Locomotoring

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In search of sun – solar eclipse in Delhi

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Partial solar eclipse of 2009 in Delhi

Partial solar eclipse of 2009 in Delhi

It was the eclipse of the century – the longest full eclipse lasting more than six minutes. During the days preceding the eclipse, media’s handling of it was like watching a schizophrenic – one moment all scientific with graphic visualization of solar and lunar orbits and astrophysics the other moment a discussion on fasting and soul cleansing and astrology.

The holy ghats of Banaras was one of the few places on Earth from where millions of people got to see the eclipse. Papers were full of cool pictures of octogenarian Hindu monks wearing eclipse viewing shades made specially available by the Department of Science and Technology.

No, I didn’t fly out to Banaras to join the throng of millions at the ghat. No amount of curiosity was worth putting up with the masses in that heat and risk a stampede or two. I had planned on watching the eclipse, which was going to be only partial, in Delhi. All I needed was a lucky break from the Monsoon cloud cover.

Solar eclipse kit including a viewer and a pinhole camera

Solar eclipse kit including a viewer and a pinhole camera

My teenage cousin had promised to take us to his spot of open space in return for the eclipse viewing shades we had managed to procure at the last minute. Before the break of dawn, we trundled up in the car and drove to this spot.  It turned out to be a patch of green belt that was soon going to become a site for residential buildings. Brick makers had already started the work. They were living on the patch of land in makeshift homes amidst mounds of rocks, gravel, sand and bricks. Their day had just started. The kilns were being fired. The men folk were drinking tea, the women were cooking breakfast and the children were shitting in the open. These poor workers going about the usual business of life when most of the TV watching middle class was waiting for the eclipse to be over before doing so. There were curious glances in our direction but none skywards.

The sky was overcast with clouds and the temperature was already in the 90s at 6:30 am. Other than the brick makers, we met a solitary jogger. As the photo shows, we did get lucky and the clouds parted just a little bit for us to see the partial eclipse. Upon our return home, we heard that for most of Delhi, there had been no break in the cloud cover. Kids who had waited patiently at Delhi planetarium to view the eclipse had returned home disappointed.

Only thing that would have made this eclipse experience better would have been some hot chai and samosa right after but that wasn’t meant to happen. Samosa makers in the neighborhood didn’t start frying until well after the end of eclipse. But we did get to it later in the morning.

Tikki and samosa in making

Tikki and samosa in making

Samosa platter with a whimsical toy from a recent Japan trip

Samosa platter with a whimsical toy from a recent Japan trip

Samosa sandwich - crushed samosa with chutney between sliced bread - epitome of Punjabi cuisine

Punjabis swear by Samosa sandwich - crushed hot samosa with mint chutney between two slices of fresh white (or brown) bread

Written by Som

July 29, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Posted in Delhi, India

Tagged with , ,

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