I dreamt of PSLVs

So, last night I dreamed of PSLV. The PSLV-C39 mission failed a few days back and it’s possible return to Earth has been in the news for the past few days. ISRO has been putting updates of it’s fuel being vented and a possible crash landing in the Pacific Ocean sometime in the next two months.

I dreamed that the fourth stage of the PSLV landed on the street in front of my apartment building, trashed a few trees and landed right near the gate of the temple nearby. The priest, who it nearly missed by inches, thought of it as divine intervention and immediately started performing rituals. Awoken by the sound from my afternoon slumber, I looked out and identified the PSLV from the Indian flag and the national emblem emblazoned on it but kept quiet.

A few minutes later members of the emergency services tried to isolate and retrieve the object, thanking the gods for saving so many lives. To their astonishment the early morning temple goers cordoned off the area and refused to co-operate in any effort to move the object.

The rituals went on till the early morning resisting all efforts of the emergency services to retrieve the object.

I have no recollection of the next few steps I took, but I was speeding down NH-47, the fourth stage on the back of a truck. I then spent the next 4 years building a PSLV in Palakkad. After 15 launches of my re-hashed version of the PSLV, I sit on a porch reading the front page of The Week calling me India’s answer to Elon Musk. Thankfully, I woke up by this time.

ഓണം ആശംസകൾ

എല്ലാപേരുകം എന്റെ ഹൃദയംനിറഞ്ഞ ഓണം ആശംസകൾ.

മലയാളത്തില എഴുതുന്ന ശ്രമം തുടങ്ങി രണ്ടു വര്ഷം അഴി. ഓണം ആയതിനാൽ ഇ ശ്രമം പുതുക്കാന് നിശ്ചയിച്ചു.

ഇത് എന്റെ അദ്യതെ പോസ്റ്റ്.

Vikram-Vedha (2017)

(This is not meant as a review of the movie. There may be spoilers.)

Vikram-Vedha found mention in today’s Indian Express which reminded me that I also meant to write about it here. Better late than never.

This is how Shubhra Gupta writing in the Indian Express summarizes the movie. The article also mentions Angamaly Diaries, another movie I loved but didn’t get to writing about and other regional language movies.

…the Tamil language Vikram-Vedha directed by Pushpa-Gayatri: it’s gangsta-and-cops-and-robbers aesthetic is shot through tactics that immediately make you sit up and take notice. R Madhavan plays the cop-who-thinks-he-is-always-right with a swagger. Vijay Sethupathi’s bad guy out-swaggers the policeman.

I loved Vijay Sethupati in this movie. His entry scene in the movie received a lot of whistles from the audience and reminded me of Reddington entry scene in The Blacklist. The movie moves from the black and white chor-police narrative to one which goes into the grey shades. Intertwined in this is the classic Vikram-Vetaal of my childhood (whose introduction theme scared me) of question and answers, which leads the investigation forward and introduces the grey element. The connection is brought by Sethupati asking Madhavan “Oru Katha Sollutta?” (Tamil: Shall I tell you a story?), which is how Vikram-Vetaal stories also move forward.

The movie ends with a question that is not answered. Only Tamil movies have this realistic element. It leaves the answer to the question open to the movie-goer. It says not all questions have an easy solution. It is the grey that we have in Society today. Not everyone is purely white nor purely black. Everyone is a shade of grey. We can’t make out how dark these shades of grey are. All we can do is do the best in the given in situation and know that we have no control on the outcome.

I watched the movie at Cinepolis in Chembur, Mumbai on July 28, 2017.

My Gita by Devdutt Pattanaik

Devdutt Pattanaik is a writer whose books I love to read because he interprets puranas in their modern sense. It makes sense to me. It sometimes makes better sense than their traditional interpretation as I have heard.

My Gita is Pattanaik’s interpretation of the Gita. He begins the book by stating that the poem is not to be read from start to finish as one would a book or a poem today. He suggests that the wisdom is scattered throughout the verses of the Gita. Traditionally, the Gita would be expounded by a Guru to his disciple by teaching him only the relevant sections with explanations. Not the whole poem in the form it is read today.

Accordingly, Pattanaik’s book is arranged in a scheme such that the Hindu philosophy expounded in the Gita could be more clearly grasped and better understood.

