THE lecture at Siri Fort must just be over." The editor of the city section was obviously in the know. "He usually has a break between events. He won't come before nine." "Nine? That is a long way off," said a socialite in despair.
Yet she, and the capital's glitterati—authors, bureaucrats, editors, scientists, socialites—waited patiently at Delhi's Taj Mansingh to meet the man in the wheelchair who speaks through a machine.
Why had this lot come? For most part, awe, admiration. "Did you read the interview in which he said that getting als was the best thing that happened to him?" asked the public relations person. "Amazing, how this man has so completely overcome his disability. I think suffering makes one more focused. One needs suffering to grow." Yes, there was admiration, awe, but also overriding curiosity. How does the speech synthesiser work? Does his head always lean to one side? How can this extraordinary brain, trapped in an unresponsive body, function?
Once asked how he felt about being labelled the world's smartest person, Hawking dismissed it...