To my Teacher who taught me How to Learn


Rewinding back to 1996. We had just moved back from Nasik to Bangalore. After settling down in our new nest, and upon getting a telephone connected at home (those were the good old days, when you had to apply and hang in there to get a telephone connected at home – you were considered lucky if you got it in your lifetime – another example of things change and today it is doesn’t take more than a day to have a telephone ringing at any place within a day after you apply for one – things are not gloomy always nor is it shiny all the time).

This piece of blog is both a tribute and a message for all of us and wouldn’t be complete if I don’t write a few words about this great soul on his Birth Anniversary, a very special teacher, Mr. Basudev Ganguly known behind his back as “Gang”  He was a principal by designation, Professor by occupation but more than anything he was a great thinker and a guide to each and every student who passed by him. Still remember the way he put such a complicated engineering concept so clearly (Electronics Engineering at that time of our student life was full of complications anyway) and how did he do it? – by not teaching us anything about it .

No, he never taught any lessons (in the traditional sense any teacher is expected to do). He was a person who wanted everyone to be independent of a teacher from Day-1. It was quite frustrating for us when we go to him to clear some doubts – we were bombarded with more questions and on hindsight we realized the beauty of this approach – he made sure we found our own answers. He was teacher who never taught lessons, but made us learn ourselves. He redefined a teacher’s role in my eyes (and surely in many of his student’s eyes). I forayed into some technical writing (textbooks for Computer science) and I didn’t have to look far to find a person to dedicate this humble work and the dedication line that I wrote on the whole series of these textbook explains this person, “To a teacher who taught not lessons, but taught us how to learn“.

He gave us the best survival skill “HOW TO LEARN”. He always was around when we needed but not with answers, usually it was more and more of questions for which we were expected to find answers and in the process, find answers to our questions ourselves. Therefore any success that a lot of his students, including me achieved, is directly attributable to this great soul.

Now, the purpose of this story – after we moved back to Bangalore, we tried to renew contacts and wanted to meet Mr. Ganguly and family and personally thank them for having sculpted me into a piece of art from the raw rock that I was. We called them up (a sweet 2 months after we moved) and then for some silly reason could not meet them up on the appointed Sunday – silly reason like going out for dinner or a movie, something like that, what I mean it was easily avoidable). We called them and rescheduled the visit to another day and then the most unfortunate thing happened. Sometime during the middle of the week, I received a call from a friend of mine saying Mr. Ganguly had an attack of Asthma and choked himself to death and his wife discovered him dead upon her return home in the evening. He had left his mortal remains sometime during the morning itself. The news couldn’t have been more shocking for us- we were to have met him a couple of days earlier and now we are never going to express our gratefulness in person  and why? only because we put of expressing to another day. We missed the BUS!!!

We learnt a few valuable lessons that day.

  • Express your gratefulness – it makes someone else’s day, even if they are above such mundane things. Deep inside and some day they realize their effort after all was worth it
  • Big or small people, make sure you are grateful to anyone who made a difference to your life.
  • The Last lesson most valuable one – Express and Express it NOW!!! Never put off thanking someone to another day. Like us, you may never get a chance to do it ever after.
  • If at all you want to put off expressing your feeling, postpone brickbats but not accolades!!! Handout the praises right away – it is better people carry that to the grave than your tears or acrimony.

6 thoughts on “To my Teacher who taught me How to Learn

  1. Raghav S November 20, 2012 / 11:08 am

    Touching one Sureshji…….. “by not teaching us anything about it” think is what needed the most than the traditional way

  2. agnyaa November 20, 2012 / 11:21 am

    Great blog Suresh ji.. very lucky to have a teacher who taught you how to learn 🙂 And you have showed us the best path to learn many things.. Very grateful to HIM and you for the wonderful life I am blessed with 🙂

  3. sinchitaa November 20, 2012 / 2:14 pm

    🙂 🙂 Thank you suresh ji.:)

  4. Dipika Das Mahapatra (@krdm93) November 20, 2012 / 5:21 pm

    Dear Sureshji, your gratitude blog to a Wonderful teacher was heart touching. But one must admire also the Student who has expressed himself as well as revealed to us also the Real Great Teacher. I am very grateful for getting this opportunity to know your Teacher and convey my Pranaam wherever he is.

  5. Anonymous November 24, 2012 / 4:13 pm

    JGD. Can you please also write a blog on how to learn. I am afraid I never did learn that part. 🙂

Comments are closed.