The book is a tiring read. I have read various voluminous books like Radhakrishnan on the Upanishads and even his Dhammapada. I have even read Pattanaik’s earlier books but none have tired me so. It’s difficult to keep up with a thread of thinking in the book. This made my reading progress slow and tiring as I found it hard to grasp concepts.

The way to overcome this difficulty is to skim through the book quickly the first time to get a basic idea before reading the book understanding the depth of the book. The book is a complete guide to the Gita with context, several interpretations offered including alternative versions but finally is Pattanaik’s interpretation of the Gita.

google play music

I went off music for a long period because India did not have a platform like Pandora. This was because listening to streaming music in India was a frustrating experience. Poor data connection, high cost for said data connection and the lack of an affordable platform.

google Play Music solved all these issues for me. I’v been listening to music like I did in my college days and have been enjoying the experience for the past month or so.

Back to Reading

I had a promotion exam in the middle of July. This meant essentially that all of my reading went for a toss in the build up. A lax period arose as I stopped following many things that I had followed dilligently till then. I also had no list of things that I did follow. This meant that after the exam I was enveloped in a period where I did not know what to do. I raked my mind and nothing came to me or rather everything came at me at the same moment. At this moment, I just let things be and let them slide for a while till about day before yesterday.

I picked up Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s Inner Engineering book and went through a few pages just highlighting them. I did not read it with any focus. But, after having read it, I felt happy for a few moments at having begun reading again.

p.s. I hope this has also started me blogging again.

Raining

I made a small video to catch the incessant rain we had in Mumbai today to show D & R. Thought I’d share it here as well.

Mumbai, India

Link Forest

I returned from Palakkad last Saturday. It was a heart wrenching experience to be separated, ergo temporarily, from your wife and daughter again. While there, I read a lot on my mobile while the wife and daughter were sleeping. These I bookmarked and am now posting here for my own reference. I have bunched them together under headings as I sort them.

Space

Telescopes of the World: India’s Devasthal Telescope: I had a fascination with observatories and learning more about them to improve articles on Wikipedia. I even planned a tour of all Indian observatories. In the meanwhile, loved reading this description of India’s ARIES Observatory at Nainital by Sandhya Ramesh.

India’s Star Rises Higher with LIGO’s Third Gravitational Wave Detection: I always enjoy reading stuff on astrophysics. But, sometimes don’t have the right mindset. This article actually put me in the right mindset (by mentioning ASTROSAT) before letting me enjoy reading about gravitational waves. This is an excellent piece by Vasudevan Mukunth writing for The Wire. He also wrote a nice overview of science journalism in India over on his personal blog.

Talking Space with Tim Peake: I had never known about Richard Branson’s blog before this piece came online on Twitter. Here he shares about a talk with British astronaut Tim Peake who has just returned after spending 6 months in space. Includes some lovely photos that scaled well even for my mobile device.

Aadhar

The Aadhar is something that I have no clear opinion on and started reading lots of stuff recently to learn more. I still don’t understand the various standpoints. Most of the stuff that I did read ended up being anti-Aadhar.

Both Mozilla and the Electronic Frontier Foundation had blog posts on why having Aadhar in its current form is a bad idea.

I got sidetracked by some interesting detective work by Kiran Jonnalagadda and his description of it here, on the troll’s denial and the afterglow. It is always great to see a troll unmasked. I wish more unmaskings happen. Thejesh GN has a nice summary on his blog as well.

I’ve read nothing really good in the pro-Aadhar camp online. But, in my work in the bank I’ve had a few customers in the bank I work in who were from the country side who say that the direct benefit transfer that was started has been good and worked well for the most part. They had to undergo a few discomforts but they shirk it all off as getting used to a new system. These people support linking Aadhar to other schemes and facilities as well.

Economics

  1. Stock Market – A Bull on Steroids
  2. GST – No Panacea
  3. The Unseen Economics of Jan Dhan Yojana – I have not seen any writing on the Jan Dhan Yojana that explores these particular themes.

Politics

I’ve been quite impressed to read the writing of Meghanad S related to Parliamentary democracy that we practice here in India. One highlights our poor understanding of how the Parliamentary democracy works and our incorrect expectations from it. The other tries to help us understand how the Government has changed the way the central government shares the tax money it earns with the state and the various challenges and changes that throws up.

