Friday, January 16, 2009

Countryside macadam

I never believed in teaching profession. In my opinion, a person who wholeheartedly yearns to learn or study will eventually* do so without any coaching (by getting into books). And for a person who isn't interested in learning anything at all, he should promptly castrate himself. Those who aren't interested in learning the things being taught by a teacher, and have some better things in mind, shouldn't even bother to listen no matter how good the teacher is. So no one really needs teacher no matter how proficient he or she is. Personally I never needed a teacher so far, but teachers were thrust upon me as I had to attend some or the other college and study something.

And despite my above mentioned sentiments, I am into the profession of teaching... obviously not by choice. I had a very limited options after graduation in Mathematics, and as long as I don't obtain necessary academic credentials, I would have to wait for the job of my preference. And so I became an interim teacher of maths, and will continue to be one, at least for a couple of months. My first assignment was to conduct lectures in an Engineering college in Shirpur for about a month. Shirpur, a small town located well out of urban limits, is the place where I held my first (and hopefully my last) course, among students from interiors of Indian plateau. And these people have a very different upbringing and culture compared to the spoiled brats of the city like me.

All the time during the journey I couldn't help feeling pissed. The impression I had was that in my life's first professional lecture itself, I'll will be pitted against 200 wild stalwarts all straining their necks to make a mockery of me in class, crack jokes at me, pass comments behind my back, jeer, and walk out of my lecture. The way along the journey, I couldn't ignore the butterflies in the stomach, knowing that this countryside student crowd usually does the above mentioned things in any rookie lecture. Again there was that old cliche I had heard from my own teachers that the first professional lecture really squeezes one's nerves out and that its natural to have a fucked-up first impression. Also, I was influenced by the old proverb, 'life is not a bed of roses'. What the fuck was I going to do?

The arrival in Shirpur was smooth. The village itself was a blend between contemporary housing style and modern concrete settlements. There wasn't even a germane restaurant or any place serving apposite food to city based visitors. But the hotel accomodations were really luxurious. Travelling arragement from hotel to college were fluid. The college staff itself was very congenial. And all commodities very chicken feed cheap. But for me, all the granduer was overshadowed by the nerves.

On the first day, there were a very few students, and hence my scheduled lecture was postponed till the next day, which was relief. But I knew I wouldn't be able to keep on running away and that some or the other time I had to face the students. My days in military school taught a very helpful tact. If you want to learn swimming, the best way to do so is to jump in the water right away, and get the fear out of you. And the same applies to everything else. And so, despite feeling apprehensive I asked my seniors not to bother introducing me to the class as I wanted to do that honour myself( ...there is nothing honourable in my introduction).

And then came the day when I had to conduct the lecture. As I made my towards the podium, I could feel pupils staring at me with a who-the-fuck-is-this-oaf kind of look on their face. One of my senior colleagues was sitting amongst the students too just to make sure I'd be able to handle the class. I suspect he wanted to check out, whether I was really able to conduct a proper lecture. And then it began... O horror!

I was surprised at the pitch of my own voice. To my delight I spoke loudly and clearly, without stammering. I sounded confident to myself. I kept my introduction short... just two sentences (I never like to boast about myself) and started with the topic. And after a while I noticed that the students were actually listening and not dozing off. This was a positive sign again. As the time wore on, I became more and more confident and started taking occasional detours in the lecture reminding myself that I shouldn't be carried away. The fact that I knew everything about my topic in and out, provided me with the necessary anchorage to conduct the lecture without making any kind of mathematical blunders. After a couple of minutes my senior colleague realized that I wouldn't be needing any help now, and he left. I myself felt, it had been very silly of me to have feared this moment, as there was really nothing to be apprehensive about. A few students even asked question, which was again nice, as they actually bothered to think over the things I was barking out. I finished the lecture without having encountered too much disturbance.

I was happy with my first lecture (as I didn't screw up nearly as bad as I first anticipated myself to do). Whether the students actually enjoyed my lecture or not, I have no idea (and honestly I don't care). I didn't make a fool of myself and that was all that mattered to me at that moment. In my opinion it was more like sharing my knowledge with them, and less like coaching.

With the anxiety extinguished in my very first lecture, I couldn't help enjoying my sojourn in Shirpur. The food and travel was free and unlimited, and although there was nothing much to enjoy in the village it was still like vacation and relaxing all the time. As days passed by, I realized that my lectures were getting increasingly boring (I could make out from the students' contours) but I didn't really care as long as I got the content right. As Aristotle had quoted, 'a good teacher is a person who tells the truth to his students, irrespective of his engagement skills'. Personally I would never have attended my own lectures, as I have seen my lecture videos. I know that my lectures are truly boring, very prosaic and totally unimpressive. As it is many people just hate maths, although I don't understand why.

