I’m Neil Armstrong Today and…

I rarely watch television news. The quiet headlines on the net are enough for me.

I had been in this hotel (for my job, not on a holiday!) for over a week, and had not glanced at the TV even once.

But yesterday, as soon as I reached my room, I switched on the TV, only to stare at a blank screen.  

I called the hotel reception and requested the lady to send someone to help me get the TV running.  

“Was it working earlier?” she asked, sounding exasperated.  

“Never tried it,” I said, trying to continue sounding polite. “But now I must, because of Chandrayaan 3.”  

“Because of what?”  

“Chandrayaan 3.”  

“What is that?”  

It was now my turn to be exasperated!  

“Lady, just send someone, and hurry, please!”  

“Okay!” She didn’t try to hide her irritation anymore at an illiterate old man who couldn’t even switch on a TV.  

Then came a technician, spent some suspenseful time changing the remote control’s batteries, and finally the screen came alive, with the Chandrayaan just above the moon’s surface.  

“Which channel do you want? Hindi or English?” he asked.  

“Thank you, this is fine,” I said, slumping into the sofa, biting my nails, and praying for a soft landing.  

Between the incessant patter of the anchor on one side of the screen, and underwear ads on the other, I sat with folded hands, holding my breath as the lander descended ever so slowly and touched down on the moon.  

I cheered and clapped even as tears rolled down my cheeks.  

I felt no less than Neil Armstrong as I kept rocking back and forth, crying and laughing, enjoying the moment.  

“Are you alright?”  

I jumped at the unexpected voice that brought me straight down to the earth.  

It was the technician.  

“You’re still here?”  

“Couldn’t miss that moment, could I?” he grinned and said in Hindi, “I felt as if I was stepping on the moon myself!”

“Me too!” I stood up and gave him a high five, christening him, without saying it aloud, Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin, the second man to step on the moon—after me, of course!  

And then I realised I was on the moon, we were on the moon, and whole India was on the moon…  

Except perhaps that lady at the reception.  

I know sceptics are already comparing the moon’s craters with Indian roads, and some are crying hoarse over who gets the credit for this success; but I’m proud of my India.  

We are not the first to be there and we will not be the last, but what matters is—we’re there!  

I have seen the visuals of our scientists praying for the success of this mission, and watched my friends laugh at that, but frankly, I find no contradiction between science and faith.  

We might imagine that’s a peculiar, very Indian way of looking at things, but not quite.  

Even Einstein has said, “Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe—a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.”  

We Indians innately understand that.  

And now we know another fact.  

Successful scientists don’t have to be only white folks in Western clothes. They can be brown too, with bindees and sarees.  

© Avinash Chikte

All photos from WhatsApp, forwarded by equally enthusiastic and proud friends. 🙂

38 thoughts on “I’m Neil Armstrong Today and…”

  1. Leonardo Prince

    What an evening,  Chikte!
    As you have aptly described it so beautifully !
    I sat with my laptop at 5pm itself (not TV, for we cannot say when Doordarshan would blink)…kept four OTT platforms in readiness…though the first 45mts were shrill blah, blah from the commentator and some vertical/horizontal numbers, the final minutes were worth the wait. Goosebumps!
    And what also stood out was the simplicity,  school boyish enthusiasm,  absence of brag & arrogance of the scientists…I read that most of them are from Govt.schools /colleges and not the major institutions…
    hats off to them!
    And like every Indian today,

  2. Rajesh Bhave

    This is one of your best !!
    And the last para completely in sync with my thoughts when I saw the control room on my TV. I was so proud to see no one in western attire and women so rooted in our tradition with sarees and bindis.

      1. YouTube alone claims over 5 million viewers were witnessing live landing. Probably most of them for the first time. It was a lifetime experience for all. Nice article.

    1. Very nicely narrated. It was a bullbulastic moment for the entire country. And all were glued in front of the TV/ laptop. Praying which is first thing an Indian learns. Rightly said faith and science go hand in hand. Science beyond science.

    2. Your style of expression always touches heart …so unique and simple…Yes,today every Indian love to say I am Neil Armstrong…with you 👍

  3. Vinayak Bhosale

    Impeccably written Avinash 👌👏 ISRO scientists have indeed made us proud to be Indians!

  4. Wg Cdr M Mujeeb

    Great narration as you only can do And yes ‘We are at moon’ May we soar higher & yes we really touched the moon with glory Jai Hind

  5. Avinash very well narrated from perspective of how naive few of citizen are and ISRO scientist breaking barrier of much touted forte exclusive to whites, they need to accept harsh reality of unabbeted progress our millinium are doing and leading from front in all fields worldwide….

    1. Sanjay Sharan

      As always – Avinash you have so well captured the mood, the euphoria, the emotion of the nation….
      We have arrived…..


    Excellently described Avinash. It is indeed a very proud moment for us. The ISRO Scientists have done us really proud

  7. Col. Anand Bapat

    Bravo Avi!
    You’ve aptly verbalized the emotions of an ordinary Indian, that you and I are!


    I was more lucky to be free being retired from active aviation. I still fly my own kites;)).
    I viewed the entire decent of Vikram using digital data numbers shown on the display screen and analysing the way I have been doing all my life; during my test Flying and later as a civil pilot
    Believe me the experience was no less real than SIM ride for new equipment or the CAT IIIB ILS for an Autoland. I lived the entire approach and landing visualising the way I would in my own craft.
    My happiness (to touch down like many landings done as routine and the applause of claps by the scientific community from the control room heard on tv screen) was immense and simultaneous .
    The joy was indescribable. The feeling on the moon or over the moon is mutual and as felt and described by you, or may be even more.
    Chanda mama here I am.

    1. Mahesh Kulkarni

      Dear Avinash ,
      Very nicely expressed ,sentiments and excitement on the super special event .
      महेश कुलकर्णी

      1. As always – Avinash you have so well captured the mood, the euphoria & the emotion of the nation….

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