Star trek, a passion sky-high- The New Indian Express

Star trek, a passion sky-high- The New Indian Express


Express News Service

CHENNAI: The white, tiny dots winking their eyes up above the sky are posing with a bright smile on their face. Lying on the terrace of his house, with the back of his head resting on palms, Bhavanandhi Babulal tells himself and the astrophotography camera lying nearby: “It’s time to sleep. Come on, let’s go.” But as usual, agony of indecision kicks in. He lies there gazing at the skies as if he is under the influence of a strange force, and, like that in a movie, his entire life starts playing in front of him, episode by episode.

“It’s captivating,” 31-year-old Bhavanandhi’s eyes gleam with joy whenever he speaks about his bonding with the celestial objects. For this resident of Kolathur in Chennai, stars and the moon are the best companions and stargazing his world.

Call it the tryst with destiny. Otherwise, an ex-banker who pursued his bachelor’s degree from Loyola College in Chennai would not have entered into the world of stars, Milky Way and the universe, ultimately leading him to establish a startup –  Starvoirs – six months ago. Bhavanandhi has a friend of his to thank for the initiative, as he is the one who kindled the passion in him during a camping trip to Nagalapuram in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh seven years ago, in 2015.

He was so engrossed in the beauty of the new-found world that he decided to gather interested people and organise star-gazing trips. “I quit my banking job in 2018 as I was finding it difficult to juggle my job and passion,” he says. During the second wave of Covid-19, he went a step ahead and started teaching stargazing free of cost.

To see the stars and planets clearly, Bhavanandhi says, a place free of light pollution is required. “That’s why I organise several trips to Ramanathapuram, Sayalkudi, Chidambaram, Kodaikanal, Ooty, Kodaikanal, and Poomparai after collecting lowest-possible amount from interested people as the telescope I use is very expensive,” says the star-lover who has read astronomy books despite being a commerce degree holder.

“I want more women and children to develop interest in the heavenly bodies as it would help mould a knowledgeable future. The trip fee for women is cheap and for kids it’s free,” he points out.Ask Dharmadev Kumar Singh, a staff at the hotel where Bhavanandhi stayed during Covid, he would say he considers learning from the “master” about stars as a big achievement. “It gives me immense pleasure to watch Saturn and the Milky Way,” says the man who studied only up to class 10.

Bhavanandhi suddenly woke up from the half-sleep and looked around. His camera is still lying there, with its lens pointing upwards. It’s past midnight. He stood up on the terrace, thinking about the excitement he had seen in the eyes of people after he showed them the bands on Saturn’s rings and craters on the moon.
“I should try bringing all those interested in stargazing under one roof and make it a grand movement,” he resolved while drowsily walking to his bedroom.