Very few people can dream big. Even fewer can pursue those dreams to reality. A visionary, a technocrat and a project manager par-excellence rolled into one is Abdul Kalam for us.President A.P.J Abdul Kalam is one such distinguished person who has proved that dreams can be chased to reality by hard work. No wonder President Kalam is such a popular president. How popular, read on.
Few days before MS Subbulakshmi died, President Kalam visited her at her house in Chennai. It was evening post work hour and due to President Kalam's visit, the Police had stopped traffic. I was heading home and found myself in a jam at Kottur bridge connecting Turnbulls road with Gandhi Mandam road. We were curious why the traffic is standstill and people including myself felt frustrated. Frustrated till the policeman on duty uttered the word 'Kalam'. It was a different story that point onwards. People switched off the engines, locked their cars and stood on the road median, just to get a glimpse of President Kalam's cavalcade, which was visible for few seconds as it approached MS house from IIT side and the closest it came to us was about a km away! The president possibly stayed there for five minutes or so, got back in the car and sped back. All we could see was the car lights. Nobody whined about this traffic delay that day. The only complaint was that we could not see Kalam.
I was reminded of this incident recently when I found a colleague of mine reading Indomitable Spirit by Dr Kalam. I ended up borrowing that book which I am reading currently. I was instantly tempted to read this book because I had the chance to read Wings of Fire(co-authored by Arun Tiwari) few years back.
What strikes most about Kalam's writing is the simplicity with which he talks about his travails of life and the fact that he writes about his failures as much as his success. He is not afraid to talk about what gave him happiness and what made him sadness. And he does that in the most unassuming way. And unlike the politicans who talk about good of the country and never mean it, Kalam comes out as a thankful deviation. Wings of Fire was very inspiring read, and so is Indomitable Spirit which is bound touch you, because it is so easy to relate it to our own pursuits of life. See all his books here. If there is one complaint you would have about his writing is that he does not appear stiff-like-a-president but too humble and real.
Some strange things about Kalam. Like all things Kalam, the official website of the President of India has his personal impression too. The website has all his speeches, but more than that, it has a quiz for children in its Children Corner. Another unique thing about Kalam something that we all know but do not realize, that he is the President of World's largest democracy and belongs to no particular party!
This is the email I received when I greeted Abdul Kalam on his birthday(In about four hours flat)
----- Forwarded message from firstname.lastname@example.org -----
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2004 15:00:14 +0530 (IST)
Subject: Re: Wish you a Thousand Years
To:Shashi Bala Prasad
Dear Shashi Bala Prasad and Mr. Rajesh Kumar,
Thanks for your greetings.
My best wishes to you and
> Dear President Kalam . We take this opportunity to send you our greetings on your birthday. May > you live a thousand years so that generations of Indians can continue to draw inspiration from you.> May your vision for new India come true.We >feel very happy when our four year old daughter sees you on TV and recognizes you.> Best Wishes once again.
> Mrs. Shashi Bala Prasad
> Rajesh Kumar
(I do not care if he keyed in the rely himself or his staff did so, the point is he has setup a mechanism that works!)
So whether you read business or anything else, do read Kalam's books at your first chance. And if you have read them, please leave comments here for my benefit.We are blessed to be living in his times.