TAMIL NADU

An expedition of a lifetime for Hyderabad lad

A proud moment: Siddharth Suhas, a member of ‘Expedition 2009’, with the Indian flag at Niko Harbour.

A proud moment: Siddharth Suhas, a member of ‘Expedition 2009’, with the Indian flag at Niko Harbour.  

D.V.L Padma Priya

HYDERABAD: He saw it all- the snow, the ice, the glaciers, penguins et al. Twenty three-year-old Siddharth Suhas is perhaps one of the youngest non-technical Indian who has set foot on Antarctica. The Hyderabadi, a passionate environmentalist is the current vice president and president elect of the student organisation AIESEC India.

Siddharth’s journey began with an email, he recalls. “There was a photograph of a group of people in Antarctica with the question ‘Do you see yourself in this picture’,” he says. He filled the application form which was selected from 2,000-odd applications from across the world and made him a part of ‘Expedition 2009’.

Focal groups formed

The only Indian of a team of 60, his journey began on March 25.

The expedition sponsored by British Petroleum (BP) was led by Robert Swan, founder of 2041 ( >www.2041.com) and also the first person to walk to the poles. Indian brand Fasttrack came to the rescue of Siddharth by sponsoring the expensive expedition gear.

After three weeks of virtual discussions, the team flew to Ushuaia, a small port on Tierra del Fuego, in South America (also considered as the southernmost town of the globe). “We stayed here for two days and formed focal groups and discussed environmental issues,” he says.

They then set off to the continent in Akademic Ioffe, a Russian scientist ship via the Drake Passage. They encountered the worst storms of the season in the passage. “I saw waves as huge as 50 feet,” says Siddharth. Though he couldn’t swim, he says that he wasn’t terrified. “It’s not every day that one gets to go to Antarctica,” he points out adding that he was overwhelmed when he first spotted Antarctica.

“I remember standing on the top deck of the ship and rubbing my eyes and pinching myself two-three times,” he says.

During the six-day stay, the team visited islands such as King George Island, Deception Island apart from cruising towards glaciers. “We were lucky as we spotted quite a few humpback whales, penguins and seals,” he says. The team discussed climate change and exchange expertise and knowledge. “Robert Swan’s leadership at the Edge program was very helpful,” he says.

Insignificant

“When I saw the waves in Drake Passage, I realised how insignificant human race is. But the damage we are causing is significant,” he says. He intends to use AIESEC’s vast global network to carry out his mission. “I want to build education campaigns and spread the message in a more entertaining way,” he says.

Plans are also on to go back to Antarctica and this time with a team of top students from India. “I have already discussed this idea with 2041 and if we get sponsors, we will be going there in March 2010,” he says.

Recommended for you