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Youth Section - I Met Dr. Abdul Kalam, President Of India

Varsha Kannan

During our recent trip to India and to New Delhi in particular, we had the honor of meeting the President, Dr.Abdul Kalam on August 7th at 12 noon.  My aunt’s family, who happen to be friends of the President, made all the arrangements for the meeting. 

Our family got ready early that Monday morning excitedly talking about the meeting with Dr.Kalam on our way to the Rashtrapathi Bhavan which was equivalent to the White House here.  We saw the arrangements that were being made for the Independence Day celebrations on the 15th. 

When we arrived at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, the security guards at the entrance took our cameras and cell phones.  We were escorted by a guide who showed us around the building which was humongous with massive columns and statues!  We got to see the Darbar Hall where generally the President gives out the National Awards and such to a selected audience.  We were then led to the Banquet Hall where arrangements were being made for a dinner that night with officials.  Then, we had the opportunity to see the Gift Museum where all the gifts that were received by the former Prime Ministers and the Presidents were displayed.  Some of the photographs of Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru were fascinating.  From there, we were led to the Kitchen Museum which had all the dishes and utensils used from the British days.  This was followed by a visit to the Children’s Museum where we saw a collection of some beautiful pictures and paintings done by children from all over the country.  The highlight of the museum was a carving of the President’s figure on a single grain of rice!  

We were then ushered into a reception room where we were served snacks and drinks.  Fifteen minutes later, we were led into the Presidential suite.  We were overwhelmed with feelings of awe and nervousness when we saw him!  Dr.Kalam, however, made us feel comfortable by welcoming us with a smile and asked us to seat ourselves comfortably.  When my dad tried to start the conversation, he immediately stopped him saying that he would like the children to talk and ask him questions if any!  The President asked us what we wanted to become when we grew up.  My brother, Sriram, said that he was interested in the Indian stock market. My sister, Vineeta, explained that she was interested in biology related field. My other sister, Shruthi, said that she was aspiring to become a journalist. But when he asked me what I wanted to be, I admitted that I had no idea yet. He then explained to me that by now I should know exactly what I wanted to be and show an interest in whatever subject that I liked. He then related an anecdote where he said that when he was seven years old, his teacher had explained to him how birds fly.  That was when he decided that he wanted to become a pilot or study aeronautical engineering or space.  At the age of 74, he realized his dream when he flew the fighter jet at G-force! 

While I was still relishing that advice, my father took the time to explain to Dr. Kalam about his company Vedas. After everyone had finally gotten a chance to speak and ask questions, we went out to the Mogul Garden to take some pictures. When my uncle started making bunny ears behind Dr. Kalam, my brother Sriram started laughing for the first time since he entered the room. Seeing this, Dr. Kalam pulled both my mother and aunt close and said that it was a mother’s duty to keep that smile on the child’s face. At first my mother was a little bit shocked that Dr. Kalam was giving them this kind of advice but quickly realized it was all for the good. After some pictures, we had to leave because the president of Africa was visiting next. As we exited, we realized that some of us still had some unanswered questions but since we were so astounded, we couldn’t get a chance to ask them.  My family and I are very fortunate to have met an inspiring and admirable President as Dr.Abdul Kalam!

Varsha Kannan is a 7th Grader at the Diamond Middle School in Lexington

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