Antarctica: 18th Dec: David vs Goliath

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Had an awesome 5 am zodiac cruise- our last day on the continent. Climaxed in a fascinating display by the local wildlife. Looks like they had planned a special goodbye show, for the alien humans loitering around.

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A gentoo penguin stuck on a little ice flotilla with a leopard seal lazily stretching on it. Beautiful duel between prey and predator. Seal opens mouth for just a yawn & the mentally challenged penguin flaps its wings, noisily running along the periphery of the float.

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Intricate masterpieces carved out of ice & glaciers are the perfect backdrop for this morning show.
Unfortunately have to say goodbye to life and begin our return journey to the humdrum bullshit.

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Antarctica: 16th/17th Dec – Beauty lies in the Ice of the Boulder…

The Continental Landing:

Woke up to some unbelievable sights today morning. How can so much beauty exist in a concentrated part of earth. Everywhere I set my sight, a spectacular photo opp exists. Looks like some painter has picked up a colourless canvas and smudged it with white snow, tempered with icy blue floats and jagged brown peaks. The heart is overwhelmed with the beauty around. Wonder how the first explorers would have felt, when they landed on this white wilderness with no humans around. Just nature and its magic.

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Got the passport stamped at Port Lockroy. Excited but piqued at how we’ve induced such artificial borders even in a serene, free continent like Antarctica. British heritage, scientific, postal base-remnants of WW 2 strategic warfare in this part of the world!

Jealous of the penguins loitering around. They’ve got the best of what our planet has to offer. Truly, beauty lies in the ice of the boulder. Bought some Souvenirs at the Brit historical museum.

Paradise Bay proves that there is indeed a paradise on earth. Hiked to the top of a small hillock and then slid down. How the hell are we supposed to like any other place now?
The stunning huge glaciers hide their crevasses and run down the mountain valleys with the icebergs & floats all around at the bay. Beautiful satsrugi exposing our vessel in the background. Gentoo penguins breeding in their bright, warm summer of -10°c

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Camped overnight at the Amirante Brown station. Don’t want to sleep. Its’a strangely liberating as well as depressing feeling when a childhood dream is fulfilled… The penguins are tired & silent, and so am I..Walk up and down the hillock and get into the sleeping bag to trap the heat and dissipate the sorrow.

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Antarctica: 15th Dec: Love at first sight!

Half-Moon Island and Deception Island

The inadequacy of words & pictures is amplified today. How can anyone be prepared for a place like Antarctica?
Surreal feeling when our feet plonked on the coldest, driest & windiest part of our planet. A long-cherished dream fulfilled. Strangely enough a part of me lived and died today….

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Penguins rule this terrain. They build highways to navigate up the plateau & down to the calm sea for their daily quota of bread, butter & jam. Stealing is rampant around the pebbled nests – each penguin a bigger scamster than the other. And all this is done while protecting their eggs from the predatory Scua birds.

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Bright, blue lines trickle out of the icy glaciers and snow-sculpted structures around. Reminds one of the cool minty toothpaste ads, which have blue gel oozing out of the tube.
I’m so sad when we’re asked to get-off the island & onto our zodiacs to return to the ship. I’ve fallen in pure love with an inanimate objet for the first time. The vast white wiLderness has an outer-world tranquility, never experienced before. How will I be able to survive with humans in the plasticity of Dubai, now?!

Deception island next. Have foolishly agreed to participate in the polar plunge.
Once-in-a-lifetime chance to take a bath in the Antarctic waters. (albeit in a lake created by an active volcano)

Guts is just a fine line away for sheer stupidity. Wished myself luck and stripped down to bare essentials.
The water wasn’t substantially cold for the 1st 2 steps…The sulphur from the active volcano ensured a foggy, farty air all around, slightly warm for these conditions. Step 3 and then suddenly thousand cold pins pierce the feet. If this is what volcanic antarctic wafers fed like, dread to think how it’ll beneath the colder peninsula down south. Brrrrr..

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Anyway, fear has been drowned into the Antarctic Ocean… Need to transmute this strong will to other spheres of life. Orgasmic day 1 comes to an end…

Antarctica: Dracula’s Lake: 13th/14th Dec

Bid Adieu to the southernmost port in the world, Ushuaia and jumped aboard our new home, Plancius…

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As we moved away from this sleepy town and crossed the docile Beagle channel, all of us had our fingers crossed. A new environment, ship crew and a supposed monster – Drake’s passage to deal with, had us in a bit of a sweat.

The Drake Passage is the body of water between the southern tip of South America which connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean and extends into the Southern Ocean.

