Teachers’ Day Special!

It’s been a looooong while since my last post, and the half-dozen faithful readers of this blog have long since given up on me, but Gautham Shenoy wanted me to write a blog post remembering my most memorable encounter with a teacher. (A true incident, somewhat on the lines of what is narrated brilliantly here.) I decided to randomly designate it a Teachers’ Day Special post.

I am about to narrate to you my encounter with my Botany teacher, Mr. R, in Standard 12 (or was it Standard 11?—I forget!), regarding my quarterly examination marks (or was it a “monthly test”?—I forget!) all those years ago (21 or 22?—I forget!). In the memorable words of the Biscuit,

it’s a long story and reflects a good deal of discredit on some of the parties concerned.

On with it! It was yet another typical day in Mr. R’s exemplary teaching career. He had graded the exam papers on time (this is already much more than I can claim for myself as a teacher). Priding himself on a job well done, he handed it out to the students, told them to Summa irungada! (“Keep quiet!”), sat in his chair, and dozed off. (I can hear you say “Let’s get to the nub of the matter I say! How much did you score?” Patience! We’ll get there in a while. After all, I’ve promised that there is a good deal of discredit, and I don’t plan to disappoint you!)

Only to be rudely awakened by incessant chatter in my neighborhood! He woke up, caught sight of me, and said “What rot is all this, I say? Hey you, get up!” Of course nobody got up, neither me (because I was innocent) nor anyone else (because they were smart). At which point he decided do give decency the go-by and name names! “Dei kannaadi! Ezhundhiruda!” (roughly: “Hey you bespectacled nincompoop! Get up!”). I had no option but to stand up, burning with righteous indignation!

Ennada side la thirumbi pechu!” (“What’s with all this talk turning sideways?”) Why is it significant that it was “sideways”? Point to ponder!

Me: …

Peru ennada?” (“Name?”)

“Suresh sir”

Ennada roll number?

I was resigned to whatever terrible fate awaited me now. I told him, mechanically.

Now we arrive at the climactic moment in the whole episode. He wanted to totally spring a surprise on me, so without letting on anything to anyone in the class, but wearing a triumphant look on his face (in addition to the silly smirk), he took out his pen with great deliberation, unscrewed it and poised it carefully over his notepad. It was plain as daylight to all of us that I was going to be penalized for chatting in class by getting my marks reduced. Sympathetic glances directed themselves at me from all corners. But I was already resigned, as I said, and decided to stoically take it on my chin. Mr. R was about to utterly crush me!

Providence struck! By some quirk, he chose to pose the next question. “Evvaloda markku?” (“How many have you scored?”). I remember thinking to myself what on earth he needed to know that for. Perhaps he was the kind to let people off if their academic performance was good?

Me: “Zero sir!”

Mr. R: …

He exploded with impotent rage! “What!!! You’ve scored zero. And you see it fit to turn sideways and talk! Useless idiot! Go and do research on how you got the zero! Maybe you’ll get a PhD!”

There ended the episode. And look where I am now!

I’ve always felt for the past eight years that I should go meet him when I visit my hometown, but have never gotten around to doing it. Don’t know where he is, or how he is, but I do hope he is doing quite fine wherever he is! After all, even in his wrath he said something good to me, and it came out almost as a blessing!


Tell me why!

“Happy new year. Oh my god! What heat! Opressive! Looks like it will be impossible to move around in May. But it seems it rained in a few places in the city?”

“Did you attend the udaiyavar utsavam at Sriperumbudur yesterday? What, no? Why not? Tell me the reason why!”

“… I need to show a few samples as a demonstration, and then I’m done. Can you show me the three-dimensional imaging of the functioning of the brain? What? No CD and all allowed. Only live! Why can’t you? If I show it to people, then they will start coming to me. I will just start recording, and show them the actual picture of the brain at every moment. Know how much it will cost? What, no?? Tell me why! It will come to 2000 crores!”

“Do you know five-finger therapy? I will put all ten fingers on an electric post like the one over the tracks there. No food and water for three days. Shall we do this treatment for you? … Yesterday only I finally had a darshanam at the Manavala mamunigal sannidhi. My daughter says that the puliyodarai is far superior to the Parthasarathy temple puliyodarai. … I only have to clear two more arrears, and then I am safe!”

“Do you know facial morphology? Can you tell the constitution of a person on looking at his face? No?? Tell me why not! Shall we make you walk all the way from here to Delhi?”

