A tribute to Thalaivar

Sunil Gavaskar and Jawahar Lal Nehru have virtually nothing in common, but they bore an uncanny resemblance in my childhood. Smiling glamorous faces who even looked a bit similar in their facial profile to me. One criticised for his dragging 36 runs in 50 overs, and other for mishandling Kashmir. In Doordarshan era, when we all would gather at a neighbour’s place to watch 1987 world cup, Ewen Chatfield was as precise and accurate as Glenn Mcgrath. While everybody was rooting for flashy stroke player Srikkanth who began charging from first over, I still looked with gleamy eyes at Gavaskar who would retire soon. Man who never scored ODI 100 in his life handled one of the best bowlers with panache, charging 4’s and 6’s (yes he did hit ‘six’), reaching his first and only ODI century in some 80 balls.

Trying to mimic Gavaskar, while others would swing their bats hitting the tennis ball smashing windows and hitting passerby in our ‘gully cricket’, I would try to slowly nudge my bat while I bring my one leg front. The ‘cover drive’ never happened. One who dreamt to become Gavaskar, ended up as an authentic ‘score-keeper’. I finally scored a 100 in mathematics in board exam, thanks to meticulous score-keeping and Sunny Gavaskar.

When you can’t achieve a dream, you prefer to change it.

So, I wished to become a scientist who would win Nobel Prize like Hargobind Khurana. To make the dream more colourful, I would say, “….and then I will return to India, to be crowned as Indian president.” This was the childhood dream, which stayed with me for the longest time.

I studied biology, chose the field of medicine, switched to research interests in my third year, and went to Indian Institute of Science for training. But, dreams began to shatter when test tube and pipettes came in my hand, and I would struggle my day with tiring tearful eyes on a microscope. I felt like a kid attempting a ‘cover drive’. It wasn’t easy at all. I could never make a ‘perfect tea’ in life, forget making a ‘perfect chemical solution’ for DNA analysis. Yet, I persisted. I left for United States after completing my medical school for a PhD, and often I would browse the profile of Dr. Khorana in MIT. Out of many faculties I met to choose my research guide, I rejected an offer as an assistant from a frail unattractive old man. Poor man had no funds in his lab. In the same year, the man I scorned about, Paul Laterbur was awarded Nobel Prize for discovering MRI. I felt like modern age Eklavya who showed ‘angootha’ to Guru Dronacharya, before he could cut it.

Sometimes when you fail to become something, you pretend it.

I would spent hours in lab, would sip coffee scribbling something on paper, pausing, looking at the sky, as if ideas would fall from sky, and I would discover something like may be ‘MRI’. I grew up my hairs upto shoulder, and a hefty beard. I was almost a scientist, till my old friend who visited from India was appalled- “Hey! you look like Jim Morrison. You are a rock star.” Efforts to become Hargobind Khurana and Paul Laterbur had failed, and all I could become was a “head-banging hippie”.

Journey from a dreamer to commoner is the smoothest.

I cut my long hairs, kept a suave ‘french beard’, returned to India and began working on something Paul Laterbur had discovered. Like many of us do. Let them innovate and discover, we would be the one to apply it. Doesn’t that make sense? Doesn’t even Mr. Narayan Murthy think the same?

A dream is after all a dream.

Playing gully cricket, becoming a scientist, growing long hairs, and crowned a president. Huh!

a still from ‘ I am Kalam’ the movie

5 thoughts on “A tribute to Thalaivar

  1. They say “chase” your dreams. Chasing is an improper word as you consider it a race, where the fast runners win and you give up thinking you are running slow. Better word is “follow” your dreams, where you enjoy the journey, long roads do not bother you, and you are eyeing the road at every milestone or an originally planned destination. One of the main reasons why we Indians seldom achieve our dreams is this lack of perseverance. It is at least required for winning a noble prize or being Sunil Gavaskar or a rockstar; presidency in India, well, is often gifted not earned.

  2. As for dreams, in my opinion, of utmost importance is to believe in their beauty. Perseverance then ensues and serendipity happens!

  3. “I thought, I think, and then I blink.” I believe, you write your own destiny. However (the ultimate boring word), you can’t control your fate. Fate and destiny are two different things. Don’t you afsos ‘the scientist’. The DRAGON (read GARUDA, since we are symbolic creatures) shall arrive one day. Believe in your own Karma, like you say- “Follow your dreams”, Period!

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