Wednesday, 4 February 2009

A New (A)venue

Hi there,

It is often said that life is stranger than fiction. How very true! We are once again together, of course in a different forum, on a different platform and this e-contact, I should hasten to add, would not have become a reality but for the thoughtfulness of Harison (a portmanteau word derived from Harish and Santosh). Thanks a lot guys. When I was informed of the formation of this community I felt duty bound to contribute something that would keep the community alive and active, to protect it from deterioration and eventual extinction. I promised as a first step to publish a series of fortnightly “viewsletter” on a variety of topics of common interest. It is quite likely that I might have given you an impression of being a thinker. I must, therefore, confess that I do not have any pretensions to being a thinker of any worth, far less an intellectual. However I can modestly claim that all through my life there have been two strong principles to which I have been holding on without compromise: one is the common sense approach, and the other open-mindedness. These two guiding principles have been the backbone of my personality, the fly wheel that has kept my mill running. And it is this conviction that has been the secret of my success and popularity, which I have had the privilege of enjoying all these six years.

In the first letter of this series, I would like to share my views on an issue relating to your campus experience especially of those who have just entered the portals of college and university. While some of you are quite lucky to be happy with the environment and the teaching standards, there is a sizeable number, to whom the first experience of the college has been anything but pleasant: Nightmarish, shocking, brutalizing, substandard, and frustrating. The list of epithets is endless. To this unfortunate lot, I wish to offer more than my sympathies, for sympathy is a sweet poison that paralyses the fighting spirit in you by giving you a false hope that someone is out there to help you.

If someone tries to be sympathetic with you when you are down and out, my advice is: refuse it, reject it outright. Beware of sympathizers. They feed you with an empty spoon. “What then should we expect from the well-meaning but unavoidable group of sympathizers?” A valid question indeed. In fact, common decency demands that we should politely listen to their comforting words no matter who gives them. But I feel one should be bold enough to tell them to be more of practical help. Experience has taught me that when you tell them, you will find that there aren’t too many left of those handkerchief carriers. So much for their sympathy.

“Ok, what do I stand to gain by dismissing the sympathizers?” you may ask, but think carefully, my dear. You are alone and all alone and that is an advantage, perhaps the greatest advantage. You are left with all the time to take a long, hard look at the mess in which you find yourself. You can start thinking without the interference or influence of others about your problems and go about finding ways and means of solving them. No one knows or can understand your problems better than you and the solutions have got to be tailor-made ones.

The guy who is totally disappointed with the standard of teaching should stop despairing and start thinking constructively. Create a parallel study program, which includes study groups, study material and study assistance all drawn from the best of students from reputed colleges. It has to be a well-organized effort to be systematically followed and you will soon discover that you have created a network of useful men and material. I did this some three decades ago by creating a parallel system that depended on the libraries in the British Council, the American Consulate and the Madras University. I got used to this system so much so I ceased to look up to my college as anything more than an administrative office taking care of my attendance, hall-tickets and mark lists. Remember, all this happened at a time when I had neither the fast means of transport nor the networks of communication. Certainly your world is much more blessed than mine. Try it and you will not regret it.

Let me now address another section of this community, the employed and the to-be-employed. It is heartening to know that many of you have found lucrative jobs and are all set for a steady career growth. Congratulations. Obviously it is your professional competence that has earned you this enviable position, and it is this competence that is going to stand you in good stead. However, I want you to brace yourselves to face certain hard truths and harsh realities of life. An organization is the world in miniature inhabited not only by Brownlowes and Maylies, but also by the crooked Fagins and the self-seeking Bill Sikes. It is a place where the Beauty and the Beast cohabit. It is a marriage of convenience in which the latter is patient with the former only as long as its interests are not endangered.

