Journey to the end of the Earth - About the author, Word-meaning, Summary, Theme, NCERT Solutions

Journey to the end of the Earth

About the author

Tishani Doshi (born 9 December 1975, Madras, India) is a renowned Indian poet, writer, journalist, dancer, and experienced traveller. Her literary work traverses an expansive range of themes, including identity and belonging, love and relationships, loss and grief, feminism and women's experiences, nature and the environment, social and political commentary, and memory and history. Tishani shares captivating and introspective narratives about her journeys and observations as both a traveller and a writer. Furthermore, her work demonstrates a profound connection to the political and historical landscapes that have shaped her experiences. In addition to her literary achievements, Tishani Doshi is an accomplished dancer who has captivated audiences around the world. She has collaborated with the legendary choreographer Chandralekha, and the influence of dance is evident in the rhythmic and flowing nature of Tishani's poetry.

Tishani Doshi has left an indelible mark with notable works such as "A god at the Door" and "Everything Begins Elsewhere," both distinguished collections of poetry. She has also ventured into the realm of fiction with novels like "Small Days and Nights" and "The Pleasure Seekers." In 2001, Tishani Doshi was honoured with the Eric Gregory Award for young poets under the age of 30. Her debut poetry collection, "Countries of the Body," gained critical acclaim, with the opening poem, "The Day we went to the Sea," winning the 2005 British Council-supported All India Poetry Prize. Furthermore, the book went on to secure the 2006 Forward Poetry Prize for the best first collection.


Page Number: 18

  • Bon Voyage - It is a French phrase that translates to "good journey" or "have a good trip" in English.
  • Aboard - On or into.
  • Equator - The imaginary line that divides the Earth into the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Time zones - Time zones are regions of the Earth that have the same standard time.
  • Checkpoints - Locations where formalities or inspections take place, often used for security or administrative purposes.
  • Ecospheres - Refers to distinct ecological systems or environments characterised by their unique organisms and interactions.
  • Expansive - Something that is vast or covers a large area.
  • Landscape - All the visible features of an area of land, often considered in terms of their aesthetic appeal.
  • Horizon - The line at which the earth's surface and the sky appear to meet.
  • Profound - Deep, significant, or thought-provoking.
  • Landmass - A large, continuous area of land on the Earth's surface that is distinct and separate from bodies of water such as oceans or lakes.
  • Amalgamated - Combining or merging multiple things or entities into one unified whole.
  • Supercontinent - A vast landmass formed when multiple continents come together and merge into a single large landmass.

Page Number: 19

  • Flora and fauna - Flora and fauna are terms used to refer to plant and animal life, respectively, in a particular geographical region or ecosystem.
  • Thrived - Grown, prospered, or succeeded in a healthy or vigorous way.
  • Grasp - To understand or comprehend.
  • Cordilleran folds - A chain of mountain ranges, typically characterised by complex folding and faulting.
  • Pre-Cambrian granite shields - Ancient and stable geological formations are found in many parts of the world.
  • Mind-boggling - Extremely perplexing, astonishing, or overwhelming to the mind.
  • Jamming - Collision and compression.
  • Buckle - Bending, folding, and warping.
  • Drifting off - Slowly moving.
  • Drake Passage - A body of water located between the southern tip of South America and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica.
  • Circumpolar current - An ocean current flowing from west to east around Antarctica.
  • Frigid - Extremely cold temperature.
  • Desolate - A place or a situation that is deserted, empty, or barren.
  • Prospect - The anticipation or expectation of what the experience might be like.
  • Metabolic - The chemical processes that occur within living organisms to maintain life and support various bodily functions.
  • Ping-pong ball - A small, lightweight ball used in the sport of table tennis.

