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BL Diary - Low-profile Laureate

OUR BUREAUS | Updated on November 15, 2017

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Humble, humorous… are two words that aptly define the man that Venkatraman Ramakrishnan is. When you meet the Nobel Laureate, you are struck by his unassuming nature. During the Chennai music season, you'd find him in sabhas, standing in a queue to buy a meal ticket, as though he were just another benched software engineer on a holiday.

Last week, he was in Chennai delivering a speech in which he rued that ever since he got the Nobel, people were asking him all kinds of questions “on all topics under the sun”. He said that he was qualified to speak only on ribosomes — his work that got him the coveted prize, and there too, “some of my colleagues say that I am not good even at that.”

Ramakrishnan must have also shocked a lot of people when he said that homeopathy was useless.

Keeping out the audience

Everything has a flipside and so do, apparently, security measures. The security for a function in Chennai to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Mathematician Ramanujan, presided over by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, was tight — understandably so — but the result of it was a pathetically empty hall — so much so that a gathering of students seated in the rear of the Madras University Hall was asked to come and sit in the front, to give a semblance of good attendance. The hall was filled to less than half its capacity. India's Prime Minister, who is known for his humility, may not have taken umbrage, but it certainly left an impression that things could have been better managed.

One step at a time!

For the smart and independent not inclined to take supports, the Gujarat Gas headquarters in Ahmedabad could prove to be a huge embarrassment. The BG Group company has enforced strict safety norms in the workplace. Apart from introducing the visitor — rushing in to catch up with important appointments — to the fire exits and other such emergency measures inside the buildings; the rule does not allow anyone to walk the stairs while talking on his cell-phone. But that's not the end of it. No one is allowed to walk stairs independently. It's mandatory to catch the hand rails and walk just one step at a time!!

CII's Waterloo

What is the long queue at the Connect 2011 venue? The Connect events, of the IT sector organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, is typically a well-attended event and, this time around, apparently, the organisers decided to be pretty accommodative. They held the event in the sprawling hall of the Chennai Trade Centre, which can hold upwards of 2,000 people. But just as a chain is only as good as the weakest link, a meeting hall is as good as its indispensable adjunct — the loo. This year's Connect had the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J. Jayalalithaa, at the inauguration and due to security reasons, one of the two loos was closed.

And, to add to it, if the air-conditioning inside the hall ensured a freezing temperature, what have you? A long queue.

Published on January 01, 2012

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