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   And, on the occasion of Teachers Day... (April 9, 1987)

And, on the occasion of Teachers Day, a mention about some of the teachers in my life.

The earliest are a vague impression, a Miss Milton and a Miss Raymond and others with names that were later to be borrowed by manufacturers of shirts and synthetics. Mostly Anglo-Indians, I recall them as whiffs of different perfumes as they walked between the desks.

Later teachers sit clear in the mind. There was a history teacher, a Mr. Mathew, who taught us British counting the execution of Charles II: year after year. To successive batches of fifth standard students, he would recount the scene in all its pathos and tragedy, and, at the end of the period the students would discern a small tear in his eyes.

Mr. Pandurang was Panchgani local, dressed in a long coat, dhoti, and turban like Dr. Radhakrishnan's He taught science and what particularly impressed us about him was that while other teachers had offices, he had a laboratory. It was in this laboratory that he hammered in to my mind the various formulae in chemistry. Most of these I can still recall and recite, like prayers in an alien language taught during childhood.

Mr. Kalekar was the Drawing teacher, also a Panchgani local, also dresed in a dhoti, though on it he wore an English jacket and a black cap. Just as Mr. Pandurang had a laboratory, he had a drawing room, its walls adorned with drawings done by the more artistic boys over the years. They say that some people can draw, some can't but under him everybody could draw.

Mr. Adibaum was the headmaster, very stern. He took all the senior classes, and I think, whatever I have learnt, I have learnt though him. The Billimoria brothers, Burjorji and Rustamji, were joint principals they took classes and Rustamji was also the cricket coach. They taught by example, gently, carefully, sincerely, and all the other teachers tried to be like them.

Mr. Athaide was the music teacher and he looked the part, hair flying, spectacles slipping down to the tip of the nose, clothes covered with cigar ash. When he was not teaching the boys to play the violin, he was tuning their violins. All day long, there was some music emerging from his room, bouncing through the long corridors of the school, across the playground then lingering among the tops of the silver oaks.

Mr. Siganporia was the games teacher. His other job was to wake up every boy at 6 o'clock in the morning and send him out into the cold to wash, dress and face another day. Habits die hard; after more than half a century, I still get up at 6 a.m. wash, shave, dress and face another day.

What I am thinking about is whether all these excellent gentlemen, if living and working today, have joined and working today, have joined the teachers strike. I think, they would have.

 
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