Home > News > Report
NY mayor met Kalpana Chawla six months after she died!
Tanmaya Kumar Nanda in New York |
July 12, 2004 09:44 IST
Last Updated: July 12, 2004 16:28 IST
Mayor Michael Bloomberg made what could well pass for the mother of all bloomers when he spoke at length about having met and marched with the late Kalpana Chawla at the 2003 India Day parade in New York.
By that time, Chawla, who perished in the Columbia space shuttle crash in February 2003, had been dead for over six months.
The unkindest cut of all, of course, was that the mayor was speaking in Jackson Heights at the official unveiling of Kalpana Chawla Way. Earlier this year, the City Council passed, and Mayor Bloomberg signed, a bill to rename 74 St in Jackson Heights, also known as Little India, after the astronaut.
Starting his speech with a Namaste, Bloomberg said, "A year ago, I walked in the India Day parade down Madison Avenue, and I marched with a young woman who was an astronaut and we talked about what a wonderful country we have here that her family never could have envisioned the opportunities that she had and I pointed out that my family never could have envisioned the opportunities that I had and Kalpana Chawla was a nice person.
I mean I just marched with her for 30 or 40 blocks but she was everything that is wonderful not just about America but about everything we can do in this world if we work hard."
The mayor mistake is easily explained, though not easily excusable: he marched with Sunita Lynn Williams, another astronaut of Indian origin selected for NASA's space flight program.
Obviously, neither the mayor nor his aides had bothered to do their homework, as he continued to speak of KC, as Chawla was known to friends and colleagues, as if he had met her.
"We are hardly a perfect world, or a perfect country or even a perfect city but I would say we have an awful lot to be proud of here in New York City and Kalpana Chawla was as good an example as we could have, and I was just proud to know her.
"Usually, I usually go to memorial services, they name things for people I didn't meet, in this case I did know her."
When the goof-up was pointed out to him, all Mayor Bloomberg had to say was: "Thank for correcting that, I appreciate it."
Columbia Space Shuttle Mishap: Complete Coverage