The longest solar eclipse of this century – more than 6 minutes. Once in a life time not be missed event. Next one will occur on June 13, 2132.
I looked up the path, duration, timings et al of the July 22nd eclipse. Tried (half heartedly) to look up science clubs, astronomy clubs and planetarium’s in Kolkata. And while the count down built up worldwide, with suitable frenzy, my plans fizzled out.
Aggotta, plan B: Rooftop.
Ma and I went upstairs at 5.30am and although the skies were cloudy…it was very nicely striated – clouds grey and ash, blue sky in between and a bright sun too dazzling to behold. And then from nowhere a wisp of cloud looking very much like a grey chiffon duppata blew in and obliterated the sunlight and there it was…the solar eclipse. And then the cloud moved away and we couldn’t see anything and had to wait for the next wisp of cloud. And so on went this hide and seek. Partial or not…it was beautiful.
In between, we checked out neighbouring roof tops. Not a soul in sight. Were is everyone? Ma kept asking. Sleeping or catching the eclipse from Surat to China and beyond on TV. Every channel had an expert – from ISRO, astrologers and what not. But the thrill was seeing it first hand.
Look, people are blowing conch shell…to ward off evil. Ma, please. That’s a bus honking.
We went downstairs at 7am and then watched the telecast on TV from different places. Photos of the eclipse by the Taj was rather poetically beautiful. Didn’t make it to any of the places which would see total eclipse – Surat, Vadodara, Bhopal, Varanasi, Patna, Gaya, Dinajpur, Siliguri, Tawang or Targana in Bihar which was supposed to be the BEST place to view the event. [The clouds played spoil sport at Targana and I believe they couldn’t see anything at all. Poor Bihar CM who was himself present, mike, dais et al]. Didn’t even make it to the Birla planetarium.
However, our rooftop more than made up for it. Just Ma, me, assorted crows (the ones ma feeds every evening) and our sunglasses. Ma looking rather hip in my antiquated Ray Bans.
Almost made up for my regret in missing another once in a lifetime event in 1986– Halley Comet.