Monday, 15 October 2018

A Flight into the Unknown

One needs to travel to understand that there is a world beyond our school, our office, our city and our country. Travel expands our horizons and fills us with memories, experiences that truly last a lifetime. My tale that I am about to narrate here reminds of a quote by Herman Melville: “It's not down on any map, true places never are.”

Unlike most houses in modern cities which are nothing but jungles of concrete with nothing but unending rows of apartments and other commercial establishments, my house was located a good distance away from the hustle and bustle of the city and very close to the woods. Being an only child and not having any neighbours, I led quite a recluse existence and liked to wander in the woods, explore the sights, sounds and smells of nature. When I got bored, I invented games and imaginary friends to keep myself occupied. 

One fine afternoon on a lazy weekend, I was dawdling in the woods, when I heard strange whirring noises emanating from the sky. Glancing up, I could see a bright light and a saucer-shaped object which was about to land. Intrigued, I stepped forward in trepidation to observe this all too strange phenomenon right out of any standard sci-fi novel or movie unfold right in the front of my eyes. A weird looking metallic man stepped out of the UFO and spoke in deep guttural tone – “KGGGYYPPT ZYRRROPT”. He walked towards and handed me a device which looked like an iPod with way too many buttons. On pressing one of them, suddenly his gibberish began to make sense. “My name is KT-5402, I come from the Planet Toron 70 million light years from Earth with an objective to study about the human race. I have a choice to adopt one of the following human forms during my stay on this planet. Will you help me choose”? He handed me three photographs. “This one, the others are too old”. He immediately transformed into a 15-year-old boy, the same age as mine as I gaped in wonder. I christened him Keshav (indeed a catchier name than KT-5402) and took him for a tour of the woods. He observed everything with curiosity and the innocence of a 3-year-old and whipped out his IPodesque device at the slightest opportunity and pressed another button which gave him information about his surroundings.

I took Keshav home and introduced him to my parents. He seemed impressed by my home and joined us for supper later that night (since he was in human form, he could eat our food). After supper, I took Keshav to my room and made an exploration plan to the neighbourhood city. The next morning, I took him to a mall, and we watched a movie together. The youngsters were bubbling with excitement as some of the biggest names in WWE; Brock Lesner and ‘The Rock’, Dwyane Johnson were descending to town next week. I whooped with joy and told Keshav that he was in for an experience of a lifetime. Over the next week, I took him to some other touristy spots like waterfalls, hill stations and temples. We were drawing close to the game day, and everything was in place. Keshav and I left early on the big day and made it to the arena with plenty of time to spare. It was jam-packed, and the fans were screaming themselves hoarse. It was one hell of a fight, both Brock and the Rock pandered to the fans there. We had a whale of a time and went back home thoroughly entertained.

As we reached home, KT-5402 sprung a surprise on me by saying that he wanted to take me back to his home planet Toron. I was startled beyond belief and could only stammer –“But… But. But. Isn’t Toron 70 million light years away, that journey will take forever, I would be dead long before that. KT-5402 assuaged my worries – “Don’t Worry, a journey of 70 million light years will take the equivalent of 70 Earth Days –“A trip of the Observable Universe in 70 days”, he chuckled. My ship is well stocked, so supplies will not be a problem. We will be travelling through Worm Holes and have a few stops along the way. My mind whirred at the mention of wormholes and I suddenly wondered how happy the Late Stephen Hawking would feel if he could hear our conversation.

“We have to go now”- KT-5402’s voice brought me out of my reverie. I sneaked out of the house and followed him to the spaceship. I was awestruck at the swanky interiors which could beat any 5-star hotel. ”Make yourself comfortable”, my host said, It's going to be a long ride. “Welcome to the Toron Infinitum “, an automated voice on the ship spoke. I strapped myself in as the spaceship took off. Within moments, we had left the earth’s stratosphere. “Your first stop will be the moon”, the voice aboard the ship said”. KT-5402 seemed at ease and tried to make me feel relaxed. We reached the moon at the end of day one of our long sojourns. We had a couple of hours to explore the moon, and I was bursting with excitement. It had always been on my bucket list to walk on the moon and follow the footsteps of Armstrong and Aldrin, and it was just about to happen. 

