Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bread, Butter, Milk, Omlette

I have not been spending much time with Sriram these days. So while his mother was away I decided to take him out for some serious male bonding. During our rendezvous I tell him stories – little things, like things that happened to me, or people I know or lessons I learned etc. Today I decided to tell him the things I learned from my high school physics teacher.

Vasudevan sir was one of my favorite teachers in school. I still remember his strong hands and broad shoulders. There are rumors abound that he could tear a 200 page book by half, tear the halves again, stack up the pieces and tear it one more time – with his bare hands. He was tough like a block of steel. Nevertheless his heart was full of love and kindness for us. The lesson that I told Sriram, which I learned from him was this –
It is okay to make mistakes, so long as you admit those, and only a fool would repeat his mistakes.
Lesson number 2 –
Trust everyone, until they give you a reason not to trust them.

There is a very funny story that I remember about him. It was Vasudevan sir’s routine to randomly pick someone and ask questions on topics taught the previous day. If you failed his quiz he would ridicule you by asking questions such as:
“Oh you forgot to learn. But did you forget to eat last night?”
“Did you forget to finish your beef curry yesterday?”
“Did you eat kaala kolambu?”
That was his way of punishing us. Poor kids, we could do nothing but hang our heads in shame.

One time we had a new Punjabi girl, our headmaster’s daughter, who joined our class. This headmaster was a Major in the Army. So the daughter naturally was quite sophisticated. The girl was a tiny bit too mature for her age (literally and figuratively).I would be withholding sensitive information if I don’t tell you that she was sweet, bubbly, enthusiastic, talkative and had all the positive qualities one would expect from a army major’s daughter from Punjab.

It was her second day in class. As usual Vasudevan sir got into his quizzing mood. After finishing with the usual suspects he turns to the new girl.
“What is refraction?” he caught her off guard.
“I don’t know sir” she said sincerely.
“What is angle of incidence“
“I don’t know sir”
she admitted shamelessly.
One could tell that Vasudevan sir was really irritated with her ‘coolness’ and by the tone of her ‘defiance’. The class went silent. We were all on the edge of our wooden chairs eagerly waiting to witness what happened next. I saw my friend Jaipaul secretly rubbing his finger nails hoping for the plot to thicken. It was time for her to be asked if she ate “Kaala Kolambu” and that – ladies and gentleman- is exactly what happened.
Vasudevan sir took a step towards her and asked:
“Did you eat beef last night?”
“No sir”
She said
“Do you know if you ate breakfast today morning” He asked
“Yes sir, I ate breakfast today”
“Do you know what you ate for breakfast today”

Clearly unaware of the sarcasm the girl answered in queens Punjabi accent.
“Breeeead, Butteeeeer, Meeelk, Omleeette”
Vasudevan sir stopped for a fraction, and then burst into a fit of laughter.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Factual Error:)
I think it was SVS who was famous for his strong hands. Great blog ! Love your style. I will bookmark for daily reading.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Rony said...

Awesome blog. Came across it by accident via Pradeep Nairs spot. Very incisive stuff here from possibly the next VKN. What a great great writer he was wasnt he?? And so underrated even today, although for the life of me i cant understand why.

And i second your opinion of Mr. KV. One of that great spectrum of intellectual yet humane teachers all of us were so lucky to hear pick up from.

6:32 AM  

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