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The old mechanical alarm clock started to make loud ringing sounds enough to wake up the entire neighborhood. But the 11 year old kid slept on unperturbed. His mom came and tried to wake him up. After some attempts, she softly whispered into his ears, ‘you will miss the launch!’. The kid woke up with a start. He didn’t want to miss the rocket launch that was telecast live on TV. And there was no competition for TV time amongst the 14 members of his joint family as it was 4 AM in the morning and every other soul in the house slumbered peacefully. The darkness around him wasn’t much a bother for this enthusiastic kid who woke up, quickly brushed his teeth, drank some water and dashed to the living room not to miss the countdown of the rocket launch.
This was 1995 in India where TV cable hadn’t a presence yet in nooks and corners of the country. But the national network (DoorDarshan) had a special broadcast live from French Guiana in Central America. The commentators spoke in Hindi peppered with scientific words in English which the 11-year old understood only slightly. But his gaze was fixed on the inset video of the rocket and the countdown timer at the bottom left of the TV screen. Suddenly as the countdown timer said T-20 the whole team of scientists went into a freeze and now only the project director’s voice was heard loud and clear saying “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Go”. A brief silence followed after which the Ariane rocket ignited and lifted off carrying India’s INSAT-2C into earth’s orbit. The boy cheered every time the sounds of jubilation were heard on TV. His dreams soared high along with the rocket that carried India’s future (communication). The boy wondered, ‘Are my friends watching this too?’ and looked forward to school that day to compare notes with his best friends so that they could together dream of becoming scientists who go on to create something truly majestic that their countrymen will be proud of.
In the current day, 19 years later, these kids have gone on to build bridges, mend others’ hearts & lungs, write software, setup businesses, teach and inspire other kids and what not. And when India makes another huge scientific progress (in this case Mars Orbiter Mission or Mangalyaan) we all pause, look up the sky wondering where the red planet is, feel proud of our scientists and also proud that a collective dream of a nation to have come true.
This reminds the author of a quote from his favorite idol, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
‘Dream, Dream Dream. Dreams transform into thoughts. And thoughts result in action.’