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Sunita Williams arrives to a hero's welcome

September 20, 2007

The international arrivals terminal at Ahmedabad airport is positively tiny, a small square currently filled up by a gold-beige coloured Maruti Esteem, belonging to the Gujarat government, smack in the centre. There would have been a reasonable amount of space -- well, reasonable for 50-80 people -- but 300-400 eager feet stand, both on tip-toe and often each other's toes, waiting for a glimpse. Cameras of all kinds and sizes are craned ever higher in the hope that the aerial route is the way to go.

Somewhat fitting, that, considering who they are trying to catch. The telltale arrivals board flashes a green light signalling that the Air-India flight from London has arrived on schedule. Sunita Williams, formerly Pandya, has hit Gujarat.

I stand on a ledge in desperate attempt to get a vantage point, the policeman on my right budging most cooperatively. He tells me to be careful, and that this is a mad crowd, before cursing the media. I stand on edge, and wait. Suddenly, a tap on the knee. A young man, notepad in hand, is smiling up at me. 'So you've come to see Sunita?' he asked, introducing himself as a local reporter. I tell him we're in the same boat and we shake hands before he points to the multi-camera chaos and shrugs. 'Good luck getting a shot.' The cop next to me now looks a little suspicious, but smiles nevertheless.

Image: A view of the throngs that had gathered to greet astronaut Sunita Williams this morning at the Ahmedabad airport.

Text: Raja Sen | Photographs: Vaihayasi Daniel

Also read: Sunita Williams speaks to Rediff India Abroad from space

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