On February 1, 2003, tragedy struck as Indian-origin astronaut Kalpana Chawla met a fatal end during reentry. This pivotal moment was witnessed by 12-year-old Karishma in her small village in Baramati, Maharashtra. Witnessing the incident on her television set, she was captivated by the realization that the cosmos was not beyond reach.
**The Spark of Inspiration**
Kalpana Chawla’s sacrifice ignited a spark within Karishma, kindling her dream of becoming an astronaut. Despite the tragedy, Chawla became a beacon of inspiration, fostering dreams in young hearts. Karishma became obsessed with the idea, determined to follow in Chawla’s footsteps.
**Lunar Fascination and the Quest for Knowledge**
The moon, a celestial marvel linked to the arrival of Eid, had always fascinated Kalpana. Her dream took root when she confided in her Abbu about her aspirations. Her thirst for knowledge led her to gather information on space, fueled by literature and books provided by her parents.
**A Journey to Pune: Seeking the Stars**
In a small village where ‘Astronauts Clubs’ were nonexistent, Karishma discovered the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune. Driven by her passion, she insisted on a journey to Pune with her parents, unveiling a path toward her cosmic ambitions.
**Fate Aligns: A Meeting with Dr. Jayant Narlikar**
As fate would have it, Vidya Pratisthan Institute in Baramati organized a lecture series featuring experts, including senior scientist Dr. Jayant Narlikar. Karishma’s Abbu, Sallahuddin Inamdar, shared the news with her, setting the stage for an encounter that would shape her journey.
**Passion Unleashed: The Universe Responds**
In the spirit of Shahrukh Khan’s words, “Tum kisi chiz ko agar shiddat se chaho, to sari qayamat tumhe us se milane me lag jati hai” (If you want something passionately, then the entire universe goes into making it happen), Karishma’s unwavering passion for space exploration set in motion a series of events that would lead her closer to the stars.
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