Monday, June 10, 2013

Sir.

They say your family has a huge hand in shaping you into who are, because even when you’re an infant, you unconsciously imbibe their tastes, mannerisms and choices. I've always thought it is really difficult to bury that root altogether (for those who try, for any reason) and most people, when they do, become strange cross breeds that fit neither here nor there.
So, I was shaped by my parents too, but then I was shaped some more. This post is about how, and more importantly, by whom.
There’s a reason they ask young headstrong teens to “listen to your parents,” (though you could beat me to death and I won’t agree to that when I’m arguing with my mom). For when I was about 17, the mother semi-forced me into Suvro Sir’s English coaching classes. And that, I still think, was the single most important thing that has happened to me while I was growing up.
A lot of you who read my blogs and think they make some kind of sense have asked me, “who is  Sir?”  When you've known a person for as long as I've known him and as closely, answering that question gets more difficult that one would expect.
You know how you sometimes meet a person and know; somewhere deep down, that this is someone you always want around you? That is one of the most important things I've learnt in life and this is largely a story of how.
Like in any small but reasonably prosperous small town in India, tuition classes are a rage where I grew up. It does not matter if you really need extra help. It does not matter if the teacher is actually able to help. There is some underlying belief that you need to attend coaching classes.
 I had let my parents know that if I don’t like the teacher they found, I’ll bail. Baba agreed while Ma said something to the tune of Baba always letting me get away with these things. But because I really did not need help scoring marks in English, I won that argument. So I went, because a) I’d rather spend time reading Dickens than doing Maths, b) someone had told me it is “really difficult” to get into Sir’s class, c) that Sir is a really grumpy person, and d) that Sir did not like to teach students from my school. Now b, c and d – none of that was true, of course, but which 17 year old worth her salt does not like a challenge?
So, I went expecting an angry and condescending man. For everybody and their uncles knew Sir is extremely learned and has many feathers in his cap, so the ‘angry and condescending’ bit fit into the image. Yet, I met a polite and reasonably friendly man, despite my producing a very crumpled mark-sheet quite unfit for submission anywhere. But I had run out of fresh photocopies and was already building up a quasi-revolution against the supposedly stuck-up English tutor who did not like students from my school, so I deliberately did not make any effort.
There was an amused "this is the copy you have?" to which I think I must have mumbled an incoherent "yes", as far as I remember.
Then, I attended his classes.  I did not bail.
And my world changed.
I don’t much like clich├ęs either, but they exist for a reason. When the world changes, you say it changes.
 We've remained friends ever since. Yeah, that happened. Somehow, the most learned and wise man I've ever met or know of became friends with me and let me hang around for more than a decade. Still counting.
And I’m very serious when I say he’s really the most learned man I've known in my life.  You can talk to Sir about any subject under the sun and be sure you’ll actually learn. Last time I was fretting, he helped me learn about turbofan engines. Don’t ask.
But turbofan engines and English scores are not the reason why I say what I say. Engine technologies change (though I bet he'll keep up somehow) and marks stop being important after a point in time. What he really teaches to those who care to listen (and it takes intelligence to listen to him), is the infinitely more important lesson of how to be a good, thinking person. Tall order, indeed.
So I learn from him (OK, let's go with "try to learn"). Next time you’re impressed with some great philosophy I come up with, don’t be surprised by my conviction. Chances are it is borrowed and then modified, but tried and tested. I made Sir my mentor and he let me, look upon him as a father, fight with him (not proud of it, but then I’m working on it), ranted and vented and then found peace.

Peace, yes. That’s what I said.

Happens when you know you have someone wise and sensible to listen to you patiently and respond with care, no matter how silly your “problem” is and no matter how much you’re responsible for getting yourself in the mess.
Have you ever met a person who makes you feel so comfortable that something inside you tells you that it is OK to open up to this person and s/he’ll listen?
That kind of peace.
It was in Sir's classes that I saw an adult tell a bunch of teenagers, without any hemming and hawing, that respect and love are a function of action and not of age. As I learnt from him how to do that, I took that to my friends as well and what a difference that has made!
So, teacher-friend-father-mentor-confidant all rolled into one. That's who Sir is to me. Only, it took me about a decade to realize that. Anyway, better late than never, no?
Plus, that taught me how to decide who is important in my life. Very crucial. Which is why, I keep insisting, if  you've found who is important keep him/them, even if it means you have to forget about your stupid false ego (you know, “I love him/her and I’m happier when we’re together, but s/he did this and I can’t be the one to make truce.”  OK, don't. But is that helping you?  So?)

 Because, I've known through trial that if you let someone who makes you feel that way go, you’re the one losing out. Which, apart from being a very bad feeling, is also pointless. You only have one life, no?
Now, most people in this world do not have Sir’s infinite patience nor capacity for caring  so I told myself it is necessary that I follow through every “you’re important” with suitable action. Try it, often results in friendships that last a lifetime. Also, because there are idiots out there who will take you for a ride if they can, also evaluate other people by their actions. Not entirely fool-proof, but comes close and can save you a lot of unnecessary trouble.
Like you, I've seen teachers and I've seen schools and I've seen coaching classes. But I've barely seen another teacher or even heard of one who would, as a rule, goes beyond the mere curriculum set by university boards and actually teach. He even gave us a quiz on General Knowledge once (English tutor, let me remind you), through which I realized more than half of my classmates, at age 16-17, did not know how to spell "Raisina" Hill. Or that a "disc" was really a "discotheque".

