All right, let's all calm down. Mars is still a few weeks away and the center of the galaxy will take at least a month. Maybe even two.
Who cares!!!!! Chandrayaan I of 2,4,5, 10 Million buts and bolts is on its way to the moon. The moon! The moon. The goddamn moon! I'm so thrilled I could bark. I am, actually.
It seems the payload has to be under 1500 kg, which worried me. 1500 kgs means there's space for about 18 dancers (80 kgs/dancer), and with eight dancers for the hero and eight for the heroine, that leaves a total of just 80 kgs for the 11 scientific payloads. Tight. Very tight. Still, if the damn vehicle managed to crawl through the Indian bureaucracy, anything is feasible.
What a long, long wait it has been. The Sanskrit poets had been tempting us for centuries. Just listen to Sarva:
The moon that spreads its rays jasmine-white
as lovely as the breast of a Kashmiri girl
and its mark, as waterlily-dark,
is like the painting of her breast with musk.
I can't confirm the accuracy of the simile, alas, but the man sounds like he knows what he's talking about. At any rate, if that doesn't motivate an astronomer to fiddle with his astrolabe, I don't know what will.
"Chandrayaan," as the newspapers tell us, is "ancient" Sanskrit for "moon vehicle." Ancient Sanskrit is Vedic Sanskrit, and Chandrayaan is probably more like "post-vedic" Sanskrit usage, even though both pieces (Chandra and yaan) do appear in the Rig-ved. The word "Soma" is often used as a synonym for the moon (sometime visualized as the cup containing soma, the ambrosia of the Gods, namely, Heineken beer) so perhaps Chandrayaan could also be converse-translated as "beer-vehicle" in ancient English.
And Soma is what our ancients should be tippling at the moment. That Chandrayaan is making its way towards the vaulting arch of heaven is due in part to all those long centuries of slokas, sutras, shastras and smritis. Let a poet (Dharmakirti) have the last say:
The East has borne the Moon.
Love dances and the nymphs of the directions laugh,
while the wind scatters holi,
the pollen of waterlilies, through heaven's court.
Shubh yatra, Chandrayaan.