I was in my 5th grade. Once I asked my dad to buy me Citric Acid and Potassium Permanganate saying that I needed to do some experiments. He bought me the two chemicals. I think probably that was the beginning of real experimentation in chemistry. I had done other experiments as well, like understanding combustion better. But that is a different story.
I started mixing the two chemicals in various proportions to see what happens. The first experiments had a larger proportion of the acid and less salt. Nothing happened. Except that the solution gets decolorized. I even tried drinking this compound just to find that it increased my hunger.
Then one day I had fever and we went to Sanjeevani Hospital at Naval Base. After I returned, I took the cap of a brandy bottle and mixed a larger proportion of the salt and a smaller proportion of the acid and I noticed something strange. The solution was boiling itself. And the cap was very hot. I was wondering what was going on. I told this to my brother. We did it many times but since we weren’t aware of the chemical formulae of these chemicals, we didn’t understand why it reacted this way.But I was exhilarated. I thought that I had found something new.
We tried mixing other substances into this mixture to check how it reacted. I remember the incident in which we mixed kerosene and set the solution on fire. The entire solution burst in an awesome white flame as shown in the image. That was the most spectacular event I had observed so far in our lab. Wow! But the smoke that followed was not very friendly. My brother caught running nose after inhaling that smoke. The experimentations continued in the years that followed……