This, while also doing the infinitely more important work of teaching us life lessons that can be used well after the immediate need to score good marks is over. As you grow older and older and report cards become distant memories, you realize how important this kind of teaching is.
For people used to equating "coaching classes" with "take down notes", this must be a really difficult and new concept.
My parents told me that it is important to be a good human being. It is from Sir, I learnt (yeah, fine. “trying to learn”) how to actually do that. No, really, he can actually tell you how to do that, I don't mean it in way of some vague rhetoric.
And he can show you too, for he’s a living example in himself. Which makes it very difficult to brush it all aside saying “but that’s all mere ideology” and can be very inconvenient at times, but then who said being a good person is easy?

Little things that can not only help you but also help in evaluating those around you: be honest, especially with people whom you love and who love you, no matter how inconvenient it could be for yourself. Don’t ever, ever, use other people to further your own immediate, petty gains or interests. Communicate well. People react to your actions, not only to what you think or claim to feel. OK, I can some close friends laughing as I say that but come on, I look around me and see such strange cases I think I make the cut. Teach yourself some discipline but don’t become an automaton.  Learn to love.

And then the most important, learn what “love” really means and also how to show people you love that you do so.I’m not talking about just the boyfriend or the husband or the pretty girl you want to ask out but don’t dare to. If you've read on till here I'm hoping you know as much. Oh, and start with having the strength to acknowledge to the world that you do. Believe me, it gets easier once you do it.

And yes, that last one's one of those used, borrowed, tried and tested philosophies, so don't bet against it. You'll lose and I'll make you do my dishes for the next six months.

In case you’re wondering if I've over sold my tutor, here, go try his blog. You’ll see why I'm writing this post now, but more importantly, why I keep saying I’m extremely grateful to whichever gods up there decide on these things that I know him. And to fate that he chose to be an English tutor and not one for Physics or Maths. That just might have made it a different story, and my loss. 

28 comments:

Debarshi_Saha said...

Dear Nivedita di,

Warm regards. Since I am a first-time commenter on your blog roll, let me commence by introducing myself. I am Debarshi, Sir's student (I don't like using the term 'ex-student' even though I attended his classes quite a while back- for, with Sir, the process of learning never ends!) and you can often find me commenting on Sir's blog roll (Suvro Chatterjee bemused). I thank you for this beautiful post, and must say that it is a great addition to my 'coming of age' learning. All of 23 years old, and growing up in an age where its becoming increasingly difficult to stay rooted in reality- Sir holds a very special place in my heart too. I could borrow a line from Tolkien and say that he's just like a hobbit- he still never ceases to surprise me, and that too in wonderful ways! But that would be inadequate to describe him in entirety- and I too often grapple with the same question, "Who is Sir? What does he mean to me?". The best answer I have come up with till now is that he is the person who can teach one to tread lightly, follow the correct path and most importantly, come across to his students as an anchor deeply buried in peace, while the chaos of the world rages around us all. Naturally, it is only in this Zen space that we can finally be ourselves (as you have so aptly pointed out) and all pretense drops off. He teaches us, ultimately, to make peace with our own selves. Nivedita di, you are so correct when you say it is a tall task he has taken upon himself- Sir himself says so too, saying that living the good life is tough indeed. But, that's his greatest contribution as a teacher- He makes it an ideal worth striving for.



I really liked reading about your initial apprehension, and the incidents which followed- When I joined his class, I too had heard stories about his legendary temper, which if stoked, could be akin to tickling the belly of a sleeping dragon! Naturally, I too was a bit afraid- but as time passed, I started discovering this gentle person, who was absolutely the 'genuine' article. He was no turncoat- whatever he believed in, he urged us to re-discover for ourselves and adopt it into our value systems, if we felt so. Years after, when I read his essay 'My Master'- I started piecing it all much better. An individual could proclaim the Lord to be his only true master in the arena of Life, could stay true to his ethics, cut no corners ever, and still be so loved and successful. This has been a revelation to me at a time when stifling mediocrity has become the order of the age, and cutting corners, 'using' people are acceptable ladders to ascend the peak of 'success'!



From turbofan engines to English, from History to deciphering people, from being the teacher to a mentor- I have always thought of Sir as the smiling philosopher. I must express my gratitude to you for having written this post- It has given me gems to treasure, little snippets of timeless wisdom which I can always carry about in my heart. It is indeed all the more important for me at this juncture- I shall be proceeding to pursue my Masters' degree this August at TU Delft, The Netherlands; and I am lucky indeed to be able to carry a piece of India, the best of our values within my heart. I carry my Sir's memories along with me, and as you so rightly say, I too am grateful to the powers-that-be for helping me to know him. It keep getting better with the days. He gave us our personal 'Zen' space.



With best wishes,

Debarshi Saha.

Rajdeep said...


Hi Nivedita,

I am Rajdeep, Sir's student.
Glad to read your really nice post on Sir.

