Saturday, October 26, 2013

Going back to School

In my last blog, I took a shot at reminiscing of my school days while watching the Teachers’ Day celebration by the tiny-tots in my daughter’s school.  Yesterday I got another chance to visit one of the renowned schools in the neighborhood and glimpsed into their mind during a half an hour conversation.

It felt good within.

To be associated with young minds of this generation after a gap of 23 years from my twelfth standard passing days is really an enriching experience from my current standpoint.

I have volunteered for Earthian 2013 (, a sustainability initiative sponsored by my current employer, Wipro Technologies, and am mentoring 4 schools from the nearby areas. As I have always looked forward to doing something extra towards contributing to betterment of society, in addition to discharging the professional and personal responsibilities demanded by my daily life, this engagement provided me with a pertinent platform for me to create awareness in the future citizens about Water as a valuable resource for a country like India.

Coming back to my experience of mingling with the teachers and students, I could clearly notice a sense of quest mixed with panic, anxiety and a determination to overcome the challenges. The tentativeness, the awe about interacting with someone from the corporate world and the innocence of the interactions made me face myself during my school days. I could see reflection of mine in their faces and body language. They faulted at the very first step as to how to initiate the activities and were looking for some guidance. Once we started talking, a good number of ways and means came out in due course and situation was coming under control.  The experienced teachers also came out openly and candidly about the lack of knowledge in the subject and how they also need to learn few new things. Yes, they need to do some finding out and work and am sure, in the process, they will be more aware.

To me, education is not about feeding a horde of information rather opening up their analytical mind, thought process that questions and imagination that is out of the system to a boundless extent. As we, elders and seniors, will not be around them all the time they face a challenge in life, we need to make sure that they ask few questions in the face of it and can figure a way out. To me, there lies the real success of seniors and teachers in kindling that light inside them about all the things in life.

I will consider my effort meaningful if an iota of fruition about water related problems get into them.

Thank you, Wipro Sustainability team, for giving me this opportunity.

--Jayanta Tewari

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Teacher's Day

In this article, I do not plan to write about what Teachers’ day is or its significance or anything about Dr. Radhakrishnan.  Keeping aside those data and information, I just thought to pen down my own feelings about my teachers and the days of my student life.

Today I was at my daughter’s school to celebrate the occasion with her and her friends.  In her not so long life of nine years, she has observed this day in the last few years but this was the first time I happened to be with her.

While watching the cultural program arranged by the students for their loving teachers I was unknowingly transported to my own childhood not because of anything related to me but for my teachers. Along with the teachers, came up the school in totality on the canvas.  I could very well see all my teachers vividly starting from my first school days of Sarojvasini Sishu Bhavan to my secondary school, Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith Purulia.

While Sarojvasini Sishu Bhavan and Sunil sir, Acharya sir, Jayanta sir, Head sir, Bardi mani  and gatekeeper Nepal da all helped me to sow the seeds of my life, Birbhum Zilla school with Head sir, Sibnath Sir and others helped the sapling to grow. Ultimate realization of student life however came only during my hostel life in Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith, Purulia, about which we all, the supposed “Vivek Dynamites”, are proud of. ( . I still see all of them moving around me as if the events happened just yesterday, frame by frame, not having aged by the time and remaining as lively as ever.  The absolutely majestic buildings, the vast stretches of playgrounds, the ever beautiful rose garden tended by Kalidas da, and the cool shadows of mighty trees protecting us from the Sun, they are part of my inner being, have been ingrained in the soul.  Our school was blessed by the midas touch of many scholars in the field of arts like Sunil Pal, Ramkinkar Baiz, and Ramananda Bandyopadhyay, bearing testimony to the rich cultural and architectural heritage of India. The feel of touch by the bricks of those walls, the wet smell of soil of that land, the magnificence of the temple building – all still flow through my blood whenever I think about my childhood days.  Being in a hostel and completely cut-off from the din and bustle of a city did not make us feel, even for a single moment, that we were being deprived of the pleasant things of life. We used to enjoy them in our own ways, be it watching the same movie (1942) again and again, the sports day celebrations in the company of P. K. Banerjee, or our very own drama performance on the 15th of august or the Janmashtami days.

Bengali lessons and stories from Phani da and Dilip da , Phonetics practices from Sushil da, history lessons from Asit da and Chandi da, all were top of the class by any standard. During story telling sessions, Phani da could keep the whole class silent in a jaw dropping suspense. Lakshmi da and Rakho da made Physics lessons as lucid as they could be whereas Bimal da, Ajay da, and Pankaj da effortlessly made Life science almost a part of daily life. During Panchanan da’s and Ashok da’s geography classes, we used to travel to many countries of the world through the pages of the ATLAS. There were so many great teachers in Mathematics, English, Physical Education, Work Education, Music, Drawing, Gardening and others that I am bound to miss at least some of them.

