You are here: Rediff Home » India » News » Photos
Search: The Web
  Email this Page  |   Write to us


Bringing up Sunita Williams

October 25, 2007
Dr Deepak N Pandya, father of astronaut Sunita Williams, tells Managing Editor Sheela Bhatt about his life first in Gujarat and then in America, and how he brought up his children.

Bringing up the children
In our family, children's upbringing is given utmost importance. When my children were very young, my wife Ursaline and I discussed what we should do to bring them up and educate them.

Of course, we wanted them physically fit. So we took them to the swimming pool. Secondly we bought a camper to drive them around America and show them the country. My idea was that when we were camping, I would talk about Bharat desh. We traveled a lot and we talked about the Ramayan, Mahabharat, Sati Savitri and Nal-Damyanti etc. I used to talk a lot about Gandhiji with Sunita. My mother Rambhaben had told me a lot of stories so I knew about Indian mythology and other stories.

I used to drive, my wife would sit next to me and my children would be in the back of the camper. Every time we started, they would lean forward and demand stories. After telling them the stories, I would also tell them how I grew up.

My story
I grew up in Jhulasan and Mangrol villages of Gujarat. I love the sweet language of Kathiyawad. I went to nursery classes in Mangrol city. My high schooling was done in Kadi (near Ahmedabad) and Visnagar. My father Narmadashanker died when I was two years old. In Mangrol, my mother found that the schooling was not good enough and she brought us to Kadi. My mother was my father's second wife.

In 1935, she was widowed at a young age and had to bring up three children. I do not remember my father's face at all. I recognise him only through his photograph. My mother's culture of nurturing us was simply extraordinary. She had learnt great Indian classical literature from my father. She would share those with us well past midnight.

Image: Dr Deepak N Pandya addresses the 2006 India Abroad Person of the Year award ceremony.
Photograph: Jay Mandal

Also read: Sunita Williams speaks from space
Coverage: Sunita Williams in space

© 2007 India Limited. All Rights Reserved.Disclaimer | Feedback