On the Permanence of Celestial Bodies

On the way to the airport going to Trivandrum early in the morning, I saw the full red sun after a long time. It was not a classic sunrise over the horizon of the vast ocean or view from a sunset point on the mountains. It was a simple red ball of fire above a normal city scene. But a tingle of joy coursed through my body seeing the full red ball of fire, the sun, even in that mundane hazy city sky.

It is so reassuring to see the celestial bodies, the sun, the moon and the galaxies on a clear starry night. I love the moon, the big yellow moon as it rises, or even the crescent of the moon of any size. Id ka chand is of course a miracle to watch. I have been a consistent moon gazer since childhood. The earliest I remember being fascinated by the moon was as a 10 year old leaning out of our fifth floor apartment in Calcutta. The balcony overlooked the city and on a clear day you could see the dim outline of the Howrah Bridge! That was of course before the city turned into a concrete jungle of high rise buildings. The full moon shining over the city was mesmerizing even as a child. I would spend, not hours, but considerable time leaning over the railings of the balcony soaking in the effect.

The next impression of the moon I recall was of it rising over the hills of the Center for Development Studies (CDS) in Trivandrum where I spent two years figuring out how to do research (an M.Phil it was called officially). Once a member of the faculty of the Center passing by while I was moon gazing, coming out of the student mess said “You look spaced out!” “I am, just look at the moon!” I exclaimed. He looked up and walked past more engrossed in the state of the economy rather than mooning about the celestial beings! CDS had an open air theater. One of my occupations was to sit in the open air theater and gaze at the moon on a full moon night! Of course I had company, though not absolutely sure if my companion comprehended my fascination! Those were peaceful days my friend when one could simply sit, not bombarded by emails and social media. We had no hand held devices to gaze at ad infinitum! So it made sense to gaze at the beautiful natural things around you!
Rising Moon, Chennai

I seem to have passed on this fascination for the moon to my daughter! See how gloriously she captured the rising moon over the Chicago sky! I stand corrected. Daughter and father were expectantly waiting to see the super moon on the horizon of Lake Michigan, but cloudy skies played spoil sport. My daughter and her husband had the joy of watching this amazing scene of the rising moon on the Besant Nagar beach, Chennai! Wow, Chennai beat Chicago at moon gazing venue!!

Sunset over Chicago city
I have an equal fascination for the rising and setting sun. While I do not seem to have captured images of the moon as my daughter did, I have captured many images of the setting sun. Here is one over the city of Chicago.

Once, when in high school, my family visited Puri, on the East coast. There was much excitement over watching the sun rise over the Bay of Bengal. We woke up early in the morning, or rather were woken up, and with Mom Dad, Uncle, Aunt and cousins in tow, we stomped up and down the sandy beach of Puri awaiting the hypnotic scene of the sun rise over the ocean. There was no sun to be seen. A few hours later around 7.00 a.m. my cousin shouts out “Look, there is the sun!” We all look over the ocean in great excitement. And there we see the sun way up in the sky! The foolish Cheeran (my family) group had not realized that the sun rises in its own time and waits for no one, irrespective of clear or cloudy skies! Ha Ha!

Another experience was at the sun-set point in Abu, Rajasthan. We sat on a cliff, with our little one in tow, who thought this was an exciting adventure, and waited! Low and behold the sun set, for sure, except that we did not see the enthralling sight as the clouds again decided to rob us of the joy!!
 

Just about caught it! White Desert, Kuchch

I may have seen many sunrises and sunsets later in life, but I definitely remember two amazing sunsets! One was over the White Desert in the Rann of Kuchch, Gujarat. What is mesmerizing about a sunset is the way the sun sets (Ha Ha, an unintended pun). You keep watching the sun as in slowly descends on the horizon. Down, down, down it goes. Quarter gone, half gone, more gone and suddenly the sun seems to jump and sort of pops down and disappears!  Difficult to describe the scene or the feeling as your heart skips a beat!! And Here I am with a near miss and finally catching the sun in my hands! Lord was it heavy!!

Holding up the Sun at the White Desert, Rann of Kuchch!! Hey mister get up and help!! 
The sunset over the Indian Ocean in Sri Lanka was another sunset which had all the ingredients of the one over the White Desert, down-down with hop skip and jump there it popped down into the earth.




Yesterday we again witnessed a sunset over the Arabian Sea at Kovalam, Trivandrum. This was not as remarkable as the Sri Lankan one. A watery sunset in a hazy sky with cloud cover near the horizon, just did not quite let my heart miss a beat!!
Sunset Kovalam Beach, Kerala

Watery sunset, over Arabian Sea, Kovalam, Kerala

Oh, I almost forgot why I started to write this blog! In a changing world everything, including relationships seem to change, where nothing seems permanent, even friends are fly-by acquaintances, on Facebook or Linked in or what have you. In the way of the world today, the permanence of the celestial bodies, the sun and moon and the starry nights are very reassuring! At least something remains as one remembers it from childhood. This thought struck me when I saw the big red ball of the sun in the sky on that hazy morning which inspired this little piece.
Here is a sunset over the Dal Lake, Srinagar, Kashmir and sunset over the Vembanaad Lake, Allepey, Kerala.

Sunset from a Shikara on Dal Lake, Srinagar, Kashmir
Sunset Vambanaad Lake, Allepey, Kerala

2 thoughts on “On the Permanence of Celestial Bodies

  1. Enjoyed your post J.Like your obbservation”We had no hand held devices to gaze at ad infinitum”I remember as about a 10 year old, telling my friends that I can command the moon, it will follow me wherever I go. Many of them were taken in at the start 🙂 but the reason downed soon 🙂 As a physicist I believe nothing is permanent, but certain things are more permanent than others. Good friendships survive rough weather and distances, so do trust and care. Knowledge is another survivor. As a biologist (I like to fancy myself being in part 🙂 I think for entities to survive evolution is essential.wish you and your family happiness and peace.

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