I saw Mona Lisa Smile a while ago and have been thinking about some teachers I’ve had the fortune of coming across in my own life . I know I am a tad late, as teachers day is gone, but I really think I need to blog about them.. just to relive those wonderful and not so wonderful memories of school and college.
Warning: Fairly longish, sappy post.. Sniff Sniff.. Read only if you are relatively jobless..
Bakshi Mam : I met Bakshi mam when I was just stepping into my tumultous adolescence. My father had taken an assignment in Baroda and we had to shift lock, stock and barrel from Chennai. I had to leave my beloved Chennai, where I had spent most of my childhood till then. Then, there was also the language factor. I could manage broken conversations in hindi , but reproducing Surdas , kabir’s dohas and writing 200 words on the Kabuliwalas of the world on my own was something I was not prepared for. Bakshi Mam happened to be my hindi teacher. Third or the fourth day into the academedic year(I was in 9th then) , she realized that I was very diffident about my Hindi and what she did for me that day , will be ever etched on my memory. She made me read out a passage in front of the entire class. When I couldn’t get the pronunciation of “jhopadpatti” right, she made me repeat it 4-5 times till I got it right. Humiliation and shame flooded my senses.I reddened looking at all the jeering faces of my classmates. Later after the class , she called me to the staff room and told me that I was very bright for someone who had never studied hindi as a 2nd language.She started helping me with course work and gradually I started picking up things quite well . I actually scored decently on my boards the next year. Definitely more than what I expected…
My take away: A lot of good comes from experiencing shame and mortification. Like the Phoenix…that rose from it’s own ashes, Bakshi mam made me rise from my own tears and feelings of insecurity.
I was back in Chennai for my 12th again as my dad got transferred again. Vasumati mam taught chemistry. I was not particularly not fond of her as she had weird mannerisms. And Vasumati mam never smiled ..Ever !!. I wasn’t too great in Chemistry either as I had slacked off quite a bit in the 11th. I was totally under prepared when I got back to Chennai, where the kids are so focused about their acads. Everybody wants to get into the IITs here. My first mid terms gave me the shock I was dreading all along .. I had just scraped chemistry scoring 27.5 on 75. Vasumati mam , however , had failed me. I went to her with righteous indignation at being failed even though technically I hadn’t. It was the first time I had failed in any subject .. period.
This is what she told me “ If I pass you now , You’ll take it for granted . If I fail you however, you will always remember this failure. Take it in your stride”. I’ve never failed any exam after that ( We’ll have to ,of course, ignore my CFA level II which I failed a few months back.. But then, I wasn’t prepared and was caught between messy job shifts.. So that doesn’t count ;-))
Vinata Sai Mam: Fast forward College … Vinata mam taught English Literature.She was one heck of a lady. When I started college , I wasn’t too happy. I wasn’t happy about the college, my course offered me little intellectual stimulation and found most of my classmates more content in mugging up things rather than trying to learn anything new. I felt trapped between people I couldn’t relate to. Predominantly, I was bored. I used to do very well in my literature classes. But due to my high boredom and fickleness levels , I started dozing off a lot in class, even if the lectures were interesting. One day Vinata mam showed me an ad of a quiz competition (she was the culturals staff coordinator) which was to take place in another college and asked me if I would be interested. I had never quizzed before and was very skeptical about it. She had also picked up girls from other departments and we assembled one afternoon to get to know each other. We hit it off and started a De-facto Quiz club. And suddenly college was so much fun. I was hardly around in college as I was busy attending more quizzes, actually all kinds of competitions- Dumb charades, Jam, collages, creative writing …anything actually … And most importantly I met a lot of likeminded people who later became some of my good friends. I met Vinata mam a few years back at annual quiz fest organized by a bookchain in chennai and she was there with another bunch of starry eyed students. I don’t quiz any longer. But I suspect , she is there every year , religiously supporting her team.
Thanks vinata mam.. You made my College bearable 😉
Kediyoor Sir: Fast forward again to Post graduation. It was the final semester and placements were abysmally bad that year. Kediyoor was our PGP coordinator. I had taken a course on Advertising and the final review exams were about to happen. During one weekend during final review exams, I had some friends over and wasn’t staying in the hostel( Not allowed as per our institute policy.. hope my Dad is not reading this ).
The exam was initially scheduled for Sunday 11:00 and the last class I attended was on Friday. I had informed my roomie and a few college friends that I wouldn’t be in till Sunday evening , but they had no idea where we were staying . Just my luck – the exam got preponed by an hour and I had no clue as I hadn’t bothered to stop by the insti earlier nor had I checked up with my roomie.I didn’t have a cell phone those days. So , an hour into the exam I walked into the exam room to horrendously find people already writing the exam. I freaked out !!. My invigilator took me to Kediyoor. Miraculously, he made me write the exam, even though I was allowed only an hour and half. I was actually surprised that I got a A- later. Kediyoor called me after the exam and asked me what was really bothering me . He apparently assumed that I was in depression as I wasn’t placed yet. He put me on to another lady lecturer who started counseling me every week, treating me like a whacked out psycho .. This ode goes to Kediyoor to have taken so much interest in my future to have allowed me to write the exam and also give me extra 30 minutes to finish my exam If he hadn’t allowed me to write the exam , I would have had to repeat the year due to my carelessness… I shudder to think of the consequences.. .I can never forgive him for putting me on to that counseling lady.. Ugh!!
Also thanx to my roomie , Soda for checking out every hotel in town for me, when someone told her that I hadn’t made it to the insti in time for the exam. What fun times..
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Ps : No names have been changed as gratitude doesn’t need be camoflagued ;-).