Page Number: 20

  • Devoid - Entirely lacking or free from.
  • Perspective - A particular point of view, interpretation, or way of looking at things.
  • Mighty - Very large, powerful, or impressive.
  • Midges - Small two-winged insects that form swarms and breed near water or marshy areas.
  • Mites - Tiny arthropods that have eight legs and play various ecological roles as decomposers, parasites, pollinators, or predators.
  • Icebergs - Large masses of ice that have broken off from glaciers or ice shelves and are floating in the sea.
  • Surreal - Anything that is strange, dreamlike, or beyond ordinary reality.
  • Austral summer - It refers to the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Ubiquitous - Present or found everywhere or appears to be everywhere at the same time.
  • Avalanche - A sudden and rapid flow of snow, ice, and debris down a mountainside or a steep slope.
  • Calving - Splitting and shedding.
  • Consecrates - To make something sacred or to devote it to a particular purpose.
  • Immersion - A state or experience of being deeply engaged or fully absorbed in something.
  • Geological - Relating to the study of the earth's physical structure and substance.
  • Prognosis - The predicted or expected outcome of a situation.
  • Paltry - Small, insignificant, or meagre in amount, value, or importance.
  • Ruckus - A noisy or chaotic disturbance or commotion.
  • Etching - Leaving a lasting mark or imprint; engraving.
  • Dominance - The state or condition of having power, control, or authority over others.
  • Unmitigated - occurring in an uncontrolled manner, without any attempts to minimise the associated consequences.
  • Hotly Contested - Strongly disputed or argued with passionate or heated exchanges.
  • Disrupted - Causing disturbance or interruption to something.
  • Sustained - Maintained, continued, or prolonged over some time.
  • Pristine - Original, untouched, or unspoiled.
  • Ice-cores - Cylindrical samples of ice that are extracted from glaciers, ice sheets, or polar ice caps.

Page Number: 21

  • Foster - To encourage or facilitate the development of ideas, relationships, or qualities.
  • Carting - Transporting or accompanying.
  • Policy-makers - Individuals or groups who have the authority and responsibility to formulate and implement policies.
  • Blasé - A state of indifference or boredom resulting from familiarity or a perceived lack of novelty or significance.
  • Latitude and longitude  - Geographical coordinates are used to specify locations on the Earth's surface. Latitude measures the distance north or south of the Equator, while longitude measures the distance east or west of the Prime Meridian.
  • Retreating - Shrinking and receding.
  • Ice shelves - Floating sheets of ice that extend from the edge of land into the ocean.
  • Collapsing  - Falling down, breaking apart, or disintegrating.
  • Ecosystem - It is a complex network comprising living organisms and their physical environment.
  • Biodiversity - The variety and variability of life on Earth, including all living organisms, ecosystems, and the ecological processes that sustain them.
  • Repercussions - The consequences of a particular action or event, especially an undesirable one.
  • Assimilate - To absorb and incorporate nutrients into the body after digestion.
  • Synthesise - The process of creating or producing molecules, compounds, or substances within living organisms.
  • Wondrous - Remarkable and awe-inspiring.

Page Number: 22

  • Depletion - The reduction or exhaustion of a resource or substance.
  • Parable - A fictional story or narrative that conveys a lesson.
  • Metaphor - A figure of speech or literary device used to convey a deeper meaning by drawing a comparison between two different things.
  • Epiphanies - A sudden and profound realisation.
  • Wedge - To insert or fit oneself tightly or firmly into a narrow or constrained space.
  • Peninsula - A landmass that is surrounded by water on three sides while connected to the mainland on one side.
  • Gangplank - A movable plank or bridge used to board or disembark from a ship or boat.
  • Kitted out - fully equipped or dressed with all the necessary gear or accessories for a specific purpose or activity.
  • Gore-Tex - It is a well-known brand of waterproof, breathable fabric often used in outdoor clothing.
  • Glares - Sunglasses or tinted eyewear.
  • Stark - Extreme, severe, and lacking any other elements or colours.
  • Periphery - Outer edges, boundaries, or margins of something.
  • Crabeater seals - A species of seals found in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica.
  • Sunning - The act of exposing oneself to sunlight.
  • Ice floes - Large pieces of floating ice.
  • Revelation - A profound or significant realisation that leads to a deeper understanding of a transformative experience.
  • Mammoths - An extinct group of large, shaggy-haired elephants with long, curved tusks.
  • Woolly rhinos - An extinct species of rhinoceros that lived during the Pleistocene epoch.
  • Idealism - A belief or mindset characterised by holding high ideals, principles, or values.


