Save for the fleeting look, the emptiness in the eyes was unmistakable, there was little to gauge on the flurry of thoughts that raced through. Mentioning his loss of card on the European Tour three years ago had rekindled the past.
"It seemed as if the world had come to an end," said SSP Chowrasia with assertion, the head bowed over a plate of sambar and vadas. He paused and looked up to ensure the point had been driven home. Noticing the acknowledgement, he continued with his meal. The purposelessness had persisted for some time before he wrested back his playing rights with the win at the Avantha Masters in 2011.
His card gone, uncertainty looms but the man is unruffled this time. The years spent in alien lands and amid people, often hostile, have taught enough to make him say, "All I need to do is persevere."
Taking the Challenge Tour route to reclaiming his "rightful" place can be a winding one but Chowrasia is not looking at that aspect. Rather, his finger is on the positives. His status as a two-time winner on the European Tour secures his place on the Tier II tour and exemption at Q-School (he can straightaway go for the final stage) for the next six seasons. For the moment, these are handy aids.
A better finish than the 22nd at the Venetian Macau Open two weeks back would have allowed him to be a part of the final stage of Q School in Spain, but that's passé.
This week's Hero Indian Open and the Resorts World Manila Masters preoccupy him right now. "At least, I should have a tour to play on," he said.
Currently 42nd on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, Chowrasia wants to lift his ranking before he gets back to working on the bigger picture.
Looking out of the annexe of the Delhi Golf Club, he pondered. It was a comparison of the past and present that got the slight smile to come into play. "Previously, I went by hearsay," he said about the chatter at home on how coping with the cold and long courses in Europe would be a stiff test for the diminutive Kolkatan.
Chowrasia has travelled with that baggage enough to know that they do little other than weigh him down. "I prefer not to listen nowadays," he said.
Rather, he dwells on Jeev Milkha Singh's advice. A constant source of encouragement on tour, Chowrasia has the words memorized by now. "Have no fear, fight them (the challenges) out."