Tongue-tied !

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Tongue-tied !

Flashback… 1991 or thereabouts.

A group of youngsters was split into five teams, and the teams were given unique names. Each day, one team would be quiz masters, quizzing the rest of us. I did not expect to know any of the answers anyway, there were many spectacularly bright others in my team. So I just sat there, listening. More like not listening, and dreaming.

All of a sudden, the words ‘Tachyons’ and ‘George Sudarshan’ burst into my conscience. One of them was the question posed by the quiz master and the other, as I knew so well, was the knee-jerk response from my brain.

I jumped up from reverie and looked around at the others. Not a single hand was raised. Everyone was looking at one another.

What should I have done? Raised my hand and uttered the magic answer that no one else knew. The perfect path to instant stardom. It would have altered many things that day if I had found my tongue. But in true filmy comedy style, my heart beating the hell out of me, I sat numb, my tongue frozen, my hands tied to my side, wondering if I had heard the question right, if my answer was wrong, if someone would laugh at me.

A few seconds passed, the question went unanswered, the quizmaster moved on to the next, and my moment of glory died before it was born. But my heart continued to beat the living daylights out of me for the next few hours, at my missed chance…
… and for the next twenty years or so, whenever the scene returned to mind, I would raise my hand, rise and whisper the magic words before the eyes of the admiring audience, as I should have done that day.

Read up on George Sudarshan here. I had heard of him, thanks to my Science enthusiast father.

By |2018-12-10T11:14:14+00:00March 5th, 2014|Anecdotes, Memories|8 Comments

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  1. Sushil Menon March 5, 2014 at 6:38 am - Reply

    I completely understand this. I too was like that. Increasingly became reticent. However I did open up subsequently, albeit a bit too late to make an impact when it mattered academically. Fortunately my openness blossomed during the professional journey. Now it borders on being . outspoken. I try to reign in myself, but fail at times. ( Pardon for having meandered. Could not resist)

  2. Jeena R. Papaadi March 5, 2014 at 7:04 am - Reply

    I like to think I have "improved" too 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  3. Eli Z March 6, 2014 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    What a lively description of "tongue frozen" 🙂 Could feel your feelings, Jeena:-) I have been there too, and how irritating it is – to think about it later!! Arg – "I should have said that, I should have done this.." etc. So annoying..

  4. Antony March 6, 2014 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    A couple of years back my son wrote his first letter on joining his college in Chennai. He lamented that during the lectures "many a thought of his got stolen, just because they failed to form into words". I had to confess that it was hereditary.

  5. Jeena R. Papaadi March 7, 2014 at 3:39 am - Reply

    But of all such incidents I've faced, this one stands out in memory.
    Have a good weekend, Eli !

  6. Jeena R. Papaadi March 7, 2014 at 3:40 am - Reply

    Guess everyone has those days, eh. 🙂

  7. Macro and Micro Looker March 12, 2014 at 5:30 am - Reply

    A few years ago, I had the fortune to listen to Dr.Sudarshan delving deep into the realms of particles, strings, energy etc. Tachyons were not much in focus though. He allowed me to question him at the end of the talk and the usual question time. I asked him about the Sudarshan-Glauber P representation with a veiled reference to the famous controversy. I was more interested in the controversy than the matrix, I must admit. He explained the whole thing with reference to non-classical positions vis-a-vis classical ones, in such a lucid manner that a dozen or so people, who sat around him, with me in the front were really enthralled, to say the least! I wanted to drag him into Gell-Mann and the Nobel prize to Glauber. But he refused to be dragged in to my net and had never mentioned Glauber through out. At the end I wanted to ask him about Wigner transformation but couldn't recall the name 'Wigner.' "Wagner, Wagner" (German composer) was all that my tongue would come out with, which I promptly suppressed to my relief!
    I dont know if they have identified an allelle for this kind of tongue locking, but sure it must be existing, with some sofar unknown survival advantage!!!

  8. Jeena R. Papaadi March 13, 2014 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    I am sure he is scientist enough to avoid traps such as yours! 🙂

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