I am proud to say that I am a teacher. What better day to write about my love for teaching than today – on the eve of Teachers’ Day? I was inspired by many teachers since childhood and they continue to inspire me to this day. This is a token of gratitude to all of them. We are the sum-total of all our experiences, are we not!
As a child, I grew up amidst academicians. My uncle and aunts were dedicated to educating my brothers and me. This was through a strict regime of learning and a fantastic environment of love and affection. I was always inspired by their love for learning and even more so by their love for teaching. They were strict about discipline and compassionate about the children.
From the shlokas about Lord Rama to the multiplication tables of 2 to 20, we had a variety of learning experiences. My love for Sanskrit started at the tender age of 6 years. However, the blessing of learning Sanskrit systematically started only from 8th grade.
My summer vacations surrounded by this rich learning environment in a small corner of Mysuru built a strong foundation for my education.
Primary and middle school teachers
In my primary years of learning my KG teachers Flora ma’am and Attar Miss, and my 1st grade teacher Kumari ma’am made a lasting impression on me. My middle school teachers Mary ma’am and Jaya Fatima ma’am inspired me. All of them were highly committed to teaching. My experience with them has remained fresh in my memories.
From grade 4 to grade 5, I moved from a Christian convent to a humble Stree Samaja school. I had great difficulty coping with the students and a drastically different culture. AA ma’am observed that I was awfully silent in class and during one class she called me sanyasi. Something snapped inside me that day. After that day, I never sat quietly in a class again. I became an extremely talkative child. Looking back now, I appreciate what she did. Talking has emerged as my greatest strength.
It was CAS – Champubai ma’am who inspired me towards learning Science. Her teaching skills fascinated me as a 5th grader. I was in awe of her and paid rapt attention in all her classes. Not many of my classmates knew that every Saturday I attended practical lab sessions with my cousin in the 7th grade. Thanks entirely to CAS who allowed me to join in these weekend classes though I was in 5th grade.
High school teachers
In my high school days, I was most impressed by VSB sir, my Sanskrit teacher. Most of the boys kept away from him for his discipline but somehow, I was always in awe of his Sanskrit knowledge. Another teacher who motivated me was NNM ma’am, my Maths teacher. For one year, she was our class teacher too. I did not have an opportunity for personal interactions with her because of our class strength of 90+ students. Yet, all through my high school, I was her secret admirer. Her voice was soft, and she was not audible beyond the third bench most of the time. But I used to admire her commitment. I also fondly remember PSD ma’am, my 10th grade English teacher. She made me interested in the English language. I have not yet met a better language teacher than her.
Do you see the pattern here? I have always been attracted to and inspired by commitment in teachers. Come to think of it. They all had families; kids waited for them at home. Sometimes their kids were in the same school, but they always made us their priority.
College and beyond
As I grew into a teenager, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein caught my attention. My PUC teachers and tuition teachers for Maths and Physics played a major role in igniting my love for Physics. It was because of them that I chose Physics and continue to cherish it to this day. I owe it to HBS, BNR, and KSN for watching over me during college days. After college, it was BVS and HPB.
Later, my love for Physics introduced me to my virtual guru – Richard Feynman, a teacher par excellence. He has a strong influence on me, especially with respect to developing a scientific temper. It is because of this influence that I am highly intolerant of and overbearing on a non-scientific crowd. Many astrologers have faced my wrath on and off the TV in this regard.
The next major influence on me was that of my PhD supervisor, Dr. GSD Babu. For many reasons, he is an adorable human being. A perfect example of a mentor who stood by me and pushed me to test my limits. More than teaching me research protocols, he polished off the sharp edges of my personality. He artfully crafted me into a mature human being.
My journey as a teacher
As I shared in an earlier article, my first teaching experience was a disaster. But as any warrior of light, I dusted myself up and have never looked back since then. As an invited speaker in my college, I even had an opportunity to train my teachers on progressive teaching methodologies. I have also been blessed with many memorable moments spent with my teachers as their colleagues. Being on the same side of the table with my teachers is exhilarating, trust me!
This section is for three special people.
Firstly, GSL ma’am – my Chemistry teacher in college. She encouraged me to have a balanced approach to learning rather than the skewed approach to studying only Physics. As a young adult, I have appreciated her counsel at crucial times in my academic life.
I always thought that if I had a daughter, I would name her after GSL ma’am. She has been a great influence in my life not only as a teacher but also as a human being. My interaction with her started when I was in 2nd year BSc and continues to this day. Not a single year has gone by where I have not visited her or spoken to her on Teachers’ day.
Secondly, Gopi Madhav – my personality development coach during PUC. Gopi started as Gopi sir back in 1995 and our teacher-student relationship has evolved into a mature friendship. I follow the memory techniques he taught me even today. Not only that, I teach those techniques to all my students. My time with Gopi has made me explore various aspects of the human brain and the fascinating world of Psychology. This led me to study counseling and Psychotherapy.
Thirdly, Srinivas Tathachar (fondly called cheeni maama) – my uncle and music guru. He did his best to instill a sense of music in me and his endeavours have nurtured my musical intelligence. My stint at learning flute ended abruptly but my love for music has grown non-linearly. Thanks to him, mohana raaga has become the raaga for my peace of mind.
When I started writing, I thought there would be only one person in this category. Now, I find there are four. These are incredibly special women in my life.
My mother – my first teacher for life and for academics. She spent a lot of time during my childhood teaching me and her tuition students the discipline of learning. She even allowed me to monitor her classes in her absence, that was my initiation into teaching.
My sisters, Mythri, and Anu – they taught me the value of being a brother. They have also taught me the true meaning of being there for someone when they need you the most.
My wife, Soumya – she is my mentor on feminism (😊) and relationships. She is also my personal editor. If you have found this article and any of my previous articles interesting to read, it is all thanks to her.
Sense of gratitude
There are numerous other people who have influenced me as teachers. I found it impossible to name them all. My deep sense of gratitude goes out to every one of them. You have all made me who I am today. For that, I cannot thank you enough.
Wish you all a Happy Teachers’ Day!