(Russian billionaire Yuri Milner has pledged $100 million for scientific research to find out whether life exists on other worlds. Many eminent persons, including Stephen Hawking, have added their names to the initiative, taking out an ad in a newspaper last Tuesday, asking ‘Are we alone?’ Here are some of the responses.)
We’ve just got your message and are very excited. We live a bit further down the galaxy on Jurassic planet, but didn’t want to disturb you. Now that you’ve broken the ice, why don’t you drop in for lunch next Sunday? We plan to barbecue some exotic mammals. RSVP.
Mr and Mrs Tyrannosaurus Rex
With reference to your query whether you are alone, we have to advise that you are one of 2,749 planets designated as lunatic asylums by the Galactic Federation.
Get well soon,
Director, Galactic Mental Institutions
I saw your ad where you and your friends asked ‘Are we alone?’ You made absolutely the right decision by advertising in an Indian newspaper. You will never be alone here, beta. We in India are blessed with vast extended families of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, in-laws and you will all be smothered with affection. Once in India, you will become Milner Uncle and Jill auntie or Lisa didi or Kenneth Dadaji in a jiffy. You will be part of our great Indian family. So do come and see my cousin’s wedding photos and have some laddoos. You will never ask ‘Are we alone?’ again.
Karol Bagh, Delhi
You are not alone. I am watching you.
'Are we alone?’ is a huge philosophical question. Alone-ness is part of the anguished ontological condition of our Being. As Sartre said, ‘Hell is other people.’ Derrida says alone-ness always carries the idea of being-with; the ‘with’ haunts the ‘alone’, even in its negation. This is true epistemologically, hermeneutically and pathologically.
Head, Department of Post-Modern Studies
The Sorbonne, Paris
Do you have to shoot off radio waves in all directions and disturb people? This is typical attention-seeking adolescent behaviour. Please stop shouting.
Milky Way Planets Association
Ladies, gentlemen and other genders,
You will soon be far from lonely. We are the Inter-Galactic Dating-cum-Matrimonial Agency, with operations on 38,754 worlds, catering to 7,390 species and 79 genders. We plan to expand our services to your planet. Please send us personal details and preferences, including species, gender, age, dietary habits — especially if cannibal — and star sign, caste and gotra.
We received your wonderful message while we were flying near your solar system. We plan to land on your planet tomorrow. Looking forward to eating you. Fry.
Zoxxbthh IX of Grogh
PS: Ooops, it’s meeting you of course, not eating you. And bye, not fry.
Manas Chakravarty is consulting editor, Mint. The views expressed are personal. You can mail your views to firstname.lastname@example.org