and then cultural evenings are organized. My farewell speech is wasted.

I had told you that I had organized a farewell party for myself with the members of the logistic team of the 27th IAE. I get along with them quite well and we all are members of the Dooda Beta Film Club. We squeezed ourselves in the loft of Annapurna lounge where four members have their beds. My own hut would have been quite inadequate with no extra chair or floor space. I have enough now to go with any evening party, gifted to me by the members who have already left. Why did I think of this get together? Well, I have imbibed it from Chitra. Secondly, there was wine still lying untouched since I bought it in Goa in November before flying in here. I did not know what to do with it. Bringing it back to Goa would be anticlimax. Five of the eleven assembled have done one winter here earlier. They regaled us with some of the stories of their expeditions. For example, Raghunathan had to confine himself in a tiny hut on the ice shelf for three days when blizzard hit unannounced. His worry was not how to survive since where ever IAE has huts, they are equipped with food all the year around. He struggled about his nature calls. He could not venture out as along with the blizzard there was white out too, and in those conditions if you get lost outside you are doomed. Arjun too was holed up in a hut with his colleague during his last expedition for ten days when blizzard hit them. It was a hut with scientific instruments in a little remote area with no toilet facilities inside. Arjun stopped eating or ate very little to save him the ignominy of shitting inside the hut where he conducted his scientific work. His colleague was shameless in this respect. When they were rescued ten days later, Arjun was emaciated and barely able to speak coherently or walk on his own feet. However, what all these men remembered most or still remember are the people with whom they spent their long winters here. They have managed contacts not with all but at least with some of them till date.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

TREK TO VALLEY OF FLOWERS AND HEMKUND SAHIB

When I told my family and friends that I wanted to trek to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib this August, everyone thought I was just crazy. Besides Delhi, the rain gods had been relentless over Uttarakhand too causing road breaches at multiple sites in various hill towns. There were landslides everywhere and traffic to all the well known pilgrimage centres of Badri Nath, Kedar Nath, Gangotri and Yamunotri were getting cut off from rest of the country every now and then. The group I was trying to assemble had fallen through. But to do justice to the Valley of Flowers, one has to trek there in the month of August only when the entire valley is at its best bloom. So finally, I enquired at the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd (www.gmvnl.com) if they had any vacancy for its weekly tour to Valley of Flowers – Hemkund Sahib – Badri Nath. Of course, they did not have any for the month of August. However, I was banking on some cancellations hoping some people might not like to venture on this…

Chopta - Tungnath - Chandrashila Trek

Five days of holidays in the beginning of October was god-sent for many people to make a beeline into their favourite destinations; we too planned to make best of this golden opportunity, since it does not happen very often that one gets constellation of holidays falling together. If I have to plan, what better place than go for a quick visit to the Himalayas in Uttarakhand. Chopta and Tungnath had been in my mind for a long time. I made enquiries and found this was a doable trip in five days. Vasu, after some hesitation, agreed to accompany me, and then I asked Shariff, who approved the plan (of course, after consulting Malini) without hestitation. What bothered me was the road condition. After last year’s devastation due to fury of floods in Uttarakhand, esp, in the region of Kedarnath, I was a little wary, since Chopta and Tungnath fall in the close vicinity of Kedarnath; afterall, Tungnath is one of five Kedar temples. I contacted GMVN’s offices in Rishikesh and other places to ge…

How to Reach Antarctica?

Traditionally, Indian Scientific Expeditions to Antarctica have been sailing by ship from Goa to reach Antarctica in 3-4 weeks time via Mauritius stopping there for 2-3 days. During its journey it would cross equator and have all the thrills and excitement of a ship cruise. There would be plethora of marine life to see including whales, dolphins, seals etc. The most thrilling, exciting and perhaps anxiety filled time would come when ship enters latitude of 40 degrees south till 55 degrees when it would go rocking and pitching. The ship takes 4-5 days to cross this ‘villainous and roaring forties’, and is very difficult time due to certain risks and severe sea sickness. It is the area of mixing of waters of Indian Ocean and Antarctica. After crossing this, the ship would enter cold water and then the frozen sea with icebergs, ice-sheath, fast ice, packed ice etc.
Lately, the Indian Expeditions have been doing the entire journey partly by air and ship. The team would fly to Johannesburg…