The fate of India’s manned space mission might be hanging in thin air (or sliding towards a black hole, if you are choosy about your metaphor), but that does not imply a cessation of activities here on Earth. Even as former and current scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation keep themselves busy locking horns with each other, food technicians at the Defence Food Research Laboratory near Mysore have put their heads to better use by devising an Indian space menu for the eventual flight.
More than figuring out a reasonable weight and volume, it is the problem of deciding on the type of food — between the holy triad of dosa-idli-uttapam from the south of the Vindhyas and the parantha-khichdi-roti-sabzi from up north — that has emerged as the most vexatious of all questions.
To avoid being caught in that culinary cul-de-sac, the food technicians have decided to choose in favour of either option depe--nding on which part of the country the space traveller hails from. What is appetising to the vyomanaut will determine the contents of the bill of fare, they say. No north Indian, it is assumed, can be expected to live on dosa and sambhar alone, even as he braves the dark and unknown void of outer space to boldly go where no Ind-ian has gone before on an indigenously made space capsule. His curry patta-tamarind pulp-drenched brethren from the south would similarly baulk at roti-sabzi.
An effective rocket launch vehicle being the only barrier now separating our intrepid vyomanaut — ‘vyoma’ means space or sky in Sanskrit — from the exciting dinner table spread in his mission, skeptics and nay-sayers can now take a long inter-galactic hike. The half-envious, half-ambitious Cold War-era drooling over American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts soaring off into the sky from their vaunted space stations and cosmodromes is now a thing of the past. It is time to welcome our very own vyomanaut as he gingerly steps towards what should ideally be his vyomadrome.