Saturday, July 4, 2009

A lunch with Manjul Bhargava

Dear Reader. If you always thought that my writings are childish then probably this writing won't come as a surprise. If you didn't have any such opinions then let me warn you of a pretty childish writing.

Imagine you were a young teenage tennis player practicing in the court and one fine day Federer walks into the court sees you playing and says that you play really well. What would you do?

I blog!
And childishly so after being given a compliment from a legend!

So Manjul Bhargava ultimately turned up today in TIFR after Arul waitng for him for the last 1 week. Manjul was sick in Jaipur. Arul was a student in the Mathematics department of my alma mater CMI (Chennai Mathematical Institute). He is currently a graduate student in Mathematics at Princeton University under Prof.Manjul Bhargav.

To understand why I am writing this blog you should know something about Manjul Bhargava. In case you have never heard of him then I suggest you do some Google search about him before you read the following.

Because of Arul's waiting here for the last 1 week we spent quite some time regularly discussing Representation Theory of Lie Groups which I have been pursuing off late and in which Arul has gained a lot of computational expertise lately. Given that it is Arul and me we had quite a few heated arguments over dinner about social issues starting from ethics in medical research and Hinduism and Caste-System and obviously Nazism! (details of such controversial discussions shall be known only to select people :P) Inspite of my repeated insistence to the converse Arul paid for both our lunches and dinners while at TIFR.

Arul asked Manjul if he could ask me to join them in lunch and Manjul agreed. Hence I had this interesting lunch with Arul and Manjul Bhargava and Manjul's mother!
What a company to be with!

Manjul while introducing me to his mother pointed at Arul and me and said ``2 CMI-ites from 2 different departments". Manjul's mother also seemed to have a pretty high opinion about CMI and hence by benefit of doubt probably I was also momentarily considered as a brilliant student!

Manjul had met me earlier last year and I had given him my article on torsion free connections on Riemannian Manifolds as way of introduction. {You can see the article here } But this interaction with Manjul Bhargava was an year ago.

Today during lunch Manjul suddenly remembered of that article of an year ago when he saw me at lunch! He said that he liked it!

I never believed that Manjul Bhargav has even read what I wrote!

I was stunned for a few seconds when of all people on earth Manjul Bhargava said that he thinks the article has a very new flavour of writing about geometry. and that I had written it very differently from how it is generally thought of.

I was flattened by the time Manjul said that he thinks I should try to get it published. He said that my students will definitely gain a lot if I teach from these ways of thinking.

I just kept gazing at Manjul with probably a stupid smile as he said all this.
I couldn't believe my ears!

Then Manjul asked me about with whom I am working with and I told him that I am trying to learn QFT with Shiraz and Representation Theory from Dipendra Prasad. Manjul asked me if I had talked with Atish and I said no.

{Prof.Atish Dhabolkar is a prof. at DTP,TIFR and was formerly a grad student at Princeton}

Manjul and Atish seem to have been great friends since their Princeton days and his mother also added "Atish is just brilliant"

I informed them that Atish has taken up a post with University at Paris, Orsay and hence he comes to DTP only rarely.

Then Manjul made an intriguing comment that he wonders I will find people here in TIFR who will share my interests. He said that he isn't aware of anyone here who thinks along these lines.

Then Manjul was telling how Atish has recently shown some number theory results in something called "Mock Modular Forms" to be useful in string theory. Manjul made the comment that almost anything that was ever interesting in Mathematics finds a way into String Theory and also the reverse is hapenning.

Eventually the discussion spanned a million things starting from the highway that Manjul has been on which connects Mumbai to Pune and how Swine Flu is overhyped in the US and Manul's mother thinks the bulk of Indian girls in their 20's are hopeless. How they adjust their cosmetic without washing their hands just after coming out of the toilet. Manjul's mother is a fun lady even at this age!

As a result fo living in the US for so many years her english has become heavily accented but her Hindi is surprisingly good and she talks with her son in very correct Hindi.

She was telling me how she is such a nocturnal character and Manjul also agreed that its great to sleep during the daytime and its best to work at night when there are less distractions and people around. Manjul's mother was telling us how Indians are forgetting to take pride in their own heritage of learning and she wonders why the nation which cradled the best universities in the world Nalanda and Takshashila now can't keep that level. How most Princeton and Harvard students are non-Americans and Manjul said that only recently there is a slightly non-trivial number of Americans in Princeton. And how when he was an undergrad at Harvard all the bright people in his batch were Indian or Chinese or Koreans.

It was a memorable lunch!


Googolplex Ideas! said...

I hope Pfor. Bhargava wins the next Fields' Medal.

Begam said...

Like your blog..he is genious....

Prachi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ARTI trivedi said...


Siddharth Sharma said...

lunch with Prof. Manjul Bhargava? I would consider that to be an honor if that happened to me. I got to know that Prof. Bhargava recently won the Infosys Prize for Mathematical Sciences. You can get all the information on this link you can also congratulate him here It's pretty good if you're into science, they've got other stuff related to other winners on their site too.

kami said...

And Manjul has already won the fields medal!!!