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Showing posts from March, 2008

Visit to Zhong Shang (Chinese Station)

Originally meant for posting on March 4th.

Today I had a very good day. Though I had my galley duty and I was up and about at 5 am in the morning, the leader asked me at 7 am along with a few others to get ready to leave within half an hour. Of course I was ready within 15 minutes after requesting another member to carry on galley duty. I would do his tomorrow. I did not ask why since I had a feeling that it could be to visit Russian and Chinese stations. He had been trying for last few days to contact them for permission to visit their stations. The third in the Larsemann Hills is the Australian station, Davis, but that is far away at 120 km. We were at our proposed site at 8 am where the leader told us that we might visit these two stations weather permitting. Last night the satellite picture had shown a big system traveling towards the ship quite fast. The temp was -5 C and with wind chill it was -15 C. Right now it is quite desolate place. I have said earlier that looks quite beaut…

Some Thoughts and a Visit to Larsemann Hills

Originally meant for posting on March 3rd

I have believed for quite some time that living in Delhi is very stressful, or that, it is no longer a worth-living place. There was a time when I had seriously thought about settling in some small town in the Himalayas away from it all. However, I no longer think that way. In fact, now we do not even wish to settle even in Gurgaon. More central, better it is.

Living and working in the Antarctica may have its own challenges, but then there are no everyday stresses. All stations everywhere in Antarctica have all the modern facilities. In Maitri we enjoyed 24 hour power and hot and cold water supply, no bills to be paid, no shopping lists, no commuting or traffic hassles, no family or social commitments to look after.

Today I was able to visit the Larsemann Hills. It was a ten-minute flight from the ship. So it is very close to the shoreline. I have given you the details of the area in my earlier mail. But what a place during this time of the year!…

Superstitions and Science

Originally meant for posting on March 1st

It is amazing how superstitions can influence the scientific work. After the inaugural chopper flights on 24th itself, we had chalked out the schedule of sorties from 25th with Team A of 5 people in the first sortie. On 25th and 26th the weather remained inclement for sorties. On the evening of 26th, some younger members started making fun of Team A that it was because of them, and implored upon the leader to revise the schedule of sorties. The leader, otherwise very logical and rational, joined the fun and revised the list. I laughed out loud that now superstitions are coming to the rescue of scientific expeditions. But it worked! On 27th the weather became clear and bright. Sorties took off on time. On 28th Team A again became the first to shake off superstitious thinking. No problem. On 29th when I was going to take the lunch sortie, the weather again turned bad; no sorties. This morning, all the sorties had left by 7:30 am. However, within …

Shiv Ratri

We celebrated ‘Shiv Ratri’ on the ship today, or in the Antarctic continent.

Other than ‘Kailash-Manasarovar’ it was perhaps the most appropriate place for celebrating this festival. Geographically, Tibet – where both these sacred places are situated – owes its presence to the Antarctica only. To be brief, without taking the risk of boring you, Gondwanaland continent was a supercontinent till 200 million years ago and starting breaking up 190 m years ago. Seventy m years ago, all the breakaway pieces - South America, South Africa, Australia and India - had detached completely from the supercontinent (now reduced to Antarctica continent) and begun to move to their present locations. Twenty million years ago, Indian plate collided with Eurasia plate, and Tibet, which was under the sea, surfaced as one of the highest inhabited plateau. The snow, blizzards, avalanches, isolation, freezing temperatures, awe etc are some other characteristics which define both the places. A very funny thing…

90 Days in Antarctica

(This posting dates to a week back, but could not be made earlier).

Today I complete 90 days in Antarctica staying at the Indian station, Maitri, as summer member of the 27th Indian Antarctic Expedition. Normally, the summer members of the IAE get to spend up to six weeks in Antarctica while another 6-8 weeks are spent on ship transportation. Since I had arrived here by air all the way from India, I have managed a kind of feat along with some of my other colleagues here.

I am trying to reflect how it was or what my mental state was just before departure:

The last few days in Delhi were quite anxiety filled with nervousness and apprehensions. I always had this nagging thoughts in my mind that there should be no major flaw in my preparations, esp., what all to pack. I did not wish to carry unnecessarily too many things, but at the same time wanted to ensure that all necessary items were with me. One could not buy anything in Antarctica, though Maitri was well equipped in most of the things…