Saturday, March 15, 2008

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! Though it is a rocky area, but with the snow fall of last few days, everything had become very beautiful, the scattered snow breaking the monotony of the rocks. I always thought that the Himalayas was most beautiful because of its tree line and greenery; however, snow does the same thing here in a rocky area with ocean just nearby. From the station site you could see the ocean a little distance away, full of small islands. Since the weather is turning colder inspite of clear sky, I was wearing too many things: on upper half two thermals and one thermal for legs and then polar overall on top of all this; three pairs of gloves and two balaclavas, polar socks etc. All this made me bulky but I was comfortable. After visiting the station site, I joined the two member team of National Hydrographic Organization (NHO, under the Indian Navy, I believe) to visit another island at 5 minute flight. They had to set up an instrument there to collect land data to begin their bathymetric studies (study of ocean bed) next year. I helped them in carrying huge batteries, small and large boulders etc. I also amused them with my silly stories. The landscape around us was just awesome, unlike what all I have seen at Maitri. Each landscape looks different if you looked at it after a few minutes. One skua came over to give us company and watching us working. All three of us chanted loudly ‘Om’ in unison three times. It felt very good.

Like many opportunities in life I learn late, I found about the calling cards being available on the ship which has happy hours and happy weekend. Calling through the card turns out to Rs 48 per minute anywhere in the world. So I made some satisfying calls back home. This calling card is for Inmarsat telecommunications and issued by France Telecom.

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