New Delhi: Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, known as the 'missile man' of India, and also endearingly called the 'People's President', passed away in Shillong on Monday evening after he collapsed while delivering a lecture at the IIM-Shillong, plunging the entire country in gloom.
Here are some interesting events of his life, which are largely unknown to the public:
- Before becoming the president, Kalam, acknowledged as the driving force behind India's quest for cutting-edge defence technologies, used to stay in a one-room flat.
- During his childhood days, Dr Kalam, had three close friends Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindan and Sivapraksan. All three were from Hindu Brahmin families.
- The highest priest of Rameswaram temple Pakshi Lakshmana Sastry was a very close friend of Kalam's father.
- Dr Kalam was very fond of respected doyen of Carnatic music MS Subbulakshmi. The vocalist too had deep respect for Kalam and often served him food she cooked with her own hands. They ate sitting in tradition manner - squatting on the floor and eating off banana leaves.
- Kalam liked to have south Indian food, especially 'idlis'.
- Though a nominated president can avail free air tickets for his relatives attending swearing-in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Kalam, who led a modest life, chose not to avail such privileges and paid for 2nd AC train tickets for kin.
- Once during an event, the country's first bachelor president, Kalam refused to sit on a chair that was designated for him at convocation at BHU because the chair was larger in size than the other chairs!
- Once, Kalam rejected the suggestion of putting a broken glass on the wall of a building that needed protection because it would be harmful for birds.
- Once while speaking to around 400 students, Kalam ensured the power cut didn't cause any interruption. He walked right in the middle of the crowd and asked the students to surround him. He then spoke to them with his bare voice and delivered, like always, an inspiring keynote.
- And, who did ex-president Kalam invite as the "Presidential Guests" to Kerala's Raj Bhavan during his first visit to the state after becoming the president--a road side cobbler and owner of a very small hotel.