Seventeen, as I remember it, was a year of change in more ways than one. My father had just retired and we moved into our own house in Chennai’s Besant Nagar. In those days, Besant Nagar was a lonely suburb. I vividly remember my evenings, spent by the sea at Elliot’s Beach, and solitary nights on my balcony where I would reflect quietly on my chess.
It was also the year I joined Loyola College’s department of commerce. I was a student of evening college, so I had the luxury of sleeping well into the morning after a night full of chess, often accompanied by music on my player. I was a big fan of ’80s pop music—Pet Shop Boys, Cranberries—and I was constantly wired to my Walkman. It also helped that my professors were extremely proud and supportive of my chess and the career I was making out of it. I still remember how one lecturer, finding I was attending classes regularly, asked me, “Why are you here? Why don’t you go home and practise your chess?”
Back then, I used to ride a TVS 50 around the city. Some days, I would take a bus to college. I remember this one time when I got into a bus and, as always, was tuned in to my music when I suddenly noticed that women who walked in and out of the bus were giving me dirty looks. Ten minutes had elapsed before I figured that I was on what is called a ‘Ladies Special’ bus. At the next stop, I was out of that bus and walked to college with an embarrassed smile on my face.
In college, I didn’t have a big set of friends. Honestly, I don’t even remember the names or faces of the people I went to college with. But that is because, more than ever before, chess started occupying my mind-space. Seventeen was also when I was trying for my Grandmaster norm, even though it was only when I turned 18 that my game had a breakthrough of sorts—it was then that I won the World Junior Championship.
As told to Akhila Krishnamurty
I wanted to say this in the appropriate forum. Dhoni seems an ordinary, nice person to me, it appears Anand is India's first individual World Champion, whether he is, or not. I think, he was the youngest Junior World Champion, when he was crowned. You are destined to be FIDE world champion, after that, today, I think.
Had the previlege to meet Anand in person at Mumbai airport on 8th Sept 2012. He came into the airport in such a humble manner with no hype - I could not believe its Anand (looked up a photo on the web quickly and confirmed his hair style, my bad!!). He was really that simple!! Later I got some guts to walk across and ask for an autograph, no, photograph!! Shook hand with him and then a picture that will stay in my facebook forever!!
What stunned me is the humbleness he displayed by standing in the line to board the flight, getting into the bus along with the crowd and boarded the plane. Only relief I got is when I saw him on the front in the business class!! Thankfully!!
For nothing I show off and many others do!! The world's most talented chess champion showed me how to live a humble life, forever!!
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