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When the villagers jumped over the moon

M. Soundariya Preetha


Chandrayaan-1 Project Director M. Annadurai visits his ancestral home at Kothavady


— Photo: M. Periasamy

M. Annadurai with his wife at Kothavady.

COIMBATORE: “The Chandrayaan is over the Moon and I am here,” remarked M. Annadurai, Project Director of Chandrayaan-1, as he visited his once ancestral home at Kothavady in Coimbatore district on Sunday after about three decades.

“I was in Class III when the village got its first streetlight. We were out on the streets till late in the night with excitement,” he recalled.

On Sunday morning, the village wore a festive look with festoons and banners all over the place. Sneha and Sujith Kumar, class III students, had skipped their breakfast in the excitement of the “vignyani” (scientist) coming to their village. They were among the village elders, friends, relatives and classmates of Mr. Annadurai who gave him a rousing reception with the traditional nagaswaram and poornakumbam.

Walking in the midst of a jostling crowd, the scientist visited the panchayat union middle school, where he studied from Class I to V. Women welcomed him with vermillion and flower petals in front of their houses.

A brief reception was accorded to him near the school. Mr. Annadurai unfurled the national flag at the school as the children chorused: “Indiavin sadhanaiyalar vazhga”, “Chandrayaan anupiya sadhanaiyaalar vazhga” and the nagaswaram played Sare Jahanse Acha. “I spoke to him for seven minutes last night over the phone,” beamed A.R. Natarajan who was Mr. Annadurai’s teacher in classes IV and V and was meeting him after 30 years. “We are proud to say that we were his teachers,” he said.

District Elementary Education Officer M.E. Subramanian and school headmaster Ramaswamy showed him the old school registers that had his name. “More than launching the Chandrayaan, it is unfurling of the flag at the school that makes me feel great,” Mr. Annadurai said.

The scientist donated a computer to the school, signed autographs to an unending line of children, accepted bouquets, garlands and gifts from friends, relatives, teachers and villagers. Mr. Annadurai said the village provided him the foundation. He urged the youth to work with commitment. “We need not go to other countries. We can achieve much here,” he said.

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