My dear teacher...

On the eve of Teachers’ Day, celebrities remember their favourite teachers and the life lessons they have learnt from them...

Aindrita Ray

A teacher is a friend, philosopher and guide. After our parents, the teacher is the one who holds our hand and guides us through life. They ignite our minds, shape our personalities, inspire us to do better, and make us believe in ourselves.

We learn many lessons from them and not just the ones in the textbook; they impart many valuable life lessons, too. They teach us to be kind, compassionate, bold, spirited, ambitious, and more.

A good teacher is like a candle, which consumes itself to light the way for others. He/she is not only a tutor but also a friend; a friend we can depend on for anything and everything.

This Teachers’ Day, let’s reach out to all our wonderful teachers who made us who we are today. Happy Teachers’ Day!

Aindrita Ray

Who was your favourite teacher and why?

As a kid, I used to study ballet and jazz from M S Sreedhar, the well-known dance and fashion choreographer and the director of Body Language Dance Studio in Bengaluru. I remember, immediately after school, I would rush to the classes in Alliance Française with my friends as he would throw us out even if we were late by a minute. Apart from dance, I also learnt discipline from him.

Any fond memories that you recall...
Lots of fond memories, actually. Annual day shows in the dance studio were always fun, and I would bring home an award every year. Also, I used to travel a lot with the dance troupe. We’ve been to Bangladesh, too.

The life lessons you have learnt...
One of the major life lessons I learnt from him is discipline. It’s something I try to practise even today. Also, I had a Math tuition teacher called Mrs Ferns, who taught me a very important life lesson. She always told me not to feel sorry for something I can’t help. She would suggest I either do something about the situation or not feel bad.

Danish Sait

Danish Sait 

Who was your favourite teacher and why?

Professor M D Nanjunda from my boarding school in Coorg. I grew up without my dad, but he was like a father figure to me. He’s an unbelievable guy. Whatever I am today, the credit goes to him. Apart from being an incredible teacher, he was a compelling storyteller. He wasn’t like a regular teacher who would just teach a subject and go. He, in fact, made me realise I won’t be happy if I take up engineering or medicine. He understood my personality and was the wind beneath my wings.

Another favourite teacher of mine is Radha Ma’am from college. She was the only person I would listen to in the entire department because she knew exactly what I was running after in my life. If you see my film, in the first slide, the only teachers I have thanked are Nanjunda Sir and Radha Ma’am. She’s an incredible lady. She was like a mother; she used to give me money when I used to run out of it. Whenever I had attendance problems and not get my hall ticket, she would go to other teachers and convince them to let me write the exam. The reason I love these two teachers is because their focus wasn’t only on academics. There’s a lot more to life than academics, you know?

Any fond memories that you recall...
My first encounter with Professor Nanjunda was when I was writing the entrance exam for the boarding school. I deliberately failed in Math because I didn’t want to stay in school. But he refused to give up on me. He told me he had seen enough children like me, and he knew how to turn a failure into a success.

My first-ever trip outside the country was with him. We were going to a youth exchange programme to the US & UK. When we went for the visa, one of the US hosts raised a concern about me and my religion. Professor Nanjunda said to him, ‘If you have a problem with him, I am not bringing any of my children because he’s as much my child as anyone else.’

In my second year of college, I wanted a bike of my own. But my mom refused to get me one fearing for my safety. But Professor Nanjunda came down from Coorg to sort this issue and convinced my mother to get me a bike.

No matter what it is, whether it’s a personal or professional decision, my first call always goes to him. It’s like a parent-child relationship with him.

The life lessons you have learnt...
I would like to say that he has given me a life itself! I have learnt many life lessons from him: the ability to survive, the instinct to be spirited, ambitious, to think freely, to exercise free will, free speech, what it takes to be a good citizen. More importantly, I have learnt how to be a good human being from him.

 

Rahul Dev

Who was your favourite teacher and why?

My favourite teacher is my class teacher from class 9 & 10, Mr Burrett. He was a sportsman who was also a medallist at the Asian Games. But he got into an accident and decided to teach geography. At that age, you don’t realise what it means to be a sportsman for the country. You do empathise with it, but you don’t realise how hard it’s for them. But given the circumstances, he embraced life very positively. Instead of withdrawing into a shell, he chose to respond to life positively. And that’s something inspirational, isn’t it? He inculcated the spirit of sportsmanship in us. Teaching us sports was like an extension of himself.

Any fond memories that you recall...
He taught us to run fast. He used to train sprinters and relay baton bearers. And he used to always keep everyone in mind. So, he kept the class united and taught us sportsmanship. If the same accident had happened to someone else today, it would force him to change his entire life. But to embrace life so beautifully in spite of all the difficulties is something that I find very positive and inspirational.

The life lessons you have learnt...
One of the major life lessons I have learnt from him is to live in the present. Everybody knows it, but we are never really in the present. We are either grappling with whatever happened in the past or worrying about the future. Apprehensions and doubts always cloud our mind.

