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Friday, January 20, 2006

Welcome To -62 Celcius In SIBERIA!!!!

SIBERIA - doesn’t the word send a chill down your spine; atleast to those for whom this place on earth has found its existence only in their geography books. For me, IT does indeed! All I knew about Siberia was that it’s notorious for its extreme low temperatures during winters; “-40 C, wow how does that feel” that’s what I wonder! I surely know how +40 C felt. Sounds interesting to me; but GOD now what! Will I have to experience it in person? “Are you kidding me”, that’s what I asked Prateek when he told me that I was to accompany him to Siberia. But wow that smells like some adventure; “so pack my backs and here I come Siberia”!

Sunny days at sunny places got over just a little too soon when we boarded our Emirates flight from Dubai for Moscow. Personally this has been my best flying experience. It was one of the most breathtaking flights, atleast for a first timer like me in the land of snow. As we approached Moscow, TVs inside the flight were turned on with forward view and downward view cameras. Snow clad land with sparsely scattered ever green trees here and there; white that’s what it looked from top. As we were ready to land all we could see was snow on both sides of the runway and before we realized there was a thud; the flight had made a successful landing. Then came the news hearing which I was so crestfallen. “Temperature outside is only -6 C. Is that what I came here for? A week passed by in Moscow and hey the temperature doesn’t bother to go below -8 C. Prateek tells me to have patience till we go to SIBERIA.”

This time it was sooner done than said; we were finally deported (as he would like to call it) to Siberia one fine winter morning. “Here starts the adventure” I thought to myself. But on boarding the flight I was taken aback; it was actually a MISadventure. It was not fit to be called a flight; it was nothing better than a government bus back India. Small, cramped up, no leg space and the funniest part being no space to keep cabin luggage; Lol! “Fine, not bad” I thought sarcastically as we endured a fair enough bumpy two and half hours ride to land at our first stop in Siberia - Noyabrsk. “What’s the temperature outside” was my first question. It being 20th December I was surely expecting something enticing. “But well, excitement doesn’t last forever; atleast it has not been for me since I am here. It’s only -15 C. Prateek duped me with all fake stories!!!! Siberia in December and only -15 C what on earth is this? This is so depressing; what will I go back to India and talk about”; but somehow the depression had to take a back seat as that night we encountered one of the most spectacular phenomenon of nature.

At 11pm local time (Siberia is 30 min adrift of IST), as we lay in our room, suddenly the sky outside looked extraordinarily bright for that time of the night. First we thought it was those street lights; but then can they be so bright. We went to peek outside and to our surprise the sky looked like one natural display of fireworks. Before we could realize it was over. Yes it was those Northern Lights that again most of us either keep hearing about or read about. “Wow now it feels like I have seen something worth to talk about!”

21st December morning: still -15 C outside; we set out to reach our destination, a town on the Arctic Circle in Siberia called Gubkinsky where my dear hubby has to report. We traveled for three hours on bumpy icy roads; finally at dusk we entered this small town that had a fairy tale look to it. Snow spread all over with churches and buildings that looked like those straight out of the medieval age; I liked the look and so did my hubby. We settled down in our apartment and days passed on fine with -25 C outside till Dec 31, 2005; we woke up that morning only to discover that my dreams had finally come true. Yiiiiiiiippppppppeeeeeee the thermometer outside read -40 C! “Whoa finally I am seeing a temperature I can go back home and talk about”. Finally an experience worthwhile; that morning I was surely quite high on energy and on our way to office I had specially stopped outside for a while without any warmers just to feel the chill. “Awesome I feel numb. Finally here I am in Siberia. This is what I have heard about for all these days and now I feel so welcome to this land.” That was my way of welcoming the New year.

Happy and contented days passed by with temperatures hovering between -45C to -50 C. Life became slightly tough as the temperature dipped further. Then came the dreadful Jan 12, 2006; when we were taken aback by what the thermometer read. It was -62 C outside without the wind chill factor added. As we peeked outside all we could see was white fog and nothing beyond that. As we stepped out, I could feel the cold Siberian wind slash across my face and say aloud “WELCOME TO SIBERIA”. My eyelids were freezing and I was finding it tough to breathe, as I endured a 30 sec walk from my home to the car. It’s Jan 20, 2006 today and temperature is no higher than -47 C. As our days here come to an end, all our plans of skiing and visiting the ice city remains a plan as Siberia has finally decided to fulfill my wish and show me its true colour. All in all, so far it has been an experience worth cherishing for all my life; THANK YOU SIBERIA.

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