I have also been blessed with his company a lot of times. Going for walks, Sir coming to hear my band rehearse etc. etc. Well, I guess everyone of his students who have liked him and enjoyed his company, have had some unique experiences.

In my opinion, the most touching thing you brought up was that he always sets himself up as the best example.

We were once having a picnic in someone's big house. We needed to wipe the floors after all the eating. Some of us finally got to it and there were some who tried to give advice on how to go about it. Sir had said, either do it yourself or don't advice when others are trying. Needless to say, he also had a rag in hand and was up to the task. That was also the day I got introduced to my favorite hobby. But that's a different story.

What I learned was that when someone tried to do something sincerely, one could expect Sir's encouragement irrespective of the outcome of the effort.
That was a welcome change from our "result oriented" world, where we often tend to forget the purpose, and try to achieve the end by "any" means.

Wonderful heart warming post. Cheers!

Sayan Datta said...

Dear Nivedita,

Introductions first -we are a couple who, by a miraculous turn of luck, have had the fortune of knowing and learning the lessons of life from Suvro Sir together, from the time of our marriage three years back. It is in fact one of our many shared pleasures, and we cherish and value it the most.

Anyone with so much as a modicum of emotional capacity will be able to see that this post comes straight from the depths of your heart and is sure to very strongly touch those who possess the capacity to think and feel and resonate with those who have had the good fortune of knowing Sir. Firstly, we must congratulate you for writing this piece. Also, thanks are in order, because we have been able to arrange our own thoughts and emotions towards him through this post of yours and there is greater clarity now in our mind about those dimensions of Sir that were obscure to us even moments ago.

Unlike all the elders we have seen right from our childhood, Sir makes it very clear what caring is all about. And he does it through example. He is always there for people he cares; whether it is in the way of always lending his ear to others’ problems or in the amount of energy and involvement with which he maintains relationships. Most importantly, he gives the feeling that we matter to him, our problems matter to him and never says that he is busy when he senses that we need him badly. We are happy that knowing Sir has given you a certain kind of peace. It is the same with us, and we figure with many others who have taken the trouble of trying to know him. It takes certain strength of character to even begin to know him and even more to keep doing so - to walk with him and to keep pace with him is the process of growing up as we call it. By continuously trying to know him one keeps on growing up and in the process one gains insight and wisdom and yes, peace (as you call it), a kind of peace that is rather inexplicable, a kind of lasting peace that is attained not before a great deal of soul-tormenting and gnawing pain.

As you have said, he is not the run- of-the- mill private tutor. Far from it. He is the kind of private tutor that Socrates used to be. He doesn’t teach only English. He uses the subject to teach the most important lesson of life – how to live good, worthwhile lives making every moment count. He has said as much somewhere – “The point is to play the game well, within the time allotted to you, though you have not been told how long that will be” – that is the essence of his teachings as far as we can understand. And yes, he lives that ideal – every moment – and we have seen him do it. He believes and inculcates that one true purpose of education – the kind of education that helps one to live the good life, which makes one strive for love and beauty and truth and aim for attaining the kind of intellectual and emotional capacity that creates true works of beauty – be that art or music or poetry or a mathematical equation or rearing a child or simply the Self, which after lifetimes of agony has at last begun to know itself – things that are worth cherishing forever.

We wish you all the happiness in the world and a very long innings with Sir. May you come that much closer to knowing the one and only Lord through him and that is what we wish for ourselves as well.

Best wishes,
Sayan and Rashmi

Saikat Chakraborty said...

Dear Nivedita di,

Let me start by introducing myself- I am Saikat Chakraborty, a student of Sir since 2003. Many thanks for putting up such a post where you have expressed your feelings about Sir so articulately in such a beautiful and bold manner. How many of us dare to publicly express our love and respect for a teacher? Sir has told us numerous times that many old boys keep in touch but girls do not. In this respect, you have taken a giant leap as compared to our small steps by openly writing about the love and respect and admiration that you have for Sir. And that too being a girl from a country where most people can tolerate open defecation but thinks that love means nothing more than sensual pleasures and immediate material gains. I hope and I know that this post will bring solace to our dear Sir’s heart that has been wounded by the utter foolishness and blatant ignorance and apathy of so many of his students.

I was introduced to the magical world of books by my elder cousin brother. After that, the most significant thing that has happened to me till date is joining Sir’s tuition classes. I had known him before while studying in St. Xavier’s but that was from a distance. Sir also used to take care of the school library and that was the only time the doors of the library were open to all including young boys like us (I was in class five then). At the end of school hours, I used to go the library and read story books while Sir was there seated near the entrance, always reading something very seriously. But I always received a smiling welcome whenever I said “May I come in Sir?” and a warm good bye when I used to leave the library saying “Thank you Sir.” . Then Sir left school and I didn’t see him again for about two years until I joined his tuition classes. And this was the only tutelage where I strived hard not to miss a single class. Since then, to quote from your words, somehow I had the privilege to be associated with the most learned and wise man that I have ever met for almost a decade and I hope it lasts a lifetime.

With regards,
Saikat.

Nivedita Bhattacharjee said...

Hi everyone, thanks a lot for commenting on my post, and great to meet you too.
Debarshi, all the best with your Master's, hope you do very well.

Rajdeep, Saikat thanks a lot. I tried.