But it was the time outside the college classroom, that I enjoyed the most. As the students were of my age group and in fact from the same batch, we got along well. I myself felt very awkward that they were addressing me as 'Sir' all the time. I played volleyball with them on few occasion ( they had to tolerate me, as I could never hit the ball right). I made a very good friends out of a couple of students there. I spent evenings at their hostel rooms along with my senior colleague, often watching movies and shows on their computers amongst other things like gym. Being an ardent birdwatching aficionado, I took a huge delight in spotting exotic Indian birds (like the Oriental Magpie Robin) which were aplenty in the college vicinity. Even the weather was quite pleasant and much soothing compared to city atmosphere. And I broke my two-and-a-half year long abstinence of alcohol and indulged in vodka along with my company colleagues on 31st midnight (I was astonished to find out that all the major liquor brands were actually available in a remote place like Shirpur, where there was no proper restaurant... I guess thats just Indian culture).

Shirpur experience was a rapturous one. I got rid of my podium fear for good, and had a nice break from the monotonous city life as well. I'd definitely want to go back to Shirpur some day, but certainly not as a faculty. Walking down the country macadam was very pleasing.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The upper circuit

It's evident from Royal's(present pet) health, that he's gonna be at the beach bungalow now, and will never be coming home. Its three months now, since I got my own floor(which now looks as good as my own place). But a dog is something that I really pine having around. I had been brought up with dogs all besides me, ever since I was born. Now I have the incentive to get myself another pet, as I find quite difficult to live without that. Getting a new pet is inevitable. But what kinda dog I must look for, I am still dithering.

What kinda dog do I need?
I hate poodles, chihuahuas and pomeranians. They look like little pussy suckers, who can be kicked away very easily by muggers, never dare to bite, bark like an irritating truck horn, and resemble a football. They're, in my opinion, classified as exhorbitantly homosexual breed and canine designer accessories for women.
I want a big and impertinent looking one. One who never buries his tail down under, and has a considerable height compared to street dogs. He should be able to cast a ferocious look when time calls for it. Most crucial element though is the dog's intelligence (I call it the Upper circuit rating).
No matter the vex, I have shortlisted a few breeds which I would like to buy... here they are:

1) Alsatian (German Shepard):

The advantage for having an alsatian as a pet is that he is massive in size, dark in colour accompanied by think body hair(which gives him a menacing personailty), has a kind of voice which can silence all the animals in 20 meter range, is very affable to his master, complaisant with his master's friends, bites like a tuatara, and is awfully clever. Alsatians are also among the cheapest in exotic breeds available in India.
But then again, alsatians have poor sniffing ability compared to other breeds like labrador and doberman. As for me, I grew up with three different alsatians, one after another, over the last 17 years. I want to try something different now.

Upper circuit rating : 7/10

2) Fox terrier:
Probably the most crafty dog around. This fellow has a very innocent look with flakes of hair sprounting out from his face. This look is full of deciet. Within, this dog has a very monstrous frame of mind, and an truancy of conscience. Built with a very brutal attitude, and disrespect towards friends and foes alike, this animal loathes creatures of every kind; dogs, humans, cats, birds, women, and anything else. A very bad idea if you want a loyal and allegiant pet. But his shrewdness and ingenious upper circuit can come in handy. He can operate doorknobs and light swithches, can outsmart rats and other pests , open car doors and honk horns, and bite at right places in case of a burglary situation.

Upper circuit rating: 9.99/10


A mixture between a very large dog, and a dog of average height, this fellow has scanty body hair, thick set of muscles wrapped around his body, and friendly contours. Sense of smell is average and intelligence is better than many other breeds. A very likeable dog, showing congenial attitude towards house members. Doesn't lose temper easily. He has a very strong jaw and a powerful bite which can virtually handicap the victim. Very easy to train as compared to other dogs.
But he has a heavy appetite compared to alsatians. He can be very expensive, and difficult to trace a good pedigree.
Upper cricuit rating : 8/10

A very common pet in earlier times. But lately, people opt for other options given his frail features, and savage contours. The body size is smaller compared to street dogs, and the face is tapering, with skiny aspects. Never mind the appearance, the dude has a magnanimous strength within him, and an equally adamant and resolute crasis when it comes to his work. He has a very unyielding attitude, but literally worships his master and is utterly loyal. Despite his size, he posseses enough in his tank to see of any kind of hurdles pertaining to overpowering opponents and assailants. He has acute senses and sharp intellect. A brainy chap. Top choice for home gaurds
The only concerns are his looks. He looks like the Skeletor from 'He-man'.

Upper circuit rating : 9/10
I'd love to get myself dogs from other breeds like Border Collie, Irish wolfhound and King Shephard. But I am after all a poor man.
Upper circuit rating for other canine families:
Dalmatian : 7/10
Rottweiler : 7/10
Golden Retriever : 7/10
Labrador : 6/10
Great Dane : 6/10
Spitz : 5/10
Lhasa Apso : 4/10
Bulldog : 3/10
Cocker Spaniel : 2/10
Pomeranian: 0/10
Dakshin: 1/10

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Shirpur Diaries

For two weeks I had been away to Shirpur, a small village located in the central India, away from Mumbai, in the plateau region. I had been there to conduct special lectures on mathematics for students in RCPIT engineering college. I will write the details about my exploits in the next post. For now, look at the photos...

Dawn at Shirpur

RCPIT Entrance

College Interior

College Gardens

Boys Hostel

G4 Testing

Volleyball with students