April 11, 2010 Arriving in Greenland - by Viraj Singh

As I flew out of Copenhagen, I cursed my luck as I didn’t get a window seat. I wanted to have my first glimpse of Greenland. As we were in the air, the captian announced how we could see Iceland below and to the left hand side, I twisted, my neck to see if Bjork was dancing somewhere on some mountain somewhere, but I was in the center seat and all I could see where white clouds. 10 days later as we all know, those white clouds were replaced by clouds of ashes that would cause aeroplane’s engines to shut down, which would then cause all of Europe to shut down its airports, leaving us stranded in the land of the glaciers.

            Kangerlussuaq was the place everybody first touches down. It barely has a hotel, and a small school. I can’t understand why they made this small town the gateway to Greenland. The capital Nuuk, is south of here, and it seems to me that if one were planning an international airport it should be in the place which most people come to. But maybe the powers that be wanted the airport to be located at a more central location. Either ways I had missed out on the view as we were coming in, and there was no way in hell I was missing out on the window seat on the next leg. I quickly found out that no one was given seat assignments; it was a free for all. I think they probably expected that all the tourists would want window seats, and some cruel person in Air Greenland made this plan to torment us. So there I was, all my bags in hand, I had long forgotten about Jan and Pipaluk, if they wanted to drink coffee and lounge around, they were more than welcome to, there was no way I was going to miss my window seat. So I was third in line, standing with all my bags in my hand, ready to run ahead and be he first. My Canada goose jacket was the only thing that was going to slow me down, Jan was nice enough to borrow one for me. The only warm clothes that I had was one Topman baby blue sweater, which pretty much gets nippy at around 5 degrees, and dosent really work if there is a wind. I was told that I would be dealing with minus 20 degrees (not counting windchill), I really didn’t know what that exactly meant other than it would be cold, real cold. I had brought lots of cotton socks, t shirts, long sleeve shirts, planning that as and when it would get cold, I would just wear 15 shirts at the same time. It wasn’t the best plan, but luckily Jan brought me his friend’s black Canada Goose down jacket, it was really nice and toasty, and I knew that if it came down to it, it would be wrong of me to sacrifice the jacket in the race to the plane.

The female voice on the speaker started to say something in Greenlandic, she spoke for sometime, using really big words, by the time she got to the English translation, which was basically “the plane is ready to board”, I was already 10th, the locals who were privy to this plan to outwit the tourists had already started making their way to the plane. I started walking really fast, not wanting to run, because I didn’t want to look like a desperate tourist, on his first visit to Greenland. Me the seasoned cinematographer who has shot all around the world, whats the big deal if I don’t see the polar ice caps from the air, no big deal, I see it everyday. Bullshit! I started running, and made it second on the plane, quickly my mind started working, which seat was the best for the view. It was one of those propeller planes with the wings attached to the top of the fuselage. So I picked the center to front seat, third from the front, on the right hand side, I could see the propeller attached to the wing above and behind me. I figured the view with the propeller combination would be unique. The plane started to take of, and the view was truly to die for. White color in all directions, I had never seen anything like it. We passed over rolling hills of white shades, that seemed to go on forever, we passed seas, where you could see different shaped icebergs on their way to collide with imaginary Titanics, frozen lakes in the midst of the hills where I could imagine myself ice skating , fijords that were half frozen with little bittie icebergs where I could hop around on, maybe have tea with a polar bear or two. It was truly an amazing site, I could just imagine how it would be if I was alone walking around on this white place, nothing for miles, was trying to figure out if that would be fun or not. The first flight was about an hour, and we landed in a small airport, where we took another flight. A similar race for a good seat ensured, I made it again, we Indians have a few skills. Knowing how to cut a line is surely one of them.

The next airport we landed in was the strangest one I have ever seen. It had a gravel runway, as I got of the plane, I asked Jan where was this place he brought me to, that has a gravel runway. They said that it was because when it freezes up, it has more traction. Since I had been in Greenland, no one had scanned my bag or me, this continued till I got back to the flight back to Copenhagen. Then we got on a helicopter. I have only been on a helicopter once or twice in my life. My Greenland trip let me get on three more. Again, I tried to plan which would be the best seat for the view, I selected the side one, luckily I had the most beautiful looking Inuit girl to sit next to, who was also quite friendly. She seemed to be as taken aback by the view as me, which told me that one never really gets used to the view in Greenland, it is just too beautiful, and it was impossible to get used to the things that one can see here. I can say for certain that there is no other place like this on earth.

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