Sayan & Rashmi, you are welcome. I have visited your blog in the past (through Sir's blog roll) and I must say I've been made to think of a lot of things I otherwise wouldn't while reading your posts.


Neena Majumdar said...

Nivedita, thanks for answering my (and many others')question, "Who is sir?". You know what, I will give you 10 on 10. This post was a little different from your other posts as it has a story-like quality. I kept reading lines after lines, wanting to know what happened next and how "Sir" became from just a teacher to a mentor in your life. Write more stories like this. Someday, I would want to know specific incidents, examples and instances how he shaped your personality and outlook towards life. It is very rare to find a teacher like that who can become your guide for the rest of your life. You are one of the lucky ones. :)

Nishant said...

Hi Nivedita,

Like many above, I am also an ex-student of Sir's. I had the good fortune of being his student for a couple of years both in school and in his tuition classes (though he had made it very clear that I needn't enroll for tuition because he was going to teach the same thing he taught in class). Some of the things you mentioned were also true in my case: I didn't want to take extra coaching for subjects I thought I was good in (not English, I can assure you), but then I did.

Sir's also had a big influence in shaping my career path: when I got into my under-grad programme, I knew at the back of my mind that I wasn't going to stop studying when I finished five years of college. And that's because Sir had told us repeatedly that serious studies start after a B or an M. I generally let the flow take me wherever, but in this case, I put my foot down and decided on a course because of Sir. So halfway through college, while others around me were confused about what they wanted to do once they got out of college, I knew clearly that I wanted to pursue a PhD. Even though I worked for a bit after my under-grad, I came back to School and that's probably one of the best decisions I have taken in my life.

While in school, I used to find history extremely boring and I used to have nightmares about having a test the next day and not having begun studying; I still have those sometimes. But then Sir, in all of my years in school, was the first person who made history actually interesting. Though I am supposedly a student of science (technically), I still remember some of the poems I learnt in his classes and scenes from The Merchant of Venice which I like to enact when no one's looking.

The fact that he's a walking encyclopaedia always makes for delightful conversation and some of the books he recommended are my all time favourite (and these include books on philosophy and science-fiction and American classics).

Sir's one of the people responsible for the fact that I am more liberal in my thinking now (as in, asking 'why not?' instead of 'why?').

Thanks to your post, I was able to jot down some of the things I had in my mind and share them with others.

Sincerely
Nishant Kamath.

Suhel Banerjee said...

Thanks for introducing me to one of the most fascinating "real" people I have heard of. Will make it a point to meet him when I'm home next. I thought these 'characters' existed only in works of fiction. Incredible story.

Shilpi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Subhadip Dutta said...

Hi Nivedita,

This is Subhadip. I have known Sir for the past 13 years, and I have also heard about you from Sir. I have been Sir’s student throughout these 13 years. However, technically speaking, I am his ex-student for the past 11 years. Nothing gladdens him more than reminiscences of old memories that made us feel good and touched our lives in ways to make it better, all because of him. It gladdens him to think that he has tried to touch the lives of many, and has succeeded with so many. It gladdens him because we, his students, express the gratitude which I think he has a right to expect from us. He wants nothing more from us but just be by him when he needs us most, because he has patiently, throughout all these years, given so much time and attention to us never expecting anything material from us.

It gladdens me to think that I have been associated with this person who has really cared for me just because he cared for me. He has expected nothing from me in return ever, other than an occasional phone call to inquire about his health and family, a comment on his posts, or when I am present in Durgapur, a chat, face to face, in his house. (Nowadays, I see even parents planning about how much material gain they are going to get in return from their children before they educate them and send them to expensive colleges and universities.)

This is a man who teaches because he loves the profession. I remember when I was in class 9, Sir was my class teacher. Incidentally, I had got myself admitted to his tuition also. So, on the first day of class 9, Sir called me to his library along with 3 other boys who were, like me, admitted to his tuition too, and told us that he would repeat the same things in his tuition which he would teach in school: so we could not go to his tuition if we opted to. I was too small at that time to analyse the nature of the person who could tell such a thing. But now when I recall that incident, I understand that he could have not told me that – who in this world would think of someone else’s good at the cost of his own gains? Secondly, this is a person who did not threaten his students with poor marks in the examination if they did not turn up at his house to attend his classes! Strange in this world, huh?

When I went to his tuition, I found that there were only 15 students. He would not accommodate any more in his class. I even compared between what he taught at school and what he taught in his tuitions, and I found that he did not explain the subject matter any less in school than in his tuition. He was never partial with anyone.

I remember we used to stay back after his class to chat with him every Monday and Thursday in the evenings, and he would discuss with us about subjects ranging from aeroplanes to human physiology to physics to psychology and what not. I used to leave his house everyday wondering how a man could learn so much in his life, how could a person read so much after doing so much work everyday? He is the first person who taught me that what people say does not matter in life, it is my life that alone matters. This is something that I have been able to teach my parents to some extent, and all this because Sir helped me believe in myself. He is the only person who told me that being selfish without harming anyone is not bad – it is jealousy that is bad. He has helped me understand life in a completely different way, and I know that I will be able to lead a much happier life that most people around me who are earning many times more than I am, and are under the illusion that money can buy them happiness and peace. They are people who forget that peace is a state of the mind, something that money and a false sense of social status cannot buy, and Sir has helped me understand this at such an early age!

