NaPoWriMo 2024

April is celebrated in the United States as National Poetry Writing Month. The idea is to write a poem a day. Sumit Shetty shared the sheet below.

NaPoWriMo Prompts for the first half of April 2024NaPoWriMo Prompts for the first half of April 2024 NaPoWriMo Prompts for the first half of April 2024NaPoWriMo Prompts for the first half of April 2024

I had initially planned to write it on Medium which houses my other works of fiction.

I found an online writing tool shared by Satyajeet Jadhav, a member of Amit Varma’s Clear Writing Community. This tool is called thinkdeli. I liked its writing mode on mobile as well as on the web. I especially liked its focus writing mode. This is where I decided to write poetry in 2024.

List of Poems

I wanted a way to share all the poems with a single url.

  1. Nobody is free without breaking open
  2. Late at night scrolling my Twitter feed
  3. Kitchen table
  4. I’m Learning So Many Different Ways to be Quiet
  5. Today I’m angry. Today I’m hopeful.
  6. Downsides of going vegan
  7. Instructions for Living a Life. Pay attention.
  8. Reclaim Saffron. Make Biriyani.

April 8, 2024

A Trip to Bangalore - March 2024

Last week took me on a journey to Bengaluru, all thanks to a meetup hosted by Bellatrix Aerospace. It was a spontaneous decision made on a Wednesday morning (March 20, 2024), one that I didn’t regret.

The Journey Begins: Pune to Bengaluru

I had to first choose a mode of travel. Air travel wasn’t on my radar this time. I pondered between road and rail, ultimately opting for the road due to the convenient frequency and availability of buses between Pune and Bengaluru. Setting off from Pune on a Saturday evening (March 23, 2024), I embarked on a Karnataka SRTC bus, Ambaari.

The journey was comfortable, with the bus arriving in Bengaluru right on schedule. However, the return trip had a small hiccup—the bus arrived in Pune a good two hours late. The bus itself offered cozy sleeping arrangements, but if you dared to sit up, it was a recipe for a sore back!

A Cozy Stay at goSTOPS

For solo travels, my friend Jatan Mehta had recommended goSTOPS hostel, and I’m glad I took his advice. Located conveniently close to the bus stand at Majestic, their check-in time of 1 pm made it easy for me to drop off my luggage upon arrival.

However, their 10 am check-out clashed with my evening bus schedule. The hostel staff graciously allowed me to use their luggage room, easing my worries.

One small surprise awaited me—a lack of toiletries! I received this piece of news while en route to Bengaluru, prompting a quick stop at a nearby store for essentials.

The hostel itself was cozy, with a comfortable bed and curtains that provided a sense of privacy. Most of my awake hours were spent in the inviting common room, where I found myself in good company with Jatan, who happened to be staying there as well.

The Meetup Experience

The meetup was a highlight, allowing me to meet individuals whose names I’d often come across in my online wanderings. Introducing myself turned out to be a bit of a challenge—I realized I need to work on my elevator pitch!

Engaging discussions about space ensued, and to my surprise, I was presented with opportunities that I wasn’t quite prepared for. Note to self: be ready for unexpected opportunities!

During the event, we had the pleasure of a talk by Gita Aravamudan, who shared insights from her book. I even managed to get my copy signed by her—a cherished treasure. Her husband, R Aravamudan (known as Dan) was the man alongside Kalam in that iconic photo, diligently working on a rocket nose cone.

Insights from Jatan

An enriching part of the trip was spending time with Jatan. He generously shared his insights and tools as a space writer”, discussing the decisions he made and the tools he uses. He has shared many of these in this blog post.

Exploring Church Street

Sunday and Monday mornings found me strolling along Church Street, soaking in the vibrant atmosphere. I made my way to the entrance of The Takshashila Institution’s offices, though they were closed.

Among the pop-up stores lining the street, I couldn’t resist picking up a few fridge magnets and a couple of notebooks. A visit to Blossom’s and Bookworms had me struggling to resist the temptation of adding more books to my ever-growing collection—a true test of willpower for me.

March 28, 2024

Where are the Indian private space companies in human spaceflight?

