Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Raghavan Narasimhan 1937-2015

I just learnt that one of my teachers in 1964 Raghavan Narasimhan passed away in 2015.
His obituary
My recollections:
His course in 1964  was excellent. We learnt in six months what would have probably taken a couple of years. When he was a college student, he translated several monographs and kept those written translations. I learnt some topology from his translation of Alexanderoff and Hopf. But I never got along well with him. He learnt too much mathematics when he was young which might have tempered his creative juices and it seemed to me his creative achievements were not compatible with his talents. Moreover, he suffered from insomnia. Once in a while, there were pretensions of understanding some stuff without really knowing it and it was not difficult to bullshit him. There seemed to be an undercurrent of trying to impress westerners and his estimate of other Indians seemed depend on how well they were impressing the other westerners mathematically. He wanted chelas around as he was a bachelor for a long time and he tried to carry it on in Zurich too but after a while settled down. I met him a few times in Chicago in Pavaman Murthy's house. Last time I was there, may be around 2007, Pavaman wanted to invite him for dinner but I did not want to see him. So, I missed my last opportunity to see him though he could be often helpful. In the 1980s, he offered to translate a German paper for me. A complicated man, a good man in many ways but not my cup of tea since I did not like to be pushed around.

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