Yes, we are right now T-16 days for the much-awaited celebrations of the first manned space flight by Gagarin.
And what happened? In the last two days ``Beyond Moon and Mars (BMM)'' has been lucky with books relating to space exploration especially human space missions.
On Thursday afternoon, BMM was passing by the famous Sterling Book Depot on D.N.Road and greeted its friend Amin who works at this bookstore.He waved back to BMM and asked it to come in. He showed BMM a book called ``Apollo: Expeditions To The Moon,'' a Nasa history publication, which was published to commemorate the 40th anniv of the first landing on the moon by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on July 20, 1969.
BMM browsed through the chapters and found that its contributors were those who had played a major role in the Apollo missions to the moon. They are James Webb, Robert Seamans, Robert Gilruth, Wernher Von Braun, George M.Low, Rocco Petrone, Christopher Kraft, Samuel Phillips, George Mueller, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, Charles Conrad and Alan Shepherd, James Lowell and Harrison Schmitt. It is edited by Edgar M. Cortright.
What a book! And Amin knowing BMM's obsession with space exploration took the liberty of ordering this book without informing it. In a second, BMM grabbed the book and Amin was nice enough to sell it a huge discount, though the final figure was still in four figures !!!!!
The weight of the book is pretty strong.. Still BMM first carried it to the nearby Saraswathi temple which it visits almost everyday and then to its daughter's school, just a stone's throw distance away from the temple as well as the bookstore. BMM then carried it all the way to Trombay in a bus because it had an appointment with the chief of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board regarding Fukushima.
That very night, BMM set aside another book about space exploration which it was reading for the second time and began this reading this new book. It is diffucult to keep it down and BMM hopes that it will never end!!! And it arrived at the right time---coincidentally during the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight by Yuri Gagarin.
For the last year or two, BMM has been searching bookstores for Yuri Gagarin's autobiography, ``The Road To Stars.'' At the Russian consulate there was a single copy, but it was in Russian!!! On Friday, it sent an e mail to Flipkart in Bangalore regarding the availability of books about Gagarin because of the 50th anniv celebrations. And what luck! There was an immediate response about Gagarin books which were available and believe it or not ``The Road To Stars,'' was among them.
Though an expensive book, BMM placed an order for it and hopefully the much-awaited book should reach BMM by the end of April.
That is not all, BMM's good friend Kumar Nair has e mailed a set of Gagarin stamps being released by the UN to mark the 50th anniv. A print out has been taken. Thank you Kumar.
Some more books and stamps are now on their way!