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Sushil Manav
Tribune News Service

Sirsa, January 31
Kalpana Chawla, who perished with space shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003, possessed qualities of both head and heart.

VS Malhotra, a former professor with Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, who was Kalpana’s teacher, has several anecdotes to tell about her.

“When she was selected for shuttle mission STS-107, we prepared a memento, on her request, to be taken to space. When the design of the memento was ready, we took the liberty of drafting a message on her behalf to future cosmonauts and mailed it to her for approval. “From stone tools to space ships is a fantastic journey.

“But far more fantastic journeys are bound to come. Perhaps, somebody from among you, my young friends, may be responsible for one. Strive hard! God bless you......Kalpana Chawla,” read the message.

However, Kalpana refused to take credit for the message that she had not authored. “The words on your quote are superb but are certainly not mine. Therefore, I have object on ethical grounds,” said Kalpana’s reply to
Malhotra.

She suggested that either the credit of the quote be given to its author or consider any of the two alternative quotes sent by her, that read: “On the road from dreams to reality, wishing you the best journey,” or “The path from dreams to reality does exist. May you have the vision to pave it, the courage to find it, and the perseverance to stay on it. Wishing you the best journey.” Kalpana went ahead to select aeronautic engineering as her discipline at a time when it was not even popular among men as there were few openings and modest salaries.

“However, the size of pay cheque, prestige and status in society were absolutely of no consideration to her. She had developed a special liking for the flying machine and had fallen in love with the blue skies above,” Malhotra

Source Link: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100201/haryana.htm#6

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