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24 Hours With A Haryana Research Scholar

10/09/2015 8:42 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Group of Asian Students studying in college.

I was introduced to my host for the night. He was a PhD (finished it two years ago), I was told, and now a research scholar at Kurukshetra University, I was told.

Excited, I pulled my suitcase out the car and followed his steps. I was to occupy the hostel room next to his. He told me everyone in the hostel, Tagore Bhawan, was either a graduate student or a research fellow. Wow, I thought. Better warm up my wits.

Over dinner I asked him what his current work entailed, what his day-to-day schedule was like. He looked deeply into his plate of rice and dal; silence. I felt perhaps he hadn't understood my question. But then he spoke. "I do some chores here and there, sleep, go to the department for a bit." I looked at his face closely, trying to detect irony, or humility, or aloofness in A Beautiful Mind sense. I didn't see anything.

I asked him about his PhD dissertation, about ongoing controversies in Haryana politics. Our conversation ended in 50 seconds.

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Walking back to our rooms I asked if the university had wi-fi. It did. I asked if I required a password. I would need to enter the correct IP address, he said. Not a problem, I said; I'd just use my own Internet.

"Your own? How?"

"I've got a dongle".

The next day, I pushed my suitcase in the car and we went to the station.

"You should have enough time to buy a ticket," he said.

"I already got a ticket," I said.

"You've got it?"

"Yeah."

"Where did you get it?"

"Online."

"Online?"

"Yeah."

"When did you book it?"

"Last night."

"So you've got it?"

"Yep."

"In general or tatkal?"

"General."

The train arrived.

"Which compartment?" he asked.

"Second AC," I said. "A1, 27."

I loaded my suitcase into the compartment.

"This is second A.C. I thought it was general," he said.

I thanked him for hosting me, we waved goodbye, he left, and I took my seat.

The train departed.

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