Posted in AaratiinAntarctica

15th March 2016: The Drake times

There has been much talk about bracing ourselves for the Drake. Now I see why! It is like the feeling of being on an adventure park ride- the Colombus, except, this is an actual Ship causing timely vertigo every time it rolls from one side to another. You also hear an occasional glass break in the middle of a session, with the backdrop of a wall clock swaying from side to side. It is pretty crazy to be on a moving boat as every day mundane tasks are made super arduous and unique. Just walking from your room to breakfast or taking a shower(and other daily chores, ahem.) or just trying to stand straight can make for the most interesting experiences during the drake times. The Drake passage is known to be the  roughest waters in the world where waves can go to a height of 10m! Although we are told what we are experiencing is about a 2 on a scale of 10. If this is 2, I can’t even imagine a 10! Some people have been keeping sick and mostly indoors. I feel fine because my roommate was kind enough to share her sea sickness pills.

My roommate seems super sweet. She is a consultant with BCG. We are so different in what we do, my roommate and I. While I’ve never had a corporate job, it was interesting to hear all about her 16 hour work days and the high life of traveling the world. Extremely insightful. I’ve always held an opinion that there are two ways of living life. Either you work your a** off in your twenties, build a foundation, get that promotion, get super rich, retire by 45 and then do all the things you always wanted to do and invest in your passions, hell, even fund an Indian girl to Antarctica; or you can choose to use your twenties to do what you are truly passionate about while you have the energy  drive and zeal to, follow your ideals while you are still idealistic and not jaded by the dark shadows of realism, meet as many people as you can before you become cynical, antisocial or extremely opinionated, for later in life you are bound to have a “real job” and “settle down” (or not). The above two lifestyles don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Lucky are the few who get to make their passions their professions. But there are always daily battles of a choice between the two one has to fight. I am not saying either one is bad. I mean my roommate at 32, funded her entire expedition with her own money, and a large part of my expedition was funded by individuals like her in their 40s’ and 50s’.

I’ve always wanted to do a job where I can see the direct impact of the work that I do, hence my  stubbornness of wanting to work at the grassroots level in the development sector. But lately, I’ve been confronted with the questions of whether I want to do that all my life, and if I see that the higher up the ladder you go, the bigger impact you can create. I  mean look at all the people who contributed to my crowd funding. They might be sitting in a plush air conditioned corporate offices not able to see the impact of the buttons that they press but even they made a huge difference with their one random act of kindness. Then there are those working with NGOs who contributed as well, so I guess in that case it just comes down to one’s personal kindness quotient. As I am vacillating between what to do, post the expedition, whether to follow my personal dream vs get a corporate job I can’t help but wonder… has the practicality bug just bitten me because I just turned 25 or because of the conversation with my roommate from a different realm of industry? I wonder on what basis they assigned our roommates and if this was their plan all along…

We had some interesting sessions today, one about a brief history of Penguins, one titled ‘Ice with an Antarctic Twist’ with our glaciologist Colin,(since we will start seeing icebergs very soon, along with dolphins, sea birds giant petrels and Albatross) and one about the history of Antarctica. There is so much of history just surrounding Antarctica! I always thought sailing and exploration was a vast topic but there is so much to learn within the field of polar Exploration like life stories of  famous explorers like Scott, Amundsen, Ross, Shackleton in whose memory our teams are named after.. and of course, Robert swan. The people leading the sessions are such experts in their fields and even though the sessions were very informative we were mostly encouraged to spend as much time on the deck as possible today because the best way to beat sea sickness is to look at the horizon. Well , I think staring at the horizon is a great medicine, and so is contemplating life while getting lost in the vast expanse of the ocean.

OH! I also saw my first whale today. 🙂 I don’t know what kind it is because we haven’t had our session on whales yet, but it was beautiful none the less. You could see it blowing out water from its spout decently close to our ship. We were up on the bridge when we spotted it. It’s so cool that you get to hang around on the bridge, use the binoculars to see far out into the ocean to try and spot whales, watch the navigators at work with all the equipment and learn about their work. It’s like visiting the cockpit of an Aircraft, which also gives me the same thrill. Fun fact about a ship: you should not whistle on a ship because there is a superstition that if you whistle on the ship, you whistle the wind out.

Dinner every day is great- an extremely elaborate 5-course meal to kick in your buddha syndrome and also to kick off great conversations with all participants. With 140 of us on the ship, I’m on a mission to sit with a different group of people, whom I haven’t met or spoken to yet, every meal. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes, but for now know that we are being fed well, mom. Don’t worry. Miss you.

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