Sunday, January 27, 2008

Party of The Stars, Part 2 where was I last time? The self-promise of taking out time to blog almost every day has unwittingly fizzled out into nothingness! Time seems to have taken affinity to the F1, and drains out as quick as the washing machine PVC pipe these days![I got the idea of the weird comparison coz I'm sitting near the blessed machine right now, hearing it rumbling away serenely, at its own pace, with not a care about the world! Fortune doesn’t just favour the brave; it favours the non-living too! NOT FAIR man!]

So..yeah..coming back to...yes! THE star party! First of all, for those who came in late, a star party is a sort of astronomical gathering; where amateur astronomers[in this case, the COEP Astro Club] gather officially[at NIGHT, obviously!]to observe the path and position of heavenly bodies in the lovely star-spangled sky. Typically a dark sky site away from 'light pollution' is chosen as a location. Telescopes and binocs are the basic essentials, among others. So armed with li'l more than this sundry information, I had set out on this celestial [for want of a better word] venture.

Well. Kamshet. Quite a lazy town I would say. We chugged in at around 5'o'clock, only to find the folk shutting down shop for the day! With a bit of difficulty, and loads of dhakka-bukki, we managed to stick ourselves into 2jeeps...& 32 "healthy" people in two jeeps is hardly a joke, I tell you!! I was cramped beside the driver, making it potentially dangerous for the 17 lives[including the driver!] in the vehicle, as I was scandalisingly close to the handgear! Anyhow, the predicament was soon forgotten in the light of...aahhh.. THE VIEW! :D

Milton's inspiration, nothing less! Mine is just a naive attempt to capture the panorama...but let's try.

The rough-hewn path bumped us away. The brimming Panshet dam, the gentle caressing, comforting, cool breeze arising over it, as if taking us in its warm, effervescent embrace; protecting us, telling us 'I AM there'. The rose fields were a sight to behold...bunches of hybrid teas and grandifloras swayed round at intervals, as if waiting to serenade the Gods themselves! The budding corn twinkled innocently in the waning sunlight... And the sun itself! Setting in all its eternal glory! As if the hilltops yonder are basking in the wake of a lustrous crown... A lovely golden ball in the sky; full in the eyes; gently, gradually, but FIRMLY melting away into the horizon; pure in essence, transforming even the ugliest children of God into plain beauty; the greenery assimilating it drop by drop, till I never knew which is hill and which is sun...the goldenness overwhelmed me, shined through me, IT BECAME A PART OF ME. And it is during such times that I dearly wish I had a camera-phone on me...Ohh how I wish I could capture 'life' on print as in words! The greenhouses, the cute li'l homely cottages, the shady foliage, cattle; all the village needed was a bit of snowfall to look a perfect Christmas card in the top view! [too much of graphics! :D]

Anyhow, after an eventful ride of 40 minutes, we reached kshitija's farmhouse. Freshened up. Fell upon the food like TWO starving boar-hounds EACH of us!! My consequent oncoming sleep fled after being chased round the field by a cute (= mortifying) puppy named 'Vaghya'[I am mortally afraid of dogs of all shapes and sizes.] Got decked up in mufflers and jerkins till we couldn't recognize each other! And set out; a tight group of campers, aiming to conquer the heavens!

The fields provided a perfect site for mounting the telescopes. It started off with the seniors giving us the basic info about the sky, its layout, conventional ways of identifying the positions of stars, constellations, satellites, and flashes w.r.t others. I tried to memorise everything simultaneously; ME, with one of the sharpest memories humans can have, but it just went on and on and on! I gave up! Confusions abound. The seniors were practiced experts; but beginners like me were lost.