While recollecting my childhood I will now allow myself to look back my life as a student. After class VI, academically I came down a few rungs below the top but my tenure in RKMV Purulia from class VI to class X is the best part of my life. This is not because I enjoyed everything in the school but because of the overall atmosphere that used to prevail out there.  Though I was not the most popular jock in the class, the gentle breeze along the campus, the fatherly affection oozing out of the teaching and the non-teaching staff, and the overall guidance and care from the Maharajas, brought a new lease of life in me since class VI. Class politics, as they call it, was very much there in the school and I indeed was at the receiving end a few times. As there are quite a few such unpleasant memories, I won’t say that I was perfectly happy all the time, but I was fortunate to acquire a place of my own in the class in many ways. The entire experience gave me some very useful and robust perspectives of life, some of which I still cherish even after so many days from student life.

Standing today, when I look back, I do feel that a few things could have been done differently. But I am not ready to exchange anything of that life with anything else either. I can go on writing about RKMV for  a few more pages but would like to conclude now after a brief discussion of Swapan da. He was such a respected teacher by one and all that each and every boarder used to think that probably he was the best student of the class and got his maximum attention. Trying to inculcate a strong character in everyone in the model of Vivekanada, Swapan da gave all his life for Vidyapith and his students. His latest book, “Esocho Jyotirmoy” was his pronam towards Swamiji on his 150th Birth Anniversary. He has influenced and touched many a life in many ways and I salute him for his rock solid support to all of us sacrificing everything in his own life.

Long live Swapan da and all the other teachers who are still around.

--Jayanta Tewari

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Durga Pujo -A Festival of India : The journey

DurgaPuja – The Journey

This is not about Devi Durga’s journey from Kailash (Near Mt. Everest) to earth  but that of few of the women and men - who take pains year after year of adding one more pressing demand in their already over-sandwiched life for last five years.  This journey, for some quite unnecessary and for few rather fulfilling, is bit strenuous and adventurous at times without the physical heroics. For Some others, though they aspire to get involved but succumb to the burden on daily life.
They start rolling their sleeves at the start of August.

It can be well concluded that this whole saga is running an enterprise barring the enforcement hierarchy. In the social context, this poses challenges proven to be extremely  difficult to handle. By no means, this is a small feat to stitch things together end to end without hurting sentiments and ego of your fellow journeymen and women in the process. Besotted by the love and passion of doing something different, the immensely intensified two-three months pose a new set of challenges to their lives - balancing professional and personal front to the extent whatever is left and adding this third dimension – they graduate to be multifaceted in their own circles.

Ultimately one day, over tea and snacks, the journey starts with a planned and re-planned kick-off meeting to break the inertia. During the course , life presents itself with varied experiences in different forms,  on one side be it group politics, polarization, heated arguments, overpowering opinions and on the other hand appreciation for sealing a good deal or collecting few hundreds of bucks for subscriptions or completing a task. People play, yes, People do play in various way and means- some to get the work done, some to do the work. At times, it looks hilarious if seen from a distance and dispassionately but we, human beings, live with all these, amidst all these and end up being a part of it. This is the very psyche of human relationship and there is nothing wrong about it.
The dynamic chaos propel the momentum day by day.
While on my association on this journey over the years, life has thrown a plethora of surprises - pleasant and unpleasant, for my social landscape through a myriad of interactions, reactions and happenings which were hitherto unknown to me. Foolishly I used to think that logic and truth are universal and absolute and failed to notice their very relevance to the contexts or perspectives. My this very understanding that all disagreements and disputes are solvable through dialogues across the table, got a new dimension that made me wiser.  Being tolerant to other opinions -how absurd or intelligent they may be to you but not to the person making the opinion, being heard and listening to the debate, going with the flow at times, adjustments to situations, remaining dispassionate about issues close to your heart,  keeping your personal thoughts bereft of ego and above all not being judgmental are a few significant practical lessons for me being there all through. All these experiences with fellow human beings – how venerable and/or young blood ,have shown me different shades of human character and behavioral aspects , otherwise un-being  and unbelievable of them . That’s a gain and I am stronger mentally. I have matured.

Though these are nothing new in the game called “life”. Encountering them first hand ,in the context of social life, in addition to family and corporate personas , has enriched me to the extent beyond any limits.
This account can go on and on but without prolonging this any further, I would like to bring up my particular personal association with our beloved Sarojda, much senior to me by age but much more spirited, motivated and energetic - a true soldier, guarding every bit of our association as a towering father figure.  Though I fail to keep up with his big strides in this journey, I do cherish the lovely bonding that has developed over chanda collection from door to door, making innumerable calls, sending SMSs, driving miles after miles, taking a sip of tea with Jelabi or Samosa in the gulleys of HSR or Koramangla. I feel this bonding has tested the time through thick and thin, highs and low and has not been broken even pushed into situations with dire consequences. There have been as small as 5 minutes catch up ramblings at the end of the day almost every day to go over the progress of the day and plan for next day. This year, he recovered from a somewhat serious nephrology operation few months back and I had a faint of doubt  that probably his feet will walk slower than ever and not run as usual but he proved me wrong day after day in all the activities. Defying all the odds, the relationship is a lasting one and is of a brotherly nature – respected by our close friends and associates.

At the end of it all, once Durgapujo is gone, they get onto something else. 
Did I say it is someway fulfilling? 

Unconsciously, probably yes.

--Jayanta Tewari