Thursday, October 18, 2007

Of Nobel laureates..

So, it turns out that Leonid Hurwicz, the Economics Nobel laureate is known to my Dad's maternal uncle, and he has even had dinner at my dad's cousin's place. That is probably the closest I have come to knowing a Nobel laureate.

Unless, of course, one of you in the future becomes a Nobel laureate. Then I can open my blog (if it still exists and if I remember the url), and show people your comments and say, "Oh, s/he was my blogger pal!" And if I win a Nobel, you can go ahead and flaunt my name, I will not mind.

Ok, back to Nobel laureates. Actually, coming to think of it, I kind of know another Nobel laureate. Or rather, a Nobel laureate's home. My school was adjacent to C.V.Raman's compound (now all you North-Bangaloreans know where I did my schooling!). My classmate in primary school, let's call her Sma, lived in the outhouse in that compound. C.V.Raman's large house, situated in the middle of that huge compound, was uninhabited,, and always locked.

Now this compound contained a variety of trees - jackfruit, mango, silk-cotton, tamarind, and many more - it was actually a mini forest. A beautiful green place in the midst of busy Malleshwaram - we all envied Sma.

I would go to Sma's home to play sometimes, after school or on the weekends. Sometimes our games took us to the main house. We would play in the wide, sweeping portico, with the thick columns and pillars. We would go round the house and try to peep in at the windows. Once, looking at my enthusiasm, Sma's father got the key, opened the doors and let me look inside. It was large, spacious, with a high roof - a typical old-style home. The furniture was heavy, luxurious. The sofas had long, curved handles and printed cushioned seats. CV Raman's armchair was very heavy, dusty, and broken. His writing table was large and foreboding. I sat on his chair, sat at his table, and felt very important indeed.

The memory of that house still gives me the creeps, for some strange reason. It was obviously once a very beautiful and elegant and house, but it seemed to be falling apart - dusty, musty, and echoing with our hushed voices.

So there ends my tryst with Nobel laureates.

My sis and I had once chalked up a plan on "How to win a Nobel". We listed the categories and contemplated upon which Nobel it would be easiest to win. We first struck out Physics, and then went Chemistry. Medicine fell next. Economics wasn't even in the reckoning, as we had no idea what it even meant. All that was left was Literature and Peace.

Literature shouldn't be so difficult - just write a few books and you are good to go. But Peace, we decided, was the easiest. All we had to do was preach peace with zest, and we would be awarded the Nobel. (We were just 11 and 7, please!)

I still have a fascination for the Nobel, and am in awe of Nobel laureates. I am sure some of you are out there rubbing shoulders with Nobel laureates. When my sis got an admit to Stanford, somebody told her that in that University, if she stood in the cafeteria line, the guy in front of her and the one behind her would be Nobel laureates. I don't think that has happened to her - yet.

So, do tell me - have you met/interacted with Nobel laureates? If yes, who, when, how, where?


I love Lucy said...

After Al Gore won the Nobel Prize,I am beginning to lose faith in the system!

Rays Of Sun said...

I havent read this post! But I read two of your posts (on my first visit here)
The 'Attachment' and 'Bombay PG Aunty Post'

Was very touched. Gosh! I got goosebumps while I read the post on Bombay..the image of a typical Mumbai person came right in front of my eyes!
Your posts are extremely intriguing..:)

sunshine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sunshine said...

The closest I have come? Me trying to make heads and tails out of complex biochemistry books that could be used to cause cranial fractures, my spending sleepless nights trying to figure out the thermodynamics of a system, my head crammed with shitlots of information on proteins, enzymes, amino acids, my life with all biochemistry and no chemistry.... that is the doing of all these nobel laureates inside and outside my school. And whenever I am walking down the corridor of the department, there are these life size portraits of these nobel laureates smiling back at me. That is how close I have come to a nobel laureate. And I have finally decided, I'll become anything but a nobel laureate. Noble, but boring life :)

Usha said...

I'll take a rain check on this - will do a post after you win the nobel.
Now you better start working on this. :)

chitra said...


I work in TERI, Dr. Pachauri's organisation. That Friday, when the news was to be announced, we were waiting with bated breath, and once the announcement was made, TERI literally turned into a mad house, with music system , loudly on with "chak De " song and everyone outside (all the 700 of us) his room. There was no choice for him, but to come out and be a part of us. There was clebrations with all directors and all the staff dancing and ofcourse, the sweets , samosa, and cool drinks.

Almost all of us feel like a celebrity with most of us appearing in TV, news papers, It was exciting.


Anonymous said...

