Friends and family have watched the eclipse and sent pictures. All of them have squares atop their noses and face the sky. For the world that is so much into perpetually peering down into phones, this is quite a change.

Ever since I saw Alaska airlines’ interest in eclipses, I have been intrigued enough to consider travelling to catch an eclipse. The next big eclipse that I am excited about is happening on August 2027, over the Pyramids. That is perhaps something to be present for. That’s some time away.

When I think of how it all started, my awe of eclipses did not happen in a classroom. By the time I got to understand what it really was, it got a hazier tint. And no geography teacher could have done what Tintin did!

It was in Prisoners of the Sun, that Tintin gets to Peru. When on track to be executed, he commands the Sun to disappear much to the bewilderment of the locals. Of course, the knowledge of the eclipse coming in was masterfully used.

Much later, I learnt that this technique was not something that is something that Tintin came up with!

Krishna used it in the Mahabharata war. (And then, Chanced upon this paper recently).

Christopher Columbus & the Spanish used the knowledge of an eclipse in their conquest of America.

The battle of Halys resulted in a negotiated treaty after the eclipse.

Here’s a list of 6 eclipses that have influenced history.

With each additional story that I came to soak up, there came more interest in eclipses. The whole drill of wearing some fancy glass and peering into the Sun as it disappears and reappears was, and continues to be magical.

As kids, we were not allowed to watch eclipses! There were all kinds of reasons. And so, we ended up watching eclipses, half in protest!

Eclipsed? 🙂

Back to Tintin and Prisoners of the sun. It continues to be a favourite. And that status did not dim because I learnt later that it had an error in it. A kid pointed out to Herge that his depiction of the Eclipse in the Prisoners of War was not quite accurate!

“Hergé borrowed various elements from Gaston Leroux’s book Wife of the Sun, for the crucial eclipse scene, in the same way that La Fontaine borrowed from Aesop. He was equally inspired by the text from the book Christopher Columbus by C. Giardini, published by Dragaud, Paris, in 1970, in which the author describes how the Spanish succeeded in forcing the natives to submit completely thanks to a lunar eclipse which had been announced in a calendar.

© Hergé / Tintinimaginatio – 2024

It is also interesting to point out a mistake regarding the eclipse. In the book the eclipse moves from right to left, whereas in reality it should travel from left to right because Peru is in the southern hemisphere. This mistake was pointed out to Hergé by a child who wrote a long letter expressing his dissatisfaction.”

You could be the smartest of people in a room. All it takes is a child or a childlike curiosity to eclipse you.

A Battle Royale

For centuries immemorial, there have multi faceted battles that are getting fought. For independence. For more. For honour. For all.

To me, a day to day battle is the battle against the bulge. This battle is a continuous and ongoing battle. Some times I win. Many times I lose. The times that I win are getting few and far between. But the battle is on. Some years ago, my mother bought me an insurance policy, and the doctor didn’t allow it to go through. ‘Overweight’ he said ! I was shocked. Puzzled. Above all, upset that a pot bellied doc had called me unfit. And denied me an insurance policy ! huh !

As enraged as the Pandavs were, when Draupadi was stripped, I took some serious vows that day. I began walking to office, with a pair of sneakers always on my backpack. Near starvation. Some odd game now and then. Every time I saw a mouth watering sweet in front of me, a visage of the pot bellied doc who called me unfit used to pop up, robbing the sweet of all the allure.

Lo and behold, my waist size started dropping from 40 to 38 to 36. A couple of years passed. Like the Indian who has recently moved to the US, calculating every dollar in rupee terms, I thought of each food item in calorie terms. Life moved on. My weight slipped now and then but stayed ‘manageable’.


I continued being careful about what I ate. Then came one crucial patch, when work overtook my ability to cope with it, I took my eyes off the road. Along came the tyre (you know where)! Coincidentally, that’s exactly when my wife’s culinary skills increased, and the bulge in the belly was back. With a vengeance. All it took was 4-5 months. And I was pushing 38 inches. It didn’t pinch me much money wise though. By now, I had trouser from every brand at every band from 34-40 inches ! It was a lost cause.

Five / six months back, a friend became Vice-President in a healthcare firm and offered a health care check up package at a discount. Being the true Indian who fell for all things at a discount, I went for it. I expected to sail through, for i had been watching what i ate. But then, it turned out that i kept watching what i ate, and kept eating too ! For all the rantings I made about health, it wasn’t a pretty picture.

One more vow. And this time a loud one at that. The battle conches sounded. The war bugles blew.

The tennis racquet got dusted & restrung. The sneakers got a little dirty as I fought the battle with renewed vigour. The muscles ached. The bones creaked. But then, since then, three kgs have disappeared. Having said that, am a little scared to go back to the health care centre again. Don’t know what she’l tell me now.

I remember reading somewhere, “its important to keep the fixed deposits in the bank and the current account in the body”. Well, for me the fixed deposits in the body are increasingly hard to break open. As the sweets are increasingly difficult to stay away from. But the battle is still on.

So, between the sweets and Pani Poories, the tennis and treadmill continue. This is one tough battle all through life !! And am wearing battle fatigues. For now ! Atleast.