GUWAHATI, Sept 1 � Delivering the 18th Pandit Tirthanath Sarma Memorial Lecture at the Pragjyotish College auditorium here today, noted Indian geo-magnetic scientist Raghab Chandra Deka narrated his voyage to Antarctica and the 485-day sojourn there between November 1987 and March 1989. Deka is the first Assamese to be selected as a scientist of the 7th Indian Scientific Expedition (also as a member of the 5th Wintering Team) to Antarctica.
The lecture was organised on the occasion of the completion of the 60th year of existence by the college.
In his lecture, titled �Mor Antarctica Abhijanor 485 Din� (485 days of My Voyage to Antarctica), Deka narrated how he had to undergo a thorough medical check-up by Army doctors that lasted eight hours at a stretch after he had been selected, and how he was trained by the Indian Army to acclimatise in the Himalayan glaciers. On November 25, 1987, the Thuleland, the Sweden-made expedition ship, set out on her voyage from the Margaon dock of Goa with 92 scientists including three civilians, Deka being one of them.
Before crossing the Equator, the ship crew worshipped Neptune, the sea god, with ritual expiation and entered the southern hemisphere. They came across an albatross bird after crossing the 34 degree south latitude. They were affected by sea sickness while crossing the roaring forties, a very rough oceanic area of the world. The team later saw various unusual sea birds, flying fish, whales, etc, during the course of the voyage.
After a rough and hazardous voyage, the ship cleaved through the placid blue waters and moved to the destination � the land of penguins. At 8 pm on the night of December 20, 1987, the Thuleland reached the shore of Antarctica. On the following morning, the team flew to South Gangotri, the Indian Research Station located 85 km away from the main station, Maitree, in Antarctica.
Deka paid rich tributes to the memory of Pandit Tirthanath Sarma, the founder principal of the college, at the beginning of his lecture.
The audience of the function, who included a number of alumni and ex-teachers of the college, besides its present students, teaching staff members and employees, took part in lively interactions with Deka, also an alumnus of the college.
Earlier, prior to delivering his lecture, Deka released the book titled �Role of NGOs in Economic Development with Special Reference to NE Economy� � a compilation published by the Economics Department of the college under the aegis of its Economic Planning Forum.