Saturday, October 15th was a big day for Siruthuli. Dr. Abdul Kalam, the former president of India, came to Coimbatore to celebrate his 80th birthday. He is a strong supporter of the green movement and that is why the event was held at the Nandangarai Checkdam, that was built by Siruthuli and District Rural Development Agency in 2008 to provide drinking water and irrigation to many villages and farmers in the area. 3000 schoolchildren from rural as well as urban schools were invited next to lots of other guests. Cordula, Saken and I got VIP badges and were able to be really close to Dr. Kalam when he arrived. Vanitha pointed us out to him and we were able to speak to him really briefly. Well, “speak” is maybe a little exaggerated. He asked whether we were in hard-or in software and I said “services”. After having planted a tree, Dr. Kalam held a inspiring speech in Tamil targeted towards the school children. From what I could gather, he encouraged them to have ambition in life and to be good members of society. After his speech,Dr. Kalam left and everyone present was invited for lunch. During the entire event, I was amazed by how smoothly everything went. Good job, Siruthuli! Countless volunteers helped to make this day a big success.
After Dr. Kalam left Cordula, Saken and I were by far the most interesting people left at the venue. Some of the rural school children had apparently not seen a foreigner before and were absolutely thrilled. They asked us for autographs, our email addresses, our facebook names, you name it. Everyone wanted to shake our hands or be in a picture. At some point we were beleaguered by some 30 school children. It was flattering and fun, but after a while also downright exhausting. So this is what it feels like to be a celebrity… Here are some pictures of the event, the venue and celebrity me: