Thursday, May 24, 2012

This for you - David and Jag, my teachers

It was hot and sultry day when I visited Geeta in Panipat covering distance of over fifty miles as she had something important to tell me. She was on a short trip to India from the UK where she was pursuing MA in Community Education and she suggested I too do the same. Had never even dreamt of going abroad for studies but to be honest, I was seized of the idea. 

A brochure followed, an email to David Batchelor fetched quick response , a telephonic  interview was scheduled soon thereafter. It was such a comprehensive interview cum interaction on various subjects, my job here in India, my interests and initially I was so conscious whether or not I would be able to understand and respond to an English accent but I was made to feel so valued and respected and at home. I was asked what single limitation I saw in coming to the UK for studies, I mumbled : my mom's permission. My admission tutor felt touched and he asked me to pay his regards to her and tell her the admission had been granted.

To my surprise, my mom never objected though she did mention her concerns relating to my health and how I should not be careless about it and keep them anxious. All said and done, it was the hardest moment when I touched her feet on airport at almost midnight and with lump in throat I went inside for getting the boarding pass. It was my maiden visit to the IGI Airport ! It was horrifying to realise how I had stuffed my bags which couldn't even be opened incase I had to send some redundant things back to save extra baggage costs!

The very first day I met David in a meeting arranged by the University for  all the international students at Scraptoft Campus. I mentally touched his feet, really shook hands and it was clarified that I was supposed to address even teachers by their first name and not by the epithet 'Sir' !  I was addressed as sumeeda by David and Jag and it sounded quite nice. It felt a bit odd to be seeing David bring a tray containing cups of tea for all the international students-something my 'bhartiyta' to accept but everyone around was perfectly in sync with this . The same day a visit to Shakespeare's birthplace Stratford -Upon -Avon was planned for us by David and I felt wow! it was a dream going to be true!

David would always look straight in your eyes and listen so intently that one could only be honest. It was his initiative to admit international students to this course and he seemed to understand all the personal, social, emotional issues related to their adaptability to the environs of the UK. I learnt from him how even lending a patient ear can heal though the real issues of day to day life might remain unresolved. 

David had an uncanny sense of making you feel respected and valued and specially cared for and I wonder how many of us can make the other person feel thus ! On Christmas he invited all the international students. First, we sang carols in the church in his village and after that it was treat to see him warming the wine himself to serve personally ! At the end of the course too, he invited four of us at his place and we enjoyed his and Caroline, his wife's hospitality. 

All the memories of my stay in the UK have got refreshed with Jag's recent visit to this part of the country. Talking of David,who has since retired from DeMontfort University,Jag said David is larger than life and I could only endorse to his opinion.A  teacher like David Batchelor is an institution in himself.

Some special gestures-the unexpected ones touch us so deeply ! During Jag's recent visit, he connected me to David and it was such a pleasant surprise, my God ! I was shaking with joy and talking to him almost choked me but he was as usual his spirited, caring self  asking about everyone in family and that he was happy to know how I was doing in place of work and that he was proud of me! Thanks Jag, for this special unexpected gesture.

Jag also came to see me in my office before leaving and he sounded so solemn and deeply touched having been to the Saarthak school for the disabled. He said he felt humbled and grateful. He also said that the pain of loss of mom reflected on my face and that I must look within and would get the strength there. And that he was so happy to see my work and suggested I must document it. He asked me a pertinent question as to how I saw myself in five years from hence and how I fumbled with words to explain what I really meant. Am sure he gathered I had no clear reply but he gave me a point to pause and ponder.

During the interaction Jag asked me whether I would like to visit the UK again to work, I instantly replied in the negative and soon became conscious too that I might have sounded rude! He became quiet for a moment and suggested that I must try to look beyond the previous span and all the allied travails or traumas and it made real good sense to me.

On looking back I realise if I weigh the struggle part of those two years and the achievement in terms of meeting outstanding teachers like David, the  latter would definitely weigh heavier. This realisation has spontaneously healed me. Thanks, Jag.

This is what nice people like the teachers I have had do. They enrich the lives, touch them somewhere deep down inside, cause ripples and give us sense of their being there symbolically with us even if literally thousand miles away and they heal and give us the reason to go on, fly, sail and follow the direction of our dreams unabated, untiringly, relentlessly and to say the least with positivity and enthusiasm and the spirit of never -say -die.