A lot has been happening in Indian Human Spaceflight Programme recently. India announced the names of the first four astronauts who fly to orbit in the Gaganyaan programme. ISRO has revealed plans to build a Bharatiya Antariksh Station, an Indian space station in orbit. There was even talk of landing Indians on the Moon. Given this why are we not seeing more Indian private space companies announce startups that build systems and sub-systems that would help India achieve this dream?

Where are the Indian private space companies at?

Indian private space companies are still building small satellites and launch vehicles. There are a few ISRO vendors who are building things but these are ISRO designs and not their own.

What is the scene at ISRO?

ISRO is now focussed on Gaganyaan, where the focus is to get at the most two Indians into orbit and bring them back safely on Earth. To this end, ISRO has been working on various parts of the problem and will bring them together in three demonstration flights without humans. ISRO has not been funded for anything beyond and they have not proposed for anything beyond Gaganyaan yet to the Government of India for the purposes of receiving funding from the Government. ISRO has actually returned funding to the Government, which means it is not yet using the funding given to it for its various programmes.

Where does that leave Indian private space companies?

This means while there is a lot of play in the media about the future of the human spaceflight programme, there is no funding or design yet to pursue this end. However there is time to be prepared for this future. I think the companies must ask these questions:

  • How do we human-rate our systems/sub-systems?
  • How do we build redundancy in our systems/sub-systems?
  • How can we contribute to the human spaceflight programme with our systems/sub-systems?
  • Will making these changes today enhance our product offering today?

The most fundamental road block is the lack of a national space activities bill. The private space companies are now building based on a trust that many of the things that the Government has promised will fructify. This is not a given.

March 16, 2024

Reflections of a Father: Navigating the world as a father of two

Thejesh said he wished there were more dad bloggers in India and had shared a dad blog post. I want to share a bit about my experience as a father of two. I often feel like I have so much to say, but I’ve struggled with what to share publicly.

These are the posts about my daughter and the one post about my son.

My daughter is six years old, while my son is 14 months old. Many people ask me to compare how my son is now to how my daughter had been when she was 14 months old. I am comparing how I am with my son now to how I was with my daughter when she was 14 months old back in June 2018.

My daughter was away at our native place for the first six months of her life. I had spent very little time with her. The time away frayed my relationship with my wife and daughter. It took a long time to heal these wounds. I am not sure they have healed.

In contrast, I was with my son from the day he was born. My wife did not go away to Kerala for childbirth like she had for our daughter. There is a lingering sense of guilt when I play with my son, knowing I didn’t play as much with my daughter. I try to make up for lost time, but I realize it is not time that I can reclaim.

Reflecting on my actions, however, reveals something interesting. I’ve been more proactive in planning for my daughter’s future than I have been for my son’s. I have opened a savings account, got her a Sukanya Samruddhi account, and got her insurance. I have enrolled her in the best school in the locality. I have been more relaxed with my son in these aspects.

I have tried to overcome my guilt of not spending enough time with my daughter in the present by planning for her future while I have been more present with my son.

March 10, 2024

How will we balance our Space Programme?

India has embarked on the third pillar of its space programme - human spaceflight. The Indian Prime Minister announced the names of the four Indian Astronauts. This, more than the hardware tests or astronaut training, tells me that this is happening.

India has a well respected fleet of remote sensing, communications, and meteorological satellites. It is building capability in operating the Positioning, Navigating, and Timing (PNT) satellites. India’s private sector has capability to build small satellites with remote sensing capability. It is building capability in the assembly, integration, and testing of larger satellites.

It has built four launch vehicles for launching these satellites. Its private sector is building launch vehicles for small satellites.

In 1999, India started working on scientific interplanetary exploration. This led to missions like the Chandrayaan series and the Mars Orbiter Mission. It also led to missions like Astrosat, Aditya-L1, and XpoSAT.

Three other countries have similar capabilities. These are the US, Russia, and China. Among these, the US space programme has been the most transparent. It’s struggles to prioritise missions and funding is well known. Russia has gone through periods of immense struggle to raise funding. China is the most recent member of these nations. It seems to be doing a good job of balancing these priorities today.

How will India balance these priorities?

March 7, 2024