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Class 6 and after ...!

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by ojaantrik, May 21, 2010.

  1. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Kamalji, Kelly1966, Knot2Share, Mindi, Padmini, Sriniketan, Sujatha, Viji (and anyone else who might have read the thread from which the present one takes off):

    I need to put this up to clarify the Class 6 story. The school I went to called it Standard III I think. I don't know what the conversion rule from Class to Standard was. But it was Class 6 alright, being the sixth class of junior high school.

    Well what happened was that I lost interest in studies and didn't even listen to the things that were being taught in the class. I sat there dreaming of what I have no idea. The only trouble though was that they used to hold end term tests, there being 3 such terms. This was the general pattern everywhere else.

    As far as I remember, I failed in mathematics and English in the first term. People at home were worried. Then, at the end of the second term, my report card showed more failures, including even general science!! People at home panicked and took me out of the school to train me at home to sit for admission tests run by "better" schools. In other words, I was not performing properly because the school was no good. Even if this perception was partly correct, I can swear that more than 90 per cent of the problem was of my own making.

    They trained me for 3 or 4 months I think (and it was a torture, involving as it did, learning by heart the multiplication tables amongst other things) and made me sit for the admission tests in these "better" schools. I failed them all! :rotfl

    Upon which, they found the "worst" school in existence at the time, a school which admitted anybody that came along. There was a couplet someone had composed on this school. The name of the school was Teerthopoti Institution.

    The couplet in Bengali was:

    jar naai kono goti
    shei jaaey teerthapoti.

    My Hindi is horrible, but if I were asked to translate this to Hindi, I would probably do it this way:

    jisko nehi hota koi bhi gati
    wo hi jaatey hyay teerthapati!

    Even if the grammar or the words are incorrect, I think the meaning is clear enough. Anyway, I was admitted to Class 7 alright, so I didn't lose a year. Even in this "worst" school, my performance was indifferent, though I didn't flunk. But there were telltale signs that I would fail for sure at the end of the year.

    Around this time, our next door neighbour informed my parents about a new school that had come up. It was a school that was quite different from the normal run of schools. The curriculum as well as teaching styles were very original. We rushed to that school and, the school being very new, there was no problem with admission. It is one of the most famous schools in Kolkata now, South Point High School. It is truly hard to enter it and the number of students is so large that the school even made it to the Guinness Book of Records!

    But when I joined, it was new as I said. Few students. Class 7, to which I was admitted, had around 15 students in all. By the time I sat for my school leaving exam, my class had probably 30 students or so in all. The junior classess had of course already started to inflate by then.

    It was indeed a totally different notion of education that I came across there. I joined the school when term one was already over. I was taken to a room on my first day where students were sitting on pretty coloured chairs (not ugly wooden benches) around a somewhat large rectangular table. I got this vague impression that the table resembled a table tennis board. (It was a co-ed school by the way and I admit I had fallen in love with all the girls in the school. And rejected by them all, though I never found the courage to propose to any of them! Very recently, one of my classmates showed up from Hyderabad. She visited my home and we had a great time together. I didn't tell her of course that she too had been my heartthrob around 500 years ago.)

    As soon as it was lunch time, I realized that I had guessed correctly. It WAS INDEED a table tennis board. The boys came out with their table tennis equipment, rigged up a net across the middle of the board and started playing. That was quite funny. Because when lunch was over, the net was removed immediately and we were back to studying. The class room was a games room simultaneously and no teacher ever thought there was anything wrong about it. This was my first introduction to table tennis and this is where I learned to play the game. The only sport that I feel comfortable enough to take part in.

    I have forgotten who took the first class, but Utpal Dutt figured in one of the first 3 or 4 classes on that magic day. He looked at me as soon as he walked in and said, "Ah! There is a new boy. What's your name?" I replied. He taught us English of course and at one point he asked me how many tenses there were. I told him, very confidently, what I knew. "Three," said I. He winced and then smiled as he corrected me, "Look Dipankar, you are a big boy now. You can't say three. You should say 12, shouldn't you?" I had little idea what he meant. But it didn't take me too long to find out.

    By the time the year was over, I had been introduced to at least one Shakespeare play in the original, acted in A Midsummer Night's Dream, learned figures of speech as well as scantion of poems. And, oh yes, I scored 100/100 in the very first math exam. And, will you believe it? When the final results were out, I was told that I had stood first in the class. It was a miracle. I didn't stand first every time since then, but I never went anywhere near flunking either. (At home, I demanded a table tennis racket as prize. Rejected. :cry:)

    The general response at home was that the miracle was easily explainable. It was a new school and took in anyone who approached. The ones who normally approached were themselves failures elsewhere. So, my rank signified little. I had stood first amongst a group of students who were born idiots, like me.

