APJ Abdul Kalam was, someone whom I always looked and will look upto. For most of us the Gen Y Indians, he is an idol for reasons many. On 27th of July he died of a massive heart attack, in the most kalamest way possible, interacting with students of IIM Shillong. I am sure his words, deeds and vision will live forever. Here is a walk down my memory lane about how he had influenced me over the years.
- First time I remember hearing the name APJ Abdul Kalam, was when I was preparing for a quiz quiz competition during my 5th standard.
- This was around the time pokran testing happened. The news during that time had Kalam in the spotlight. Here was a simple guy, at the center of a great acheivement, unlike the melodramatic Heros, I was used to in the films. And more importantly he was also talking in tamil.
- Here comes the first real wow moment from kalam. In our school, we used have this session reading articles from famous ppl, about philosophy etc. (Annayin mandhirangal or kdhavai thera katru varatum or the sukhbodhanandha article etc). On the occasion of the childrens day, our Princi read this article from a Tamil Magazine (anandha vikatan I think). An Essay written by Kalam to the children, asking them to dream and think beyond the limits. The ease with which he connected with children was phenomenal. Then started the admiration for his words both written as well as spoken, which has continued till date.
- During my 9th standard, I had applied for velamal talent search exam, The main reason being that the final prize was to be given by Kalam. But fortunately by the time the prize distribution was on, he had a small swearing in ceremony to become the president of the country.
- And as a president, he never disappointed. His speeches on the eves of Independence Day and republic day would fill me with optimism and hope.
- The first disappointment from was soon to follow. Eagerly I had started to read his book the “Wings of fire”. After a sensational start to the book in the first 2 chapters, what followed did not connect with me at all. What started as a stunning personal story tapered into a collection of facts. But the book had its merits. The ease with which he simplifies literal rocket science is remarkable. No wonder he is an exemplary teacher. One particular example that springs to mind, is how easily he and his team resverse engineered a soviet launch vehicle and he explains it as if it was as simple as fitting your bike!!! One thing have learnt in my dabbling with the academic and professional experience is that simplicity is the greatest complexity and he had mastered it.
- Having missed a chance to see him in person during vellamal contest, my wish got fulfilled in 2007 when he came to NIT Trichy to chair the convocation ceremony. How lucky can be the 2007 passouts!! There were a few security guards, few hundred people and a large window between me and Kalam and still his speech was music to my ears. To the gathering of new graduates he talked about interlinking of rivers. He made a reference to a quote from patanjali muni which was quite inspiring, (yes I copied from the internet)"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds, your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents come alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamt yourself to be."
- In 2010 he spoke for the Koodamkulam atomic power project. It requires guts to take a stand. If there is someone knowledgeable enough to take a stand it was him.
|A portrait by my friend Supraja|
There is big list of things I admire about him. It is indeed sad that he is physically no more with us. But his legacy will live with us for a long time to come. It is also our responsibility to make sure that this happens. One of his regrets during his tenure as president was his inability to install solar panel at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan(Pls see the interview at Wharton) . As a mark of respect, we should try to install solar panels in our homes. As he loved poems, I have written a poem as a tribute to him.
"you dream of the sky,
The limits set at infinity,
We saw the birds fly,
Through the eyes of this divinity.
You had that vision,
To see the Edens beyond the realm,
The science midst the mother nature,
And the unity midst the divided nations.
You were not tall, but seen by all,
You were not loud, but heard by all,
You were not muscular, but stronger than many,
You were the leader everyone wanted to be.
O teacher, My teacher,
We needed no class to be taught,
The words of wisdom,
Piercing the heart and the head straight.
The shinning jewel on mother India,
Adored with accolades from afar,
you wore multiple hats, of which I wish to borrow,
the hat of simplicity and Kindness."
Thank you my dear Teacher.