This mail was meant for April 11. However Gmail decided to place this in my Junk folder, as a result I didn't see Dad's email until yesterday. Apologies! This is a good post and his last from the ship.
Surprisingly and frustratingly the voyage is still continuing. But I refuse to title this entry in my diary at ‘ANTARCTICA ON 11.04.2008. I know Chitra will smile mischievously and say something deeply piercing, but I shall take the risk of subjecting myself to that. It is 11 in the morning, and I have just returned to my room from the deck, no land yet to be sighted. The voyage is still continuing! So annoying! For last few days when we all were playing the guessing game of when we would see the Goa shoreline, some more knowledgeable amongst us had confidently said that by 6 pm on the 10th April our mobiles would start getting the signals confirming that we were only two hours away from the Goa shoreline and by 6 am next morning we should be able to dock since the ship is not guided to the shore during night time; and hopefully we would touch our dear ‘mathrabhoomi’ by ten am. But, alas, it did not happen. By no stretch of imagination we are anywhere near the Antarctica, however, the unpredictability of Antarctica continues to cling to us and influence each and every decision of ours. Last night at about 9 pm, rumour spread in the dinning lounge that mobiles had started getting signals. Abondoning the party, people left their Scotch on the table to join the excitement on the deck. I rushed to my room climbing all the way to the top floor to fetch my mobile. But it all proved to be a hoax; there were no signals yet. What was surprising that the ship was standstill on the seas which appeared totally still. I had seen her once grinding to a halt in the pack ice on our return journey from the Larsemann Hill, but there was no pack ice here. Next morning we would know that one engine had developed some snag and while repair was being undertaken, the strong current had pushed back the ship by three nautical miles.
Since this morning I am restless. I could manage only a few hours of sleep last night, and have been awake again since 4:00 in the morning. I try for some time to get back to sleep, and then leave the room at five to have some tea. I come out on the deck, the ship is sailing faster as if to compensate for the loss of three hours last night. There are still some stars visible in the sky. The wind is warm and humid, unlike any of which I had been enjoying all these past days. No birds or dolphins to be sighted. The tea tastes tasteless. I retire to my room. I am over with most of my packing. In last two days I have gone through print edition of most of my mails, and trashed them. I am now reading Chitra’s mails of last two months. How biting are her words! What Ishu says as her ‘wit or dry wit’, is sheer stabbing: “vain you have been all along; insufferable to live with a celebrity; don’t count on us, just count your fan mail; come by the slowest train, or better, just walk to extend your voyage; you have an MBA in remote management”
I do not have appetite for any breakfast. I make a strong cup of coffee for myself, but do not enjoy it. There is some activity on the deck, everyone out there has a mobile in his hand, however no luck so far. I join the group walking from fauxel, the frontmost area, to the stern, the last open space of the ship on the back, to find the vintage point to receive the signal. Very anxious moments indeed. Then at 11:30, someone shrieks that his mobile is getting a strong signal. Hurray, my mobile does not fail me. I scurry for a spot which gives me strongest signal. After five months of not using my mobile, I fiddle with its keys. I try Chitra’s mobile and in my first attempt it connects. It is reassuring talking to her, it is like a balm to my frayed nerves.