I was a member of the XIII Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica (ISEA) and XI Winter-Over Team (WOT) and stayed at Indian Scientific Station at Antarctica, Maitri, between Dec 1993 and Mar 1995 (almost 16 months). I was the youngest Indian scientist at that time to do what is known as ‘wintering-over’ (i.e., spend 16 months in the icy continent away from comforts of home and hot food). I was also the Post Master of Maitri Post Office, the philatelic post office of Indian Post Department (they still owe me an honararium of Rs. 16 for my services, one rupee per month). Among other things, I worked on HF radio based Data Communication between Anatarctica and India.
I gave a talk on my experiences at TEDxGolfLinkParks in Jan 2012:
Scientific reports from the expedition are available here, and my report is available here. During the XI Scientific Expedition, my friend and colleague Srikanth stayed at Antarctica, and I was at Pune. Together, we conducted experiments on data communication using HF radio, and his report is available here. You can also find a high-level report of the expedition from Department of Ocean Development here.
Over the next few months, I will add text and photos to my travelogue:
Chapter 1: Preparation
Getting ready for the Antarctic trip meant undergoing stringent medical, physiological and psychological tests in addition to undergoing an acclimatization camp at Auli and Joshimath.
Medical exams were fun. The team members for an Antractica expedition are drawn from several organizations – DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization), IIG (Indian Institute of Geomagnetism), GSI (Geological Survey of India), IMD (India Meterological Department), AIIMS (All-India Institute of Medical Sciences), Survey of India, etc.
Chapter 2: Sailing from Goa
We sailed in a Russian ship, MV Stephan Krasheninikov from Goa. It was my first sea journey and a great experience…
One of the most interesting and fun events on ship is the equator-crossing, or line crossing, as some call it. This is specially important for the first-time sailors crossing equator for the first-time.
Chapter: 3: Reaching Antarctica !
Chapter 4: Life in Summer Camp
Indian station Maitri is designed in two main areas: Summer camp and the Main station. Summer camp is an assortment of wooden huts, more like Swiss chalets, that house temporary accommodation for the summer team members. They have their own kitchen, their own bathrooms and their own life. The focus is not so much on comfort but more on basic functional ameneties.
Chapter 5: The ship leaves us !
When the last chooper flew from Maitri helipad, it was only a matter of time before the ship sailed…leaving us alone (!) in the huge, wild and icy continent for next one year…Â
Chapter 6: Daily life and work at Maitri
Chapter 7: Galley Duty !
This promises to be the most interesting of them all…
Chapter 8: Fun and Partying
Chapter 9: Winter, Aurora Australis and Antarctic Mid-Winter
Chapter 10: Getting ready for summer
Chapter 11: The new team arrives !
Chapter 12: Gooybye Antarctica
all good things must come to an end, and with the hope of returning one day as a researcher or a tourist, we bid goodbye to what was our home in the middle of mother nature’s most inhospitable and inaccessible places on earth…
Chapter 13: The curse of “number 13”
…after all, we were no 13th expedition for nothing…helicopter crash, engine failure, fire in the station, ship drifting rudderless….we saw it all