Bhopal professors with a taste for adventure

Abhilash Khandekar – DNA India
Sunday, April 02, 2006 21:16 IST
BHOPAL: They are a family of academicians who have combined academics and adventure. At the Mishras’ house at Government Professors’ Colony in central Bhopal, dinner table talk centres on subjects like oceanography, eco-systems, ozone layer depletion, and Antarctica.
Both Vinay and Vivek Mishra, brothers in their 40s, have gone on scientific expeditions to Antarctica and are probably the only siblings from the country to have accomplished such a feat.
Vivek, 43, is a microbiologist who teaches at Saifia College, while Vinay, 41, is a professor of psychology at Bhopal University. Vivek returned to India last fortnight after completing the Silver Jubilee Indian Expedition to Antarctica, which comprised 23 winter members and 27 summer members drawn from 24 research institutes in the country. Vinay had gone to the continent in 2000 as part of the Millennium 2000 Antarctic Expedition.
“It’s an out-of-the world experience. But I had to go through the gruelling process of fitness test before actually experiencing the most frigid of weathers on earth,” says a jubilant Vivek. “When Vinay had gone there, we were all anxious for his safety. His exhilarating experience motivated me to go there too.”
Tens of Indians have been to Antarctica, the fifth largest continent on earth, but probably no two brothers from the same family to carry out research projects. Last fortnight when he arrived in India after being part of the tough three-month Antarctic expedition, Vivek made Bhopal proud by followed in the footsteps of his younger brother who had scaled the icy continent six years before him.
“It’s an out-of-the world experience. But I had to go through the gruelling process of fitness test before actually experiencing the most frigid of weathers on earth,” tells a jubilant Vivek to DNA. “When Vinay had gone there as part of the Millennium 2000 Antarctic Expedition, we were all anxious for his safety. His exhilarating experience motivated me to go there too.”
Vivek did “microbiological analysis on the lake samples in and around Matri,” the Indian station on Antarctica. Vinay, when he went there, had studied “psychological stress and coping behaviour in Antarctica.” Vivek’s findings will be submitted to the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR).
When Vinay had gone to Antarctica, communication with the rest of the world was difficult. In fact, Vinay’s group set up e-mail facilities there. That is why it was easy for Vivek to communicate with his family back home this time around.
The brothers say being in Antarctica is an awesome experience. “The icy world there makes you repeatedly ask ‘who am I,’ ‘what’s my role in this world’ and so on. The vast carpet of snow, the lack of habitation and the resultant loneliness makes you rediscover yourself and changes your attitude towards life completely,” says Vivek.
“The trip to Antarctica brings you closer to God,” says Vinay. Vivek nods in approval.

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