Tishani Doshi, the author of the narrative, embarked on a captivating expedition to Antarctica aboard the Russian research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy. The remarkable journey covered nine time zones, passed through six checkpoints, traversed three bodies of water, and crossed several ecospheres. It involved a combination of car, aeroplane, and ship travel, spanning over 100 hours. Upon finally setting foot on the Antarctic continent, she felt a sense of relief, accompanied by profound wonder. She marvelled at the sheer immensity and isolation of Antarctica, but her amazement was most deeply stirred by the realisation that there was a time when India and Antarctica were connected as part of a single landmass.

The author delves into the ancient history of Antarctica, highlighting the existence of the supercontinent Gondwana, which included present-day Antarctica at its core around 650 million years ago. As the dinosaurs became extinct and the age of mammals emerged, Gondwana, which thrived for 500 million years, gradually broke apart into separate countries, shaping the world as we know it today. Visiting Antarctica connects us to this historical past, helping us understand our origins and contemplate our potential future. She ponders the immense changes that can occur in a million years. As a person accustomed to the warm climate of South India, the idea of spending two weeks in a place where 90 per cent of the Earth's ice is stored is both awe-inspiring and chilling. Antarctica appears as a vast, uninhabited expanse devoid of human structures, distorting one's earthly sense of perspective and time.

The author reflects on the short timeframe of human civilization, which has spanned only around 12,000 years, and acknowledges the significant impact humans have had on the natural world. The exponential growth of human populations has led to resource competition and the burning of fossil fuels, creating a blanket of carbon dioxide around the world, which is gradually raising the average global temperature. Climate change is a highly debated topic and Antarctica holds immense importance in this discussion, not only because it has never sustained a human population but also due to the invaluable carbon records preserved in its ice cores, dating back half a million years. The author highlights the significance of Antarctica as a place to study and understand the Earth's past, present, and future. She mentions the program she was working with on the Shokalskiy, "Students on Ice", which offers educational opportunities for high school students to foster a deeper understanding and respect for the planet. The program, led by Geoff Green, aims to provide a transformative experience for future policymakers who are ready to learn and take action. Antarctica's simple ecosystem and limited biodiversity make it an ideal location for studying the profound consequences of small environmental changes. The author specifically mentions the role of phytoplankton, the microscopic plants vital to the Southern Ocean's food chain, and how their activities can be affected by ozone depletion, subsequently impacting the lives of all the marine animals and birds of the region, and the global carbon cycle.

During the author's Antarctic journey, a memorable epiphany occurred just before reaching the Antarctic Circle. The Shokalskiy wedged into a thick white stretch of ice between the peninsula and Tadpole Island, preventing them from going any further. The Captain decided to head back, but before doing so, everyone on board was instructed to climb down the gangplank and walk on the frozen ocean. Beneath their feet lay a metre-thick ice pack, beneath which stretched 180 metres of vibrant salt water. The scene was a revelation, highlighting the interconnectedness of everything. She pondered the possibility of Antarctica returning to its former warm state and wondered whether humanity would still be present to witness it or if they would meet the fate of extinct species. However, spending two weeks with optimistic teenagers driven to save the world left the author with a sense of hope and the realisation that while immense changes can occur in a million years, even a single day can make a significant difference.


NCERT Solutions

Read and find out

Question. How do geological phenomena help us to know about the history of humankind?

Answer. Geological phenomena play a crucial role in helping us understand the history of humankind. By studying Earth's geological processes and formations, we can uncover valuable information about the planet's past. Gondwana, a supercontinent that existed around 650 million years ago, provides insights into our planet's history. During that time, humans were not yet present, and the climate was considerably warmer, supporting diverse flora and fauna. The subsequent separation of Gondwana into different land masses shaped the world as we know it today. Geological features, such as Cordilleran folds and pre-Cambrian granite shields, along with the study of ozone, carbon, evolution, and extinction, provide valuable knowledge about the Earth's past. Antarctica's ice cores, containing ancient carbon records dating back half a million years, offer critical insights into past climate patterns and can contribute to our understanding of environmental changes.

Question. What are the indications for the future of humankind?

