Remembering teachers

Teachers day went by a couple of days back. Though there are many teachers who have played a part in shaping my life, there are four individuals who have influenced me the most by their teachings and/or thoughts. I would like to mention a bit about them and thank them for their influence and their guidance:

1) Mrs. Sophy Jacob – Sophy ma’m, as we used to call her, taught me Biology during my XI and XII grade. She was my favorite teacher during school days. Biology was my favorite subject back then and the primary reason behind that was the involvement with which she taught the subject. Our class size (science section) was quite small then and that was probably one of the main reasons why teachers knew each student in the class well and could counsel/guide each one of us if they wanted.

I still remember the day in my XII grade when I realized I couldn’t sit in any of the medical entrance exams as I didn’t meet the minimum age criterion. I was terribly disappointed as I wanted to take up medicine as a career and didn’t want to waste a year waiting to fill the applications for the next year’s entrance exams. Though Sophy ma’m would be really happy when any of her students got admission in a good medical college and I am sure she wanted me to also get into one (though she never expressed it explicitly to me), I still remember her talking to me for those 15-20 minutes, advicing me to seriously think about engineering as a career and even going to the extent to say that it might also be better for me to take it up considering my family’s financial condition back then.

She used to help us a lot by letting us utilize the complimentary copies of books that she used to receive from publishers and was always accessible and ready to respond to any queries that we had. The respect and admiration her students have for her is evident from the fact that even many years after finishing our schooling, many of us continue to call her and talk to her, if not go to the school and meet her personally.

2) Prof. S.P. Seth – Seth Sir was the professor of electrical engineering and dean of post graduate studies at Delhi College of Engineering, Delhi from where I did my Bachelors in Engineering. Rajnish, my best friend, and I have never ceased to get amazed at his willingness to help students and share his knowledge with them. He was a great influence to us back then and will continue to remain so.

3) Dr. Bhuwan Agrawal – He was neither my teacher at school nor a professor during graduation or PG days. He was my manager at Motorola/Freescale and I respect and admire him for his technical knowledge, dedication to work and frankness. I don’t think I could have wished for a better manager to start my career with. I must confess that I have learnt a lot in life by just observing and hearing him speak.

4) Prof. Nirmal Gupta – Prof Nirmal Gupta was the (visiting) professor of marketing at the Indian School of Business (ISB) from where I did my PG in management. He was voted as the best professor of the elective terms by our batch and I would rate him as one of the best teachers I have ever learnt from. The way he teaches marketing is something phenomenal. Though we got some really good professors from Wharton and Kellogg come down and teach us, he eclipsed them all with his style, knowledge, involvement and dedication to his job. 

5) Sri T. R. Dhandapany – my mridangam guru. Though teaching the art of playing percussion instruments is the only means of earning livelihood for him and though he charges very modest fees, he has been kind enough to teach people who couldn’t afford even that much, for free. Whatever little I know about playing percussion instruments is primarily because of what I learnt from him.

8 thoughts on “Remembering teachers

  1. Nirmal Gupta !!!! Really …. I know he is a great instructor … But teacher … Im not so sure … He had too much ego to be a good teacher ….

    PS: He was the reason I couldnt go to Vegas , so my opinion can be a lil biased 😉

  2. Hmm ….. I don’t know how he is as a person but I have enjoyed every bit of his classes.

    Sometimes I feel that the strictness with which he tries to teach, unlike his US counterparts, might be due to:
    (a) years of teaching in management institutes in India where many students till now would have just done their graduation and then come in to do their PG in management. In such places, many professors still tend to treat students in the strict traditional Indian sense
    (b) his involvement with the subject due to which he is unable to tolerate any disinterest expressed or lack of preparedness (he taught us elective courses and students opted for the courses of their own will).

    As more and more institutes come up using the model ISB pioneered in India, students will come in with more and more work experience and then one can’t just control the class with one’s strictness. It is for the student to decide what he/she wants to make out of the course and whether he/she wants to pay attention or not. The prof becomes more of a friend and a guide than a teacher in the strict Indian sense which I think is a transition some of the old timers in the teaching field have to get adjusted to.

  3. Ram… a 20 line response to a 4 line comment and that too from Ford !!

    Shaaaame Shaaaame

    The one without the ego was CIA (Caught In the Act) dude !! 🙂

  4. Raam : Thanks for the 20 line response … but at the end of the day , I travelled all the way to Phoenix and couldnt go to Vegas coz Nirmal Gupta wont postpone a stupid exam …

    KS : I know dude … Now we all know how you got those A’s … and also how you gained so much weight in ISB 😉 …

  5. ya dude… they said ‘Beg, Borrow or Steal’ and I found my niche… Ha Ha !!

    too bad that I couldn’t beat the other quadie in the race…

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