Nothing wakes you up at three in the morning like the wind across a Himalayan campsite. In today’s four-walled environments, experiences like witnessing the Perseid meteor shower, spending two nights on a peak, skipping along a glacier, and dutifully shivering to the bone come nightfall while sipping hot tea may be rare, but are no longer pocket-heavy hobbies whatsoever. Although electric light has overpowered the flamboyance of the Milky Way in cities, there still exist places where the imagined theatre is on display every night. I chanced upon this view near the settlement of Kheerganga, Himachal Pradesh, with a not-so-professional camera and some aluminium wire for a tripod.
Initially, I could only manage to shoot blank frames, but with a little warm up and some trustworthy handheld technology, the compass was calibrated. Soon, 30-second exposures were yielding stark rays shooting across a perceivably calm and clear sky. The other probable spoilsport, our dear moon, was also on leave, presenting me with a rare dark night at the shower’s peak hours. The Perseids, probably the most popular celestial downpour of the year, is expected on the nights of August 12–13 (which too is a new moon) this year, and while outburst years (last, 2016) witness up to 150 to 200 meteors per hour, the count this time is purported to be a comparatively mellow 60 to 70. The long wait between such celestial events may diminish the excitement, but Keats settles the argument brilliantly. When did you last lie on dew-sprinkled grass, staring wide-eyed at the Milky Way, or make a wish on a meteor?