Skip to main content

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 next 90 minutes it started to pack up with snowing. By 10 all were back on the ship. Now it was my turn to be blamed that on two occasions when I was to bring lunch, weather packed up. I retorted that it would happen that way if you give Dr Khandelwal such mundane duties. Allow him to go in the first sortie to lead the pack for the day’s work and then see the result. Of course, it did not move the leader.

Some members wanted to camp there overnight for 1-2 days for starting work there at 6 am itself. Three igloo huts are parked there with arrangements for 10 people. I have volunteered to go and been included. However, it looks people have chickened out; what if the weather turns bad not for a day or two but for several days. I did not try to convince them, but said that ship could not leave without us; just 30 min of clear weather will be enough for choppers to bring us back. It is true, though, that weather can remain bad for several days in continuity as we have witnessed on two occasions in last one month. I can not complain; it was because of bad weather only that I along with some others managed to board the ship for Larsemann Hills. People have started now getting bored. They would not forgive me if because of our stranded camping the ship gets delayed by even a single day. Every day there are discussions at least few times a day calculating tentative dates of departure and possible dates of arrival at Goa.

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…