Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Man on Moon......small step for man, but a giant leap for mankind!!!

Forty years ago, on this day, when Neil Armstrong had stepped on the moon, I was a toddling brat studying in my KG class at St Joseph's Convent, Faridabad. Those days, we did not have TV, & it was only All India Radio & Radio Ceylon on MW, & BBC and other radio stations on SW that narrated the incident. I remember my father speaking with his friends & office colleagues excitedly about the historic event, over unending cups of tea, snacks & cigarettes. I remember hearing Armstrong's voice later on radio " That's one small step for man, but a giant leap for mankind". I remember, my running around excitedly along with my friends & looking up at the sky in wonder, believing that I could catch a glimpse of the the two men on the moon surface, if I looked intently enough. Me & my friends would look up in the sky & wonder, if they fell from such a height, what would happen. How cold it would be up there? What would they eat up there? Is there anyone else up there to greet them? What happens if they get lost? Will the Gods get angry for disturbing the peace/ Have they taken permission from God to go up there? Can we go there as well? Can we go there & play hide & seek? Millions of questions travelled our minds & the answers we could gather would leave us in further wonder & queries........hehehehehe.....guess in childhood, we are so fresh with ideas & thoughts......

I remember, sometimes in Nov-Dec the same year, our school organised for a excursion to the Delhi Planetaruim, where, there were pictures from moon, along with moon rock & soil & other footage. I was so excited to go, & my father laid a condition for me. I have to come back & then write an essay on the whole episode & then narrate the whole episode in English (I was quite weak in English then). I was so very excited & also apprehensive of what I will see......how will I narrate. The pictures, the images, the film footage, the rock & soil, the whole auditorium looked huge, I kept gaping at every little substance with wonder, awe & admiration. This was one of my first realisation, that as humans we can do anything, if we want to.......one of my first experiences of believing that, I am not scared.....
Coming back, I narrated whatever I could recollect & Baba was quite impressed & Maa was high with pride. Later, Baba took me our Principal, Mother Marina & made me narrate again. She too was happy & nodded with appreciation & finally at the Annual Function of the school, I was asked to come on stage & narrate again, in front of the big gathering.......my first public speech. I guess, I was initially hesitant & slightly overawed by the situation, but Mother Marina was standing with me encouraging me & then I started. It was quite an experience. I guess, i was out of stage fright from then. I realised, so early in life that I can do whatever I want to..........I just need to want to do so......My love for English as a language started from then.

Niel Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin, the first men to walk on the moon surface & Mike Collins who managed the space craft in orbit, all remain historical figures to me over all these years. Over the years, we have heard of lots of controversies regarding this trip. Many claimed this to be fake & stage acted, many claimed it to be Richard Nixon, the then American President's attempt to win over USSR in space. Incidentally Yuri Gagarin for USSR had been the first man in space & there was a serious race between the two super powers to reach the Lunar soil first.
The truth would emerge some day, but I still look at the moon with the same wonder & awe as I did forty years back as a toddling brat.........Life just moves on....hehehehehe