New Delhi, March 9: Sanved Kolekar has spent the best part of his youth trying to solve the myriad mysteries of outer space. But for the past two days, a mystery closer to the earth’s surface has agonised the astrophysics researcher and his friends and mentors.
Sanved’s father, mother and younger brother are among the 239 people on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 that went missing on Saturday morning after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, and remained untraced.
Vinod Kolekar, his 58-year-old father, Chetana, his 55-year-old mother, and Swanand, the 22-year-old brother, were travelling from Mumbai to Beijing via Kuala Lumpur to visit Sanved for the first time after he moved to China late last year to pursue a post-doctoral fellowship.
“Sanved was really excited, he was missing his mother’s food in China,” a Mumbai-based friend from their days as PhD scholars told The Telegraph on condition of anonymity. “His parents too are really proud of him.”
Sanved, when contacted on Sunday evening, said he did not want to speak on the missing flight right now. Earlier on Sunday, Sanved had said he was unhappy with the “slow response” of Malaysia Airlines to queries by passengers — frustration also articulated by family members of several other passengers. “I don’t understand the language,” Sanved said. “It is very difficult.”
The Kolekars live in Yogi Nagar, an apartment complex in the western Mumbai suburb of Borivli. But Sanved wanted to understand the dynamics of the universe — a journey that first took him to Pune and then to Beijing.
In 2013, Sanved completed his PhD at the Pune-based Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, one of India’s leading astrophysics research institutions.
“He is a bright boy and when after earning his PhD here he got a post-doctoral opportunity with a leading astrophysicist in his field in Beijing, he took it,” Thanu Padmanabhan, Sanved’s guide at IUCAA and one of India’s top astrophysicists, told this newspaper.
Sanved has collaborated with Padmanabhan on at least six research publications in the area that excites them — the intersection of quantum theory and gravity, a frontier subject in physics research.
The opportunity of a post-doctoral fellowship — with Rong-Gen Cai, a leading astrophysicist at the Chinese Academy of Theoretical Physics in Beijing — excited Sanved because of the international exposure it would bring, his friend said.
“But ever since he left for Beijing, in December 2013, he has been asking his parents to come visit him,” the friend said. On Sunday evening, Sanved was still waiting.