I was sitting near the issue counter of the IIT, Delhi library reading a journal. It was in the year 1996. I was doing my PhD then.
After taking a late lunch at around 2 pm, I used to go the library for the literature survey related to my PhD work. It was a tedious job and at times I felt like dozing off.
A man in his late fifties was talking to the issue clerk. He was a stranger to me. With a head full of grey hair and with calm and composed facial expression, he looked like a scholar. I kept watching him wondering who he could be. He could not be a professor of IIT, Delhi; I had never seen him before. .
I heard him asking the clerk in a strong baritone voice.
I got curious, got up from my seat and went towards him. He did not notice me.
Without any hesitation I said to the man, “Sir, I am a PhD scholar in chemical engineering. May I be of any use to you?”
He looked at me , asked my name and very politely said, “Yes, thank you. I am a professor of International Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University. Why don’t you come to my residence tonight for dinner? I stay in the JNU Campus. You can take bus number 21 or you can even walk down. It is not very far from IIT campus.” He gave me his residence and phone numbers and went away driving his old Premier Padmini .
A senior professor of famous JNU!!
A big man for me! I was excited.
Could not wait for long and after sometime I headed for his house. He received me very gracefully at his house. He introduced me to his wife, a kind graceful lady. She offered tea and snacks and started preparing dinner for us. I felt totally at home.
The professor started explaining, “We have an NGO devoted to development of indigenous technology. We have a patent on a concept for the Khnadsari.. the technology is to be developed for which we need to prepare a project proposal for funding to be submitted to the government. We need your help to prepare the project proposal, etc, etc” He explained the concept to me in simple words. I gladly agreed.
That was the beginning of our long term association. We started working on the proposal, performed some experiments , visited some Khandsari at Hapur in UP, prepared the proposal, submitted it to the ministry, met the concerned secretary, so on and so forth.
It went on and on and the two of us became inseparable. He, a man of political science, and I, a chemical engineer started speaking the same language…
Years rolled by. I left Delhi after completing my PhD. He retired from JNU and settled down in Chandigarh. Our friendship remained intact.
He, along with his wife came to visit us in Guwahati. We keep on meeting even now, mostly in Delhi, either in The India International Center or in Habitat Centre for a lunch together. But both of us love to spend time in the JNU canteen together, reliving the past.
The age difference between us never mattered. That we are from different professional fields, also never mattered. We understand each other’s language fully. It is the common interest and passion that matters.