GREENVILLE, S.C.—Picture this: An up-and-coming chemist, a graduate student at Harvard University with parents who were equally educated, blew his first pile of money on a hobby.
Sudhin Datta bought his first camera while working as a graduate student at Harvard.
It was a Nikon F2, to be precise.
“My mother was horrified,” said Datta, now an accomplished chemist who was honored recently as the ACS Rubber Division's Charles Goodyear medalist.
“She thought it was a total waste of time, resources, money. She said, ‘Did I raise you to do this?' ”
Datta spent the equivalent of four months of salary to buy the camera.
Three decades later, Datta still pursues photography, one of his two major passions outside of the laboratory.
“I still buy Nikon equipment at inflated prices,” he said during a break at the Rubber Division's 187th Technical Meeting and Symposium, where he received his award at the Science and Technology Awards Banquet. “It is expensive but it is really good.”
Now, he said he loves to dabble in digital photography.
“I get to do things with it that I could never do with the film,” he said.
His other major passion? Something that can be equally challenging: Golf.
He said he plays as much golf as possible. His 16-year-old daughter, Teresa, also took up the game. And Datta said that his daughter, who plays at her Texas high school, is the better golfer.
“She won't play with me,” Datta said. “I think we have more fun talking about playing golf than actually playing golf.”
Datta said his daughter is also highly skilled in mathematics. He said his daughter is fluent in Chinese—Datta's wife of 20 years, Carol, is Taiwanese.
“My child is growing up in an environment that my parents didn't quite understand,” Datta said. “I come from India, and for me, I lived the weird transition: When Asians went from being poverty-stricken to wondering where the next vacation in Aspen is going to be. It's afundamental change in four years, in 50 years, that I've seen in those countries. It's unreal.”
When not taking pictures or golfing, Datta said he loves his family time.
“We have finally figured out the solution to a perfect marriage,” Datta said. “Anything she says, I say ‘Yes, dear.' And it's a wonderful word that translates exactly the same into Chinese.”