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?”
“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. 🙂