Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Remarkable Teachers

I've really lucked out when it comes to teachers. Most people have just one or two inspiring teachers to talk about, while I have at least five. But this post isn't about all of them. Just one particular teacher.

Professor Varma was an absolute gem. He wasn't even one of my school/college teachers - he was an old, retired university director when he volunteered to teach me Hindi 9 years ago when he heard from my grandmother that my Hindi sucked.

He was the first person, outside of my family, I'd ever met who was completely addicted to learning. And in no time he made ME addicted to it as well. His house was FULL of books, especially those leatherbound, beautiful ones you can only afford after saving up for them your entire life. I mean, he'd order new books every other week! Even after our Hindi lesson was over and he'd turned his attention to the computer games he was so cutely addicted to ("This alien shooting game is so much fun, Radha!") I'd spend hours reading at his place. There was one particular book I kept gravitating towards, and he gave it to me without a second thought when he noticed how much I borrowed it. He was that generous.

When going over...
the names of vegetables and fruits in Hindi became tedious we'd move on to debates on things like science, religion and music. His intelligence far surpassed normal people's, he had an incredible sense of humour, and despite living alone and suffering from health issues he was ALWAYS positive.

He was like Dumbledore. Minus the long silver beard. 

I had just moved from America, so India was a bit of a cultural shock for me. Not only did this teacher of mine ease my transition, he taught me how to appreciate this country. And not only did he teach me about India, he made me realize through subtle examples that learning continues till one grows old, that time is precious, and that it's really important to be happy no matter what happens. (Admittedly the last bit is hard to remember, at times. :P )

Professor Varma recently passed away. He was old and suffering, and I'm trying to not be very upset about it, because I have the amazing memories and the things he taught me to fall back on.

But I would love to hear more stories about inspiring teachers! If you're reading this, do share some of your own stories!


  1. The simplicity of your words only adds to the beauty and depth to the feelings that shine through.

    Yes, I too had one amazing teacher...the one who taught me that I could do math and science despite every other person believing that I would never even pass the subjects in school. Needless to say, my heart was broken when she got a full scholarship into a graduate program at Harvard. That meant she would leave India just as we were preparing for our Public Exam in grade 10. Thirty years later, just last month, I got to meet her when she brought her graduate students to do a special research project in South India. I finally was able to tell her that she was the reason why I believe today that every child can excel.

  2. That's amazing! I'm sure she must have been touched to hear that. Thanks for sharing your story!