The other political piece that I read was one trying to understand the Modi Government’s foreign policy stance.

Miscellaneous

Several odds and ends thrown in here.

  1. Using Toyota’s 5S principles in keeping homes clean and tidy. I read this more to revise the concepts of the 5S principles than with any intention of keeping the home clean.
  2. A nice review of a newly opened cafe in Sikkim with beautiful pictures and a very inviting cafe. Also, Sikkim would be the place I would run away to.
  3. Matt Mullenweg shares whats in his bag in 2017.
  4. I have mixed feelings about farming but have ideas about farming for self-sustenance some day. I was mulling over this stance of mine related to farming when Better India published this nice piece on Zero Based Natural Farming (ZBNF). This also talks of implementing this in the Beed district of Maharashtra.
  5. Really loved this show & tell edition of the Bullet Journal. Working towards making mine look even better.

That’s all. When I put it all down, doesn’t seem like I read a lot. Probably because I read bits between baby sleep cycles.

The First Flight of the GSLV Mk-III

As I write this, the GSLV Mk-III would have commenced its 25.5 hour countdown to launch at 1728 hrs (IST) on June 5, 2017. The 3-stage GSLV Mk-III will carry the 3136 kg GSAT-19 to a geostationary orbit. The satellite carries transponders for communication, a scientific instrument to study the nature of charged particles and effect of space radiation on satellites and among various other technologies an indigenously built Lithium ion battery. This will be the launch vehicle’s debut flight and hence called D1.

GSLV Mk-III at the Second Launch Pad
I love the dawn/dusk time view of the launch vehicle. Image Credit: ISRO

The GSLV Mk-III flew last as GSLV Mk-III-X, an experimental flight where it flew with a passive third stage and the CARE payload. The sub-orbital flight was intended to study the launch vehicle configuration and went off successfully. It allowed ISRO to study how the launch vehicle performed in flight. The crew vehicle CARE splashed down in the Bay of Bengal near Andaman and Nicobar islands and was recovered by the Coast Guard.

The GSLV Mk-III is India’s medium lift launch vehicle capable of flying 4 tonnes to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit and 8 tonnes to Low Earth Orbit. It is intended to place India’s heavier communication satellites in orbit. It has two S200 solid fuel boosters attached to a core stage. The core stage has two clustered L110 Vikas Engines. The third stage Cryogenic Upper Stage C25 is powered by the indigenously developed CE-20 engine. The payload fairing also has a “slanted strap-on nose cone for aerodynamic robustness” added to it after the X flight.

Notice the change in language. It is no longer called as first, second, third and fourth stages as in PSLV and the GSLV. The stages are called as booster, core and upper stage.

This will also be the time when the CE-20 will actually fire and take a payload to orbit. It is different from the cryogenic engine on the GSLV which is called CE-7.5. The GSLV Mk-III-X carried the CE-20 but it did not fire.

I had written about the commercial aspects of the GSLV launches in the Wire in 2015 and think that the same holds for the GSLV Mk-III as well. India has already begun developing satellites which require a launch capability more than that provided by the Mk III. An example is the soon to be launched GSAT-11. GSAT-11 weighs 5725 kg and is going to be launched on board the Ariane-5 in 2017-18 and uses the newly developed I-6K bus. This requires development of heavy lift (launch capability to GTO of more than 10 tonnes) launch vehicles. This development would be pursuant to lessons learnt in the development of the GSLV and the Mk-III.

GSAT-19 is largely a communication satellite. It holds improvements in satellite components such as heat pipe, gyros, accelerometers and an indigenous Lithium ion battery. There is very little information that I could find on GRASP (Geostationary Radiation Spectrometer) besides what it says about studying charged particles and impact of space radiation on satellites.

With so much to write about, I was not happy with the initial reportage in the Indian press looking at India’s human spaceflight program (example). I wish they would ask ISRO to share more information on the payload (the science payload as well improvement in space craft instrumentation) and the improvements in the launch vehicle that the GSLV Mk-III X flight enabled.

I wish ISRO and the GSLV Mk-III team all the best and Godspeed!