Anyhow, once we started the actual observation and got the hang, it was sort of easy. We collimated the moon, Mars, Orion [The Hunter], and a hoard of M-objects[short for Messier objects; lovely star clusters, fuzzy patches more like to the naked eye]. We saw almost 21 meteors! And, [I’m a li’l unsure] maybe just one Iridium flare blazed across the velvety sky! We traced all the 12 zodiac constellations. Plus Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Pegasus, Perseus, Sirius, Regulus, Aldebaran, Canis Major[The Great Dog], Canis Minor[The Lesser Dog], Ursa Major[The Great Bear], Ursa Minor[The Li’l Bear], Mensa, Lyra, Pavo, Hydra, Leo, Aries, Draco…Gawd!! Simply amazing the brilliant imagination of the human mind! Stars and shapes! I managed to capture the moon[just as it was setting] and Saturn at my first go! I was thrilled to the core, flushed and dizzy with excitement! Goosebumps erupted on my skin! [Although that maybe coz of the less-than-6deg temperature too! hehe]Stars and ONLY stars danced in front of my eyes! I definitely needed a break! As a matter of fact, every one did!

The cold seeped in as I went down. And it was THEN, while simply lying there, shivering in a flimsy jacket, gazing up at the heavens, cracking silly jokes, gorging on chocolate to keep awake, among some of the most wonderful and knowledgeable people I’ve known in my life; THEN, suddenly, outta the blue, it struck....the submissive vastness, the perpetual infinitum of the universe. Could anything ever try to emulate it? The all-pervading. Omniscient. You could sense its expanse! It absorbs EVERYTHING; takes ALL of us in its stride; the enormity of the responsibility the universe undertakes uncomplainingly overwhelmed me! I felt like a small dot in this gigantic stretch, moaning about my silly day-to-day troubles; all my bitterness towards so many others melted away in that single instant! I felt at peace with the world. With mankind.

The Milky Way stretched across; white on inky-black, like some mischievous li’l angel’s spilt his milk across the heavenly floors![Hope his mom spares him! :D] God is so romantic ain’t he! To have designed the lovely sky! Just the perfect scattering. Uncertainty sure has its own charm! I always used to wonder why folk always say “I wanna go to heaven!”…I mean… Don’t you love to live?!!? That used to be my point of argument. But lying there, I realized that, THAT, if anything, WAS a place I would love to die for!

Well, with much persuasion, it was around 4am when we finally got our asses off the ground. Scorpio was out as Orion had sunk. Scorpius is the only known constellation which has a clearly traceable shape in the sky befitting its name. You can look at it and instantly say THIS is Scorpio! Clearly defined forelegs and the magnificent sting. The mythological creature that was the downfall of the hunting great, Orion. That is signified by the rising of Scorpio during the setting of Orion! Cool na!

The whole night’s work had taken its toll on the telescopes. Dew settled snugly on the lenses, making any further clear viewing highly impacting on the eyes. Trupti called pack-up. My mind was still full of the night as we put away the instruments. The exhaustive but indispensable knowledge of the others simply bowled me over! Made me feel still more of a novice than I really am! But one always begins at the beginning innit?! I hadn’t slept an inkling!! I guess that says it all!

Garam chai and steaming hot kanda pohe[our hosts were Godsent!] back at the farmhouse revived us enough for the bumpy ride back to the station. Cameras clicked, good-byes said. And in true filmy ishtyle, three of us rounded the party off by hanging off the rear of the jeep through the whole of the 18km back to the railway station!! It felt awesome to feel the icy-cold air whipping through my hair [that AGAIN rhymes! i DO have something in common with Milton, after all.]; feel the astounded stares of the sleepy villagers sweeping me over as I hung on to the roof of the jeep; weaving through the early-morning stragglers...and then you know!


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Party of The Stars, Part 1

Back to the grind.

Back to the hectic schedule typical of an engineering student. After a very refreshing & much-needed hiatus of 1 golden month, back to the daily gruelling 8-8[not kidding]. Literally it tosses me into one of those nice gruelly gruels peasants just worship! College, classes, BC, still more classes,and still some more! Collateral. Come to think of it though, last week was a very different one. For a very pragmatic reason. Same time, 7-and-1 days ago; couldn't have been a more different situation; couldn't have been a more different place;.... couldn't have been A MORE DIFFERENT ME. Reeling back.......

