Saturday, September 5, 2015

My Rock Star Teachers

Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu Guru Devo Maheshwara | Guru Sakshat Param Brahma | Tasmai Sree Gurave Namaha |

Whenever I meet my Teachers, there is always a big hug and they proudly introduce me to their current colleagues, speaking all the good things about me. :) :) 

No doubt that I was always the Teachers student, as a kid I remember getting into fights with my dad about math sum, and the fights always ended with me screaming ‘My Teacher is right, I will not learn from you’, even after getting few tight slaps.

Noor Fatima, the Head Mistress how can I forget her, slim tall lady who always draped her sari beautifully and spoke with so much confidence. She was an inspiration, what was then not even an observation, today seems to be the very foundation of the way I see the world. A Muslim couple, running a school in Hindu matt premises, my class teacher being Anglo-India and my favourite teacher Fatima K singing om jai jagadish with a tilak on her forehead during the Friday Saraswati puja conducted by children. I learnt all my prayer songs not in a Hindu run school but a school run by Muslim couple, and Noor Fatima indeed laid the very foundation of my Secular thinking.

Fatima K, I can never forget even her signature, everything about her was perfect, she taught Math and Hindi and ensured that I was good in Math and learnt Hindi well. She was a good friend of my mom and her conservation with my mom with her broken Kannada and my mom’s no English was indeed comical.

Oh boy, Pushpa, the very tough PT Teacher, even the tallest and well built boy would never mess with her. She was the energy and never accepted anything less than complete discipline. I remember girls used to go her requesting for a day-off from PT class during their monthly periods, and she always sent them back saying ‘it’s going to be there for a long time, will you stop living your life 5 days of every month?’, maybe there were few exceptions once in a while. I liked the way she knotted her hair up, it was unique than and maybe even know, when I did have long hair that was the no mess hair knot I sported.  

Kausalya M R, the Head Mistress, dark skinned, big bindi and her sari collection was legendary. She taught History & Civics, always encouraged questions and her class on Indian Constitution was a treat. My best ever question to her was, ‘if Hinduism was not a religion, how can you say that Buddhism & Jainism were the off-shoot religions of Hinduism’. When accidently my grandfather & my mom met her on a bus and my grandfather asked her about my progress, she said good things and ended saying ‘she is Stubborn’. Oh that was the line for rest of my life, every time I opposed something at home ‘even your Teacher says you are Stubborn’ became the common gaali! Kausalya ma’am left a mark in my life, not just with the ‘Stubborn’ tag but the K in my signature draws some inspiration from her signature.

Vasudev Bhalla, what can I say about this scholar and Kannada Teacher, he knew Sanskrit, Tulu, Kannada, Hindi, English, Telgu, Tamil etc etc. The old man not only taught Kannada but lessons of life and in a way prepared me for life. He encouraged me to read books without prejudice and complete every book I rent or buy. He used to travel to my village and teach children on Sunday and he always had soft corner for me as he knew my family. He taught me the most important lesson in life, he always said ‘Learning to drive a car is not enough, learn to change the punctured tyre also’ his suggestion was not limited to car for sure, ‘Learn to fix the problem’ was the subtext.

Prabhakar Sir, the typical Hindi Teacher, even though my 3rd language was Hindi he always encouraged me to learn Hindi, me completing prathama & madhyama course in Hindi was undoubtedly his influence. Even though I can’t write Hindi as well as I did once upon a time, it did help me to travel across many parts of North India without a language barrier. One day he gave me a full page picture of Valsamma the famous athlete torn from a sports magazine where she was handing over the baton to the next runner, and said ‘when we handover the baton to the next generation we should have done a good job’, that picture was stuck in my cupboard for many years till it turned brown.

C N Mangala, the Principal, goddess and epitome of simplicity. Tiny lady who commanded the greatest respect, even though she never taught me in class she was someone whom I admired the most, and always felt when I grow really old I will be like her. At a college day event, I was doing a karate demo with the group, after I finished a series of brick breaking and tiles smashing stunts the last was the chopping of watermelon. As I laid still with just a support at the head and foot, and watermelon on my stomach, the blind folded karate master with a huge sword was ready to slice the watermelon. I was told later that she stood-up completely worried and even covered her eyes as the sword went up. After the act, she called me, gave a pat on my back and said ‘Brave Girl, Keep it up’.

I feel blessed that I have very good memories and so much to talk about all my Teachers, the list if these amazing Teachers are endless. Be it School, College or NCC I always had some of the best one to guide me; they encourage me to be Just Me.

We did not have ‘Selfie with Teacher in those days, hence I remember them more for who they are, and how they shaped me rather than how they looked.

Thank You Teachers.

- Kavitha Reddy