There is no significant land anywhere at the latitudes of the Drake Passage, which is important to the unimpeded flow of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which carries a huge volume of water and throws it all around. Hence the apparent rocky nature of the Dracula…

We introduced ourselves to the Dutch doctor on board who tranquilized us with chemicals. So, 2 days went in a state of trance, though luckily the Drake behaved more like a lake. Ate, slept and clicked random photos of the sky whenever the eye remained opened for a bit. Hope to touch the continent tomorrow!

Got a few interesting shots – first sighting of an iceberg and some whales.

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Death is beautiful

Antarctica Trip Day 2: Buenos Aires

Visiting a cemetery is always a surreal experience. The famed and respected people of Argentina are buried here for posterity. But why? does it really matter? Is leaving behind a legacy really that important?
Does a Gandhi, Lincoln or Napoleon really hold any relevance after they’re gone?

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When a rockstar sleeps, fame is an inconsequential concept both for him as well as his worshippers. At that point he, the pope & the street dog all are on the same plane. For that matter, sleep is the biggest leveler & hence by that extension so is death. The only reason we love to sleep & despise the elongated variant is our inability to wake up.

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Saw these 2 old gentlemen sitting here in peace, waiting for their time. Every wrinkle holding umpteen stories, joyful, tragic as well as unfulfilled dreams. When you’re so near to death, what really drives you to live?

Many questions, only silence is
the reposte given by these graves.

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Paglos pablos and a crazy Buenos…

Antarctica Trip -Day 1: Argentina

Amigos, today’s postos is gonna be a bit difficult to reados as we’re down on a couple of moijitos. A city like Buenos Aires is exactly like its graffiti stained walls. Random urbanization adding colorful chaos to the beautifully planned architecture of 16th century.

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Wonder if today’s ghettos in urban centres would offend the colonial masters who envisaged their slaves in a monumental form. BA is like a huge canvas where the portenos have added colour in terms of sculptures, graffiti and various other art forms. The city of theatres, tango and futbol is buzzing. What would be interesting though is to ask the local denizens whether they find the city of fair winds as poetic as a tourist, who’s on a relaxed vacation. The city overall not that out of this world has a happy sexy feel to it. Not the picture perfect sexiness of a rodeo drive but rather a raw imperfect appeal a la the rumba. Music, color and chilled out laziness drive this city. The graffiti too reflects the cheery, quirkiness of people unlike the angst you see in many other societies. And all this despite the socio-economic hardships over last few decades.

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Coming back to the debate of urbanization, many cities today are losing they individuality with the onslaught of cloned architecture. Some areas of BA look so familiar that I and N renamed it fort area & Connaught place in the Same breath. Anways winding down an awesome evening with R & N at the waterfront, though drowsiness ensures we’ll miss having our up, close & personal encounter with tango tonight… More lateros moi dearos senors and senoritas….

Planes, Trains & Quantum gibberish…

Antarctica Day 0 – Flight to Argentina

Time space conundrum plays on the mind.
14 hours from Dubai to Brazil & then another 4 to Buenos Aires makes me realize how ironically slow & boring air travel really is.

Reminds me of the good old days when I used to look forward to the exciting 2-day train journeys from one Indian city to another. The buying of magazines from railway platforms, the trrding trrding sound of the cold drink guy, the sizzling omlette bread & the mayhem of umpteen other vendors peddling their wares, in the cramped compartments. And to top it all, the inadvertent presence of that one beautiful femme fatale, stretching and yawning on the opposite berth.
But the most crucial aspect I miss in this jet age is the raw, earthy feeling of cold, night breeze at the open window, as Iush Indian villages pass by.

Anyways coming back to today, the train chick has been replaced by a 6 decade old Lebanese nanny on my side whose command over English is as brilliant as mine over Quantum mechanics.
She gets up every hour & noticing my annoyance apologises profusely for “molesting” me?!

To avoid this incessant molestation, I concentrate on the quest documentaries which reiterate the fact that everything in life, including science is so subjective & just a viewpoint of a supposedly superior minority.
Newton’s gravity was the bible until Einstein’s relativity broke through the simplistic laws of physics. He created this monstrously complex crackshit about relativity, and then the seemingly harmless Hawking wheelchaired all over him & all his predecessors. But why only curse the incomprehensible scientists. lsn’t History, Religion, Geography & even life itself just random theories & perspectives of x individuals? South Pole for us might be a northern point for a starship deep in the space abyss below.
USA invasion for legit democratic rights of the middle eastern people is already being written in many history books as a tyrant’s loot for oil.

Anyways enough rambling for the day. Flowing through different time Zones & food zones is making me sleepy. Catch Buenos Aires tomorrow.

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