Al-Avalathi's Life (Al-Avalathi is the last Mallu to go to the Gelf)
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Posts from — November 2008

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(A long pending post triggered by the recent Chandrayaan launch)

Like any boy of his age, the vast night sky with stars and planets fascinated him. He learnt to spot half a dozen constellations and a few planets like Jupiter and Venus. In spite of his tryst with Asimov, he never wanted to be an astronaut. He had been hearing stories of the strenuous training involved in preparing oneself to become an astronaut. The story had a tragic end, else he could have said he knew India’s second astronaut.

Much before ISRO became an acronym and was still an abbreviation, he could list out the chronology of all missions; he took pride in knowing the expansions of SLV-3,ASLV, SROSS and APPLE,IRS,INSAT etc without having a clue of what any of those words meant. Any opportunity in school to flaunt what a Polar Sun Synchronous Orbit or a Geo Stationary orbit was cleverly utilized. His dad keenly explained him the meanings, good for him as he could impress teachers in school.

GSLV-F04

GSLV-F04 Lift Off

Like any ISRO home, his house bore a sepulchral silence on mission failures, which were many(be it ASLVs or the PSLV) during those times; the number of failures enough for imbeciles to come up with jokes like I.S.R.O rockets make the life of Indian fishermen vulnerable(as they may fall on them). He took jokes on I.S.R.O personally, why would he not for something that fed him. The sweets that his dad brought home after every successful launch reflected the euphoria that everybody shared.

He would look at stickers and posters of satellites and launch vehicles, feel good about them and keep them safe. For him the display of Launch Vehicle models at home were signs of opulence.

He felt elated and delighted at the sight of such stickers on scooters and cars; something like a mixed feeling of association, happiness and superiority passed through him.

The young boy looked expectedly at the grey colored VSSC buses to see if there were people he knew inside. He felt big, arranging passes for the whole class for ISRO visits, not to forget the brownies he got from teachers. Every time when someone asked where his dad worked, his answer took himself a notch above.

He sweated and bit his nails in anticipation watching live telecasts of launches. He accumulated sleep debt watching many Baikonour and Kourou launches. He still reminisces the countdowns that he counted along like a duet and the smoke filled uncertainty he shared just after any lift off.

His passion has not changed a bit. He still gets a high talking about I.S.R.O

For the population that thinks a toss is bigger than a countdown and KANK is an easier acronym than SHAR, hope someone tells them space matters. A media that is over the moon with stars, may you look at what is happening on the moon in reality.

I take a bow before this force to reckon with, that has out done itself in every step.

Update: Post featured in Reuters India

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November 16, 2008   50 Comments