The Polar Route

When you have an internship at Microsoft Research – Redmond, apart from wonderful work and stay, you also have an awesome travel experience. When I knew that I have just three hours break at Dubai, and that too from 5am to 8am, I was disappointed. But, life is full of surprise!

When I was trying to search the route of my plane, I was pleasantly surprised: it flew directly over north pole! Well, not directly, but very, very close. Aman had warned me earlier, but I didn’t take it seriously. Who would believe in first go that their plane would fly directly over the pole?

Route map of EK229: From Dubai to Seattle

Route map of EK229: From Dubai to Seattle

The only thing that was worrying me on flight was that maybe flight attendants won’t allow uncovering windows because of blinding sunlight. But again, life is full of surprises! The airline staff was very friendly and on seeing camera in my hand, they offered to take me to back of  the flight near their rooms. There I spent about six hours taking photos and chatting with pilots and other staff (they have two sets of staff for long flights).

Cutting the story short, here are some of the photos.

Somewhere over Arkhanglesk, Russia

Somewhere over Arkhanglesk, Russia

I was getting luckier with time as clouds started diminishing as the plane moved into the polar region.

The arctic sea between Arkhanglesk and Svalbard

The arctic sea between Arkhanglesk and Svalbard

The ice has started to melt, or as Eshit puts it, is it just “spring”?

The mountains of Cape Mary Harmsworth, I guess

The mountains of Cape Mary Harmsworth, I guess

Coming closer to the pole, somewhere in the horizon is our north pole.

North Pole is somewhere in the horizon

North Pole is somewhere in the horizon

The clouds started building up just after the North Pole and continued all the way down to Seattle.

The clouds over Canada

The clouds over Canada

Thankfully, the plane didn’t pass over Iceland, otherwise I would have literally (read figuratively) jumped out of it!

More photos to come after the return flight! Hopefully the plane will have cleaner windows and cloudless sky between Canada and Greenland.

By the way, on closer examination of the route while writing this post, I found that I also flew “near” the magnetic North Pole, will try to capture it in the return journey,!


Edit —

Again clouds! So, the maximum time was spent in grabbing 3 contiguous seats, and sleeping.

Some random glaciers, between Cannada  and Greenland

Some random glaciers, between Canada and Greenland

Clouds did take some break, for a change – and the result was breathtaking view!

A region full of glaciers

A region full of glaciers

Last chunk of the Arctic ice shelf

Last chunks of the Arctic ice shelf

The return journey was quite uneventful except Mohit’s brief stint at Dubai airport –  he lost his passport there!

Now, waiting for airlines to start commercial flights over Antarctic! (Though, highly unlikely :( )

P.S: I learned to change brightness controls of my camera in these three months. :D


જો ભગવાનના ઘરમાં રેફ્રિજરેટર હોત તો…

જો ભગવાનના ઘરમાં રેફ્રિજરેટર હોત તો ચોક્કસ એની ઉપર એ આપણા ફોટાવાળી ફ્રેમ રાખત !
જો ભગવાન પાકીટ રાખતો હોત તો ખાતરીપૂર્વક કહું છું કે એમાં આપણો નાનકડો ફોટો એ જરૂર રાખત !

દરેક વસંતઋતુએ એ આપણને હજારો ફૂલોનો ગુલદસ્તો શું કામ મોકલે છે ?
રોજ સવારે એ સૂરજને મોકલીને રાતનો અંધકાર શું કામ દૂર કરે છે ?
અમૃતધારા જેવી વર્ષાને દર વરસે એ ધરતી પર શું કામ મોકલે છે ?

જ્યારે જ્યારે આપણે સાચા દિલથી પ્રાર્થના કરીએ છીએ ત્યારે એ સાંભળે જ છે. શું કામ ?
અને એણે બનાવેલા આટલા મોટા વિશ્વમાં એ ગમે ત્યાં રહી શક્યો હોત પણ રહેવાની જગ્યા તરીકે એણે આપણું હૃદય જ શું કામ પસંદ કર્યું ? શું કામ ?!
અરે, એટલા માટે કે એ આપણો દીવાનો છે. આપણી પાછળ પાગલ છે. આપણી સાથે તાલ મિલાવવા માટે એ અધીરો છે.

અને આમેય ભગવાને આપણને બનાવ્યા ત્યારે એવું વચન તો નહોતું જ આપ્યું કે આપણને દુ:ખ વગરના દિવસો જ આપશે ! એવું તો નહોતું કહ્યું કે હાસ્ય આપશે પણ ઉદાસી નહીં આપે કે રાત વગરના જ દિવસો આપશે. પણ એવું વચન જરૂર આપ્યું હતું કે જો દુ:ખ આપશે તો એ સહન કરવાની શક્તિ તેમજ હિંમત આપશે, જો ઉદાસીનતા આપશે તો ખુશી પણ આપશે જ, નિરાશાનાં આંસુ આપશે તો આશાનું સ્મિત પણ જોડે આપશે. અને અંધકારભરી રાત્રિ આપશે તો તારા, ચંદ્ર અને નહીં તો દીવડાનો પ્રકાશ જરૂરથી આપશે જ આપશે !


If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.

He sends you flowers every spring.
He sends you a sunrise every morning.
Whenever you want to talk, He listens.
He can live anywhere in the universe, but He chose…your heart.

Face it, friend – He is crazy about you!
God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.

ગુજરાતી ભાવાનુવાદ: ડૉ. આઈ. કે. વિજળીવાળા

The Fable of The Valley of Clouds

Let me show you a place,
        not many have seen.
For I come from a land,
        not many have been.

Somewhere in the mountains,
        a valley unfolds.
Its beauty lies,
        in the myriad clouds it holds.

The Valley of Clouds

The clouds come from near and far,
        but once in the valley, they forget who they are.
They forget to climb, and begin to crawl.
        They forget to flow and begin to fall.

The valley is a trap so sly,
        it tricks the clouds to leave the sky.
There’s a lesson in this tale
        from the prisoners of this jail.

        “The cloud in each of us is dying,
because the valley of our attachments keep us from flying.”

— —
Poem Credits: Nitin Das.
(Valley of Clouds shown is a beautiful valley situated in the Himalayas. In the mornings, the valley gets filled up with a sea of clouds. The clouds cover the forest, mountains and villages in a blanket of white. It’s a beautiful symphony orchestrated by nature.)