February 22, 2024

Of Stars in the Sky in my Mind's Eye

Over 25 years ago, (it was 1989), I was met by the Director of The Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium who asked if I would record the English commentary for the first programme to be projected in the sky dome. I’ve done it ever since.

Today, 17/01/17, I was driven in from Whitefield by an Ola driver from Bagalkot, who has been in Bangalore for eight days. The mis-coincidence did strike me: he was taking me to Taralaya – the home of the stars – and didn’t know where on earth he was. For no fault of his I sat in his vehicle for two hours for a journey of 18 kilometres, 9 kilometres an hour – hardly warp speed. I went into the now familiar dome-shaped theatre and was ushered in while the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri Siddaramaiah was speaking. For once a member of the public was late but he had not waited for my arrival before beginning.

I scanned the top table. I saw Shylaja, the Director, and U R Rao, famed space scientist seated along with Dr Martin Wiechmann of Carl Zeiss. I spied Pramod but no sign of Vishveshwara. My eyes then fell on Madhusudan, who, in turn, was scanning the audience. I raised a hand to catch his eye. He did and rushed behind me so he could whisper that Vishveshwara had passed away during the night. He was distraught; I, close to tears. A little later after the inauguration of the Hybrid Projection System, I glanced at a table with Vishu’s picture and a notepad and pen before it. I wrote: “I came looking for you. I did find you…in the stars.” 

Visits to Bengaluru from Whitefield are few and far between. Somebody from the west of the city remarked recently that JAGRITI was the back of beyond. Yes, we lie 16 kilometres (10 miles) due east of the CBD or Central Business District and it takes two hours to cover the distance.

My journey back to JAGRITI was by bus. The young early 20s conductor asked for proof of birthdate and then punched out a ticket awarding me a senior citizen discount. Vishu, something is going right with the world.