Sunday, September 1, 2013

Teacher's Day

It's been a wonderful month, August. In a few days I probably won't even remember any of the great things that happened to me this month, but that doesn't matter. I've been happier than in a long time, and I've started studying Dermatology, which has turned out to be an endlessly fascinating and challenging subject. I've made good progress with my writing, and let's hope you get to see a lot more of that on this blog soon.

Next week will be Teacher's day. So here's a post, to remind myself of some of the wonderful teachers who have changed my life in some way, at some point. I am probably never going to show them my appreciation in person, but the least I can do is write a post.

The one teacher I will never forget is Dani Miss. She was one person who I am sure loved me unabashedly. I was her favorite child. I once kicked someone under the table in a fit of exuberance, and well, she just refused to believe that I'd done it. She even had tears in her eyes (if my 5th standard brain serves me right) on the last day when I went to her tuition. I visited her a few times after that, and since have lost touch, but she is very, very often in my thoughts. Her entire family knew me, because they had all heard from her how fond she was of me. As an adult, my pathological shyness and introversion somehow keeps me from picking up the phone and tracing her, but I know she would be delighted if she ever heard from me. In retrospect, she may be my favourite teacher, ever.

Next comes Kanti Miss, who is a local legend in Matunga. The lady teaches French since decades, is very eccentric and lovable, and every daughter from my family has gone to her for French Tuitions. She also charges fees at Rs. 50 per month, and throws open the doors of her house, entire living room, and sometimes even bedroom, to swarms of students. I will never forget her Sunday Morning sessions, and the wonderful times I've had with her. I loved French, and most of that love stemmed from learning it at Kanti Miss's house.

Then comes Naidu Sir, who is also on his way to becoming a local legend. I will never forget the day I first met Sir, he actually came to my house, after I had filled a questionnaire for admission to his coaching institute. He wanted to ask me how I'd got so many marks in the 9th standard, if I studied for less than 2 hours per day, as stated in the questionnaire. What he probably still doesn't know, is that while filling that form,  the minimum option provided was two hours per day, which was the only reason why I marked it. I clearly did not even study for two hours at the time. The concept of studying EVERYDAY just didn't exist for me. (Yes, I was a 14 year old girl who had never uttered the word medicine up until then). Naidu Sir, if you're reading this, and if you still give students that questionnaire, please add an option of 2 hours per month, which will be more suitable for most 8th and 9th standard students! :D

So when Sir came home and asked me how I got so many marks without studying, I told him I just did. I also informed him that I hated Geometry, the subject he would be teaching me for the next year. Anyways, once I joined his classes, what started was my first exposure to competitive studying in an atmosphere of constant hard work and setting actual goals and trying to achieve them. You must realise how drastic that could have been for me, after reading the above stanza. At Naidu's were also sowed the first seeds of fascination with Science, and with Biology. And I will forever remember his Sunday morning 7 am tests, which were an exceptionally painful exercise for me. What Sir probably doesn't know till date is, after the Monday to Friday classes, and daily homework, I never touched a book for the entire weekend off, and only started studying for the Sunday morning 7 am tests by waking up at 3 am. I just refused to touch a book on Saturdays.

After my results, I remember talking to Naidu Sir on the phone, and the last thing he told me was, "Aayushi, I hope you will stay in touch..." I fervently said yes at the time, and went on to do the exact opposite. Again, my pathologic shyness is to blame, I never feel the need to go and talk to people, I've just survived by replying to their questions for many, many years of my life. I've remembered his words and our good times at the classes many times, and pretty much done nothing about it.

Next up is Prabhu sir, Abhang Prabhu. The man who single-handedly is responsible for a LOT Mumbaikars' admissions to medical colleges. He definitely takes most of the credit for my admission. If I sit to think about it, I can not really say without doubt that I would have gotten into med school if it were not for this man. He is the only teacher who had the audacity to complain to my parents about me, who one fine day called them and told them they should make me a model instead of a doctor, because I clearly wasn't going anywhere with my lack of studying. But well, in the end, his tactics worked.

He got me to shut myself up in a room for months and study and do nothing else. He made students give up their cell phones, stop watching TV, forget the internet and their social lives. He knew what it took to beat the competition, and he made sure all his students knew as well. He used plain logic and cold calculations and coached you to perfection, with only one aim in sight: to crack the CET. No one can doubt that he had a perfect system in place. He taught us the approach to an MCQ based exams, he even taught us the best ways to bluff for MCQs, and he brainwashed the system of rote learning out of most of us.

And mostly, to add to all that, he taught fabulously well. His teachings of genetics have implanted in me a lifelong fascination for the subject. And well, I remember most of his classes being a lot of fun, because he had a good sense of humor. He also managed to create mini celebrities out of students who were rankers, with his system for displaying weekly rank lists. Consequently, when we went to medical school, it so happened that we already knew the names of many of our colleagues who went to Prabhu's, but we didn't know their faces. We just knew that this person with this name had made it to the top his rank list at some point of time.

I'm trying to think of a memorable teacher in Medical school, and well there's none who personally affected my life. That probably says a lot about the kind of Medical Education we have in our medical colleges.

Currently, I'm working at a place where I'm surrounded by many teachers, and most of them are eager to teach and share their vast knowledge and expertise. This is a first for me in many many years, and I'm basking in the feeling of being taught, for now. It's too soon to write about them, but maybe in three years, there will be another post, with newer stories to tell.

Until then, here's wishing a Happy Teacher's Day, to all the teachers I've written about, and many others who have all affected and changed my life. I don't celebrate things, and I don't wish people for anything including their birthdays, but it's high time I wrote this post.

P.S.: Please tell me about your favorite teachers in the comments section!


Source: here