New Delhi: Once during an event, President APJ Abdul Kalam refused to sit on a chair that was designated for him--because the chair was larger in size than the other chairs!
This was one of the several instances where Dr Kalam's actions became synonymous with simplicity and humility that was the hallmark of his public life--both as India's top scientist and most loved President.
At a convocation of IIT (BHU) Varanasi, Dr Kalam was the Chief Guest and there were five chairs on the stage, the centre one being for the President. The other four were designated for the top university officials.
Noticing his chair being bigger in size than the others, Dr Kalam refused to sit on it and offered the Vice Chancellor to sit instead, according to a published account. The VC couldn't, obviously and another chair was made available immediately for the "People's President".
Once, Dr Kalam rejected the suggestion to put broken glass on the wall of a building that needed protection because it would be harmful for birds.
This happened when Dr Kalam was with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and his team was discussing options to secure the perimeter of a building that needed protection. Dr Kalam reportedly said: "If we do that, birds will not be able to perch on the wall."
When youngsters and teenagers sought a meeting with him, Dr Kalam, who always wore a genial smile, not only obliged and gave them his precious time, but he also listened carefully to the ideas the kids had.
Soon after it was declared that Dr Kalam would be the next President in 2002, he visited a modest school to deliver a speech. His security detail was minimal, and he didn't mind taking control of the situation when the power went off.
Speaking to around 400 students, Dr 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.
When a subordinate of Dr Kalam at DRDO couldn't take his children to an exhibition due to work pressure, he surprised his subordinate and took the children instead, according to another published account.
And, Who did President Dr 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.
As the President, Dr Kalam was entitled to invite anyone as the "Presidential Guests" to the Raj Bhavan during his first visit to Trivandrum, now called Thiruvananthapuram.
Dr Kalam had spent a significant time as a scientist in Trivandrum and he invited a road-side cobbler--who was quite close to Dr Kalam during his scientist days in Kerala; and so was the owner of the small hotel where he would often have his meals.