I was about 7 when Prof and Mrs H visited our home in the 'palace upper orchards' of Bangalore [was it 1965?]. I do not, ofcourse, remember them. All I can remember is that their daughter was learning sitar [those were the days of the Beatles and Ravi Shankar, I realised later :-)] and their son had visited Bandipur. My siblings and I were highly facsinated by the 'Americans' :-)
When I visited my daughter at the university of Berkely, on the campus, I noticed some car parks reserved with a board indicating NL .... I was thrilled to know that thse are for the profs who teach at Berkely and who are, you know what :-) And there were quite a few. A even glimpsed some one inside a parked car once.YAY! When I visited a friend who is a prof. at Harward med school, he said that 33 NLs teach in and around that area WOW!
Close encounters with the cerebral kind :-)

Chitra said...

Not been lucky enough to have met any Noble laureate...........

But yes you got back memories of walking around C.V.Raman's residence in my college days just wishing i could go in there and have a look into the place where the great man lived nd most of all be in the midst of that lush greenery..............

Kalyan said...

I too am awed of Nobles.

My first opportunity was to listen to David Gross earlier this year.

Shyam said...

The closest I'VE come to a Nobel laureate is through your blog, through this post, Shruthi! :D

Anonymous said...

Oh, Nobel is for the lofty minds.

Being less blessed with grey cells
I had a simple dream @ 18 during '84 LA Olympics. TO WIN GOLD MEDALS AT THE OLYMPICS

I visualised grabbing the Gold for 800m,1500m,3000 m steeplechase, 5000 m & 10,000m... that's all.

I would hang up my boots at the ripe age of 30 with a modest collection of 5+5+5+5 = 30 Gold medals . Nice no !

And now at 40 plus , I can devour 4-5 packs of potato wafers in a jiffy


veena shivanna said...

probably, I shall mark it here through this comment.. :-)
You know why do we call you professor!

Vivek said...

I never dreamt of nobel but yes dreamt of being awarded the param vir chakra. I know off topic..but being a software engineer has its own quirks

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

You are awarded ... pls collect your award on my blog :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Shruthi,
You jogged my mempory back to those days when we used to walk by the tall daunting compound walls of Sir C.V.Raman's house!! I remember thinking that Sma and her sis were such lucky kids! Please tell me that the house has still been preserved, and they have not constructed some apartment complex there!

Viky said...

I know Shruthi.
Shruthi knows her dad.
Her dad knows his maternal uncle.
Maternal Uncle knows Leonid Hurwicz.
You know, he even had dinner at my friend's dad's cousin's place. That's how close I am to a Nobel laureate.

BTW, double comma between uninhabited and locked.

Collection Of Stars said...

:) Viky's comment was sure funny!
Inspite of having stayed in North Bangalore, I did not even know that C.V.Raman's house was somewher around :( - I am that bad!
So, absolutely no chances of even knowing a nobel prize winner - ofcourse unless you win it ;)

Viky said...

I don't know about Nobels, but I did see Amitabh Bachchan today. Shook hands with him. THAT close. :D

Shruthi said...

I love Lucy, oh!

Rays of Sun, thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed them :)

Sunshine, LOL! :D

Usha, Uh oh! :D

Chitra, ahhhh yes!! :D That must have been some day!

Anon, wow, that is a lot of very interesting info! Could you please leave your name?

Chitra, lovely, right? Even from behind those high walls, the greenery was so inviting!

Kalyan, oooh wow!

Shyam, heh heh ;)

Anon(J), LOL! Me too... during the Olympics, I wanted to be an Olympic athlete.. during Wimbledon, I wanted to beat Steffi to a Title.. :D and now I am hitting the keys in my laptop :D

CA, that's so sweet :)

Vidya, oh the house is very much there. There was a plan to convert it into a museum... but it hasn't materialized. It is just sitting there, gathering dust.

Viky, LOL! That way, I know everybody in the world ;)
And WOW at AB!

Collection of Stars, oh you lived in North Bangalore? IF you know Malleshwaram, you will have an idea of where CV Raman's compound is!

Maverick said...

well, one of my professor is actually very close to getting it. We all have our fingers crossed for him.

H S Sudhira said...

I don't really know of any Nobel Laurette yet directly, but I live on campus (@IISc) where Sir CV Raman once headed :) We do have an old Raman Building part of the Physics Department. And check this out: Raman Research Institute <> featuring a beautiful Prima Vera Tree

Y said...


so it appears that amartya sen is a first cousin of my maternal grandmother.

but no, never interacted with him - in fact, hadn't even heard mention of him till he won the Nobel prize.


8&20 said...


i'm taking a class on environmental education this quarter, and terry root - our professor - is an active member of the ipcc. it was good fun to go in to class on tuesday and have her talk about how the phones started ringing, and how they had to organize a press conference etc. :)

and i've seen amartya sen talk :). but that must be it.

Guru said...

Having spent most of my life right next to C V Raman's compound, he is definitely the closest I have been to a Nobel Laureate. I was also one of those who dreamt of being a sportsman when watching sports and a scientist when i saw the QUEST (remember that).. loved your post

Ashutosh said...

I was luck enough to spend one hour chatting with Nobel laureate Peter Agre:

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