Remembering Rakesh Sharma: India’s first person in space

One was really surprised to see Rakesh Sharma trending on Twitter today. It was thanks to this BBC article which does a profile and interview of the first space person from India.

There was a time when most children in India aspired to be a Rakesh Sharma:

Did you meet God? This was a question Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to travel into space, often faced from admirers at home after he returned to Earth in 1984. “I would say, no, I hadn’t met God,” he says.

More than three decades later, fact and fiction blur easily with his modern-day fans when they meet Mr Sharma, 68.

“Now many young mothers introduce me to their kids and tell them, ‘this uncle has been to the Moon!'”.

But Mr Sharma can never forget the hysteria after he returned from space. He criss-crossed the country and lived in hotels and guest houses. He posed for pictures and gave speeches. Elderly women blessed him; fans tore his clothes and sought autographs. Politicians paraded him in their constituencies for votes; and authorities sent him on holiday to a national park in searing 45C (113F) temperatures.

“It was completely over the top. It left me irritated and tired. I had to keep a smile on my face all the time,” he recounts.

Superb stuff from BBC…

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