Other side of the table

It was 14 July 2008, the clock in the lounge was showing 11:40 and then the lady in the red saree allowed me to meet the person with whom I had an appointment. After a brief discussion with her I realized I had to demonstrate 18 years of my academic training to convince her. No sooner had I agreed to this, she introduced me to another person to whom I had to repeat the same, for which I was not prepared. It was noon and I was brooding over the feedback. I was given a book, an A4 size sheet, a pencil and was asked to recollect my learning and pen them down within half an hour.

I was perplexed and didn’t do anything for a while only to realize I was running out of time. Nevertheless, a tenacious bull in my mind reminded me of the remaining five potential minutes. Within no time, it was 1:00 pm. My guide led me to the presentation room. Reminiscence of my days in this place was exalting. We walked into a small, grim, room smelling of food (surely an after effect of the school’s short break!).

As soon as we entered the room, the audience in the room stood and wished “Gooood afffter nooon ma’am” in the same chorus of my days in school. In a gleeful mood myself, I continued. Reflecting on my learning of A, B, C, D, ……….,Z , 1,2, 3, 4, …………….2+3, 4-1, 8 x 5, I asked the students “Do you know A, B, C, D, …………Z, 1,2, 3, 4, …………….?” “Yeeeeeees ma’am” came a reply in the same chorus as earlier.

My next question was “What if I combine the English alphabet and numbers with the basic operations +, – , x, /?”

This time there was stillness and I was able to read their minds – “What is she asking?” I let the silence continue for few minutes and finally said, “Let us explore a new concept called Algebra”. I continued with an introduction of some basic principles and looking at my watch I realized my 15 minutes of presentation had to conclude.

My angel guide for the day complimented me saying “Good job!” She was an observer of the session (and also the Head of the Department for Mathematics). Feeling elated in my dusty (chalk powder) state, I was reminded of the popular “Surf Excel advertisement – ‘daag acche hote hai’”.  I inwardly complimented myself.

To this day, it is a phenomenal feeling to be complimented by a teacher from the past. For the first time, I was on the other side of the table in the classroom. After that incident, it didn’t take much time for me to decide that “I wanted to be a teacher”.


– Janhavidharan M

Associate Specialist


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