[play the video to see photographs]
So, the D-Day finally arrived.
And what a day it was!
Strangely, on June 10, 2007, exactly a year before The Day, I didn't even imagine that such a day would ever come in my life.
And on a sunny January day it was confirmed that I was going to be awarded by H. E. The President of the Republic of India! This very thought sent shivers down my spine.
The experience at the Rashtrapati Bhawan (where I was accompanied by my parents and sister) on June 10, was, in real sense, an out-of-the-world experience. There is much to be told about the wonderful experience I had there. However, in this post, I will only narrate my interaction with the President herself.
I started getting goose bumps just a couple of seconds before my name was announced. Then, ah, finally, as soon as I heard the words Master, Upamanyu and Moitra, the fact that I was supposed to get up from my seat hit me like a ton of bricks.
I don't know how I walked up to the particular carpet I was supposed to stand on without losing my nerve (if you haven't already conjectured, let me tell you that I was very nervous). I was about five metres away from the President. I folded my hands and smiled at her and she did the same to me. As the announcers read out my citation, I thought that I was going to faint. It may seem a bit exaggerated now, but believe me, that was the exact condition of my mind at that particular moment.
Then I heard the words Master, Upamanyu and Moitra once more and I knew the time came. My heart was beating very fast as I reached the podium and I was sure that I wound stumble. But, thankfully, I walked up to the podium without committing any of the dreadful things I had imagined.
After reaching the podium, I touched her feet and she touched my head and blessed me. Then she asked me some questions while giving away the citation, plaque and the KVP. I was the only Bengali and, of course, the only one from West Bengal to receive the Honour in the field of Creative Scientific Innovations. She talked a lot with me. She asked me: 1) which state I was from, 2) which city I came from, 3)what my field of interest in science was, 4)which my favourite subject was, 5)what I did in that field of science, 6)what I wanted to become in future. I replied to all her questions enthusiastically and she also listened to all my answers very attentively. She talked to me for more than a minute.
Then I posed for photographs with her. And I walked back to my seat with a very different state of mind. At that point of time, I was awed and excited. I just talked to the President of India!
The most fascinating this about this interaction was that, of all the recipients, she talked to me for the longest duration. You may think that I am bragging or lying, but believe me, this is the truth! Even the Security Officers at the Rashtrapati Bhawan confirmed this when they asked me why I took so long on the podium and what conversation we had.
So, that's it!
As I have said before, there is much to be said about the extraordinary experience I had at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. But sadly, I cannot afford the time now. The experience was very rich and needs to be detailed. I just can't write two lines and leave it at that. But it's still very vivid in my memory and I assure you that I will write another post and share that experience, of course, in neither-so-near-and-nor-too-far future.
I also assure you that you won't get a post from me till, at the very least, March 7, 2009. That's the day I will (once again) spread out my wings since that's another D-Day for me. (Do I really need telling that that's the day my exams will be over?)
[Note: I will not visit the blog very often. So the comments may not appear for a while as I have comment moderation activated. But don't hesitate to comment.]