Let me explain the symbols of the Beauty and the Beast. Beauty stands for those whose strength is their competence, and who refuse to resort to any other means or work culture for the sake of their career growth. The Beast, on the other hand, represents those whose sole aim is to reach the top no matter how unprincipled, unprofessional or unethical they have to be in the bargain. They observe no morals or scruples but firmly believe that ends justify the means. They are a class of people who would stoop to any level and stop at nothing to hold on to the seat of power. Every organization has a fair share of this species of humanity and it is as hard to imagine a world without them, as it is to live with them. The Beauty believes that every game has got to be played by the rules, but the Beast does not.

Here I am reminded of a not-so-humorous story, which I heard from one of my teachers in my school. There were four guys playing a game of cards popularly known as Three Cards. The first player produced three Queens and smiled. The second one, his face beaming produced three Kings and the third was hysterical when he opened up his three Aces. The fourth one put his hand into his coat pocket, and produced a revolver. And he was not smiling!

All said and done, the book of life is interesting, informative and instructive. Its lessons are painful and profitable at once. Just by maintaining the right posture, by forming the right equation one may learn profitably from the myriad experiences that life offers. With experience, we gain an inner strength with which alone we can remain calm and undaunted in the face of any danger or uncertainty.

I remember the first small mistake I made in my official work at the age of 21 and how I trembled at the prospect of losing my job and livelihood. After 20 years, when I was holding a managerial position drawing a fat salary with nice perks, I decided to throw away my job with no care, thought or fear of future. That’s what I call inner strength drawn from life education, which is more often found outside the college or university campus. As George Bernard Shaw once remarked with his own characteristic sarcasm, "My whole life has been a process of learning except for a brief period of ignorance in schools and colleges."

It is quite tempting to continue writing in this vein but I must now attend to more pressing matters on hand. Firstly, let me earnestly appeal to all of you to maintain a high standard of decorum and dignity in the conduct of this community. We shall exercise utmost restraint in our criticisms. I wish to stress that this forum should not be abused to vent one’s personal hatred or prejudices against any individual or institution.

Secondly, you are free to express your opinions but please mind your language. A point is effectively conveyed when it is not burdened with unwarranted suggestions or remarks. Freedom of expression coupled with a sense of responsible thinking is one of the attributes of civilized societies. As an American president once put it, “I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.”

A final word: I sincerely hope that you will actively respond to my fortnightly dispatches because based your responses I will feel encouraged to conduct a personal contact program featuring some interesting modules of personality grooming. I am not holding out any promise for the present, but I don’t see that there can really be anything there to prevent it from happening.

With Love,

Your English Sir

Original Post: Dated Saturday, the 9th of September 2006


Unknown said...

what do i say?
frankly speaking, this is one article thats got the simplest of your language and the kind of understanding one gets from this article is richer than Mukesh Ambani or any other richer guy.when people read your article, sir, they see a new pathway for every subject they read,for which they must have thought real hard to attain. People say "First impression is the best impression "
But in your case, every impression seems to be doing its best.
Please forgive me for not having read your other articles.I have been tied by ropes and chains called "Public Exams" for which i am supposed to perform extremely soon as i untie them you will find my comment in each and every article of yours.

TILL THEN,.................


Dhinesh said...

A gift
that's the greatest gift i've ever received

Commented on 16/09/2006

Venkat said...

A great post.. Wish I had more to read..
I am thrilled to have read such a fine post. I just wish it was longer.
I once read a quotation and I am not able to recall who said it. It goes like this "The advice of friends must be received with a judicious reserve; we must not give ourselves up to it and follow it blindly, whether right or wrong."
How rightly said I wondered. I also loved the story of three cards. The real world is indeed out here and everyday is a new experience for me. I would be foolish if I say I have seen it all, but I am learning each day and I am improving myself. I would have never dreamt in my life that I would be in this country one day. But now all of a sudden it has happened and I entered a new phase in my life. There is a very thin line between what is right and what is wrong. Its so obscure that many of us get away on a mere technicality. I dont know whether I have the beauty or the beast inside me. But I am sure I have acted in an ethical way in most of the cases. This article has just spurred me to find the real me. I am not saying this to flatter Professor or to enter into his good books. People who know me know that I always give my frank opinions.
All in all it was a great post and it was such a pleasure to read. My only regret would be that I have not attended a single class of his in my entire time at the school. But the respect I have for him has never or will never diminish. Looking forward to your next post eagerly. Thanks.