    I think my near and distant family members (including me of course) never believed that I was capable of change. So, when after leaving school, I was admitted to Presidency College, which was the hardest college to enter those days, (It is hard to enter even today), the conclusion was that examinees had performed badly in general in the Board Exams that year. Or else, how could I get in?

    I think I was somewhat gullible (I still am perhaps) and always accepted the judgement passed on my intellect without protest. Yet, one day, I received scholarships from more than one US university and went to one to earn a PhD degree. But my Class 6 past pursued me like a virus. The day I landed back in India after completing my studies and teaching in Canada for some time, one of my close relatives declared in public that it appeared strange that I was educated enough to be soon joining the Indian Statistical Institute as an Associate Professor!

    Fortunately, I feel no bitterness. In a way, human rejection has helped me. It has prevented me from being supercilious towards others. It has kept on reminding me that I am an absolute nobody and that I need to keep trying harder and harder everyday to improve. It's possible that this explains why I need to revise whatever I write and I never end up feeling satisfied. (I know I complain that few people comment on my threads at IL. It is hard to explain my psychology in this connection. One reason could be that I try so hard and yet fail to draw much attention. Childish? Yah... I suppose so. It's a bit like people visiting temples to draw God's attention to their needs and God remaning stubbornly indifferent. Like children, these people often end up crying and accusing God! I do that to, though I know at the bottom of my heart that mermaids will not sing to me. I am just not good enough. Period. I wish I could be like Cheeniya. He can rise above situations, if I understand him correctly, he is the closest approximation to Shiva that I have known.)

    Well, I suppose, whatever the world might think, I will never cease to be a failure in my own eyes. It is not a question of humility, it's a question of fear. Fear that I will not be promoted to the next class. :hide:

    As I look back at my past, I realize that I owe almost everything I am today (failure included) to a single person. Utpal Dutt. Yes, to him alone. It was he who lifted me out of the quagmire in which I was slowly sinking. He initiated me to the fascinating world of knowledge, fine arts, drama, music and whatever else it was that he opened my eyes to. Even if I were to turn physically blind someday, I know that I shall keep seeing these jewels he gave me free of charge and let me retain through my entire life. Even if I turn deaf, I will hear music. May be not the way Beethoven did. But hear I will. And in the midst of my lack of self-confidence, a confidence of sorts will survive. Confidence to fight my lack of confidence.

    I sometimes think that these things will stay with me even after I am gone. But so will my sense of total failure as well as my Darwinian struggle for existence.

    It is a paradox. I am doomed to suffer for all eternity. But, as I said, it does not bother my peace of mind at all. Why should an idiot's idiocy disturb him? He learns to live with it doesn't he? Besides, a purebred idiot never finds out that he is one. (Like a purebred Labrador, who never discovers his breed. :exactly:.) God is merciful, isn't he? He creates idiots for the entertainment or irritation of non-idiots. So, why should the idiot be bothered about doing things that come naturally to him? When non-idiots make fun of him, he assumes I think that they are suffering from insanity. :biglaugh

    I know I am contradicting myself. May be I am only half an idiot. If I were a purebred, how should I have known that I am one????

    Love.

    oj/ oj-da /oj-kaku
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2010
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  2. kelly1966

    kelly1966 Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Kaku....
    let me tell you that I'm most glad that you had this 6th class failure or else you would've never met Utpal Dutt and perhaps fate would've never led you here at IL and I would have missed out meeting one of the few people I admire:)
    Imagine if you had done averagely ok in that awful school you could've landed as a babu in amaar sonar Kolkatta
    My Husband also went to south point school till the 1st standard before they moved to Bangalore.
    By the way your relatives sound like typical cynical banglis.... never appreciate always ready to find faults!!!..
    It was a usual wonderful to read your writings.....
    K
     
  3. knot2share

    knot2share Gold IL'ite

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    OJ da !

    Everytime I address you so, it reminds me of Orange Juice :hide:.
    What a lovely post to read about your Class 6 (Standard 3??) and after... life. I had a hearty laugh at your narration. But really glad for Utpal Dutt's entry into your life. We are all lucky to have you stop by at IL when you can. What will it take though for a frequent visit here? Can we entice you with a brand new Table Tennis Racket? :).

