Friday, September 05, 2008

A Fortunate Student, I am !

I am very fortunate to have been in a boarding school for 8 long years with teachers who opened up our young minds, showing them the wonders of the intellect and the miracle of being able to think for ourselves. They exercised our mental muscles, stretching and strengthening, so that we can make challenging decisions, find our way in the world, and become independent. They were our parents, guide and friend with an overflowing heart. When I woke up, I realized that, it is Teacher’s Day in India and thought I should extend my gratitude.

Nirmala Sam Babu: My first teacher was Nirmala madam. It was when I joined a pre-school and I left the school after a year. The last time I met her, she told me I was her first student. She is a highly inspiring and a friendly person. Now that she runs her own school, St.Peters at Kodaikanal, one of the prestigious institutions in Kodaikanal.

Sheela Cherian – She is the first teacher anyone who joins Sainik School, Amaravathinagar would encounter. She taught table manners to all the students, on the day of induction. Things like, How to eat using a spoon and a fork… How to spread butter and jam with the knife… How to eat boiled egg… and most importantly, how to eat with our mouth closed. These lessons will stay with any of her students till the grave. Owing to her motherly attitude and love, she preferred to teach English to the sub-juniors classes. For certain, everyone in her class will develop an excellent hand-writing skills and the flow of language.

P.T.Cherian (PTC) - P.T. Cherian and Sheela Cherian are kind of made for each other couples. They joined the school when it was started in 1962 and after a few years, fell (rose) in love and got married. He taught Physics for the senior classes. Mostly, he treated everyone as adults and that earned him reverence amongst the students of all classes. Though he is no longer with us, the majestic way he carried himself as the longest served senior master, makes him an indisputable icon in hearts of the Amaravian family.

George Joseph (GJ) – He was heavily built, tall, high energetic and full of fun. When he used to teach Gulliver in Lilliput, we would be exactly like poor Lilliputians and he like the gigantic Gulliver. Be it prose or poem, he used to perform all sorts of animation to enact the scene and make it lively. It will be hilarious, when he enacts the baby in a poem like “Trot trot the baby goes; Trot trot to town….

Devanasamy (ADS) – The delight of watching The Story of India or History Channel or the pleasure of reading historical books, I owe to him. His many ways like pinching the arm in varied degrees of excruciating pain, would put any history lesson into the core of our heads. We have always admired the way he carried himself. The gleam of his shoes and belt, the whiteness of his shirts and the perfect folding of the pants are things I get reminded of when I wear a formal.

R Sreenivasan (RSV) – We can learn sophistication from RSV. He taught us geography and he was also my house master when I was a prefect. He left the school after he was appointed as the principal of Navodya Vidhyalaya

I.L.Fernandez (ILF) – A care-free and a simple person, who never carried the book to the class room. He taught us physics when we were in senior classes. Rarely writes on the board, but he will ensure that the lessons are written on our heads. Apart from Physics, we learnt mutual respect from ILF.

P.Chandran (PC) – A rare teacher and a genius who sometimes contemplates in his own world. If I were given a chance go back to the school, I love to sit in his class. He taught us Quantum Mechanics and always emphasized relating the theories to the real-world and the relative world. He is the first person who revealed the harmony of physics and meta-physics to us. Even today, when I am stuck grasping some complex relations, I think of him. He was my house master during the last 2 years of my school and made me the house captain too. In spite all the pranks I played and the difficult situations I created for him, he was very understanding and helpful.

A.Santiago Jayaraj Kumar (ASJK) – An idealistic, versatile and dynamic teacher. He taught us English. Though he treated all the students as equals, he always knew where and how to draw the thin line. I owe him, my voracious reading habits and my appetite for books. Be it poem or prose, the books never limited him from extending to the origional text and the contemporary writings too. For example, we had a lesson which was the condensed form of the book "To Sir, With Love" by E.R. Braithwaite. He used the origional book and also ensured that the school screened the 1967 classic "To Sir, With Love". On another occassion, there was a lesson called "The Man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag" by Jim Corbett. Apart from teaching from the original book, he introduced Kenneth Anderson, who has written similar books. Had I not been in his class, the passion to read Saki, Ruskin Bond, James Herriot, Leo Lolstoy, Anton Chekov... and a numerous authors wouldn't have occured to me.

