Dinesh and Bawa

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dr. D.V. Pai

IITB: Third Semester:

Along came a subject called Real Analysis: I used to hate that subject, the last time i had studied it for my bachelors, had an extremely sucky prof, who managed to make everyone in the class detest the subject... I was a fool, i actually hated the prof, and managed to transfer the hatred of the prof to the subject...

A Dr. D.V. Pai was going to teach Real Analysis to us, i hated the subject, very bad memories of it... needless to say, i didn't attend any lectures.

It was mid semester exam time... i got 5 or 6 on 30 in RA...

One sunny afternoon, i get a phone call in my hostel. It was Dr. Pai. Could i please come and see him in his office soon? My heart was beating quite wildly, while we fixed up to meet within the next hour or so... I always like to get unpleasant things over as soon as possible. Shaved, Showered, put on some (relatively) clean clothes, did Kriya and walked to Maths Department, each step making me more and more apprehensive about the firing i was about to get... what he would say, and then what excuse i would give, etc, playing havoc in my mind... "Live in the present moment" did flash a few times... didnt help much though :)...

There was a storm in my mind as i climbed up the stairs to Dr. Pai's office. I said Jai Gurudev a few times in my head and knocked on the door... Come in Mr. batliwala. His voice was very pleasant. Some hope flickered and as i entered and saw him smile as he looked up from some papers. Somehow he managed to put me at ease in the first 10 seconds that i was there in his office... Please sit down... What he said to me afterwards is kind of etched in my memory...

He said it gently, slowly and matter of factly:

In the 30 years that i have taught here, i have never failed a student, because i have always known that there is no such thing as a bad student in IITB, only a bad teacher. If a student does badly, its the teacher who could not ignite the passion for the subject in the student.

I do not expect you to come to my lectures. But i do expect you to know your subject. You have not done well in the midsems, so clearly you cannot do this on your own. i loved the way you play the piano... (He had heard me during PAF!) Someone who can play so well can easily learn Real Analysis...

Even more gently:

Will you please give me a chance to teach this subject to you?

By this time, my eyes were wet. He smiled a big smile and sighed. Will you have a cup of tea?

I will come to each and every lecture sir i promised, and i did for the rest of the semester, and his eyes always twinkled when he saw me... We shared a secret!

After all these years, if you are reading this, Dr. Pai, please know that you were one of the big reasons i stuck to it there at IITB and completed my degree. Thank you very very much for being part of my life... and oh yes, I still love to read up Real Analysis ;)  

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16 comments:

Jyuthika said...

Awwww.. that is soo very sweet :) :) :)

Jai Gurudev :)

Raghavan said...

beautiful bawa ! a good teacher does make all the difference . As they say in US universities "You don't take courses. you take teachers". Of course things work differently in India where you are pretty much stuck to a given prof for a course unlike in th US where you can pick a section at least in undergrad.

Jai Guru Dev,

siddharth said...

I guess it is from professors like Dr.Pai that you have learned how to make your students(thousands of them)fall deepy and madly in love with the subject(i.e Sri Sri or spirituality).I can say it a hundread times "thankyou very very much for being a part of my life"

love and gratitude

jai gurudev

Anupam Gupta said...

jai gurudev bau...

u knw the last itme i heard u talk about this in d august YES!+ in mumbai...i had tears in my eyes...and i thought about one such teacher i had in school....

and even today i have tears in my eyes...i mean....WHO wudnt wanna study a subject taught by such a wonderful human being....

this is a lesson for every teacher who yearns to ignite that passion in the student...and its a lesson for every student like me who has ever been touched by a teacher like that..

thanx bau...love u for dis..

The Pilgrim said...

Very touchy..
There are no bad students in IITB.. surely.. 2 of my freinds passed out of IIT B INSPITE OF BUNKING and there are no bad teachers either I guess .. Or good teachers can be found only at IIT.. ;)
Moral of the story?... Be at IITB or attend lectures! ;)

Streax said...

Very True.. bawa.. the story of how a good er excellent teacher can change life of students!!! But... very rarely it happens.. but wen it does transformation is just amazing.. (last line is abt u and dinesh bhaiyah!!)

Joy Gurudev!
I belong to you
Aparna

Anonymous said...

i had tears in my eyes too .. a very remarkable man and teacher indeed. (but you must've been a rather cute youngster too :)
sort-of gives us an insight into the influences that made you the teacher you are ? i've seen you pick up and nurture and groom ...
thanks for .. being who you are and for being a part of our lives!

milan said...

dear sir,
kaash Dr PV PAI ki tarah saare teachers hote
seriously i wish to be a teacher like him

Anonymous said...

I've thought sometimes that Guruji is the best teacher I've ever had .. and I've had some wonderful ones too ..

But! here's an interesting quote from Gibbons : "The power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous."
As a brilliant teacher yourself, with considerable experience (I think) I'm wondering what your response would be .. !

Bawa said...

A good teacher doesn't really teach as much as he facilitates learning... and great teachers abound in places you would least expect to find them :)... not just IITs and/or IIMs

Will do another teacher story some time later...

One mark of a great teacher i have consistently seen is that they almost never take attendance... only the most pathetic teachers insist on attendance... the great teachers know that they are giving quality and so the students will come! :)

Anonymous said...

Just a thought :
how come you haven't gotten in touch with Dr Pai directly? I'm sure he'd be delighted to hear from you! and at the way you've "turned out"! :) ...

Harsha Vardhan M.V said...

nice post al always bau...
there are 5-6 really good profs here in bits..genuinely concerned about students ...i anyway found the best teacher in u and dinesh bhaiya

Monica said...

professor Pai ki jai :D

rintu said...

Somebody still in (or around) IITB, please make Dr Pai aware of this post!! It will be his 'Guru Dakshina' :-)
Bawa, maybe have a link to his personal page here? http://www.math.iitb.ac.in/people/faculty/homepages/dvp.html

Love
Rintu

rintu said...

This is more appropriate:
http://www.math.iitb.ac.in/~dvp/

Prakirtee said...

I'm going through some hating one particular subject this semester and the main reason being the lecturer!! do you think there's any chance of him turning out to be like Dr Pai?? ;)

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