    The important thing is to enjoy what you do where you do and how you do. You said.......and I admit I had fallen in love with all the girls in the school. I bet there are more girls/ladies who have fallen in love with you now (in your later years), than the number of them you had fallen in love with till now :). I am sure Shankari would vouch for this.

    Good luck with everything OJ da! Don't you worry about what others think about you and your creations. We await your rising too! Till then, some of us know where you are.

    PS: Thank you for the suggestion. I will look for Jack London.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2010
  4. Kamalji

    Kamalji IL Hall of Fame

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    Dea r OJ,

    Wonderful post , delightful one, one that made me smile, one of your best, written direct from the heart, as it came to u.

    Good that u got admitted to thenew school, and had the privilege of having my favourite Utpal Dutt as yr teacher.Who introduced u to the wonderful words of Shakesphere and other great writers.

    Guess everything happens for the best.Those who belittle u, if ever, should be shot dead, for i have not seen a better writer or a more talented one than u.the words, the expressions, the idioms, are out of this world.

    I will come back for more, just have to go now, time out for me.

    Superb OJ.

    Regards

    kamal
     
  5. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    @ kelly1966

    Yes, you are right. Once you look at things from the proper perspective, even failures assume a wonderful appearance. They say of course that failures are the pillars of success, but I don't mean it that way.

    My failures have always, or almost always, shown me the light. Not towards success, but towards more understanding of the beautiful world that surrounds us. And, in particular, I have lost the ability to be arrogant about small successes. Also, not being arrogant, I know that few people ever come up with SUCCESS. Success, say, as in BIG BANG. Creation of the universe.

    Failures have helped me learn more and remain a child forever. My failures are very important for me. For example, I do consider myself a failure at IL. But look where it is leading me. I had been ignoring my interactive site building idea for a long time. I need to pick up a little more of javascript to go for it. And now I know that I will surely complete the exercise. It won't make me the world's most popular blogger of course. But it will definitely introduce me to the lovely world of software programming in a small way.

    And that's a gain that no amount of social neglect can snatch away from me. It's something that will remain deeply embedded in my mind. Being forced out of a school for my incompetence led me to Utpal Dutt and later on to many other interesting personalities. It keeps happening everytime I fail. (Incidentally Utpal Dutt never found out what he had done for me!! That's the best way you can save a person. Not knowing that you have saved him!)

    I am very fond of quoting this from Tolstoy:

    "The less importance he attached to the opinion of men the more did he feel the presence of God within him." Father Sergius, Leo Tolstoy.

    Thanks a lot for reading.

    oj-kaku
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2010
  6. Mindian

    Mindian IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear oj da,

    I went through the whole gamut of emotions as I read this post::)

    Incredulous that you ever failed, and that too in Math and English? I find it very hard to believe that somehow.

    Indignant that all those people wrote you off as a hopeless case.

    Happy that you proved them wrong with your academic achievements.:thumbsup

    Laughing at the Bengali couplet re teerthopati..hahahh it did not need a translation, that’s how obvious it was.:biglaugh

    Happy that the little boy had found a good school and a teacher who would help him cultivate varied interests and make his life.

    “In a way, human rejection has helped me. It has prevented me from being supercilious towards others”. - Totally touched by these words…

    “I think I complain because I try so hard and yet fail to draw much attention…
    ” - Tearful at this. Please stop trying and just concentrate on making yourself happy.

    I suppose, whatever the world might think, I will never cease to be a failure in my own eyes. It is not a question of humility; it's a question of fear. Fear that I will not be promoted to the next class”. - Very disturbed with this.
    Maybe as soon as you achieve something you set an altogether new higher standard for yourself, otherwise I fail to understand how you are not content with whatever you have achieved till date. I do agree that there is no end to learning, but when one has the luxury of money and time, learning has to be for pure enjoyment.

    As always I wish you contentment and happiness in whatever you do.:)
     
  7. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    @ k2s
    That's a lovely name. I like such names. For example, in my Letter to Sakura in the blog space, the name of the hero was Omlette. I didn't finish the story, but I know that will do so in the not too distant future. My energies are back with me, now that the book is almost out of my way.


    Thanks for laughing. That's what I intended. To make people laugh. It was not just Utpal Dutt. In that school, there were other interesting people too. And they had all contributed to my growing years. But Utpal Dutt had the most important role to play.