What more can be expected of a teacher? Who on earth cares whether I lead a peaceful life and remain disillusioned in life? This man cared, and I will care for him in return. Your post reminds me of this once again.

Thanks for this post!

Nivedita Bhattacharjee said...

Thank you all for writing such lovely comments on this post, specially Neena and Suhel. I'm glad I could get you interested in Sir through my writing.

Nishant, Subhadip, nice to meet you. I'm getting very curious about Nishant's acting out MOV. Which part? "They quality of mercy...?" Subhadip, Sir's taught us a lot of things, but I'm wondering if it really is "normal" for tutors (nothing to do with Sir at all, just thinking of that one line in your post) to threaten students with bad marks if they do not attend private tuition. Or maybe I've just been lucky, never met any while I was in school or college. I wonder what I'd do if I did though. Knowing myself, specially when I was in school/college, it would have been interesting...

Shilpi di: I'm glad you finally wrote here. This post owes a lot to you, many thanks for that!

sayantika said...

Dear Nivedita di,
Thank you for writing this post which has made Sir happy. I had thought of writing one about Sir but it never happened. I am Sayantika, from the same school that you went to, and was under Sir's tutelage for two years. I had problems with almost every tuition and I stopped attending or simply bunked or feigned illness if I did not find the teacher agreeable. Once, I left a tuition because I didn't find space to sit. My mother was quite exasperated with finding tutors for me. When she enrolled me into Sir's classes, I was kind of hesitant at first, having heard much about him (mostly, about his temper!). But I had no regrets after the first day. There was ample space to sit and Sir seemed very pleasant, with a great sense of humour that made us laugh ever so often. Sir was perhaps the first teacher in whose classes I went cheerfully despite being ill at times.
As for learning, I learnt loads of stuff: From playing scrabble to learning the correct pronunciation of 'think', from learning to think to debating intelligently, I owe it all to Sir. I loved the way he taught us Julius Caesar, which I taught a cousin five years younger than me and I can still teach it effortlessly. I listened mesmerised when Sir narrated stories. I still remember 'Never stop on the Highway', 'The Nine Billion Names of God' and 'The Eyes Have It'. If somebody asks me to narrate a story, I invariably fall back on these.
Sir also taught me things that I hadn't realised the significance much later. It was when I had entered college and it was the first class of our head of the department, a very strict and stern and no-nonsense kind of lady. She asked whether any of us knew when the Romantic Age began. The first thought in my mind was what an easy question, all must know it, especially when most of my classmates were from such renowned schools of the city, and I was a country buffoon and I knew the answer ever since Sir had taught us Wordsworth. To my surprise, nobody did know, and I had proudly answered, "In 1798, when Wordsworth and Coleridge published Lyrical Ballads." I made an impression the first day itself!
But most importantly, he taught us to be a good human being, to work hard (even when everyone else was indulging in festivities of the Puja), not to be jealous of others and not to follow the herd mindlessly. I guess if it hadn't been for Sir, I would've been one of the herd. Not that I have achieved anything great, but the fact that I am striving to achieve and have set high ambitions for myself is because of Sir. (It isn't just clearing examinations, but much more). In fact, Sir taught me what ambition should mean, in the first place. I think I would have learnt more had I not been a foolish teenager at that time. In the later years, I learnt a lot from Sir's blog. It is like an anchor to put me place if I ever get distracted from my path.
Sir is different from any other teacher. I haven't kept in touch with any of my teachers except Sir, not because I dislike them all, but mostly because unlike Sir, none of them had made such a conscious effort to keep in touch with ex-students. Although like Debarshi, I don't like to call myself an ex-student. I will continue to learn lessons from Sir.
I remember that when we were in Class 10, I had asked a friend (a Xaverian) to fill up my slam book (those inane stuff that 16-year-olds indulge in). In place of 'My idols', he mentioned Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Suvro Sir. In that age when sportstars and filmstars and rockstars ruled the roost, I was amused to see that he mentioned a teacher. It was a time when most teachers were made fun of. Someone had told me that Sir had become grumpy these days, but a visit to Sir's place last month quelled my fears. It was the same Sir, after all.
I hope I haven't missed anything.
Thanks and with regards,
Sayantika

Tanmoy said...

Dear Nivedita

Thank you for your note on Suvroda. I have known Suvroda for more than 20 years but unfortunately have not met him since 1994/95. However, I am privileged that I still get an audience from him when I reach out to him in times of happiness or sadness. I hope I continue to be accessible to him and his family too in the same way.

To me Suvroda has always been a fascinating person. When I was much younger and he was our class teacher in school, a lot of us were heavily influenced by him. I am not sure whether any of his students that time are in touch with him but I am. I am happy that I am and I gain much more in return by knowing Suvroda is around.

While I feel sad when Suvroda mentions to me that only a handful of his pupils keep in touch with him, I feel immensely happy that when I read such posts about him written by his students.

Thank you once again for writing this blog. You made my day.

Regards
Tanmoy Chakrabarti

Subhanjan Sengupta said...

