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Good Day, Mr. President! - Boxed in!!!
It all starts where it ends...

Date: 2007-07-20 21:32
Subject: Good Day, Mr. President!
Security: Public
Location:Tampere, Finland
Music:Ai no Jikken - All about Lily Chou-Chou OST
Tags:musings, nostalgia, storytelling
On 19th July 2007, Pratibha Patil was elected as the thirteenth and first ever female president of India. She takes over the reins from none other than the legendary "Missile Man of India", celebrated rocket scientist and engineer Dr. APJ Adbul Kalam.

Trivia. The first female president of India seems a significant moment in history, but suggesting that mere succession of the supreme powers of countries is awe-inspiring or poignant or any other related adjective, is ludicrous to the average apathetic Indian citizen.

But when Dr. Kalam became the ceremonial head of state in 2002, the memories of three girls held something different, held something that happened close to a decade back from now, maybe sometime in the monsoon of 1999.

Three girls from Class 11, Kendriya Vidyalaya, National Aerospace Ltd. were racking their brains. The currently assigned project in Communicative English was to interview one famous personality, and transcribe the same for the school magazine. Still in school, these girls were wearing starched and ironed salwaar kameez and plaiting their hair with bright red ribbons while their peers headed off to PUC colleges and the Karnataka CET visions.

"Aircraft accident!" reported the one that lived at DRDO township, "Dr. APJ in town, now is our chance!" to the other two on telephone.

Parents are dragged into the rush, cars back off from driveways into the rainy night.

Destination DRDO township Guest House. The girls armed with notepads and cameras eye the security around the perimeter. Gingerly approaching the guard, the request to meet the missile man, for just a few minutes, is conveyed.

Trepidation mounts, characteristic adolescent collective finger-biting ensues.


The step inside.

And the first glimpse of the very man himself, descending the stairway, and eying the subjects suspiciously.

Not, on the whole, very warm, for a trio of on-the-edge teenagers.

The gushy chorus, always the refuge...

"Hello Sir! We are students from KV NAL, here to interview you as part of our project in Communicative English, would you be so kind as to spare a few minutes?"

Never did suspicion change to a warm welcoming smile in such a short time. Dr. APJ laughs at the folly of mistaken identity, evidently an earlier brush with some journalists did not go too well.

The minutes tick. Dr. APJ tells of his childhood, his dreams, his genuine delight to see students come to meet him. He tells the tale of an afflicted little girl with big dreams and his eyes well up. We are more enamored by the stories and anecdotes he peppers his conversation with than with scribbling industriously onto our notepads.

Suddenly, it is intimated that a flight departs in mere minutes. His warm smile again lights up his face, and he bids goodbye with a much sought after pat of approval for a job well done.


Those were the days of mass physical training on Monday mornings, enthused co-curricular activities on Saturdays, Jeffrey Archers stowed surreptitiously in desks, wicket-gate slip outs from school grounds for a much-dreamed exotic lunch, grimy kabbadi on the playground, teachers who taught about "potato crap" and "virginal works", and exchange of promised Perk Mega-Packs, or treasured coke-cans for "cooperative collaboration" through direct or well documented sign language means on exam-days.

Today, one of those girls works for Hewlett Packard in the promised land of the US of A. Another is now a fighter pilot with the Indian Air Force. And I have been nearly dozing in a comfortable rut, just a wee bit displaced from the place I call my homeland.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-07-29 12:26 (UTC)
Subject: New President
Abdul Kalam was a different President. His successor has inherited a rich legacy and the expectations are very high. I too have blogged on the same subject:
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November 2007