Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Mathematician

Today, I happened to come across a post about JVK ('the legendary pune engineering graphics guy', as the author says :D) as I was blog-hopping, and the only person who came to my mind when I read that last tribute-rendering line 'miss those classes' was another legendary coaching class guy, N.M. Kulkarni.
You wouldn't find a cutter Puneite who doesn't know about NM, and you'd rarely find people who haven't attended his classes, most of them would probably tell you with a regretful face how they couldn't be under the wing of the great NM because they stayed in some far flung area and couldn't find means of transport. And you thought you'd never see a day when you'd see students falling over each other to attend classes :|

The guy taught Mathematics. 11th and 12th grade. He didn't teach it, he literally etched it onto people's minds. His trademark ishtyle of pronouncing zero as jheero, his unique quality of seamlessly transforming complex calculus formulae into self-made tunes, the way he banged the front door (if you could call it front, it was more of in the middle of the room :P) on the faces of guys who came running in late, the dreaded pointer that fell like lightning on potent mischief-makers, all the memories mesmerise! All the back-benchers had 2 traditional brand names: 'chaavat', and 'dambrat', the closest word in English would be naughty, I suppose. Which doesn't come anywhere close to conveying the relish with which he used to utter the word, at least 7 times in every batch. I was lucky enough to be in the cream of batches, M*, which I later on realized contained the most scheming of people, it goes according to the ancient law which says, the more intelligent you are, the more the urge to do more cunning mischief :P

Probably the only guy on earth whom God grants more than 24 hours in a day. What else would you be inclined to think when you see someone managing six 12th batches and two 11th batches every day (with extra timings for almost every batch on Sundays) round the year, each batch that went on for a minimum of 1.5 hours, apart from online night coaching classes to enthusiastic students across the states? And this was 2 years ago, i don't have any idea to what 2 digit number it must have increased to today! The guy eats, drinks, walks, talks, plays and sleeps maths. Each of his dialogues are straight from Incredibleland; 'chaaaaavat!!', 'Khanvilkar, distance formula sang!', 'ata apan thode sundry sums sodvuya...they're not very difficult, but they're the sums examiners will ask in exam, so we'll call them sundry, kay bolnar apan tyanna? sundry!!' (this was our introduction to sundry sums :P), 'thiiiiiiikay!' (where we all used to yell along with him, the most awesome style of ending a lecture I've ever seen till date), Each batch contained a minimum of 200 people, every one in the class had fixed places, 10 people cramped onto every bench meant for, well, 10 if you sit the way we used to sit, 6 or 7 if you want to sit in a way so that you'd be able to recognize your body organs after 90 minutes. And then when Miss Electricity used to ditch us during the hottest part of the day, Namya defended the situation only the way he could: 'Tumhi ikde shiknyasathi alela ahaat mulanno, ani shikshan he kathin paristhititach hote, mi tumhala ithe mast AC ani basnyasathi sofa lavun devu shakto, pan mag upayog kaay??' The way we used to shout 'Walve, walve!!' (the guy who used to teach physics in the opposite building), and the booing at the feeble attempts of a meagre 50 people trying to shout back 'NM' from there, and then his mock-serious line 'asa nav nahi ghyaycha konacha...tya walvencha ani apala kahi sambandh ahe ka!'; to the occasional straddler, that affectionate 'tula sangu ka tu kasa ahes? goonda pravrutticha..' :P, the twinkle in his eyes after demonstrating how to solve a difficult sum, and then, 'hya sumchya pudhe tick mark karun liha, YENARACH!', 'ha sum khup sopa ahe, pan mi sangto, ha sum tumhi chukavnarach!' (lol), and then, when he's too much in the mood, 'Aaj apla xxx kay chan distoy nahi..', and then looking at some girl in the corner..'kay mhanata yyy..khara aahe ki nahi..' and then the mischievous laughter, and the class goes all oooh and aaah; 'mi roj midnight la yeun problems lihito boardvar', once he comes into the class and says 'I have two pet dogs', and while everyone is staring, he continues 'their names are derivation and integration' (!!), then during Diwali, 'When the world will celebrate the festival of lights, we shall celebrate the festival of I.N.T.E.G.R.A.T.I.O.N', his imaginative punishments, his sudden outbursts of philosophy, the outrageous anger on certain other (but rare) occasions, cracking non-veg jokes without blinking an eye in front of a 200 strong teenager crowd, followed by 'Majhya ani tumchyamadhe shevti farakach kay ahe!' in that laughing tone; the hours of standing beneath the building chitchatting with friends, till a frustrated NM shouts out from atop to vacate immediately; I miss all of it, ALL OF IT.

It wasn't just a coaching class, it was a place for refreshment. He could be as strict as a teacher should be, and at the same time could effortlessly extract humour out of any statement. True, he's a bit crazy, but then, all geniuses are :D Nothing deterred him, or his faithful students, neither the incessant complaints from the surrounding societywallahs, nor the threatening looks from his wife when she came to visit during 5 minute breaks between consecutive batches, neither holidays, nor diseases, nothing. He was a man for his students. The huge ever-increasing, never-ending queues for admission under his wing year after year stand testimony. I can go on and on and on forever about this guy (anyone who's been taught by him will!), and he's probably the only reason why I would want to go back to my 12th. Any student who gets into junior college and has Maths as a subject should definitely attend his classes; in fact, volunteer for the subject just so you can attend his classes. He'll breathe Maths into you as effortlessly as, well, breathing. It's something I just can't endeavour to put into words, you have to be there to experience it, it's the stuff of legend, the days that'll make you go 'Gosh!' when you recollect them.
Thank you, N.M. Sir.


ANAGHA said...

I never attended NM (just cos I was not in Pune then), but all 4 yrs of engineering I have heard all what you have mentioned like 100s of times...
Nice post!!
Shall pass on to ppl who would connect even more... :)

A half light said...

Thanks! He really is a great guy! :) Sometimes you just helplessly miss certain portions of your life gone past..