Commented on 10/09/2006

Nivedhan said...

It was all and more of what can be expected from our dear mohan sir. i personally am struggling from the bad teaching (if u can call it teaching), my mathematics professor has the habit of 'speaking' math to us while writing the same on the board. And my eng professor asks us "you 'understands' what i am saying". lol it is a never ending thing. We might have to start another community for sharing notes, techniques and shortcuts for our effective studies. all in all i t was a great intro all i can say is CAN'T WAIT FOR THE NEXT “viewsletter”

And if I have talked too much or made any mistakes my apologies are due

Commented on 10/09/2006

Harish said...

The English Maestro! ! !
Well as i have suggested the name The English Storm - -- it's 200% true............ wow....... wat a command over his language........ mann!! ! He always keeps rocking everywer he goes........... Guess u ppl (who hav read) would have definitely enjoyed it! ! !

Hats off to you sir! !! Kudos! ! !

Commented on 10/09/2006

Vikas said...

A Great Post
well dat was a gr8 post from THE STORM. i lovd it. and i din expect anythin less frm him. dat post had almost everythin dat sir wouldve discussed when v go 2 meet him... so i beleive it would give me a feelin of bein in constant touch wid him even if i don go 2 c him 4 a while. now dis is one of d very few USEFUl communities i hv joined... cant wait 2 read d nxt post frm him.

Commented on 10/09/2006

Kanakadhara said...

Atlast.... i get to post a comment.... the lines "An organization is the world in miniature inhabited not only by Brownlowes and Maylies but also by the crooked Fagins and the self seeking Bill Sikes "...typical mohan sir.... missing all his wonderful english classes now... he was sort of a mentor to me in school... n wat he has told abt the colleges in his posting are soo true... i wish to write more... but am running short of time... wish to read more of his posts... his english... is soo........ Elite... miss it... hated the english classes in my college.... he is one man who can hav NO Substitutes... His absence is a Big loss in our skool.... working on was the best days of my school life... after readin his post i think i am starting to miss school again... anyways am running out of time... i wish to read more posting frm sir... waiting for it...

Commented on 15/09/2006

Siva Sivaaa said...

Oops! I've forgotten this thread. Our Sir, at his best again, as always.

Its lessons are painful and profitable at once. Just by maintaining the right posture, by forming the right equation one may learn profitably from the myriad experiences that life offers.

Very true indeed and I'm still learning the lessons life is offering.

P.S->Do you guys think that we would have settled for anything less from our Sir? Definitely not!! ;)

Commented on 15/09/2006

Balaji said...

i dont think anybody can beat his command over the language and his pronounciation. the 1st time i was with him was during an english play for the annual day called mukthadhaara and the way he taught us the histrionics was simply outta the world. gr8 goin sir.

Commented on 18/09/2006

Srividhya said...

mind-blowing! lost with words...met mohan sir..and din wait a minute longer to read his "view post" (which certainly was one)!! 'I got used to this system so much so I ceased to look up to my college as anything more than an administrative office taking care of my attendance, hall tickets and mark lists'.

The same touch of sarcastic humour that pinpoints the harsh realities of life..! lol! guess this line made much sense to all those who did go to anything but "frustrating uni(s)" ha ha ha...! kudos to harish for comin up with dis brilliant idea..n also to our very own storm for makin dis one of the most seemingly informative comm..! finally guess we all have a reason to have belonged to GRT!! atleast for those who had the opportunity to attend his clases(rather share his experiences..!) i wud ws an ultimate thought provoker...! eagerly waiting for such posts sir..!

Commented on 29/09/2006