Science

Elon Musk’s Indian friend on Twitter also dreams of “living and dying on Mars.”

Few can claim the attention of Elon Musk like the young Indian engineer Pranay Pathol, who forged a privileged Twitter relationship with the world’s richest man and dreams of “living and dying on Mars.”

This unlikely friendship grew over the years into a real correspondence consisting of several hundred tweets and private messages.

But this week, the young man finally met his idol in the United States, where he is preparing to continue his studies.

It all started in 2018 when Pranai Pathol, then just 19 years old, tweeted to Elon Musk about a defect in Tesla’s automatic windshield wipers. Contrary to all expectations, the billionaire spoke to him directly, he told AFP.

“This will be fixed in the next version,” Elon Musk replied. In fact, Tesla fixed the issue in the next software update.

“I was blown away by this,” recalls Mr. Pathole, a 23-year-old computer engineer. “I took some screenshots, I didn’t want the day to end.”

His mother Pallavi and father Prashant were so proud of it that they celebrated the event that same evening in a restaurant.

Musk, “very down to earth”

Every day at the beginning, their conversations were about “mythbusting” about Mr. Musk’s personal history, as well as the “necessity” of space exploration, says a young man in a black T-shirt, like his idol.

His interactions with Mr. Musk have become “much more casual” over time, and he is no longer in a hurry to share them with friends and family.

“Elon has become a friend of the family,” his father jokes, “and if he follows Elon Musk, if he wants to settle on Mars, we don’t care.”

Pranai Pathol is one of the few people the billionaire has been in constant communication with on Twitter, averaging once every two days, according to Elon Musk’s public tweets viewed since late last year.

Their private discussions range from corporate headlines to more personal matters.

“He is very authentic. Like, very down to earth. He is modest,” says the fan, “you can see it in the way he is in no hurry to answer me.”

The fast-paced billionaire is an active user of the American platform, where he has 103 million followers.

Elon Musk’s candid, irreverent and often cryptic tweets cause tech stocks and cryptocurrencies to fluctuate wildly, prompting U.S. regulators to scrutinize them.

The investor is now embroiled in a legal battle after pulling out of an agreement to acquire Twitter. The trial is scheduled for October.

Mr. Pathole does not believe the billionaire acted maliciously, as some have suggested. “He is not a troll,” he says, “he is an unpredictable person.”

Asked about the $266 billion SpaceX and Tesla boss’s motives for maintaining an epistolary relationship, the young man admits he “has no idea.”

“In fact, he must have been frankly intrigued by my questions,” which, however, were “nonsensical” at first, he replies.

Trampling the “red dust of Mars”

“Elon’s public personality is the same as in private life, he is the same person,” he says.

The time difference between the United States and India did not interfere with their exchange of duration.

“I don’t think he sleeps much. He sits on Twitter most of the time, ”the young man is a little surprised.

Pranai Pathol, who was hired by India’s largest IT company Tata Consultancy Services after graduating from engineering school, arrived in the United States last week to study at the University of Texas at Dallas.

He then hopes to work for an American company, preferably with Musk.

“I want Tesla to hire me because of my skills. I don’t want any concessions,” he clarifies, hoping only that the boss will personally give him an interview.

He says he wants to discuss with him the colonization of Mars and the risk of human extinction.

The reusable rocket boosters invented by SpaceX hold no secrets for a young Indian who is also capable of holding a philosophical conference in favor of space exploration with ease.

He often quotes verbatim from his mentor, omnipresent in his mind. “+Life on Earth and death on Mars+: This is the philosophy we share,” recalls Pranay Pathole, admitting that he can’t wait to have the “red dust of Mars” under his soles.

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