Friday, July 18, 2014

Teachers who made a difference

Right through school and college, I have been lucky to have had excellent teachers.  Principal Balasubramaniam from primary school was a disciplinarian - sir, if I have to ever create a character who is a principal, he will be modeled after you.  Gayathri Miss from Class VII for the excellent way in which she taught science and Brinda Miss from Class V and Class VII for math.  TKS, who taught geometry in Class X for instilling a sense of order and aesthetics that holds me in good stead even today.  TKP and VSS - english professors in college, and the best that I have come across.  Prof. KRN standing as a colossus, who taught accounts for most of my college years - I am truly indebted to you sir.
There are however four teachers who have had the maximum impact and moulded my character.  I am indeed blessed to be touched by their presence.

Mamatha Miss
Samaja Seva Mandali.  Class VII.  Social Studies.  Those days social studies meant history, geography and civics.  Mamatha Miss joined our school in that year and she was actually a replacement for another, who was more popular.  It was because of her that we we realised there was a world outside our own small Class VII.  Be it current affairs, world events, contemporary history beyond what was covered in text books, she exposed us to it all.  She taught us to question, to think and to seek.  Most important, she instilled that thirst for knowledge, a thirst that is yet to be sated.  I hope it never is.  Thank you Miss, for making me realise my place as a responsible citizen.

L Hanumanthiah
Vijaya High School.  Class VIII - Chemistry.  Class X - Physics.  Let me be honest.  LH was not popular with most students because he did not 'dictate notes'.  Nor did he care whether you kept a '200 page single ruled book' for classwork or a '100 page single ruled book' for homework.  He never gave any.  Nor did he read out ever from the text book.  In a class of 45 minutes, he taught the prescribed syllabi for 30.  He had completed the 'portions' three months before allotted time.  The 'kudumis' hated him.  His stories from the US bored the rest.  I looked forward to the stuff he discussed beyond the syllabus.  In the pre-google, pre-internet, pre-computer era, he was the only source of information.  It was from him that I learnt of teleportation, ESP, the Bermuda Triangle, Atlantis, quantum physics, developments in science and a whole host of other things.  He taught us to question, to think and to seek.  Thank you sir, for making me a thinking individual.

R Ravishankar
Vijaya College.  I B.Com - Business Mathematics.  III B.Com - Financial Management.  RS literally stormed into our college life.  During our I and II PU, he was on deputation to another college.  Already a senior lecturer, he was working on his P.hd and was in running for a teaching position at IIM-Bangalore.  A strict disciplinarian, he brooked no nonsense in class.  If for example he had asked everyone to bring the log tables to the next class, you had to.  Those who didn't, were asked to leave the class.  No excuses.  No exceptions.  His teaching was so impactful, that the concepts remained long after the academic years.  The grounding I received in Financial Management helped me during my MBA, nearly a decade later and still helps in my investment banking career, nearly a decade and a half after we walked into his class.  I still have the class notes from then.  He challenged our understanding of the concepts constantly, never letting us take things at face value.  He taught us to think, to be challenged and to respond to the challenge.  Thank you sir, for the solid grounding in concepts of finance and for instilling the confidence to respond to challenges.

K Rama Nayak
Vijaya College.  II PU, I B.Com, II B.Com - AccountancyAccountancy is synonymous with KRN.  He used to kid that anyone who simply sat through his classes would pass the exams.  That was no joke.  Spurning offers to teach at foreign universities, he taught for nearly three decades at Vijaya College, churning out thousands of students grateful to him for the grounding in accountancy.  The training he imparted helped hit the ground running during my subsequent CA training and career in accounting and audit.  One of my first assignments passing out of college was to prepare the monthly accounts of a services company.  But for the training in college, I would have been at sea with that assignment.  There was something more he taught - not by speech but by actions.  Hard work, discipline, to be the best in whatever you did and above all, hope.  Hope that no circumstance is so bad that you cannot rise from it.  His life is a study in these.  Thank you sir, for teaching accountancy and teaching us how to live life.

Thank you sirs, ma'am, for everything. Words truly, are not sufficient.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Book review: Em and the Big Hoom

Read Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto, thanks to my dear friend AN
This book is not a tear jerker - surely, the people in that house cannot wake up every morning and cry for 25 or so years, can they? Em's condition becomes a 'part of life', but yet, it tears their life apart. Though in a strange way, it is what keeps them together. When Em dies of a heart attack in the end, the son wonders, 'what now?' For those who have never known a normal life, can life be normal ever?
A beautifully written, un-pretentious, honest book. Breath of fresh air, did I say?
who lent the book. An absorbing read, finished it in one sitting. Though I am a bit sceptical of books that talk of personal crises, this was a wonderful book! Written in an autobiographical tone, Jerry Pinto describes growing up with Em - a mother who is manic depressive, bi-polar and in short, in the author's words "Mad". Without being melodramatic or overly sentimental, Jerry Pinto takes us through the life of a boy growing up in a middle class Mumbai home with a mother who has a psychiatric condition, a father - the Big Hoom who is the pillar holding the family together and an elder sister Susan. With mercurial wit suffused with feeling and not self pity, the author makes his story your own. When Em discusses her sex life with an adolescent son, your face turns as red as his. When the son does not want to go home, you understand. When the son, who loves his mother dearly, calls her a 'disgusting bitch' you understand. When Em has a cancerous growth on her tongue and she makes her children promise not to tell the Big Hoom, and they don't - you understand.