For an actor, it’s about how the next film is going to do at the box office; for a parent, it’s about how the kids are going to grow up. Tomorrow always bothers us. But tomorrow is dependent on today, on right now. If you want a happy tomorrow, you need to embrace today.

 

Vinay Rajkumar

‘Don’t be a horse, whose gaze is always high; don’t be a goat, which looks ground-ward; but have the gaze of a cow, which sees straight.’ My grandfather, Dr Rajkumar, reiterated this as an approach to life, fame and success. He remains my most important teacher. When I was a fat kid and ate a lot, he didn’t stop me from eating but asked me to give my body enough work, too. This put me on the path of fitness and, in turn, health. When it comes to acting, his works are what I go back to for learning even now. I learnt professionalism and small life lessons: how to talk to people, behave with them, respect the person always, not thepersonality. All these inspire me. I changed schools and was never good at studies, so it’s from him that I have learnt everything.

 

Sharmiela Mandre

Sharmiela Mandre

Who was your favourite teacher and why?

I have been blessed to have some of the most wonderful teachers throughout my school and college, so it’s hard to pick one. But three people come to mind: Mrs Mukherjee — my chemistry teacher, Mrs Suryanarayan — my Kannada teacher, and Mrs Joseph — my biology teacher. I am very fond of all these people because they were all fun to be around. They also taught me a few things about life.

Any fond memories that you recall...
I was very fond of Mrs Joseph. She was my class teacher as well as my biology teacher. The way she taught was fantastic. I think hers was the only class where all the kids would pay attention simply because they were interactive; she was a fun teacher to talk to. She was more of a friend than a teacher. I didn’t have to think twice before saying something to her, and I could discuss anything in the world with her.

Mrs Mukherjee was extremely fun, too. I was naughty and mischievous as a kid, and controlling me was quite a big task. But she would look beyond all that and have conversations apart from studies, which made me change my perspective on many things in life. Mrs Suryanarayan was the funniest teacher to learn from. She used to call me Shailaja instead of Sharmiela, that was funny. Whatever Kannada I know today is mostly because of her.

The life lessons you have learnt...
Most of my teachers would always tell me to control my temper because I had quite a temper. I was quite impatient, too. I would always be in a hurry to finish writing my exam papers because I used to compete with my friends over who would finish the paper first. My teachers would advise me to take my time; even if I finished my paper early, they would tell me to go through it again to check for mistakes. And that’s something I follow religiously, to this day. I have realised there’s no need to rush into anything in life; everything has to take its own course.

 

Amrita Rao

When I was a kid, my grandmother taught me that there is only one God. She told me, ‘Your mother is mamma for you, but I call her daughter-in-law, and she is your father’s wife. But essentially, she is the same person. Similarly, different religions have different ways of communicating with the same God.’ I was fortunate enough to have a rational teacher in her, who taught me at an impressionable age the ‘correct’ way to approach religion. And because of that, today, I enter a church, dargah and temple with the same sentiment. On this day, I thank her for this and many such pearls of wisdom.

 

Ramesh Aravind 

I think everything we know, we have learnt from somebody else. We are born with nothing. So, there are innumerable teachers — someone taught me Kannada, someone taught me English, someone taught me to go on stage... to speak in public. Too many teachers to thank! Not only in school, in life, at home. If I have to single out someone, it would be my parents, because parents are the first teachers, and home is the first school. They taught me not by lecturing, but by example. And I think that’s the best teaching anybody can get. I learnt from my father to be responsible, to take responsibility, not to look for external validation. You do good stuff for yourself because you feel good. I also learnt discipline from him. That’s what helped me
throughout in my life. From my mom — patience, and to love everyone equally.

I owe a lot to all my teachers, primary, high school, engineering, and the teachers of cinema — filmmakers. But when I look back, it’s the values that helped me that matter the most.

 

Ragini Dwivedi

From her high-school memories...
There was one English teacher, Anju Ma’am, who always encouraged me to do better. I remember she was damn stylish, she wore hand-made jewellery. A very, very nice person. She had this positivity about her, which was motivating. She’d always say, ‘It’s okay. Do better next time.’

There was another class teacher, I don’t remember her name. She always discouraged me. She said, to be a good student and do well in life, one has to be a topper in academics. She said I could do nothing if I didn’t do well in studies. I was also the sports captain and spent a lot of time playing. A couple of times, she even asked a few students to stay away from me to avoid being influenced. Maybe because of her discouragement, I could do better in life.

I’m thankful to both these teachers. I think one needs a balance of encouragement and discouragement to become the person you can be and achieve something.

Pooja Chopra

My favourite teacher is Avneesh Gandhi, my accounts professor in Pune. He taught me for five years, and he taught me the mantra, ‘tough times don’t last, tough people, do.’ He made me believe that if you have a vision and are willing to work hard and consistently towards it, then there is no goal that you can’t achieve. He is still a very powerful and positive force in my life. The man is full of enthusiasm. Not only have I learnt accounts from him, but I’ve learnt a lot about life as well.

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