Activa called Jupiter

We bought Jupiter home yesterday on December 2, 2019.

Pradeep taking delivery of the Activa

Pradeep taking delivery of the Activa

The Contenders

We were thinking of buying a scooter for Dhanya to help her get our daughter to school, do errands locally and give her some independent mobility. The scooters we considered were the TVS Jupiter and Honda Activa.

Shopping Experience

I really enjoyed the shopping experience I was offered at TVS Century showroom on Alandi Road, Pune. The salesperson showed us the available alternatives, answered queries patiently and made useful suggestions as per our requirement. Only then did he take us through the cost and financing options. Dhanya also enjoyed her test drive of the vehicle and after the showroom visit, we were quite keen on owning a Jupiter.

The experience at the Shanti Honda showroom was the polar opposite. The salesperson asked us what we were looking for. He brought his cost sheet and began explaining what we would be paying for the two wheeler. He then explained financing options. He lost interest when we said we would be self financing the vehicle. We asked for a test drive which he offered reluctantly.

The Verdict

We asked friends and our parents for feedback on both vehicles. As we kept hearing the feedback, we were disheartened that we might not be able to choose a Jupiter. It seems to come with a history of niggling problems and sub-par after sales service that takes the years off the vehicle. Although many people felt the Jupiter was a better riding experience not everyone agreed on whether it was a good vehicle to own. As I was buying this with my own hard earned money, I went with the safer option of buying a Honda Activa.

The Delivery

As I said above, we took delivery of the Honda Activa yesterday on December 2, 2019. The Jupiter has us so captivated, that in our conversations with each other we were never able to say Activa. We kept referring to it as Jupiter. Hence, we decided to name her Jupiter so that it fixes what we call it.

We took her to the Ayyappa Temple at Dhanori. We got a Vahana Pooja done and took her home.

My friends in Lonar

Pradeep ettan got promoted and transferred to SBI Lonar branch. Lonar is a place which is not accessible by rail. The roads were under repair. The nearest railway station is Jalna, two and a half hours away while the nearest airport is Aurangabad, which is three and a half hours away.

Lonar is a rural area which has no facilities like hospital, school, college etc. Only two-three seasonal vegetables and fruits are available. Pradeep ettan was born and raised in Mumbai while I was born and raised in Alathur, Palakkad in Kerala. While, I am also from a rural area, it was difficult for me to stay in Lonar. When I saw Lonar I felt my home town, Alathur was a metropolitan city. The only thing to see in Lonar is the Lonar crater.

Lonar Crater. Image: Dhanya Vallat

The regional language is Marathi and I don’t speak Marathi.Hence, I was unable to communicate with people there. By God’s grace, I got a very good neighbour,  Nanda Sancheti .  She became my good friend. She is very down to earth, always smiling and ready to help people. She is the one who always had solutions to every problem. She worked as a teacher in their school called World School in Gaikhed and they run a jewelry shop.

Selfie with Nanda. Image: Dhanya Vallat
Selfie with me and my friends. Image: Dhanya Vallat
Rithika with her friends Bhakti and Stuti. Image: Dhanya Vallat

She is having 2 sweet and cute children Stuti and Bhakti. Bhakti is one year elder to   Rithika. They became friends and always wanted to spend time together. But when they meet, both have complaints (Maa Rithika ka ne woh kiya, Bhakti ne woh liya, etc.) about each other. My other friends in Lonar are Priyanka Madane, Priyanka Hinge, Sanvi Chetan Thakre and Shobha Pund. Because of them, our stay in Lonar became bearable.

Rithika’s Vidyarambham

Vidyarambham is celebrated at the end of Navratri on Vijayadashmi day. It is the auspicious ceremony to introduce kids to learn alphabets, music, dance, start a business, before going to school etc.

The priest who conducts the vidyarambham writes, “Hari Sri Ganapataye Namah” on the child’s tongue with a golden ring. She is also made to write on rice.

A picture of Rithika writing in rice during her Vidyarambham. Image Credit: Pradeep Mohandas
Rithika writing in rice during her Vidyarambham. Image Credit: Pradeep Mohandas

As we planned to send Rithika to school next month, we conducted her vidyarambham on August 25, 2019 at the Ayyappa Temple in Dhanori.

Picture of Rithika with her father. Image Credit: Dhanya Vallat
Rithika with her father. Image Credit: Dhanya Vallat

Best wishes to Rithika as she begins her life long journey of learning from her father.

Shri Krishna Janmashtami

Shri Krishna Jayanthi is celebrated as the day when Krishna was born. This falls on the day of Rohini Nakshatram in the month of Chingam, as per the Malayalam calendar. This fell on August 23, 2019.

We celebrate this day by decorating the pooja room, undertake fasts, offer Prasad like Appam and Palpayasam , chant the Vishnu Sahasranamam and play devotional songs. Shri Krishna Jayanthi is also known as Ashtami-Rohini, Janmashtami or Gokulashtami.

Photo of Our pooja place decorated for Shri Krishna Jayanthi. Photo Credit: Pradeep Mohandas
Our pooja place decorated for Shri Krishna Jayanthi. Credit: Pradeep Mohandas

It was a working day for Pradeep ettan. After he returned from office, we went together to visit the Ayyappan temple at Dhanori. The statue of Krishna was beautifully decorated with sandalwood.

