The child prodigy has graduated into a science master. He was the youngest entrant on the campus when he joined IIT, Kanpur, five years ago. Now, as 19-year-old IIT post graduate, Sahal Kaushik is heading to Stony Brook University in New York for his PhD.
His journey to the prestigious US institute has been as swashbuckling as his arrival on the Kanpur campus. Sahal has qualified GRE with a score of 337 out of 340 and TOEFL where with 112 out of 120 marks. Now, after attending his convocation on June 7, he will make his way to New York in August to pursue his research in `High Energy Particles’. This trip however would be different from his first journey to UP’s industrial city as he is going all alone to New York unlike five years ago when his mother Ruchi accompanied him.
The five-year stint has made all this difference to once reclusive Sahal, says her mother. He made some friends on the campus and this was the biggest change in him, says Ruchi. “At IIT, he was treated at par with other students. There was no special treatment for him,” she tells TOI at her apartment in Sarvodaya Nagar, Kanpur. At present, Sahal is staying here with his mother, maternal grandmother and younger sister Saras, 17. “Five years at IIT has made him outgoing and matured. He can now hold conversation on his own,” she says. “I also hang out with friends,” Sahal adds.
Beyond studies, Star War games are his only recreation, Ruchi says. At present, he is involved in making a millennium falcon. A little yoga which was part of compulsory physical activity at IIT and some science quiz in college also help him relax. A voracious reader, his favourites are `Game of Throne’ and `The Lord of The Rings’. “He has seen all movies and read all books of ‘Lord of the Rings’. When asked about his favourite genre, Sahal said, “I like to read books which are speculative. And yes, I have read all books of American novelist Harry Turtledove.”
Talking about the IIT life, he says that the meal at IIT mess reminds him of the train food. “It’s slightly better than the one served in trains,” said Sahal who has a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) 8.4 with just one semester remaining. This too he sahred with great difficulty. “What’s the need for knowing my CGPA? How will it help the newspaper?”
For Saras, Sahal is a big brother. “He has a great sense of humour. We talk about my friends, his friends and their stories. We share a relationship like any other brother-sister couple.”
UP Singh, who mentored the boy while he was preparing for IIT-JEE sis still a close friend of Sahal. “I know he is fully involved in research. It’s pure sciences which he craved for. He has even got his two research papers published in top journals. I am waiting to see him become a scientist of top grade.
For others, he is a kid, but for us, he is too matured,” said Singh who met Sahal during his vacations.