Dear Nivedita,

I would not speak much as already a lot has been discussed here. I do not want to be repetitive. So I would like to add something to this chain of conversations that, I believe, is an important fact to share.

This came to my mind when I was reading that part of your post which is related to taking tuition.
During my school days I was quite weak in Mathematics. But I loved English. I wanted to join Sir's evening classes/tuition. And this is what Sir said: "Subhanjan, you do not need to join my tuition. You do not need it. Please study Mathematics. Whatever doubts you have in English, ask me in school."

I can guarantee that it will take me a journey across the world to find a person like this. I sometimes feel pity on those who think that he is crazy about money. They never got to realise what a gentleman he is.

Regards,
Subhanjan

Nishant said...

It's generally Act I Scene III (first I am Bassanio and Shylock, and then Antonio and Shylock). And then of course Shylock's famous monologue.

It was a pleasure reading this post (and couple of other previous ones).

Sincerely
Nishant.

Subhanjan Sengupta said...

I would also like to add that I thank you for sharing with us your thoughts. It is important for more and more people like us to share with each other our experiences and high opinions about Sir.

Let us accept that the two words 'Suvro Chatterjee' is perhaps the most famous brand name in the education industry of the small but rapidly growing Durgapur, even across different towns of the district. And that brand has been built up with a lot of hard work, dedication and intangible output that is clearly visible as valuable. And when it comes to branding, word of mouth will have both sides.

There are people who have made up stories like Sir has a textile factory, or Sir is a renowned business man, or Sir was a Communist...Two days ago in Rajdhaani I almost fainted when the family next to me was discussing with another family: 'Mr. Suvro Chatterjee got into the IITs once but was soon thrown out due to his extreme involvement in politics.'

Many say that when a brand attracts comments to tarnish the brand image, it means that the brand has succeeded in posing a potential threat to the market.

But it pains Sir's students to hear such idiotic stories. What we need is more and more genuine stories from our side to give more and more boost to the brand so that it reaches to those who are creating negative images of Sir and subsequently warns them.

So I thank you Nivedita for sharing your thoughts. Highly appreciate.

ananya mukherjee said...

Dear Nivedita di,
First off I would like to tell you that I have just passed the stage when you were with Sir and I really cherish your experience with my Sir.....okay allow me to make amends and say 'our Sir' instead of 'my Sir'. After going through your post I felt that we hold the same opinion about Sir and now I have realized that it is absolutely necessary to establish as well as maintain a honest and committed relationship with Sir if one wants to attain peace with oneself and lead a good life.
Nivedita di I too had a somewhat similar opinion about Sir's temper and since it takes me almost an hour to reach Sir's house I was not quite happy with my father's idea of joining Sir's tuitions.But my opinion changed radically when I attended a few classes and little did I know that the old man(only according to his age he is old) would occupy such an important position in my life or rather the most important position in my life.I have really got very good memories of his classes and he really abides by the ideals he preaches.It is from him that I have learnt or trying to learn what it means to lead a good life, read a lot and think which is very essential to elevate one's position from a mere living creature to a human being capable of judging between good and bad. He has taught me to be disciplined,maintain a balance in everything I do. Well the list could go on and on.....and I must say that when imbeciles call him megalomaniac of feckless or his pupils do not establish a relationship with him it is completely their fault.I remember once I had lend him the book Sea of Poppies and he had used a bookmark to read that and I still have that small piece of paper with me and use it while reading books. You may find this ridiculous but this is my truth and that is what Sir means to me.I shall relate an example in this context:
There was a girl in our batch who evinced her 'craze' for Shahrukh Khan and Sir immediately asked her to write a composition describing the qualities of Shahrukh Khan but that girl never did that partly because she never understood what Sir meant and partly because she couldn't find significant qualities of Shahrukh Khan.Now you see it depends on the individual and Sir continues to do his work despite all these frustrations.And I only have pity for those who have taken offence at mild criticisms (though they understand very well that Sir ought to know more than them)and are somehow adjusting with this drab reality.I will return sometimes later to comment on this post.Thank you for this wonderful post Nivedita di.
with regards
Ananya

Abhishek Anand said...

Nivedita di,

I am in class 10 and I attend Sir's classes and read his blog regularly. He asked me to wait for this particular post of his, which talks about your post about Sir.

You have drawn a perfect pen-picture of the importance of Sir's classes. When I was in class seven, I heard Sir's name for the first time from one of my father's friends whose son was Sir's student. He told me that Sir "is a good tutor of English, but is very strict indeed." Even my seniors who spoke about Sir never told me about Sir's actual importance. All the conversations circled only around English, never around the ideas and virtues Sir tries to inculcate in his students. After spending almost a year with Sir, I realized how important his discussions are. By no existing definition can his notes match the richness and usefulness of his ideas.

The sad part is that even nowadays, ninety percent of his students are most interested only in his notes. All this despite Sir repeatedly telling us that there are things in the world which are far more important and his blogs are extensions of his classes. Parents ask about the utility of Sir's classes with respect to exams, not about the other matchless lessons which he teaches.

Sir has often spoken and written about his sadness as most of his promising students seem to forget him, especially girls. You did a really good job by writing this post which Sir has certainly found utterly heartwarming.
My heartiest congratulations.