KR M Karuppaiah (KRMK) – He was my guardian angel :) He taught us Organic Chemistry. Though many guys scored well in the subject, for some reason, I could never understand it except for one formula C2H5OH.

V Govid Samy (VGS): A jovial and a carefree person, who always go by the books. He always bridges the student-teacher relationship to ensure comfort and was like a friend to us. He taught us Chemistry and was also our NCC master for the Naval Wing. I still remember my first day at the Naval Wing, when a guy banged his foot to make a halt while marching, he shouted “ Hey.. what happened and why are you getting tensed man? You will be standing on a ship and if you bang like this, the ship will sink”. He ordered that no one should behave over-smart and do fast actions during the drill. From that day, every drill will be fun-filled slow-motion gestures. He was also our ship modelling instructor.

King Kristo Kumar (KKK): A highly energetic and a loving person. He taught us Math with such an ease that, it would be like learning some poem.

D Mariarajan (DMR): A bold, rebellious and aggressive teacher. He was more than a friend to me. We had similar taste for songs and I got the habit of collecting sings from him. He taught us Math in junior classes.

S Saradhamani (SSM) - She was a very loving and a next generation teacher. She taught us english in junior classes and my passion for English as a language can be attributed to her. I still remember how we were almost in tears during her last class, when she left the school. To this day, I have not seen a hand-writing that is as beautiful as hers. It's perfect calligraphy. The 5 page autograph she wrote to me is a treasured possession. She is a singer too :)

M N Santhanakrishnan (MNSK): A perfectionist and the keeper of the morality. MNSK taught us Tamil and he had a peculiar way of blending humor and complex grammatical theories. Recently, he was awarded the best teacher award by the President of India.

V Charles (VC): An always smiling personality, who replaced CSG as the Biology Master when we were in 9th . Though I was not comfortable with biology as a subject, I loved attending his classes. It will be one class where we can sleep on the desk without being bothered or skip and go to the library without being questioned. We had enough freedom while he is in the class. We were supposed to do a project in 12th class and I planned to do “Fermentation of grapes by yeast”. When I told this with apprehension, he was genuinely happy for coming up with a novel idea. I was brewing black and white wines under the cot, one day he surprised me with the jamoon wine. He always taught us in our own way.

After the school, though life taught me all things, great and small, the lessons I learnt from these revered souls during the formative years laid the foundation for all that is good in me. All my good deeds I owe to them; all the short-comings are mine.

Monday, September 01, 2008

All in the name of Mahatma

Recently, I had been to a pub in Chennai with a friend. After a couple Jacks on the rocks, we decided to leave and the waiter produced the bill. My friend took his wallet and pulled out a couple of 500 rupees notes and I saw Gandhiji staring into my eyes. Swiftly, I took out my credit card and asked my friend to take his wallet off my sight. Since then, I have been wondering, in a country envisioned to be built on the principle of Mahatma, we do every forbidden act using the currency printed with his face on it. Isn't there a be better way to remember and pay our respects to the Mahatma?

Now, the government has invented yet another way to pay its respects to the father of our nation. Smoking in public will be strictly banned from 02-Oct-08, the birth anniversary of Mahatma. Don’t these guys have better things to associate Mahatma with? The act also empowers school principals, Postmen, Railway Stationmasters, even your boss to book you, if you're caught smoking in a public place. How ridiculous!

When you want to ban something, why do you allow its root cause to exist? Fear of loosing revenue? You give something and set the rules exactly opposite to it for your own amusement and pride. You allow production and selling of cigarettes and set a rule not to smoke in the public. It’s like Adam’s apple. Look! But don’t touch. Touch! But don’t taste. Taste! But don’t swallow
Statutory Warning: Smoking Cigarettes and Drinking Alcohol is injurious to health