⚡️💨⛈Where did the clouds go?⚡️💨⛈

Dawn’s early light was visible through the windows. Not usually an early riser, I stood at the window scouring the skies for a waning moon. But I could detect nothing. Not even the faint illumination behind the clouds. It was such thick cloud cover. It may have sprinkled a few droplets of rain over the course of the night, but there was nothing now. We were thoroughly engulfed by clouds. For a brief moment, my mind wanted to glimpse our little patch of Earth from up above: from the international space station or the moon maybe. 

What would we see?  

Not the stirring of millions of people and their emotions, their flurry consciousness gasping for clarity as thoughts scudded through the clouds of sleep.  Definitely not the demands of civilization for the human-beings, and the demands of life for the birds and animals we share the planet with. It was a nice thought – even if only for a few moments, that sense of perspective before the days’ events obscured it.

How many would wake up anxious: their worries and banes flooding in with their consciousness? How many would wonder and plan about the day ahead and make lists on what needs to be accomplished in the next 16-20 hours, how many were nervous or weary about facing another day? How many were happy to get started on the day’s adventures? 


As we made our way to the son’s school, it was still cold and nippy. The weather forecast had said it was a hot day with an expected high in the mid-80s. I thought how marvelous it was that it was wrong and gave us the beauty of a ponderous cloudy day instead. 


As I made my way through the day, however, I was left stretching yearningly for that dreamy cloudy day morning, the peaceful thoughts before the day began, and the lovely sweet thoughts of a blue and white planet floating peacefully around its star. By the time two meetings were done with, the clouds had all vanished without a trace. Which was astounding as there seemed to be no breeze in that time either. What had happened to the clouds? Had they simply evaporated? I found there was hardly time for musing thus, as another set of ti-ding ti-ding’s – messages scurrying for attention interrupted, and all thoughts of fates of clouds had to be shelved for a better time. There was business that needed looking into. 

Perhaps 16 hours later, after another couple of night-time meetings, I felt the need to step out. It was as I stepped out into the dark cool of the night after the days’s tasks were almost done with, that I could calm down enough for a thought other than what-needed-to-be-done could nudge its way in. It was the stars that enabled this – and I thought that it must be brilliant for a star to know how helpful they are. Foolish thoughts after a tiresome day, but the realization of their absurdity brought a smile to my face.

I sat down on the park bench, my face turned upwards. Looking up at the blinking fairy lights of the universe, reminding us of the magic of the heavens. I noticed a few clouds here and there, and suddenly it all seemed so long ago that I had looked up at a sky full of clouds:  all these stars were shining brightly behind them then too. 

I sighed contentedly as I rose to go to bed, looking forward to a few more hours of magic: reading before drifting off to sleep. 

Maybe the next morning would be a blissfully cloudy morning too.

Space Racers – Together The Fun Begins!

It gives me great pleasure that this article was published in The Hindu’s Open Page dated 27th September 2016. The illustration is beautifully done by Mr Deepak Harichandran


There is something deeply calming and beautiful about gazing up at the stars at the end of a long day. It feels reassuring to know that we are but a small part of the cosmos, and it helps us puts our worries, anxieties and fears in perspective.

If there is nothing for the children to enjoy in terms of nature,  divert their attention to the ever changing panorama of the skies and let them experience wonder said Reverend James Woodforde in The Diary of a Country Parson when asked about children growing up in urban surroundings, who do not have the luxury of waddling through nature.

Reverend Woodforde (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Woodforde) would be pleased indeed if he went on a walk with the toddler son. Once the stars are visible, the son makes it a point to look up, his eyes filling up with wonder and questions bubbling up.  His ardent sister fans him along by pointing to the constellations and asking him to identify some of them. The young astronomer accepts this great responsibility with grace. He then proceeds to point at Ursa Major and calls it Orion, Ursa Minor is christened Sirius, Jupiter is labelled Venus and the Moon remains the Moon. All of this is done with confidence and joy, and the walk takes on a gentle humor of its own.

It is hard to identify constellations for us and even less need to do so now that we have access to excellent apps such as Skymaps and Google Sky. The skies are, however, fascinating and it will be nice to be able to identify the constellations even if we don’t need them to navigate from Spot A to Spot B at the moment.


One night as we stepped out for a stroll after a particularly satisfying meal and dessert, we diverted our gaze skywards as is our wont.

“If I become a space traveler, will you come with me?” he asked me a little line of worry creasing his face.

The background to this question was, of course, another conversation in which we had to let him know that when he grew old enough to become an astronaut, we would be past the age that is currently acceptable for astronauts. Maybe his sister could join him, but we may be past it. He looked forlorn when he heard that, and I made a mental note to remind him about how keen he was to have our company on a space vehicle, when he attempts to learn driving as a teenager.

I looked at his face and said, “You know? A century earlier, nobody could have thought your grandparents could fly across the world to meet you, so we don’t really know how things will change. Maybe if things progress along space travels, we could. Who knows?” I said. He seemed happy with the answer, and said,”Where would you like to go first? Which planet?”

I thought for a moment and said I would like to go to Neptune. “How about you? Where would you like to go?” I asked him.

“I want to go to Jupiter – maybe the great big spot in the storm.” The daughter asked him why, and he said, that he would like to see the moon have some company. On Jupiter, you can see 64 moons right?

“Did they teach you that in School?” I asked pleasantly impressed and surprised.

“No…..on Space Racers, Eagle and Robin get stuck in the storm on Jupiter remember?” said the couch-astronaut. (Space Racers is a TV program created with input from NASA)

“Space Racers – Together the Fun Begins…Rockatocka mission, we’re on our way….Space Racers…..” He then sang the whole title song for my benefit,laughing to fit (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZPOAEGhTl8)

Whether through Television, movies, smart phone apps that map the sky for us or through Science lessons, it is wonderful to glory in the expanse of the Universe and humbly accept our position within it. Like Carl Sagan, the noted physicist, said, “Astronomy is a humble and character building experience.”

Happy Astronomers Day!

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