9.06.2014

Remembering Teachers Who Have Long Forgotten Me

As happens with every occassion, this Teacher's Day brought back fond memories of teachers - for many people on social media. Of course, the icing on cake was our dear Prime Minister's speech for school children. As someone rightly asked on Twitter, shouldn't he be addressing teachers. Well, I guess teachers will need to wait a bit more for their Ache Din!

Leave that, coming back to teachers and the special bond that many of my friends shared with their teachers. Believe me, when I say, I feel a little bit jealous because I do not have any teacher who I can proudly call the beacon of my life. This coming from someone who attended 6 different schools - not including FIITJEE, where I spent an year to be able to go to CUSAT, where I spent 4 years to be able to get a job. But despair not, even though I did not have teachers whom I considered emulating - and this, to be sure, is not necessarily something lacking on their part - I had lots worth remembering.

Schooling started with LKG and UKG at Velammal, Anna Nagar Chennai. I hope you will understand that I do not have any memories of my teachers from that time. I am sure  even my teachers from those time do not remember a (shall I say cute) little boy with two ponies jutting out from his head, as if Lord Shiva decided to have two outlets for Ganga just to make sure the pressure did not get to him. In case you are interested, one memory I have of that place is  feeling jealous on seeing other kids with three box tiffins when I was sent with one. The other one is not something to be proud of and I apologize to my parents for starting the process of letting them down at such an early age. Basically, I did it in my pants .... in school. When the teacher asked me to sit down after my due greetings, I refused (I remember this), and before long I was in the bathroom being given a thorough wash. Thereafter, I was put alongside my half pant right near the main gate for both of us to dry. It did not help that parents had starting filing in to collect the apple of their eyes. My granny still recounts the horror of seeing her apple standing naked waist down.

Next was Fatima in Malad, Mumbai. Here I have to apologize again, in fact more, because I do not even have personal experiences to fall back on. You can start getting an idea of how simple (you can read pointless) my school life was. I do however remember my father dropping my sister and I on a Lambreta. On many occassions he used to stop at a stationery shop on the way to buy scented erasers for us. To be sure, during those times we called them rubbers - of course, it was before the liberalisation era of 90s when rubber was something you used to rectify a mistake and not to avoid one.

Cut to Prakash in Ahmedabad. One of the best school days I had. In fact, this was also my Gupta period when it comes to teachers. I had a teacher who, while teaching us Geography, told us that the earth would be subsumed by an exploding star after millions of years. Her simple act of going beyond the syllabus ensured that I remain worried for the next 2 days. Of course, times have changed now. I give a damn even if a star explodes this very moment - I have got life insurance, you see. We had a teacher, and my classmates know whom I am talking about, who was known for his temper. He was known to have thrown a compass at someone in his class. When I attended, he just threw a duster. And this was SUPW class. This was also the time, when I met a beautiful young teacher who came to teach us Hindi for a year. One of those young liberal teachers who students take a liking towards. Guess what, I even attended her wedding along with my parents.

Next stop was an year long experience at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Bhandup, Bombay. I remember only one teacher - a tall lady from Delhi with a bob-cut hairstyle. She taught us English and I was relatively good in that subject. And yes, she was a very good teacher. Contrary to all expectations it was in her subject - English - that we first did something practical. We created a radio show. She once asked all sections of class 8th to read my essay on "Recess". I had a crush on her. But all that did not last very long. Within a year, along with my dad's transfer came mine.

I joined Maharishi Vidya Mandir, Sitapur Road, Lucknow. A boys school. Every tuesday we attended school in Kurta-Pyjama and Kolhapuri chappals. When I rode my cycle to school on tuesdays, I looked like a journalist in the making. Everyday we used to spend 15 mins in the morning and evening on Transcendral Meditation. I was in 9th. The last thing on my mind was meditating. A lot of us dozed off while sitting on their benches. Each and every teacher, barring one who was very young and left very soon, kept one or two canes with him. Please understand, each and every teacher. It seemed as if I was in an encounter zone. I had a Chemistry teacher who seemed to have picked up a tip or two from the army training manual. Let me give you an example of his modus operandi. Assume he is sitting in the teacher's chair and you are speaking with him about something - most probably trying to see if you can get that extra mark just by that Puss in Boots Innocent Face. Of course, the rest of the class is murmuring. Of course, there is strength in number and this murmuring of 60 students creates a cacophony. What does our teacher do? He cool headedly asks us "Who was speaking?". We, the future of India, remain silent. This is not a scene from a Bollywood movie, mainstream or otherwise. So he starts giving each and every student in the class 30-40 canings ... on the palms. Of course, the cane breaks midway and he sends a student who is yet to undergo this experience out into the fields to get a new one.

Things were not so bad though. We had a teacher who though equally brutal used to smile. "Killing me Softly" had a new meaning for us. Let me give you a sneak preview into his ways. Assume he gave us an internal test of 30 marks and the passing marks were 20. Now, you are me and I am like most of the class. So we score below 20. Now, here are the rules read out when the answer sheets are being distributed. For each mark less than the passing marks, you get one caning on the palm. However, please do not misunderstand our teacher to be a cruel one. He gives us an option. Either take one on the hand or two on the bum. I think I took the latter option only because I already knew how it feels to be caned on the palm.

After 2 years and a board exam, I realized that there are better schools around. And I joined City Montessori School, Mahanagar, Lucknow. The school boasts of being the largest of its kind in the world and its founders are well-respected by everyone except their own students. We used to pray for them to not attend our functions - because their speeches lacked something called a concluding part, or a conclusion for that matter. Of course, our prayers were not answered and that played a major role in my religious beliefs today. We had a Chemistry teacher who told us what to write in the board exams. He told us "Write what I am writing on the board irrespective of the question you are asked. If you write anything else, I will not take responsibility". There was a teacher who did pass a friend for a bottle of liquor - we were grown ups. I guess these were the things that remained to be learnt from teachers in my last year in school. Fortunately, we had an excellent and amazing teacher for English literature. He made Wuthering Heights, Twelfth Night and Great Expectations interesting to us. We actually learnt from those books.

This, people, is an abridged version of My teachers' Experiments With Me. For all the talk of "Aacharya Devo Bhava", I think we forget that a lot of teachers are teachers because teaching is a profession. I mean, how many people have you met who are software engineers because it is their passion and not because this is the only job their degrees could get them. So let us take it easy and get ready for Children's Day.

For those who are interested, here is how it all happened to me chronologically.

1987-1989 Valiyamal
1989-1992 Fatima
1992-1996 Prakash
1996-1997 KV
1995-1997 Maharishi Vidya Mandir
1997-1999 CMS
1999-2000 FIITJEE
2000-2004 Cochin University

8 comments:

  1. This post is hilarious and cracked me up a number of times!
    As a person who has studied in a number of schools/colleges growing up I understand what it feels like to change schools so often and not have any one teacher who is as you put it "the beacon of my life".

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    Replies
    1. Hey Madhu, Thanks a lot for reading it and for the kind words of encouragement. I hope to crack people more often ;)

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