We are moving to IISER, Mohali in Chandigarh for the next two years — perhaps for longer. It was nearly thirteen years ago that we drove the “bhuddi” Premier Padmini from Bangalore to Chennai; the two of us on either side of not-yet-three-year-old Shruti. We landed in the IMSc guest house in the evening. The ever helpful guest house staff (which in those days was Charles, Prasad and Parthiban) helped us move our stuff into one of the flatlets.
Innimerable people have done their bit to help us grow our roots here and it is impossible to thank everyone by name; so let me thank people by listing some notable cases:
- In 1996, there were fewer non-Tamil-speaking working couples in Chennai than there are now and there were even fewer day-care centres.
- We had no idea how difficult (or easy) it would be to find a Montessori school which would accept such a young child. Shruti joined Supraja (later to split off as Navadisha) at the age of three-and-a-half.
- It was the great work of the (entirely voluntary) team of institute members (and former institute members) which found us in a place with a steady 19.6K always-on net connection; a rarity in India in
- Moreover, the LAN was entirely functional.
- Early-on in our stay here a water lorry side-swiped us as we were driving on the one-and-a-half lane Old Mahabalipuram Road (which is now the 6 lane Rajiv Gandhi Salai). A number of IMSc people dropped what they were doing to rush to our aid.
- The institute drivers helped us find a mechanic, who then became our regular for the “buddhi” and ultimately also bought the car off us to break it up for spare parts.
- The nice family in Kalakshetra who helped us out when we were stranded there without petrol and a three-year old child who needed to use the “facilities”.
- The Institute tradition of holding an annual “fresher’s welcome” introduced us to our many colleagues and future students.
- “Lilavati”’s early residents (some of whom had moved in mere days ahead of us!) welcomed us there and showed us the ropes of setting up a house in Chennai. One particularly helpful life-line was volunteering to speak in Tamil with the various people who provided daily services like milk and newspaper delivery.
- Chennai in 1998 was a place where people in our income bracket could afford to invest in a house — but “Where?” and “How?”. We were introduced to Velachery and Alacrity and (in the long run!) both of these turned out to be just the right thing for us.
- Will there be a research seminar? Will interesting people visit? Will students be interested in working with us? All in all, will there be work to do or is it just another sleepy tropical place? These questions were answered in a positive sense very quickly. The Institute was a very active working environment even then and has only become more so with each passing year.
- The people of IMSc/Lilavati/Jyotsna Colony have been like family to us. “No car, will drive? Go ahead borrow my car!” “Like music/dance? Here are some concert tickets!” “Going away? Don’t worry we’ll keep an eye on your things.” “Looking for a school? Here’s an introduction to the one my kid goes to.” The list goes on.
For better or worse, life goes on and so we too must move on…