Kamshet. A sleepy swaying village on the outer outskirts of Pune. The impatient wait for the end of the last lecture at college. The unplanned last-minute rushing off to Venus for buying[in cash!] the ever-elusive Commander. The consequent reduction of my normally-balanced lunch to scrounging on a greasy vada-paav. The comic fate of priya's toothbrush[I'll save you guys the danger of dying in splits by not mentioning it here!]. The incessant phone-calls from my mom & dad, who had assumed I'm going on nothing short of an Alexandrian war![I won't ever get why the idea of night outs won't appeal to moms and dads! In fact, I could do a Rowling on all the whimsical fancies moms & dads have concerning their sons & daughters! Hang on....maybe I WILL! watch out!] The scramble of 32 people at the SAME compartment of the local, in tow with 3 6"telescopes. The eleventh-hour changing of compartments[I'm still trying to find out a valid reason].

The tentative 1 1/4 hr. journey with me staring away shamelessly at one of my lesser-acquainted colleagues and him staring at me when HE THINKS I'm not staring at him[when I really AM outta the corner of my eye!]; wondering when(if ever!)the words of wisdom(or at least, words of 'recognisable' frequency)are going to pour out of his mouth, when he might have been wondering the same thing about ME! The final realization that switching on my Apple iPod would be a much more fruitful way of spending the remainder of the journey. The tragedy of the poor pencil-salesman on the local offering 4 lead-pencils for a meagre 10bucks! But Amen! We were finally aboard! And chugging on to my first ever star party! YAYY!

Man! Was I excited! There are a lot many amazing things I have done for the first time since stepping into COEP.... and I hope and pray that a lot more will come my way![wow! that rhymes! :D]

Monday, January 21, 2008

For Starters...

Okay so here I go at last! My baby blog! I've alternately convinced and put myself off since the last season[3rd of Dec'07 to be precise] the stress of creating a blog, and more so the nagging necessity of maintaining it, but ultimately the victorious won! :D And here I am.

Basically, there are several reasons why I graced Blogger,the primary ones being a dawning tiresomeness towards putting pen to paper[I've had enough of THAT in the boardrooms!], bringing my typing speed up to scratch, making productive 'net' use of download periods[which otherwise shall be deemed 'net'ally illegal in this beautiful era of multitasking], plus,if I ever,EVER, find the time to read my own blog, a chance to refresh my abysmal memory[Modesty is a quality!], and more trivial things among others.

However, the most genuine reason i succumbed to the idea is the most intriguing of all.

A stitch in my side. Two. Stray threads hanging. However much I try to channel the formidable rush my thoughts are, they trickle away twice as fast. Not that they are of much use to anyone, just the vague randomness of a vaguer girl. Now there, now gone! One after the other, just swirl away, with me standing helplessly around, trying to gain control over my (very) OWN Goddamn mind! The need, the desperate urge, to express myself, not just, but in the best inconspicuous manner that is. I'm positive that will harbour diverse opinions-"blogs are public!", "you talk of privacy when its possible for the whole world to view it!"...but Possible,guys, is not a word I care to meddle with. The queerest thing about this queer,queer world is we[ME included!] love spying on ANY[be it Beckham, or the sweet nex'door] creature on the face of Earth, but offer it on a platter, and see the smiles drop off 'our' faces faster than mercury off a table! Kiss a guy behind a tree, and turn around to a sea of expectant-cum-prying eyes; kiss a guy in public, and turn a sea of pointed-cum-outraged eyes. Going public is the best way of keeping what you really wish to be private exactly that. PRIVATE. The very fact that it is open to all makes it fantastic to-be-least-bothered-about material. It is THERE. It ain't banned. So we can get hold of it anytime. And SO we don't get hold of it ANY TIME. Call it your 'personal diary', and you'll have people[esp. closer ones like parents, siblings, best friends] itching to have a go at it; tag it a blog, and they won't even know it exists! In conclusion, a blog's the best personal diary I could have presented myself. [Oops! Did I say Personal Diary?!?!] :D

Happy Reading [Hopefully!]

And oh[before it trickles away too!], I'd be most interested in any suggestions guys. Be generous!