The Teacher

I kind of bumped into one of the seniors from my grad school on phone a few days back, he was in the town for a conference on parallel processing and advanced computing and was slated to meet all of us old-boys – but somehow the schedule and the Swine-Flu thing ripped his plans apart. It had been a long time since we got in touch and it was fun catching up with him on everything about our department to the old boy’s club. The sense of déjà vu was to prevail and it did so profoundly too.

The talks invariably bordered on the technologies he has been working on of late and about the technology scenario in and around his area, and it had to be such because he is currently working with one of the leading super-computer makers of the world. Oftentimes we also drifted towards the experiences we had while attending the school.

During our discussions he mentioned Curl, I had a vague idea about this MIT paper regarding a new language by the same name – curl. The discussion after-wards was lively and pretty charged up and the details here are neither necessary nor pertinent. The jist was that we should be continuously updating ourselves with the newest happenings in and around our areas of work. And it would really help if the knowledge scavenging is done beyond that realm as well.

That was the time I thought of my professors who have formed a base and lighted a flare that is alive even today. The presentation by professor H.V. Sahasrabuddhe -> “Half Life of Knowledge”, the talks by Prof. R. Sankar during our alumni meets regarding keeping a ‘second option’ open. Rustom P. Mody’s and Achyut Roy’s respective reasonings behind not going for a Ph.D. echoed loud and they were good tidings on a weekend.

Then it was the turn of people from my earlier schools like Prof. P.N. Agrawal, R. C. Mittal, N. Sukavanam (all of them from Roorkee), Mr. Pandey who used to teach us music and literature at Besant Theosophical School to come to the fore, and I was suddenly kind of submerged into the old year-books revisiting all those years.

When we are students and are dealing with these people on a daily basis, it seldom dawns upon us how valuable an influence these guys are going to play in drafting out the career paths for each of us, the grades, surprize quizzes, infinite and take home exams, continuous nightouts in the CS (or whatever) lab for more than 10 days, fun times with pals are all that we tend to associate with the school. Later on we realize that these people have silently played a major role in forming our personalities and have moved on without expecting even a thank-you note.

Today was the day for me to remember all the teachers who may have influenced me in any way possible, many newspapers read “Teacher’s Day” aloud and I came back to realize that all my musings were not a mere coincidence. Thank you HVS, SKM, UK, RCM, PNA, RS, Randy Pausch, Don Knuth, Motwani, Neitzsche, Kant, Gurdjieff, Lao Tsu, OSHO and innumerous others for just being there and having done a mighty good job.


4 thoughts on “The Teacher

  1. You are one lucky guy and make everyone jealous. Very few get that opportunity in their life to have such great influence. We celebrate Teacher’s day and will be happy that we have one more holiday. Nobody thinks what this day about. My grandfather was also a teacher and I never met him unfortunately. But when I see my father I realize he must be a great man too. Its true they never expect a thing from their students. How often we think about those teachers who worked so hard to make us good citizens.
    The technology you mentioned goes beyond my brains :-). I admit I was not a bright spark in school. My mother used to say “even a sentence taught in school is worth learning”. I really respect all those teachers who are struggling to survive in India, sometimes comparing their salaries with mediocre software engineers with no ethics.
    I am amazed to see so much of research work happens in India. I hardly hear anything here in South Africa. Those extra ordinary, brilliant teachers are the fundamental pillars of modern technology, whose names go unheard.

    1. Your mom is so right mate… not only in school, even a sentence taught by a Guru is worth millions I’d say and you do not need to be a formal pupil to that person in order to gain knowledge.

      The salary part is quite right however, I would stop short of comparing two different jobs just on monetary terms. Teaching profession has its own freedoms and perks (not to mention perils and tribulations) and people go there basically to address their passion and not necessarily for money. Now, the incidents of IITD/M teachers going on casual leaves en masse demanding better pays than what is dished out to them by the VI pay commission may give you different ideas but I’ll still stick my neck out for those people.

      Research, well is a different ball game, we lag behind by umpteen miles to the US and even a country like China in basic-sciences’ research and we need to look up while comparing, not down. The mindset of common folks and the academia needs a see change in evaluating prospective candidates and topics I’d say.


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