Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My teachers day anecdote

Teachers day just came and went and like everything else these days, was celebrated on twitter. Some reminisced about the good teachers, others about the bad. I couldn't help remembering our old Drawing Master.

We had many good teachers who did a fairly decent job of educating the bunch of us. There were a few who were spectacularly bad of course, but they were largely ignored. Some were fairly funny. But Popat is one chap I will always remember.

Popat wasn't his name, of course. His name was  Sule or Patil or something - escaped my memory for the nonce - but we used to call him Popat for reasons long forgotten. Popat means 'parrot' in Marathi, but it also slang for the, er, pee director or baby maker as the lads are wont to describe it.

Popat used to teach us drawing and was actually a very good artist. He was also very committed, come to think of it.

Drawing class in the pre-Popat era involved drawing very formalized representations of 'scenery'. This used to consist of three mountains, one sun peeping out from between mountains 1 and 2, a river emanating from between mountains 2 and 3, a house consisiting of 1 door, 2 windows and a sloping roof. The real freedom came in the foreground where people could draw as many boys as girls as they liked, though most of us stuck to one each, carefully drawn to resemble alien beings.

Popat was an artist, however. He hated these three-mountain sceneries with a passion. He would ask us to draw anything we liked.

"Draw something you have seen. Draw your desk", he would tell us. "Or draw your pencil box."

But the bunch of us, brought up on years of three-mountains-one-sun-one-river, couldn't understand any of what Popat told us. We continued to draw three-mountains, to Popat's despair

"What is your favorite animal", he asked a boy, randomly. Prahalad his name was, I remember. Aka Palli.

"Donkey" said Palli, to the great amusement of the class. Back then, certain words were the pinnacle of humor. You only had to say "donkey" or "monkey" or even "mad" to send an entire audience into paroxysms of laughter. Palli had cracked one such immortal joke.

"Alright, then, draw a donkey" said Popat, unfazed.

Palli dug around in his bag looking for his English textbook because we had a story in it about a man and his son taking a donkey to the market, and it had several illustrations. Palli's plan, sound chap that he was, was to copy the animal from one of those illustrations.

"What are you doing?" asked Popat

"Sir, looking for a picture of a donkey, sir" said Palli who, while perhaps a tad low on deductive skills, had the sterling character and honesty of Abe Lincoln.

"No, no, no looking at picture bicture. Look at my face and draw a donkey" said Popat.

I laughed out loudly. Even back then, I had a particularly irritating laugh. On that day, it had the opprobrious quality of poking fun at a teacher. To make matters worse for me, I was the only boy in class who laughed. This was unusual because I was usually slow on the uptake (TFC - short for "tube with fucked up choke" - was an occasional nickname) but that afternoon I had chosen to be the Mister Quick

Popat froze.

Realising what he had just said, he pulled me out of the desk in an instant and whipped my butt with a cane that was standard issue to teachers back then.

This didn't bother me all that much because one, we were used to this kind of stuff and two, that being a day I hadn't done reams of homework, I had, in anticipation of an attack to the gluteal region, strategically inserted one of our wash-basin turkish towel napkins into my undies, which took the sting away. I was more worried about the note he wrote my parents, a note saying that I was a very bad boy, though he left out the real reason for this assessment.

I hesitantly gave the note to my father, a busy doctor who, though never given to flashes of temper, could get a little irritated if shown too much foolishness. Dad was having his breakfast.

"What's this?" he asked, with a frown?

"Our drawing sir is angry with me because I laughed at him"

'Why did you laugh at him?"

"He said 'Look at my face and draw a donkey'"

To my relief, his face broke into a smile.

"Hmm. Don't do this again"

He signed the note and that was that. Popat, luckily for me, got promoted as supervisor of the primary section or something, and went out of my academic life for ever. And we happily continued to draw the three-mountain scenes, steadily improving over the years.


Anonymous said...

Your anecdotes nave fail to bring out a hearty laughter. Superb.

Anonymous said...

Good one! I have a different kind of Teacher’s Day post up at my blog.

Anonymous said...

:D the 3-mountain drawing is so true! It instantly brought back memories our own drawing teacher, a Mr.Achrekar, who suffered through a class much like the one you describe. Great read!


Not Specified said...

Look at my face and draw a donkey!!!


And ya, three mountains-one sun-one river drawings bring back so many memories!!

Happy Teachers Day!!

Sita K. said...

Funny memories! The caning part was hard to swallow.

Mountains and a sun seem to be so common, what I don't remember is if we were taught or there were discussions of Dr. S Radhakrishnan, his style and philosophy. Interesting person he was...

wagla_aka_batman said...

Damn. We too had a drawing teacher (Class 7th/8th) who was Popat. Are Popats like Pandus, a breed of their own? Never did much drawing as usually used to forget the sketch-book and end up standing in the corner.

parthicle said...

we had a teacher whom we nicknamed "pendulum" because his pee director dangled (he possibly did not wear any underwear)

Bharathi said...

God!how universal was this 3 mountain, one river, sloped roof house scenario! good one sir, Kids these days draw pokemon and stuff

Anonymous said...

that was a good one Naren!

I remember a similar incident that happened during our college days...
There were monkeys in the college premises some even dared to come sit near our classroom window. we the dedicated pupil as ever, lost it and started to steal a glimpse or two at the monkeys. ofcourse our Mathematics madam couldn't take it any more and she said "why are you looking at the monkey when I am here" at this statement, some burst into laughter the next second and some TFCs a little later. Madam, i think was a champ of all TFCs so... she continued her lessons...


Adithya said...

:) super....
one of ur best... :)

Saumya said...

I just write about a parrot and come here and read about Popat! This is so funny Naren - I couldn't help laughing out loud.
"Look at my face and draw a donkey!"

Giribala said...

Interesting!!! :D

Anonymous said...

brilliant i say..brought back a lot of memories of the three mountains..:)

arjun said...

good one sir !

Vishal Jain said...

Ha ha ha, Mr popat might have realized your potential at that point of time ;)

maverick said...

this read ws indeed interesting as it was some part of us in our chilhood days.....

Neelam Nakadi said...

ROFLing.. Superb narration. I don't know from where did we learn the sun-mountain- river scene.. But it was very common. Here is a funny anecdote from my class