December 20th, 2008 is so special for me. I met 1st Indian astronaut, Wig. Commander (rtd.) Rakesh Sharma in person. Yes! I met him, I interacted with him, got wonderful opportunity to listen his experiences, his prepartion for the mission. Awesome enriching lifetime experience for me. I met my child-hero. The day is still vivid in my memory. In the month of April, 1984, our then prime-minister Indira Gandhi asked Rakesh Sharma how India looked from the space and he replied “Saare jahan se achcha” (Better than the entire world).
During the event, he shared his amazing experience how did the sun-rise look like (every 45 minutes frequency); how he managed the prepartion training. I realised it’s one of the torturous prepartion, to make sure human body gets acclimatize to different conditions & scenarios viz. takeoff, zero gravity, blood circulation, landing. Also I got the opportunity to ask if he ever dreamt about going to space? His reply was “Never! Infact at that point of time, India was not engaged for sending astronauts to space. So he never imagined/dreamt of. In his opinion, Kalpana Chawla dreamt about going to space shuttle and went to US to fulfill her dream. For him, luck bestowed opportunity to him and he gladly accepted”.
For me 20th December, 2008 earns a special day in my life and is part of my BRIM (brain rooted in memory) and it shall remain fresh forever.