With warm regards,
Abhishek Anand

Soham Mukhopadhyay said...

Dear Nivedita di,

I am too one of Sir's students since 2008. My name is Soham Mukhopadhyay.
Right now, I am an undergraduate student at Presidency University,Kolkata. It was really nice to read your post on Suvro Sir. As Sir says, very few of us like to keep in touch with him, and even fewer want to write about him or publicly acknowledge our debt towards him. I have tried a few times to write an essay on Sir, but couldn't carry on after a while. But this time, I think I have succeeded a bit on doing that- partly because of being inspired by your blog post and partly because of my recent visit to Sir.

I found a few similarities with your experiences, Nivedita di. I was shaped by Sir too and my father also semi-forced me to Suvro Sir's classes( because I was afraid of tuitions- that is a different story). And like yours, it was too the single most important thing to happen in my life so far.

Unlike many of Sir's students, who lived nearby, I used to attend Sir's class by covering a distance of 25 kilometers back and forth. I still remember the first day of Sir's class. I was late by 5 minutes and I panicked- to see everyone had already reached by then and taken their seats. With much fear, ( because it was the first tuition class in my life and I had heard that Sir was an angry person), I asked Sir-" May I come in ?". To my surprise, Sir welcomed me- calling out my name - " Come in Soham, but why are you late? ". I was happy and amazed at at the same time. Happy because Sir was not angry at all, and amazed because Sir remembered my name among several students who had taken admission to his classes.

I was dumbstruck later when I found out that he not only remembered my name,but also that of other pupils'. And he had done it only after meeting them once during the admission. I just marveled at capacity of his brain and the care with which he taught. Remembering the name of about 200 students at one go, was not an easy task at all and moreover one must love his students and his work to do that. This was my first lesson in Sir's class and since then I have learnt many.

The next two years was-'osadharon' (sorry, but I couldn't think of any other word). I not only enjoyed his classes, but I got to learn so much from him (apart from the syllabus), that it was just impossible to not get influenced by him. He shaped me a lot, not personally, but he tried to shape us all who attended his classes. Alas, so few of us understand his worth.

Sir was the first person to teach me not to judge oneself or others with marks. Marks reflect very little of what he/she really is. Instead one should concentrate on knowledge that he/she attains and marks would naturally come as they should. One of the many important things that I have learnt from him is that- it must not matter to us what the 'herd' is thinking about us, we must always do what our heart says and we should only listen to the opinions of those who actually matter to us. Sir also helped me to build up self-confidence which helped me a lot in making some important decisions in my life- one of which is studying Physics rather than Engineering ( I quarreled a lot with my parents on that matter because I knew from my heart that I loved Physics and Sir helped me to channelize my energy and thoughts to achieve that goal).

Soham Mukhopadhyay said...

(in continuation to my previous comment)....


Even now, whenever I pay a visit to Sir , my mind gets rejuvenated- Sir's presence, his words, his loving behaviour acts as an elixir for me to look forward into the life ahead. I forget my worries, he instills in me a confidence which no other person in this world has been able to do. And it really pains me to hear about Sir's unfulfilled dreams. But again he reminds me to act in the present so that we may achieve our goals and keep in mind that fate has an important role to play in our lives. We must accept that fact and be contended with the life that God has presented to us. Sir, being a teacher and completely unrelated by blood to us, cares to listen to our sorrows and help us which even most of our parents fail to do. He acts selflessly, asking for only genuine love in return. I must also add that- Sir gets really sad when someone close to him quarrels with him without understanding that whatever Sir told to him/her is for his/her own good.

I still remember the days when I used to go to Sir's home as soon as my school ended. His door was always open to students. I have never seen a teacher care so much for his students so as to allow them to use his home to refresh up just in order to attend his classes. He has a real heart. He treats his students just like his family members- giving them more than just notes so that they can understand the subject and get good marks in examinations. He helped us to point out the common misuse of English words in our daily lives and wanted us to be different from everyone else in some respect or the other. He planted seeds in our minds - seeds of good conduct , habit, taste, discipline, punctuality- so that we may develop into better individuals. Much of his efforts go wasted- as many of us fail to understand what 'Suvro Sir' really wanted to teach us. But those of us who do understand - Sir extends his heart to them. Each time I visit him he treats me just like a member of his family and most rewarding of all is the special feeling I have after returning home. Sir's speeches has had such a lasting influence on me that sometimes I can even play them back in my mind with ease and listen to his voice distinctly.

I still remember a happy incident with Sir when I went to his house after my ICSE examination ended. We interacted for about two hours , at the end of which I was very hungry. Hesitantly enough I asked him for some food as I couldn't hold on to my hunger any longer. To my surprise, he got busy at once in order to arrange some food for me. When I used the word 'busy'- I meant it. He told me that his wife was not at home that day , so he did't have any cooked food at home ready at that moment. He even asked me if he should cook 'maggi' for me or buy me something from the nearby 'paramounts' shop. To describe my feeling at that moment- I was elated. I was just another of Sir's students who had hardly passed class ten and Sir, being a teacher worried for me as my mom or dad would. I didn't ask much. I was happy with some almonds, biscuits and 'chanachur' that Sir had given me. Even such a simple food was very special to me after I saw him worrying for me in that manner.

