As a kid on every trip to Delhi, we always used to head to a house in Greater Kailash where one of my dad's aunts stays. Just above her in the same house, stay another aged couple who may or may not be remotely related to me but they did qualify as another grandfather-grandmother pair and as kids forever hankering for attention, that didn't hurt us. Buchu Dadu of Greater Kailash was equivalent to any other grandfather and had been a leading scientist of India in his time, probably a physicist. I was elated at every opportunity to meet him as my aim in life then was to pursue a career in science. To my dismay however, whenever I talked to him the first topic of discussion would never be science. It was always cricket. Not that I hated cricket but I was more obsessed with science.
At that stage of my life, I was tall for my age and lanky. The first question from his end would always be "Kid, do you play cricket?". Upon my enthusiastic nod, he would enquire further "What is your role in the team?". I would puff my chest up and say "Opening batsman!" and then play a solid defensive stroke in thin air to put emphasis on my role as a batsman in the technically perfect Rahul Dravid mould though it was highly difficult to play a sheet anchor role in a 6-8 over match which I frequently did! He would just shrug and say, "You are tall. You should try fast bowling. Promise me that you will be a fast bowler. India needs fast bowlers!". This would put me up at the crossroads again. I was desperate to be in the good books of this one man who was the role model that I looked up to for my future as a scientist and yet this was the man who was intent on sending me down the path of fast bowling greatness. To top it all, the future of my country was at stake. All this choice making was too much for my immature mind to handle so I would nod my head in subdued agreement and hope that he would jump to discussing science which he did once in a while. Wanting me to be a fast bowler however was part of every single conversation that I had with him. But being a fast bowler cum scientist was too much of a dream for me to aspire to even then at that tender age when nothing seems impossible.
15 years down the line, I am (as expected) neither a scientist nor a fast bowler though I do my best to follow the latest science and cricket stories. India still needs both scientists & fast bowlers and Buchu Dadu with his genius mind was prophetic on at least one count. On the scientist front, I know a couple of scientists in my own family who have come back from labs in Harvard to do their bit for India. It's been more than 10 years since I met Buchu Dadu last but I do know what the topic of conversation will be if I meet him. The question being flung at me at 155 kmph is definitely going to be "Where are the fast bowlers?"