The moon is rocky, lifeless and eerily silent. The lack of gravity takes time getting used to, but after a while, I enjoyed bouncing around on the moon, the 2 hours went by in a jiffy, and we were back on the spaceship again, hurtling through the hitherto unknown and unexplored realms of space. I told KT-5402 that we were like Han Solo and Chewbacca. I wanted to explore a few other planets in the Solar System but was told that we did not have the time if we wanted our journey to stay on track. Nevertheless, I had quite a close look at Jupiter’s Red Spot and Saturn’s unmissable rings and asked KT-5402 to capture high-resolution images of the same. He directed the voice command system on the ship and then instructed it to take further pictures of anything else that I might ask during the trip. Our next stop was the Andromeda II galaxy a couple of days into the trip. I was starting to feel a little disappointed as I expected to be overwhelmed by incredible sights throughout the journey but it was mostly dark and empty nothingness, and I realised it was called 'Space' for a reason. I was told that Andromeda II  is a dwarf spheroidal galaxy about 2.22 Million years away in the constellation Andromeda. We landed on an exoplanet named the XN 7000 and the conditions there closely resembled those on Mars. We again only had a couple of hours to explore the twin of the Red Planet, I took some rock samples back to ship to satiate my curiosity, and we were on our way again. NGC 300, NGC 55, Kkh98, Dwingeloo and many more, I lost track of all the galaxies we had crossed in the course of our trip and all of a sudden, I realised that the 70 days were almost over and we were coming ever closer to Toron. “My home planet beckons,” said KT-5402 excitedly.

Toron is a planet whose core consists primarily of iron. It is one of the sixteen planets in its solar system. It is ten times bigger than Earth, and its gravity is about 3.2 times that of our home planet. A single day here lasts for about 25 hours and a year is 280 Earth days. Toron has three moons and orbits its sun in a perfectly circular orbit.

The plant-like organisms on this planet are almost exclusively several types of grass. A few of them reach incredible heights while others would barely be noticeable on the floor if not for their striking fluorescent colours. The corals underwater are more spectacular than the organisms on the surface. Much like trees on the Earth grow leafed branches, the corals on this planet grow to humongous sizes and have branches with modified polyps. The planet is home to many sentient mammals as well.

KT-5402 gave me some time to absorb all the new information that was bombarding my senses and later introduced me to other members of the clan; XS-6000 the head, his wife PR-7200, his brothers MO-9001 and DF-5680 and his children RT-4200 and MP-8100. I observed the settlements on Toron, and they had an uncanny resemblance to igloos on the outside and were extraordinarily hi-tech and well equipped on the inside. I met a few other clans, KT-5402 had spread the story of his warm reception on planet Earth far and wide, and the inhabitants of Toron seemed eager to reciprocate. One of the clans invited me home and offered me a liquid that resembled raspberry juice, I drank it cautiously and to my surprise found it rather pleasant. 

My days were spent narrating tales of Earth to the highly inquisitive but incredibly polite people of Toron and also examining the societal structure there. They were highly organised society built on the principles of equality and dignity of labour. Time and again, when there was a choice between what is right and what is easy, their forefathers chose the right path, and this is how their race endured for millennia. 

My stay at Toron was rather short-lived as KT-5402 came up to me one day and said that he had miscalculated the levels of oxygen on the Infinitum and added that I would have to leave immediately if I had to make it back alive. I panicked, said rushed goodbyes to the people and was onboard the Infinitum again hurtling through space to make it back home. It was an experience like never before, and I had my reasons to love this unknown world which was different but still so similar like ours in many aspects. #SayYesToTheWorld #TheBlindList

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