At last I want to share another of my experiences. After each visit when I say goodbye to him, I show my respect to him by touching his feet and that is when he says - "Kalyan hok baba". It is these words which fills my heart with joy - his warmth , love and care radiate from each of his words. He tells it as if he is speaking to his son- not his student.

And each day I thank God for making me to know him , to be able to have him as my teacher- my friend ,guide and philosopher.

Thanks again for writing such a wonderful post on Sir.

with regards,
Soham Mukhopadhyay

Nivedita Bhattacharjee said...

Tanmoy, Subhanjan, Ananya, Soham, thank you so much. It is always nice to read/hear of other people's stories, these eventually account for what Suhel calls "folklore" on Sir, isn't it?

Abhishek, I was a little jealous of you, you still get to attend his classes! I hope you have fun, I did.

Nishant, I should have guessed that MOV bit. And thanks for checking out the other posts. I looked up yours too, you seem to travel quite a bit. It was a very nice read.

Sayantika, I'm glad you did eventually do the writing. I took my time too, but feels good now that we've, right?

Nivedita Bhattacharjee said...

Oh, and many thanks to Soham and Sayan for following my blog too :)

Sunandini Mukherjee said...

Dear Nivedita di,
I am Sunandini,Sir's student.Thank you for putting up this post.I loved reading your essay for I could relate to your essay very well.Before joining Sir’s class I too had heard that he is a biased and short-tempered man who yells at pupils for minor reasons.However ,the day I went to Sir’s house for admission I found an amiable and fatherly person counseling pupils and as I met him he gave me a comforting smile.He asked me to ring him up if I had any further queries and when my father asked if it was a mobile number Sir said ”Na dada ami khub immobile lok.”Unlike my Physics and Chemistry tuitions I never yawned in Sir’s classes-whether it was Shakespeare or some poem or a comprehension passage ,the classes were always so interesting that I listened to Sir spellbound and on reaching home rushed to the kitchen(where my mother would be cooking) to describe the day’s class to my mother in detail.
Sir has taught me to think,to decide things for myself,to understand which people are really well-wishers and who are not,to be critical about myself……the list goes on.I have always felt that Sir treats me better than I deserve to be treated.I don’t open up to people easily and having had a very nasty experience at the age of twelve,I don’t even trust people easily.But Sir’s counseling has somehow made me bolder and has made me open up more than I did before.He has infinite patience to listen to his pupils and advise them and I am constantly amazed at his quality of keeping his cool even when some boring pupil nags him with stupid questions.
Sir insists that one must show the love and gratitude that one claims to have for another person and one must do it at the earliest.I am trying to follow this and many other things that Sir gently brings up during discussions and it has made a difference in the way I used to think and act.I am grateful to Sir to have broadened my outlook on life and to have made me proud of certain things that I was not proud of.It is wonderful to see you remembering Sir in such a lovely way and to see how fondly he writes about you.I hope that I get the opportunity to keep learning from Sir and make myself someone who he can acknowledge to be his student.
With best wishes,
Sunandini

Nivedita Bhattacharjee said...

Sunandini,
Thanks for writing that heartfelt comment. If you want to keep learning from Sir, I can bet you he'll give you a chance to do that. Always does!

Vaishnavi said...

Dear Niveditadi,

I am Vaishnavi Rajendran, I am from Chennai and I got to know Sir through his blog. This is my first visit to yours and I must say that I enjoyed your essay immensely. You have managed to capture the exact essence of who Sir is. The kindness, the compassion, the chiding when needed, the feeling of peace and the knowing that you want this person to remain in your life no matter what. Sir has become all of these things to me as well; I find myself a little jealous of you and some of the others di, because you have all met Sir, been with him and interacted with him while I am all the way across the country and met him only through the most nebulous of chances. I have learnt to be thankful for having met him at all, because I frankly don't know what I would have been like, or what my life would have been like if I hadn't had this parent figure that I hold myself answerable to. Never mind that Sir never seems to expect it out of anybody. I hope I can meet him as soon as I can.

Thank you di, for this wonderful write up. It feels like a gift, because you read it and you think, "ah, this is what I feel, this is exactly what I wanted to say!" and you feel like rushing off to google and firing away an email to Sir, immediately. In fact I might do just that :-) It was lovely meeting you through this post di, thanks once again :-)

Regards,
Vaishnavi

Percipient Shameek .... said...

Dear Nivedita Di ,

Being a first-time commenter on your blog roll, let me start by introducing myself : Like many above, I am also an ex-student of Sir's. Firstly i would thank you for this beautiful post...!! Sir has often spoken about his sadness as most of his promising students seem to forget him - you have done a really good job by writing this post which has certainly made Sir happy...!!

It was a pleasure reading this post and some other previous ones on your blogroll , following it now.... :)

With regards ,
Shameek...

Nivedita Bhattacharjee said...

Vaishnavi, you are welcome. It was very satisfying to know that my post made you think that way!
Sir says his blog is an extension of his classes, so you're not really missing out. But why don't you visit him sometime?

Shameek, thanks for your comments and for following the blog. I hope you like what you read here, and tell me what you don't.

Sriranjani said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

where the mind is without fear and the head is held high..

where the mind is without fear and the head is held high..