“Class 8th D, 10th boy from the front – come up” Boomed the stern voice of the PT teacher. Someone shook the appropriate boy from conversation he was engrossed in. He climbed up to the first floor podium, tachaak, tachaak!! Two slaps delivered, he was told to stand aside and listen to what was being spoken about the solar eclipse in the school assembly.
That boy was me and I did not give a damn! I was still ecstatic…
OK! let me put this into perspective and relate what faded the above into insignificance.
The year was 1980 and I was all of 13 years old. I had anticipated the celestial mega event for almost an year now. There was to be a total solar eclipse on February 16th, 1980 in India. Though there was a slight hitch, the path of totality did not cross over Nagpur.
I came to know through a friend of my elder brother that the Nagpur University Physics department was planning an expedition to see the total eclipse. As luck would have it I somewhat or rather somehow knew Dr. G.N. Navneet the then head of Physics department, Nagpur University and I managed to impress him enough to let me accompany them if I kept out of the way.
Ultimately it turned out that the expedition got so popular in the university that they had to book a complete train bogey and there were complete families but I was the youngest solo member of the team. The expedition was for Khamam, Andhra Pradesh. A sleepy little town some 190km from Hyderabad. We reached well in advanced camped in some school. I was very readily allowed to ask as many questions as I wanted to, peer at the phenonmenon through every instrument that was aimed at the sun and generally had a great time.
The pictures too have a co-incidence – they were taken by by Swati‘s father, my present father-in-law, who was the official photographer for the expedition.
Oh yes! The PT teacher came back to me after the assembly and asked me what was so important about which I was talking about?
I said “I saw the total solar eclipse!”
That I was overheard by the science teacher passing by and saved me from further punishment was incidental.