So there I was, just outside the Chennai Central, drained and haggard after the grueling train journey that gifted me two sleepless nights. I approached an auto-rickshaw with baggage in my hands, and showed him the address I had. He asked me to get in, and I was traveling through the South Indian metro, a first time in my life. It was only six in the morning, and the city was just waking up. Some young professionals, probably long distance commuters, security guards, newspaper boys on cycle, trucks and light traffic were all I could see on road. I took out that card and dialed Mr. Rao. No response. Maybe he was still sleeping. After all, it was only six.
Sidharth Menon, my friend and an IT professional, had given this contact to me. He and Mr. Rao used to be roommates until Sidharth relocated to Bengaluru two months ago. In fact, he had talked to the manager and had booked the room for me in advance. According to Sidhu, Rao is a professor at some college here. He teaches psychology, and is doing some research on human minds and the sort. A strange and practical man, this was how Sidharth described Mr. Rao. I did not care as long as he paid his share of rent on time.
In five minutes, I reached the guest house. After paying the `rikshaw-wala`, I went up to the security at the gate, and using the Tamil I knew, told him who I was and why I had come there. He opened the gate and offered to take my bag, and led me to 2/14. The room was on the first floor. He stopped in front of the door, and pressed the calling bell. No response came. He repeated, this time a tad longer. After a whole minute, the door was opened. I had expected a middle aged and bald headed man, angry at being disturbed from his sleep. But, I was in for a surprise. The man in front of me was bald headed. And he was angry. Though not for being disturbed from his sleep, but for being disturbed from his work. The time was not even six-thirty, but Mr. Nageshwar Rao stood before me, dressed formally in a white full sleeve shirt and black trousers, as if he were ready to go out then. I wondered why a college professor should be up so early. Nevertheless, he let me in and closed the door. Presumably, he was at his desk writing something. His research papers maybe. The room was just of the size I expected, and it had two cots and two tables in it. Rao offered me a chair. We sat facing each other.
Rao: Nageshwar Rao. Professor at Trinity College. Sidharth had mentioned about you. Friend of his, I suppose?