Photo of The Sanctum Sanctorum at the Ayyappa Temple, Dhanori, Pune. Photo Credit: Dhanya Vallat
The Sanctum Sanctorum at the Ayyappa Temple, Dhanori, Pune. Credit: Dhanya Vallat
Photo of the Sanctum Sanctorum of the ISKCON Temple, Camp, Pune. Photo Credit: Dhanya Vallat
Sanctum Sanctorum of the ISKCON Temple, Camp, Pune. Credit: Dhanya Vallat

From there we went to the ISKCON temple in Camp, Pune. The temple had created a carnival like atmosphere and depicted the life of Krishna in life size displays. The statue and sanctum sanctorum was beautifully decorated with colourful flowers.

India conducts an Anti Satellite Missile Test

Pictures released of the Anti Satellite Missile Test conducted by India on March 27, 2019. Image Credit: Shiv Aroor/LiveFist

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced today that India had successfully carried out an Anti Satellite Missile Test (ASAT). The mission was code named Mission Shakti. A missile was launched from the Dr. Abdul Kalam Island Launch Complex off the coast of Orissa and hit an Indian satellite orbiting at 300 km. The hit was successful.

It is to be said that this is an important technology demonstration on the part of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It is a capability that only three other countries in the world have – USA, Russia and China. Of these, China seems to be the reason that India accelerated the development of the ASAT. China did the ASAT test in January 2007 by destroying a satellite in a 800 km orbit. The US responded to this with tests of its own in 2010 by destroying a satellite in a 300 km orbit.

India’s response was a Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) test it performed in 2012 where an incoming missile was intercepted by an interceptor missile. DRDO which had developed the said capability said that it had the building blocks to test the ASAT by 2014. However, it is believed that then UPA Government under Dr. Manmohan Singh did not give the DRDO the go-ahead for this project. It is believed that India feared further restrictions on technology transfer from the US as the basis for not giving the project the go-ahead. It is believed that the go-ahead came after the Narendra Modi government when it came into power in 2014.

It is essential to seperate the civilian and defence space programmes. India did this in 2008 in response to the India-US Civilian Nuclear Deal. Although ISRO launches defence satellites into orbit, it does not intend the end purpose of such a mission be purely military. DRDO developed and launched the target satellite and launched it on a PSLV-C44 this year in January.

With this test, India has a slight advantage over China. Although, China has a ASAT capability it is widely believed that it does not have the capability yet to destroy incoming missiles provided by a BMD programme.

In today’s test India seems to have pranced around all the international treaties that look to prevent the weaponization of space. The concept took root in a 1969 treaty called the Outer Space Treaty. The Treaty is today called outdated and there are several loopholes that many countries today take advantage of like China did in 2007 and India did today. The US has been working to ban anti-satellite tests since 2010 but has failed in building any consensus on the subject. India seems to have conducted the test to ensure that it slips through the door before it closes, metaphorically.

There is a lot of political discussion on whether the timing of the announcement of the mission by the Prime Minister today is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct which is in force for the 2019 National Elections. But, that is for the Election Commission to look at. I do not see any need to do this so urgently unless the anti-satellite test ban were to come into force some time in the near future and India had an inkling as to the timing of the same. The simplest explanation is that the mission was ready and the go-ahead was given by the Government thinking of it as a matter of national defence and prioritised the decision over the Elections.

There is also worry of the creation of space debris which would be left behind by the satellite that was destroyed by the missile today. However, they have the US example of 2010 which also destroyed a satellite in a similar orbit and which lasted in orbit for about 3 years. Against this, stands the Chinese example whose destroyed satellite in the 800 km orbit is still believed to be in orbit. We are given to understand that the debris would eventually get pulled down by Earth’s gravity and will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere before causing any significant damage. This matter is debatable.

All in all, given the timeline and the current available knowledge, India responsibly tested its capability keeping multiple issues in mind – space debris, Outer Space Treaty and current regional geopolitics.

More reading

The Ministry of External Affairs posted a Frequently Asked Questions section on its website on today’s test. Curiosly, this is not on the Ministry of Defence or the DRDO website. It has useful information and the official version of what transpired.

LiveFist – Shiv Aroor is a defence journalist who maintains a defence blog. His writeups cover most of the technical details and the defence organisational intrigue that was involved in today’s mission. The post linked here also has multiple links that are worth following up on if you’re interested in more details of the ASAT.

There is a 2012 India Today article being circulated on Twitter claiming that India had build capability required for today’s test in 2012 itself. There is significant difference between capability and technology demonstration. And, I believe it’s always a good idea to test a technology before use, if you can.

Vasudevan Mukunth wrote in The Wire about the Mission Shakti, which also analyses the technicalities of the Mission in detail which is also a good overview if you only want to understand what this whole hoopla is about.

Aurangabad

We decided to spend a two day holiday at Aurangabad. Aurangabad is close to 150 km from our current base at Lonar. We had a pleasant three day stay in Aurangabad. We went mostly for buying stuff for our home. Pictures are from our stay in the hotel.


Aurangabad reminded us so much of Mumbai because it has one of the only nearby malls. We also drove rather leisurely and enjoyed the ride with music. We didn’t want to rush back to Lonar and stayed on for another day.