British PIO woman becomes first ‘woman of color’ to take solo trip to the South Pole

LONDON: A British-born Sikh Indian made history by becoming the first woman of color to complete a solo expedition to the South Pole.
Captain Harpreet Chandi (32), from Derby, reached the South Pole on Monday, the 40th day of his 700-mile unassisted trek through the Antarctic wilderness in temperatures down to -50 degrees Celsius and winds up to 60 mph.
Chandi, who named herself ‘Polar Preet’ for the trek and is a physiotherapist in the British Army, said in an audio blog after arriving: “I have arrived at the South Pole where it is snowing. It’s so surreal to finally be here. . This expedition has always been about more than me. I want to encourage people to push their limits and believe in themselves without being labeled a rebel. I was told “No” several times and told to do things normally. I don’t want to just shatter the glass ceiling. I want to smash it into a million pieces. ”
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace congratulated her, saying “her historic expedition is an inspiration to all of us and a phenomenal achievement”.
Chandi joined the Army Reserve at the age of 19 and joined the Regular Army about six years ago, never having camped in his life.
She began the trip on November 24 from Hercules Inlet after being dropped off by a Twin Otter plane. She traveled with a pulk (small Nordic sled) carrying a stove and freeze-dried dishes weighing 87 kg without any replenishment. Every day she skied for up to 11 hours a day, wearing a mat-like fabric under her skis to help her grip the snow, and every night she pitched a tent, slush to drink and dishes cooked like pork pasta. Sometimes she would fall on icy ground and Boxing Day would vomit and have diarrhea. Some days she had a “whiteout”, and she didn’t see anyone for days.
Diljit Dosanjh and Jay Sean’s Bhangra music, audiobooks as well as listening to 45 vocal notes she had stored on her phone by friends and daydreaming about her upcoming marriage to partner David kept her going. She wore a rakhi tied by her two older brothers for protection, a reminder “to anyone that it is okay to change traditions”.
In her blog posts, she often reflected on her life. “It is often our loved ones who hold us back. I am often treated as a rebel for having done things outside the norm, for pushing my limits,” she said. Listening to Bhangra “made me think of my Punjabi roots and all the things I love about them,” she said.
She explained how she used to be embarrassed by her Indian roots – “I get thrown eggs and people spit at me when I was a teenager because I looked different” , she said. “It took me a long time to appreciate my culture and my roots, so when I describe myself as a ‘woman of color’ it’s because I’m finally proud of my skin color, of my roots, of my culture. It has been said many times that I don’t look like a polar explorer… let’s change the image you expect to see. ”
One of her blogs is dedicated to her grandfather who moved to the UK when she was born and raised her. “He always made me feel so important in a community where I sometimes felt less. I always used to think he looked like an Indian Santa Claus,” she said. She also commented on how many people in the Indian community thought she was heading to Southall. “I can still imagine them wondering why I’m making such a big deal to get to Southall. I think it might get a little colder in here,” she said.
Her preparation included various in-depth training exercises, such as tire dragging, and earlier in the year she traveled to Greenland for a warm-up expedition.


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