And so on it went. No! This is not some imaginary story I am writing (even my demented mind cannot conjure up such stuff!), but what actually happened to me today morning in the Mylapore station. There was this guy who walked up to me and said all these things, even though I was rude and refused to take off my earphones. (I was actually listening to something equally potty about the paternalist nudge – whatever that is!) We have run into each other quite a few times on the train and I have learnt enough to stay well away from him, but today he caught me unawares! I walked away, trying my best to not make it look too obvious, and was wondering why I was such a nutcase-magnet, when I was relieved somewhat to see him latch on to yet another guy, a hitherto complete stranger I’m sure!

Anyway, I felt that this was a significant event that deserved to be recorded here and shared with friends. And the pottiest thing to have happened in the recent past in my eminently potty life. And this beats the last incident on the Mylapore station hands down, when a slightly elderly gentleman intently watched me reading a paper, and asked “Thambi, are you a student of the polytechnic?”

Let me end on a saner note. Wish you all a very happy new year, and here’s some music for you to enjoy as well. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy. Bye!

Koluvamare gada – Todi – Madurai Mani Iyer

RTP – Kiravani – Madurai Mani Iyer

Poem ahoy!

Oh pretty girl so potty,
marry early and party.
Lest you turn forty
and people call you paatti!

I am glad my blog is finally on its way to gaining a modicum of respectability with the appearance of original poems, but one has to admit that it involves considerable effort. Given below is the genesis of this post. Read it and decide for yourself!

S: Sir, I am looking at this website of a friend who is getting married. She also has a blog, which you’ll absolutely love!

Me: Wow, poetry and all! What k!

S: I don’t understand why everybody who has a blog has to write poetry! Why haven’t you, by the way?

Me (displaying a streak of brilliant आशुकवित्वम्): Here’s one! Think I can post it?

S: Moshtu definitely!

Two days later …

Me: Sir, the moment I came up with a poem, I am starting to display finer sensibilities like a poet. I am wondering how well it will be received, and all that!

S: But this is precisely thinking unlike a poet, illaiya? Post it, I say!

A toga party!

Heard this on the September 4 edition of BBC Radio Four’s I guess that’s why they call it the news.

I wouldn’t go to a toga party … unless it was a low-key event involving giants wearing fake animal fur and dancing wildly in a caravan inside a small retreat in a Caribbean winery … because that would make it a meagre bogus tiger toga ogapogo(?) Winnebago party in a Tobago yoga(?) bodega!

As you can see, I couldn’t figure out one or two words properly, which is why I ask my dear readers to please help me out! It is vital that I get this completely right!

Boiled or fried!

Brilliant opening paragraph of a ChessBase report on the NH Chess Tournament. The reporter is the ever entertaining Steve Giddins.

It always used to be said that one knows one is getting old, when the policemen start looking younger. But now it would appear that the chess world has developed a new test. Chess is bad enough as it is, with the annual emergence of ever-younger chess talents. In my day, it was a sensation when Nigel Short qualified for the British Championships at the age of 12, but at the time, he was not even an IM, let alone a GM. Nowadays, 12-year old GMs are becoming almost commonplace. I myself never became a GM, but I still have good chances of becoming a GOM – a Grumpy Old Man. Like every such chessplayer, I hate playing against juniors. The grisly sight of a small head, clad in a baseball cap, peering between its own pieces, guzzling Coke, stuffing crisps and breathing through its mouth all at the same time, whilst simultaneously rattling out 25 moves of Najdorf theory – such a sight has always made me sympathize with W. C. Fields, who when asked how he liked children, replied “Boiled or fried!”

Well, what can we say? Srikanth would wholeheartedly agree with W C Fields, I am sure! And what about me, you ask? No way! I am a strict vegetarian, you should know.

If only I had a sharper wit!

New student (Ananth Shankar) comes and tells me “Excuse me, Hrishikesh tells me to call you sir.”

I came up with the following brilliance thirty seconds too late: “Oh, please don’t! Just call me Suresh.” And have to be content with only posting it on my blog.

One of those near misses …

Logic on NPR

Was pleasantly surprised to encounter the following logic puzzle in the latest edition of NPR’s Sunday Puzzle Podcast, which is mostly about word puzzles.

A waitress approaches a breakfast table with five logicians, and asks “Do all of you want a coffee?” The first logician says, “I don’t know.” The second, third and fourth also say (in that order), “I don’t know.” The fifth says, “No!” Who does the waitress give coffee to, and why?