Answer. Human civilizations have existed for a relatively brief period, and during this period, our actions have resulted in significant consequences, demonstrating our influence over the natural world. The exponential growth of human populations has led to competition with other species for limited resources. Moreover, the extensive combustion of fossil fuels has resulted in a blanket of carbon dioxide around the Earth, gradually raising the average global temperature. These factors, among others, provide insights into the potential paths and challenges that lie ahead for humanity.

Reading with Insight

Question 1. ‘The world’s geological history is trapped in Antarctica.’ How is the study of this region useful to us?

Answer. The study of Antarctica is crucial for understanding the world's geological history and its implications for our present and future. By exploring Antarctica, we can understand the significance of geological features such as Cordilleran folds and pre-Cambrian granite shields. We can also examine the role of factors like ozone and carbon in shaping the Earth's climate over time. The breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana and the subsequent separation of land masses into countries have shaped the globe as we know it today. By studying Antarctica, we can gain a deeper understanding of these processes and their effects on the planet. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity to observe the impact of human activities on the environment. With its pristine and relatively untouched nature, Antarctica stands as a stark contrast to human-dominated areas. Its ice cores are of particular significance. They contain carbon records dating back half a million years, encapsulated within layers of ice. Analysing these ice cores allows us to examine the Earth's past climate conditions, including temperature variations and greenhouse gas concentrations. This information is crucial for understanding climate change and its potential implications for the future. By studying Antarctica, we can broaden our understanding of Earth's past, present, and future, and make more informed decisions regarding environmental conservation and climate change mitigation.

Question 2. What are Geoff Green’s reasons for including high school students in the Students on Ice expedition?

Answer. Geoff Green includes high school students in the Students on Ice expedition to give them an exciting learning experience and help them develop a greater understanding and appreciation for our planet. At their young age, students are ready to learn and take action, making it a perfect time to empower them as future policy-makers who can make a difference.

Question 3. ‘Take care of the small things and the big things will take care of themselves.’ What is the relevance of this statement in the context of the Antarctic environment?

Answer. The relevance of the statement 'Take care of the small things and the big things will take care of themselves' in the context of the Antarctic environment is highlighted through the example of phytoplankton. The delicate balance of the Antarctic ecosystem, with its simple ecosystem and limited biodiversity, makes it an ideal place to study how even minor changes in the environment can have far-reaching consequences. Phytoplankton, as small and seemingly insignificant organisms, plays a crucial role in the ecosystem of the Southern Ocean. They are the primary producers that support the entire food chain in the region. According to scientists, if the ozone layer continues to deplete, it will have a significant impact on the activities of phytoplankton. As a consequence, the lives of marine animals, birds in the region, and even the global carbon cycle will be affected. The statement emphasises the importance of recognizing and safeguarding the small components of the environment, such as phytoplankton, because their well-being has significant repercussions for the entire ecosystem.

Question 4. Why is Antarctica the place to go to, to understand the earth’s present, past and future?

Answer. Antarctica serves as a living testament to the planet's past, providing valuable information about its evolution and offering insights into where we may be heading. It was part of the ancient supercontinent Gondwana, which existed around 650 million years ago. By visiting Antarctica, one can witness the immensity and isolation of the continent, and understand how the breakup of landmasses over millions of years has shaped the Earth as we know it today. It remains relatively untouched by human civilization. This pristine condition makes Antarctica an ideal location to study the Earth's past and gather valuable data. The ice cores found in Antarctica contain carbon records that date back half a million years, providing scientists with crucial information about climate change and environmental shifts. Its simple ecosystem and lack of biodiversity make it a perfect laboratory to observe the impact of small environmental changes. Understanding the consequences of environmental changes in Antarctica can help us comprehend the broader implications for the planet. The threat of global warming and its effects on Antarctica are highly visible. The retreat of glaciers and the collapse of ice shelves serve as tangible reminders of the real dangers of climate change. By witnessing these changes firsthand, individuals can gain a deeper appreciation for the urgency of addressing environmental issues and take meaningful action to mitigate the impact of global warming. All these factors make Antarctica the place to go to, to understand the earth’s present, past and future.

Written by - Janhavi Singh

Journey to the end of the Earth  - About the author, Word-meaning, Summary, Theme, NCERT Solutions

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