Monday, February 4, 2008

Break in Weather

The weather has improved quite remarkably, both at Maitri as well as around the ship which is parked near the Indian bay. It has not anchored yet since the pack ice around the ice shelf (coast) has not yet broken; it has been in that area for four weeks now. It is 7:30 pm now and I can hear the sound of the chopper from my room. It is the first sortie it has made in 9 days. People have been eagerly and anxiously waiting for it for various reasons. First, the four members of the 26th Team who had left on 21st January for an overnight stay on the ship to experience it, since they had arrived in Antarctica all the way by air in November of 2006, and hence wanted a familiarity with it. They must have been anxious to return because they are going back to India all the way by air and their IL flight to Cape Town is on the 5th February. Each extra day on the ship must have increased their anxiety as they must have kept a few things to be done during these days, for example, some photographic sessions, some exchange of photo and video albums, exchanging one another's coordinates, visit to some spots like Shivling etc. One of them said later that with each day on the ship their desperation grew and they were ready to walk all the way to Maitri, a distance of 120 km full of crevasses now. Though there is another flight one week later, but after having lived here for 15 months, they are not ready to spend one extra day in this white desert of Icy Planet. Second group of people anxious for the chopper landing are the ones waiting to board the ship for going to Larsmann Hill. They wish to return as soon as possible to the comforts of the ship and avoid galley duty. Their sense of belongingness to Maitri and its life is not as greater as that of some of us. The third group has been eagerly waiting for the chopper to bring tea bags which have exhausted here a few days ago. People are managing with green label. This does not give the needed colour to the cuppa tea that we Indians are used to. They do not use the green tea as it should be. So far the station had been managing with the stock of the 26th IAE. Chopper's landing will bring relief to a number of people.

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