We were on our return journey in a train that connects Kerala and Telangana via Tamil Nadu. Boarding on a non-A/C compartment, we were amazed to see those yellow Amritapuri shirts again. I introduced my friends and myself, formally, to them and they did the same. They were from Andhra and expecting to reach there at midnight. They questioned us, like everyone else, the number of problems we’d solved. I said “You go first” to which one of them replied,
“Two. The cake one and the palindrome one”
“Aha!”, I said,”What a coincidence! We too solved two, not the palindrome one, but the buildings one”
“How did you do that?”. He sounded perplexed.
“Dynamic Programming. And how did you solve the strings one?”
“Life’s too easy when you use Java”, he replied.
To kill the boredom, we played rummy and cracked jokes. As the day broke, snoring began. Later in the darkness, there was a light. Those people were packing to leave as the trained slowed down. The only speaker in their team smiled at me and whispered “See ya”. We reached home later in the afternoon the following day.
After a day or two, the results of the contest were out and we were positioned in the middle of the sheet. Half a dozen of names below us, one of the team names struck my mind, people who accompanied us earlier in the train. I laughed and laughed hard, not only because they lied that they’d solved two, but, because we too lied the same.