Malayali youth in contention for Arctic trip

Month-long voting on Facebook for annual FJALL Polar Expedition set to end today

In a few more hours, 35-year-old Ashraf Ali will get to know whether he will be among the few chosen ones from across the globe to go on a once-in-a-lifetime journey into the Arctic wilderness next summer.

Ashraf Excel, which is his online pseudonym, is waiting with his fingers crossed as the month-long voting on Facebook for the annual FJALL Polar Expedition is set to end on Thursday noon. The young graphic designer-turned-travel blogger from Mannarkkad in Palakkad district is engaged in a stiff battle with Jayaraj Gedela from Visakhapatnam.

“The lead position between the two of us has been vacillating over the last few days. Initially, there was a huge difference, which I could plug later on,” Ashraf told The Hindu just a few minutes after he had regained a slender lead following a Facebook live seeking support.

Around Wednesday noon, he had polled 1,84, 295 votes against 1,83, 837 votes by his immediate rival. The over a lakh-strong followers of his travel blog ‘Route Records’ may prove to be crucial.

The expedition, lasting a week, will cover 300 km of tough Arctic terrain amidst snow-covered exotic mountains of Norway. The online voting is under way for 11 regions and Ashraf is locked in the battle for winning the group which is called ‘The World’, covering a region of 60 countries, including India.

Chance meeting

Though Ashraf had heard about the expedition two years ago, his chance meeting with Babu Ahmed Sager, winner of the online voting for the last edition, at Manali last month was the turning point.

Mr. Sager, who is originally from Kozhikode, is now settled in Himachal Pradesh.

“I was so inspired by his experience that I cut short my trip to Manali and returned to apply for the event,” said Ashraf, whose wanderlust turned him into a travel blogger.

The event is open to anyone who is over 18 years and knows to communicate in English. Facebook users can vote by clicking on the following link:

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 4:45:46 AM |

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