Spaceship 502-‘Flight of the Titans’-Branson and Bezos (5)

Reblogging ‘Flight of the Titans’ in honour of Sirisha Bandla’s successful flight into space July 11, 2021. ‘Always wanted to explore the sky, moon and the stars’!


We had heard exciting news that morning, July 3, 2021: ‘Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson will travel to the edge of space on Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc’s test flight on July 11, Branson’s space tourism firm said on Thursday, beating out fellow aspiring billionaire astronaut Jeff Bezos’. Flight of the TItans, Branson to blast off on July 11 and Bezos on July 20, 2021. Even more exciting was that a young lady of Indian-American astronaut Sirisha Bandla was to be part of Branson’s crew. She would be the second woman of Indian origin after Kalpana Chawla to travel in space! Or was she? If successful these flights would usher in a new era of private commercial travel into space.

Now is’nt that exciting? Of course, but if you have been following my posts, modest ‘Us’ have been travelling in our Spaceship 502 since March 2020! I have been…

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Malaga: South of Spain

We visited the South of Spain two years ago in 2019, the summer before the global pandemic. This region is know as the Andalusia. Malaga town is the capital of the Province Malaga in this region. It is the birth place of the painter sculptor Pablo Picasso.

The Magical Holy Land: A Fusion of Cultures

It is difficult to believe that unrest has broken out in Jerusalem. We did feel the tension though all was peaceful and beautiful when we visited the Holy City, holy to all three major religions of the world, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. We first sighted Jerusalem from an Observation Point, high on the hills surrounding the city as we approached from Tel-Aviv. The most striking structure on the Temple Mount in the Old city of Jerusalem is the Golden Dome, Dome of the Rock, Second Temple in Judaism. The Western Wall, also called the Wailing Wall, circles the Dome of the Rock, Second Temple of the Jews and the Al Aqsa Mosque. With restrictions to enter the Temple Mount, this wall is the closest to the Temple and used by Jews to pray. There are separate sections for men and women to pray.
I describe this beautiful Old city in this blog.


The Holy Land is a fusion of cultures. It is the land where three religions of the world were born, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It has always amazed me that these three religions have a common history as recorded in the Old Testament, originate from the same land, the western end of Asia. I could not believe that we had set foot on this Holy Land.
We set out on our first tour of the Holy land with an enthusiastic tour guide who apparently had walked straight out the Old Testament, with a Biblical name Itamor. He introduced himself by handing out a quiz: Who was Itamor? Obviously, everyone failed. Mosses had a brother Aaron, Ithamor was the youngest son of Aaron, nephew of Mosses. Aaron and his male heirs were promised the exclusive rights to the High Priesthood. Ithamor followed Aaron as the high Priest.
We first sighted Jerusalem…

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Calvin’s Wardrobe and Mine

Traveling out of the country to the Western world in the nineties taught me that what you wear is a ‘signal’ and you are judged by it. In the world today where travel is restricted due to the pandemic and meetings and classes are conducted online the ‘dress codes’ have changed. But Calvin is still making a point here!


I started writing this blog Unni-Verse in 2016 and the first post I wrote was titled ‘Worldly Wardrobe Woes’. I was at my daughter’s place in Chicago and reflecting on my sense of traditional/ethnic wear and the Western choice of clothes. Today I came across this Calvin and Hobbes cartoon in the newspaper and was reminded of the same, social norms or mores (characteristic customs and conventions of a society) with regard to dress.

Hobbes is stating the norm or mores of the Western way of clothing where in summer everyone strips down to the bare minimum! “Don’t you get hot wearing long pants in the summer?” Long pants out, shorts are in!

In my post of 2016 I recorded a similar ‘Hobbes’ sentiment as expressed by ladies in New Haven, Connecticut. I reflect in my earlier post “In the early nineties, when I was a post-doc at Yale University…

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To market, to market to buy a fat fish!!

I enjoy visiting informal markets, hats (in Hindi), market fairs. In this blog I put together photos and notes on informal markets I observed in different parts of the world. Each is unique in its own way.


Lac Bangles, Bapu Bazaar, Jaipur, Pink City
Art Bazaar, Moscow

I am not an etymologist so anything I say on this subject should be taken with a pinch of salt. As far as I understand, the word Mandi in Hindi means a market place. Mandis are named after the products they sell. So a market selling vegetables, sabzi in Hindi, is referred to as a Sabzi Mandi or Vegetable market. The Mandi often gets extended into a local fair with other sellers occupying nearby spaces and selling street food, trinkets and with entertainment stalls for children. Such Mandis or Fairs are also called Haat or Bazaar in rural areas in India.

While the Hindi meaning of Mandi is a market place, it has different meanings in other languages. Mandi in Malayalam means a foolish girl. “What a Mandi she is following that fool around.” A foolish boy is called a…

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Boat crossing at St. Pancras Lock, Two levels at Regent Canal, London

Regent Canal in Central London is this two level canal and we witnessed this amazing boat crossing from one level of water in the canal to the other level! Take a look at the videos of the crossing!


One Friday afternoon while we were casually strolling around King Cross area we came across this amazing boat crossing across the Regent Canal which was at two levels. There were boats parked on both sides of a Canal gate which was at two different levels. While we were wondering how this was supposed to work we saw this amazing feat accomplished manually, A gatekeeper opened the gate to allow water to flow out and level the two parts of the canal. As the boat at the higher level slowly came down to the lower level, the gates opened and the boat crossed over. Surprising only one side of the gate was opened and we wondered how the boat would come through. To our delight the boat was skillfully manipulated through the single open gate by the boatman!! See video of the crossing.

St. Pancras Lock, Regent Canal, London

Yeah, Boat…

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Visiting Pittsburgh: Unusually Picturesque City!

I travelled to Pittsburgh a couple of years ago. Pittsburgh is very different from other cities in the US. First its topography is undulating and it has three rivers Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio. The Allegheny River and Monongahela River unite at Point State Park to form the Ohio River. It is an amazing site from the top of a hill on … Continue reading Visiting Pittsburgh: Unusually Picturesque City!