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Friday, June 28, 2013

Taking stock once more

My daughter has had an interesting and (for her-) new experience. Read about it here. This is one of the reasons I have sent her off to a big city, awful as the wrench has been.

Rashmi in her latest blogpost has been reflecting upon what I have done for her over the last few years. Anyone who reads it with attention will see this relationship with me has added a major dimension to her life, something she has come to value highly, and not something that has been a cause of any kind of trouble. Vaishnavi is another girl who could tell you. This is precisely the kind of thing I try to do with all my pupils, succeed in doing with a few, and have always dreamt of doing with very large numbers, as witness what I said in the post titled ‘Last Dream’. It needs a lot of intelligent interest, attention and faith on the part of the pupil, too, of course. So I fail with most of those who pass through my tuitions for a few years; no surprises there. Also, perhaps it’s really a good thing that I don’t have to attend to too many people outside my classes – one cannot really give that kind of intense quality time to thousands, or even hundreds of people at once, they all become mere Facebook-friends. An old boy on the phone reminded me yesterday. It has been well said that ‘Not my will, O Lord, but Thy will be done’.

I have always said that these two blogs are extensions of my classes. My best readers have told me they can often actually hear my voice while they are reading. Now that there have been 200,000-plus pageviews, 300-odd members, and this blog routinely gets 800 to 1000 visits every week, I think things are working the way I wanted. They will work even better if my readers interact more, with me and with one another, using these blogs as a common platform. I assure you, nobody with a mind of his or her own ever regretted doing that with me. And the hundreds of posts on these blogs can give you all the talking points you need. Do explore them a bit more assiduously: don’t restrict yourself to the home pages…

A passing thought: while the rumour mill among the parent generation in this town (my dad’s 25 years ago, and now my own) is still almost as busy as ever gabbling away about me to glory, few parents use the internet to read my blogs. The general public opinion about what sort of man I am would have become very very different – and much closer to reality – by now if they did. But no matter. They will die being busy with inconsequential things, as Rashmi has described. So many in fact have already!

The older I grow in teaching, the more deeply I realize how awesome a job it is, and how many of us spend our whole working lives without ever guessing that! Most of us never become more than mere instructors, ‘covering the course’ for some piffling examination be it in physics or history, cooking or gymnastics, painting or music, surgery or law; and it is all so pathetic, because those who can’t learn that kind of stuff from books on their own won’t, instructor or no instructor, and those who can don’t really need instructors at all! No one except he who can show me how to live better in a non-trivial sense (meaning makeup and jewellery and decking up my rooms) qualifies to be called a teacher, and understood in that way, most of us never meet three real teachers in our whole lives, in school or in the university of life. And I also understand that I have, more and more consciously over the years, tried to be the kind of teacher who deserves the title. Much of all the trouble I have had has stemmed from that urge, all the good that has happened has derived from it too. I myself have found all my real teachers only in books… the Buddha, Socrates, Tagore, Vivekananda, Russell, Galbraith, Asimov…; not one teacher I have met in my whole life could hold a candle to these men, in the kindergarten or the university. That is one of the few regrets I shall take to my grave. And maybe the satisfaction of knowing that some people have acknowledged, at least to themselves, that I tried uncommonly hard, much harder than anyone else they have known.

To those who do have this feeling that getting to know Sir up close will make a big difference to their lives, but are still not sure how to, or think they cannot help always having more important and pressing things to do, I shall only say, seize the day. Tomorrow it might be too late.

And you had better start by admitting two things to yourself: a) you have never really made good use of your time till this day, and b) whether you are 14 or 40, there is nothing that you need less than a great number of ‘friends’. They are holding you back from finding out who you are, what you want, and where you would like to go…


Soham Mukhopadhyay said...

Dear Sir,
Of all the private tutors to whom I have been so far , the only one person from whom I have actually learnt anything is you- Sir. The others were mere instructors - some even failing terribly at this act while some were really good who instantly provoked a love for the subject. But teacher? No, I haven't seen any other teacher like you so far and won't probably will in future. You succeeded in doing both- teaching us the subject as well as presenting before us the true meaning of life, exposing us to really good things which had been missing in our lives so far. I will always cherish those days in my life forever. Thank you Sir, once again, for everything.

yours lovingly,
Soham Mukhopadhyay

Debarshi_Saha said...

Respected Sir,

Warm regards. What more can I say indeed, Sir? You are Carl Jung's and Robert Frost's teacher rolled into one. I quote Frost here:

"There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can't move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies..."

You are the latter, Sir, in word and in spirit. If we have been filled up, and are filling up with quail shot all our lives because we find/choose the wrong teachers- you have been our hope for redemption. Thank you again for that.

With best wishes,

Vaishnavi said...

Dear Sir,

I was telling Rashmi only yesterday that until I met you I hadn't realised the full scope of a true teacher's life. You're the exception that proves the rule Sir. I am happy and happier still that I got know you and got taken under your wing so to speak. A million thanks for that Sir!


Suvro Chatterjee said...

I am thrilled to bits that a little of my dream is perhaps beginning to come true at last, Vaishnavi: that, maybe thanks to my blogs, my most favourite old girls and boys have started interacting with one another at last. May the trickle become a flood with the passage of years!