My obsession with space began when I visited the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in NYC a couple of years ago. As I stared at Enterprise – a space shuttle built to perform atmospheric test flights for NASA’s Space Shuttle Program back in 1976 – I began to wonder what it must feel like to board a fully functional spaceship and launch off into space. Like, would you even care about the world after you saw it disappear in the distance through the tiny window of your spaceship? Would a broken heart mean anything at all? To me, a flight to space began to represent a sort of freedom – one that I was, yet again (*insert eye roll and head bang*), too old and too Pakistani to partake in. So, I was left to deal with the misfortunes of my daily grind simply by staring at the live views of Earth captured by NASA’s International Space Station (seriously guys, it’s like my best kept secret. It’s on their website and app, it’s a 24/7 thing, and it is a major help when you need to get out of a funk).
All that has changed this past week. Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, has just announced his plan to colonise Mars and I am so excited. I mean, no money? Who cares! The US government will probably fund the first few trips anyway. No Love? Love is stupid! When you’re fine-dining on foie gras aboard a decked out spaceship, you won’t be thinking of about your dumb ex. No career? Ain’t nothing better than being an astronaut. Guys, this spaceship is supposed to be fun central – a necessary perk when you’re risking your life for the sake of humanity, and more importantly, for the sake of emotional freedom. Well, there is one thing. If you’re a Pakistani without a foreign passport, you’ll probably need to find a way to get a foreign passport. And you’ll probably have to destroy all records that link you to Pakistan. I mean, let’s be real, spreading Pakistani blood on a brand new planet is probably not on the priority list. But hey, there’s always the chance that you may get on the first few flights because no one else is willing to die for space (fingers crossed, my Pakistani friends).
When you’re fine-dining on foie gras aboard a decked out spaceship, you won’t be thinking of about your dumb ex
“It’s Saturday night, we are all dressed up, and no one has arranged for a car. I got permission from my husband to attend this! Whose turn was it?” Sanam yelled, angry at the prospect of spending her designated ‘night out’ at home.
“I’m wearing a new outfit. I don’t want to waste it!” Zara moaned. “Maybe we should just do Careem, or Uber.”
“No” Anam retorted, ready to fight the girls on this. “I am not using public transportation.”
“It’s not public, it’s private!” Anam’s much younger sister, Zainub, argued. “Please, it’s my first real party!”
“Yes, come on,” Sanam added, “Bano will be there and you know she’ll be twerking to Britney Spears late at night. You don’t want to miss that.”
“Uh…I’m not getting on a Careem, you guys…or Uber” Anam replied. “Like, I don’t want to die like this. It’s rape culture and I’ve heard Careem drivers are uber creepy. I’m saving myself for space.”
So, how does all this work, you ask? Earth and Mars align favorably for optimal interplanetary travel once every 26 months or so, and that’s when the flight will depart (romantic, isn’t it?). If the spacecraft doesn’t blow up as it exits the Earth’s atmosphere, it will blast off to Mars on an 80-day journey (approximately) while the occupants attend lectures, watch movies, jump around in zero-gravity rooms and basically get trashed to pass the time. Now, Musk isn’t too sure about what the humans will do once there, but he has some ideas. Mars’ atmosphere is mainly composed of carbon dioxide, with hints of nitrogen, argon, and other trace elements. According to Musk, this means that humans can definitely spend their time growing plants there (do you enjoy horticulture?). Oh, and you can always work at the propellant factory once it is set up. Musk doesn’t want a graveyard of spaceships next to the graveyard of human bodies, so he definitely plans to produce propellants on the planet to send the spacecrafts back home. This also means that you can come back if you don’t like it there. But, there’s probably going to be a lot of sex going on, so you may want to hang on for a bit.
WhatsApp conversation between Zara, Anam, Sanam, and Zainub, at 10:53 PM on Saturday night.
Anam: Did you hear him lock the doors? We are doomed.
Zainub: Relax! I’m looking at the rear-view mirror and he’s not even looking at us.
Sanam: I’m uncomfortable. Why do the four of us have to stuff ourselves in the back?
Zara: Because we’re wearing dresses. Duh!
Sanam: Zainub should have worn a burka and sat in front.
Anam: I think I’ll pretend to call someone and say we’re coming so he thinks someone is waiting for us. That way he’ll be scared to do something.
Zainub: He smells weird. Next time, please be proper grown-ups and make some guy friends who can drive us around. I thought you guys were cool.