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The new Convention Center has ensured, of late, that you get more and more illustrious people coming to the institute to speak, and larger audiences lapping up every single word they utter.

On Tuesday, we duly filled in the gaps at the auditorium with our lazy bums to hear the tale of Robert Swan – the first person to have walked to the North and the South Poles. Yes, he walked to the two poles, which makes for about 3000 kilometres of walking in all. How much is that? A few hundred kilometres shy of the journey from Kanyakumari to the top-most tip of Kashmir, through inclement weather conditions wherein temperatures dropped to -70 degrees, at altitudes of 4000 metres and more, 6000 kilometres away from the nearest source of help, through eleven months of sheer torture, five of which were shrouded in complete darkness.

When some one does something of the sort, twice, and lives to tell the tale, you listen like you’ve never paid attention to anything earlier. It turns out that he’s also a pretty good speaker and delivers the odd motivational lecture every now and then. Listening to him talk about his struggles, you just couldn’t help but believe that any dream is achievable, even and especially the craziest ones of them all. The guy worked as a taxi driver for seven years and went from corporate door to corporate door to raise the $5 million he needed for his trip.

His message? During their trip to Antarctica, there was one factor they’d just not taken into consideration – the Ozone Hole. They eventually ended up with short-term and long term health damage because the world didn’t know that something of the sort existed. Ever since, he’s become an environmental campaigner. And here he was, spreading his message on the use of cleaner, sustainable energy. His group organises trips to Antarctica every year for a few select college students.

For more information on what they stand for and how they go about doing things, log on to

– Mohit Sharma