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Directly Speaking Oct 09

Dear Children, Parents, Teachers and Friends,

This edition of samachaar has a very special and difficult theme.

In my very short term stint as journalist ( development journalism), I always found it easy to write a report and found it very hard to paste a reflective note on it. But we all know that is what makes the reading interesting. That’s what gives the reader peek into the writer’s inner world – world of thoughts, perceptions and beliefs.

So, here I am, sharing with you an unbelievable experience I had and what it gave me – my professional life’s memorable moment.

Recently I had the privilege to meet Dr. Abdul Kalam. I had one-to-one audience with him for 25 minutes. This privilege was given me to me as the Conference Chair of the upcoming SIETAR India conference to be held in Pune, at the Orchid school premises.

I mailed (yes, a simple mail and no contacts) Dr. Kalam elaborating on the conference theme and the SIETAR Board’s wish to have him as the Key Note Speaker for the inaugural ceremony.

Dr. Kalam’s assistant promptly responded assigning time and date for the meeting. This was unbelievable – an ordinary citizen could actually get an invitation from The Former President for a personal meeting with him. You can imagine my joy and nervousness at the possibility of meeting him in person.

The D-Day arrived. I had a bunch of red carnation in my hand and mixed feeling in my heart. The waiting was killing. As time passed my hope was getting thin. Large gathering with camera crew in line was enough to give me the feeling that I will be one among this large crowd in front of him and I will get just a glimpse of him.

To my delight, I was the only one called in to meet him as it was “my” appointment time.

Next 25 minutes with him was transformational. He had done his ‘home work” about me , my work, my agenda to meet him and information about the SIETAR body. He looked through the school Brochure with child- like curiosity. He wanted to know why the name “Orchid” and appreciated the metaphor it symbolizes.

He also elaborated on his work in Pune and how he loves the city. He brought warm, personal touch to our conversation, making me at ease, talking about his good days at Rameshwaram.

After reading through the invitation, he readily agreed and asked Prasad, his assistant, about suitability of dates. He evinced keen interest to be part of this very essential, contemporary and relevant aspect of our society. Unfortunately he won’t join us for the conference as he is returning on 2nd November back to India.

So, it was time for me to leave.

He then exhibited a trait that truly belongs to the Master - humane elegance of an outstanding Leader. He was concerned about my safety to go back to the hotel and asked if he should arrange a car to drop me back at such late hours.

His presence of mind touched me.

I am convinced that he is truly “The People’s President”.

Great people become great not because of coincidence or star alliance or luck by chance!!! They are great because:

They bring a touch of class in doing ordinary things

They make everyone special and important

They listen

They share

They reach out

They show in their action and words they care

They exhibit humility and dignity par excellence

They show us the path.




Thank you, Dr. Kalam, for inspiring me!!!

Lakshmi Di.