Accidental Roadside

Well, all of us have heard them say “whatever happens, happens for good”.

Six of us had planned a trip to Hosahalli for one of our usual observation sessions. Ravindra on his bike while I, Amar and Akarsh in my car. Mr. Krishnan and his friend were to leave a lot later. They were to meet us directly at Hosahalli.

Nature seemed to be doing everything to stop us from making it to Hosahalli. We had a lot of confusion before leaving. We were supposed to leave by 2:30. My conference call got scheduled at 2 and Amar reached just after I joined the call. This delayed us by atleast an hour. After this, we got delayed a bit by traffic before we could pick Akarsh up from Hebbal. Ravindra was waiting for us in Yelahanka. We had asked him to come to the bypass but since he had a lot of stuff he wanted to dump in the car, we decided to go near his place.

Finally, everyone was in. Ravindra’s house would have been on the way had we gone the normal Dodballapura way. But since the road is not good, after a brief discussion, we came to a conclusion that it wasmbetter to go via Devanahalli. This involved taking a U-turn and we met a small accident while doing this. No one was injured but this delayed us by atleast 45 minutes.

As if that was not enough, we missed the turn to Dodballapura and did not realize till Amar had a deja-vu at a railway crossing. He had missed the turn on one of his earlier trips and reached the same railway crossing. Another 25 minutes of delay and we were on the right road. It felt good to be finally on the way. We even stopped to resolve a confusion regarding an object we were seeing just above the setting sun – was it Venus – or was it an approaching plane!!! Four astronomers could finally confirm that it was Venus.

Since my 12-inch telescope was being carried in the car, Amar was not feeling comfortable. We stopped at a railway crossing and Amar decided to get out of the car and hitch a ride from Ravindra who was polite enough to turn him down. Ravindra rides alone unless the person riding with him is of the opposite sex. Needless to say, Amar was back in the back seat of the car.

The Sun had set. We had done everything possible to reach Hosahalli before Sunset but it was dark when we crossed Dodballapura and we were on the usual heavily cratered road we all know so well. All was still good till Amar found that his mobile phone was missing. This was a good 20 mins from when we crossed Dodballapura. We tried calling it up in order to hear the ring tone so that we can find it in the car and to our surprize – someone picked up!! The lady on the phone told us that she had found the phone near the railway crossing where Ravindra had cleared any doubts about what his preferences were. She was in a village called Hamam near the railway crossing we now know so well.

Without any further delay we let Ravindra ride to Hosahalli assuring him that the telescope was already there and that he could start observing. Three of us turned back. After raching Hamam, we tried to call Amar’s phone up and guess what… it was SWITCHED OFF!!! When we almost started cursing our luck, we saw 3-4 kids playing on the road. We tried our not-so-good luck and one of them knew who the phone was with. We could not beleive it. The child took us to a house and one of the members of the family went away to get it from the person who had picked it up. This was going to take some time and a lot of children had gathered there.

On the spot, we decided to set up Ravindra’s binoculars and let all the children and grown ups see the sky through it. As usual, excitement in children made us forget everything that we had been through that day. Pleiades cluster would call them back again and again and again. One of the older people there also requested us to organize a formal event from them. We have it in our near future plans. The phone came back to us but we did not leave. The session continued for about an hour.

Mr. Krishnan called up and he told us that he was about to reach Dodballapura. Ravindra called us. He was frustrated. He had been at Hosahalli for about an hour. He did manage to get the telescope but we forgot to give him an eyepiece!

Thanking our luck, we decided to leave Hamam. We promised them that we would return soon with a much bigger observation event.  We met Mr. Krishnan and his friend at Dodballapura. They were in a car and were generous to let Amar travel with them. We finally reached Hosahalli at about 10:45 and had a great observation session through the night.

I generally do not beleive in co-incidences with hidden motives but this event actually made me wonder. If Amar had not dropped his mobile, or if we had not been delayed by various factors and made it before sunset to Hamam, we would not have had that great session for village children.

Not everything that goes wrong is bad. Well, as the say – “whatever happens, happens for good”.

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