    Did they? I mean fall in love!! Hmm... How come I never noticed? What does a woman in love with OJ look like? Draw me a picture so that I can go back to memory-land and search for her/them. I will buy each one a large slab of chocolate.

    If you want to understand a dog, Jack London is a must. White Fang and Return to the Wild.

    Thanks for this lovely fb.

    :coffee (This is not coffee, it's oj drinking a steaming cup of orange juice! )
     
  8. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    @ kamal

    I have no doubt that things happen for the best. At least that's what the elders used to tell us. The Utpal Dutt experience proves that for sure.

    But I am not sure that this is always the case. For example, right now I am dying for a plate full of the best sushis in the world. And no one can prepare them as good as they do it in Japan. Sitting in Kokata when I should be sitting in Hokkaido, the sushi paradise of Japan, is no good for me.

    Don't shoot man. If you get caught, bad things could happen to you. Don't ever think of shooting anything but pictures of Tuffy and your lovely bhabi. Enjoy your drink too. But no shooting man. Love thy neighbour instead, especially his wife.

    Love.

    oj
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2010
  9. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    @ mindi





    Oh no! No achievements. I just plod along. Up a steep slope, very slippery at times. Achievements, in my case at least, remind me of this sum they used to make us labour over at school. It said: A monkey is climbing a greased pole and for every 5 inches it climbs, it slips down 4. How long will it take the monkey to reach journey's end?

    How silly really. Why on earth would a poor monkey climb a greased pole? When they used to teach us how to solve this problem, I would invariably be distracted by thoughts surrounding the doomed monkey. Stop listening to the teacher and try to draw pictures of the pathetic creature. So, when they set this sum for an exam, I would end up drawing the picture of a tortured soul. My teachers never saw the point and awarded me zero. They had obviously not read about Sisyphus. If they had, they would know that the monkey would never reach the goal!! My drawings were just attempts to make them understand the relevant aspect of the problem. A goal that's reachable, is not worth reaching at all!! I guess I was too young to express myself in a language that adults would understand. So, zero after zero ... was what I was awarded.

    Speaking of mathematics reminds me by the way about a question I asked the teacher in Class 6. "If a gallon of milk costs Rs. x," I asked, "what should be the price of a kilogram of curds?" She ordered me in response to leave the class and stand outside in the sun for an hour for the entire school's entertainment. How unfair really! I was just trying to show her that I was not as stupid as she claimed I was!

    That's fantastic. Even the Bengali was obvious? Truly glad to know this.
    Of course, you must remember that the clown that I am, I could very well be lying. Be touched, but don't forget to keep bucketfuls of salt close by, not just a pinch I mean. In case you catch the infidel in me. Of course, I am normally pretty honest, except that I am pretty dishonest most of the time!! :biglaugh
    Yes, this one was not a false statement. And don't you be tearful. It could make me shed an ocean of tears as well. I don't cry, but when I do, it's usually a deluge. Where is Noah? Alert him, an emergency could be at hand. :drowning
    Hey, why are you disturbed? I told you, didn't I, that I was just a monkey climbing a greased pole?
    You know, when you say this, you remind me of the Olympic sprinters. Each year they break the record of the previous year. In fact, at this rate, they may end up reaching the finishing line even before they start to sprint. I am almost sure that's the final objective. It's not the lure of gold medals. The final goal is to be done before you start. Make time crash against itself. Once you have perceived the logic of it all, "pure enjoyment" loses all purity. :crazy

    Love.

    oj-da
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2010
  10. Padmini

    Padmini IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Oja-da,
    So much surprised to read your open write up in class6 and your after wards experience. What I feel is

    We seem to gain wisdom more readily through our failures than through our successes. We always think of failure as the antithesis of success, but it isn't. Success often lies just the other side of failure.Your brilliance in writing and quoting so many things prove this only.As Gandhi says,


    My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet.”

    Failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success. When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.Dear Oja da, I learnt all these lessons from your early life. Thank you for bringing out this news and encourage me to that extent that one day I can also write like you and win everyone's heart here. ( I think this is not too late:)).In my opinion you are the wisest person to turn out the failures to best account !!!Thanks to actor, writer, director, political activist, teacher, linguist, intellectual and a literary thespian Utpal Dutt, who found out your inner most talents ( though he gave a cold response to you in airport).

    Half the world is composed of idiots, the other half of people clever enough to take indecent advantage of them.We are all erring creatures, and mainly idiots, but God made us so and it is dangerous to criticize.
    with love
    pad


     

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