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.
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?"
"Where did you get it?"
"When did you book it?"
"So you've got it?"
"In general or tatkal?"
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.