The First View
Music by Kamala Sankaram
Text by Kalpana Chawla
This text is adapted from a 1998 India Today interview with astronaut Kalpana Chawla. The year before, she was a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Columbia, becoming the first Indian woman in space. In 2003, Kalpana Chawla died in the Columbia disaster.
The first view of the earth is magical.
The earth is so small.
The atmosphere looks like a ribbon with different colours hugging the earth.
In such a small planet,with such a small ribbon of life, so much goes on.
The earth is not just a bluish hue.
You see all the colours.
When the Sahara comes into view, the ocean near it is an emerald green.
The Sahara itself looks golden brown.
Then you cross the Nile; it looks like a deep, dark green ribbon
It is almost as if everything is in fast forward.
It is totally dark.Then dark to violet, to orange and red and then it's sunrise.
At the sunset, there was a moon—its crescent was razor sharp and the colour was
Then the moon raced away from us and was lost in the glow of the earth.
Almost like a story book that you read as a child....
I did see it. We saw fires...We saw smog layers...
We saw smokestacks.
So many people are arguing or fighting.
It’s like being in the whirlpools which are always present behind a little rock near a river. We seem to be living in these little whirlpools and forget that there is a whole river. The picture is much bigger. We should take time to look at the big picture.