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A student and a teacher December 20, 2006

Posted by Sharath Rao in contemplation, littlerockers, reminisces-1990s.

I was in Chicago visiting Asha teacher. That little girl in that picture in the post before the last one is Rishelle, Asha’s 4 year old.

Chicago, Dec 16th, 2006 with Asha, Ritvik, Rishelle and Sadiq

Asha taught us English at Little Rock, Class VII ( 1993-94 ). Towards the end of Class VII just as we used to ask for people’s autographs ( kinda slam books), I got her autograph as well in addition to that of a few other classmates. During the summer vacations that followed in April 1994, on seeing her address in my autograph book I wrote to Asha. Quite surprisingly, she wrote back a long long letter in which she mentioned that she might be teaching us poetry in Class VIII. Wrote back again. This time she got back with her marriage invitation card. She was to be moving to Chicago after marriage. A teacher no more.
I attended her reception on May 23, 1994 to her utter surprise. I happened to be the only student who was invited in addition to 2 other teachers and I showed up there with my mom. I remember the exact events of that day at the Vimlesh international in Mangalore. I guess I still have, as a part of ‘my trivia collection’, that thankyou note with an Eclairs chocolate stapled that was given to all the guests. And not knowing what to do with the glass of wine that was served as a part of the wedding toast.
Cannanore, Aug 11th, 1999

Thinking about it today it seems weird. A 12 year old insists that he attend and drags his mom all the way to Mangalore for the event. We corresponded regularly via letters between Chicago and Manipal for several years, 19 of them between June 1994 and Jan 2000. On her visit to Mangalore in April-May 1996, she came visiting home in Manipal. I again went visiting her in Mangalore on May 14, 1996. Her visit an year later, I visited her again on May 13, 1997. Ofcourse I was 14/15 by then and was travelling alone.

By 1998 her parents had retired and moved to Cannanore. When she came down in August 1999, I went down to Cannanore from Manipal, changing 4 buses – at Udupi, Mangalore, Kasargod and Kanjangad. Stayed over at their place and took the train back the next day. Exhilarating, thinking about it now.

Manipal, April 16th, 1996.

She had a baby, May 4, 2000. Bringing up kids meant communication wasnt really that regular. When on Dec 12, 2000 I heard from someone that Y! messenger allows free calls to landlines in the US ( which they discontinued soon after), I went to a Cyber Cafe in Suratkal, talked to Asha and Mani, her husband for over an hour. Our next conversation was to be in Dec 2004. They had their second girl Rishelle on April 11, 2002. Remaining in touch was even more harder.

Cut to 2004. Since I came to the US in Aug 2004, I was in reasonably regular touch with the family, mostly talking to Mani 3-4 times a year. Over 2.5 years after coming here, the trip to Chicago finally happened. 3 great days with the family – the kids were so much fun. Mani was great in that he spent a whole Saturday with Sadiq and me taking us around Chicago. Infact I last met Mani at the reception in Mangalore in May 1994 !! Meeting the family here is like coming a full circle.

With Mani and Sadiq at a suburbian railway station

This isnt really an exception. I have visited and spent hours at the houses of several of my school teachers, know their kids’ by names and faces, written letters to ( and heard from ) a few of them, probably have more photographs with them than with some of family as well. Its probably got to do something with the fact that while I feel very endeared to them, I dont respect authority and hierarchy to the extent that inhibits communication. Depending on how the teachers in question took this attitude of mine, this has got me into trouble in the past. But then its also earned me teachers as friends.

As I wrote this I just think to myself that teachers are in some senses our confidants – because they are the only ones who read our answer sheets :), they know pretty well how good or bad we are at what we do. And isnt one of those tried and tested ways of making friends telling them your secrets :).



1. Arundathi Acharya - December 21, 2006

Hey…its unbelievable..its really interesting to know the way you have been in contact with your teacher over a period of 12 years…that too when u both were in different countries…this proves if one really wants to do something, one can do it anyway. This has motivated me to get back in contact with some of my lecturers who are really special to me, with whom I have lost touch after moving to US….Thanks.

2. Sharath Rao - December 21, 2006

Thanks for your comment Arundathi.

I am glad you found some impetus to catch up with people back home. To answer your own question from your post,

“The only thing that lingered in my mind was the big smiles on the happy face of my teachers. I just wondered “Is it so easy to make them so happy??”.”

Yes, it is :).

3. Somayaji Ravi - December 23, 2006

very commendable effort man! Need to keep saying ‘gain and again!
And yeah, agree to the fact that, teachers are our immediate confidants! apart from which i also think that with the technology at hand it has made people very lethargic in doing personal meetups!! You have some energy man

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