Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam came here to IIM Shillong to teach a non-credit course, “Societal Transformation through Technology and Innovation”. In May 2013, we were all elated to open our inbox and find a mail from the man himself. He had given us directions and suggested readings for the presentations which we were to make when he comes to campus.
When he finally came here and took classes, I understood why he was popularly called “People’s President”. He is so very approachable. He likes answering questions more than giving lectures. With Kalam, it’s always a two way learning process.
When a student complimented him by saying, “You are very young Sir”, he replied “Friend, I am on my 82nd Orbit around the sun.”
There is a mokkamaniac living inside this man, I thought to myself.
I got the opportunity to ask him a question.
I asked, “Sir, when I told my Grandmother that you were coming to campus to teach a subject, she immediately referred me to an article about you in “Kalki”, a popular tamil weekly magazine. I was surprised to see that you keep yourself active for 19 hours a day. Sir, you have contributed so much to the field of science and to our nation as a whole. What still keeps you up and going even at this age?”
His reply was simple.
“I want to see a billion people smile!”
Apparently, he reads through each and every mail that reaches his inbox, and even replies to most of them.
He never thinks twice to appreciate anyone. When he saw a 60+ old photographer clicking a picture of him, he said, “You are a good photographer! Photographer should smile, then only people in photo will smile.”