 Thanks David and Jag, I am blessed to have been your student.


  1. तुम्हारे इंग्लैंड जाने पर बिलकुल खुश नहीं थी . मुझे समझ नहीं आ रहा था तुम जाना क्यूँ चाहती हो? पढाई इतनी अहम् तो नहीं थी. बहनों से सुना था वंहा ज़िन्दगी बहुत मुश्किल है. बहुत महंगा है सब कुछ परन्तु तुमने तो न सुन ने की ठानी थी.
    तुमने वंहा क्या क्या अनुभव किया -अच्छा तो तुमने हम से सांझा किया, पर बुरा साँझा करते हुए तुम हमेशा कतराई. तुमने हमें वंहा बुलाया, मैं जेर्मनी होते हुए इंग्लैंड आई. तुम मुझे हीथ्रो एअरपोर्ट पर लेने आई. गाडी तुम चला रही थी, भयभीत मैं हो रही थी. बड़ा glamorous एअरपोर्ट, चोडी चोडी सड़कें, खूबसूरत इमारतें ! पहुँचते ही लगा मैंने तुम्हे क्यूँ तंग किया, मुझे नहीं आना चाहिए था. मेरी ख़ुशी के लिए तुम इतना रिस्क ले रही थी, इतना खर्च कर रही थी! मुझे ऐसी ख़ुशी नहीं चाहिए थी.
    हम लेइसटर पहुंचे . छोटा सा प्यारा सा घर. तुम्हे वंहा किचन में काम करते देख अचम्भा लगा क्यूंकि भारत में तुम्हे तुम्हे रसोई में काम करना बिलकुल नहीं आता था. कारण पुलाव मैंने तुम से इंग्लैंड में सीखा.
    यंहा के नौकर चाकर, ड्राईवर, ठाठ बात की ज़िन्दगी छोड़ तुम खटने चली गयी. मन में तीस उठती थी क्यूँ? आखिर क्यूँ? क्या इतनी अहम् थी वो डिग्री ?
    वंहा के बड़े माल दिखाते हुए तुम मुझे महंगा खरीद के देना चाहती थी पर मुझे नहीं चाहिए था कुछ, मैं देख पा रही थी तुम्हारी कठिन तपस्या.
    रूफ कार पार्किंग में मैं एक बार इतना डर गयी थी और बार बार मन यही कहता, सुमेधा शोफर चालित गाड़ियाँ छोड़ के तुम क्यूँ आई हो यंहा पर? बहुत लाड, स्नेह उमड़ता तुम पर पर कभी कभी मैं चुप हो जाती.
    वंहा के ग्लामौर वंहा की साफ़ सफाई-किसी भी चीज़ ने मुझे वंहा रहने के लिए कभी आकर्षित नहीं किया. सारे जहाँ से अच्छा हिंदुस्तान हमारा.
    मुझे तुम एअरपोर्ट छोड़ने आई तो मेरा दिल डूबने लगा. वंहा हम ने काफी पी क्यूंकि हम बहुत पहले वंहा पहुँच गए थे. जब हम बिछड़ने लगे तो मैं खूब रौई और तुम अपने आंसू छिपा रही थी और बोर्डिंग लौंज में पहुँचने के बाद मैं तुम्हे मुड़ मुड़ कर देख रही थी और फूट फूट कर रो रही थी, मुझे लगा भी की लोग देख रहे थे. मैं भारत लौटी तो खुश होने की बजे मेरे मन में खलबली मची हुई थी. तुमने मुझे वंहा सुंदर सी डायरी दी लिखने के लिए पर मैं उस में लिखने की हिम्मत ही नहीं जुटा पाई.
    आते हुए तुमने मुझे कुछ पौंड दिए-अपनी तंगी के बावजूद जो तुमने हम तक कभी ज़ाहिर नहीं की-वो पौंड्स मैंने अब तक संभल कर रखे हैं.
    भारत आ कर समझा नहीं पा रही थी की क्या बताऊँ क्या देख कर आ रही थी- इंग्लैंड जेर्मन परिस की ब्यूटी या अपनी जान से प्यारी सुमेधा की पीड़ा जो मैं समझने में असमर्थ थी.
    इस visit ने कितनी ख़ुशी दी या कितनी......दी मैं समझने में असमर्थ थी परन्तु निश्चय ही अविस्मरनीय था सब कुछ.
    रश्मि कटारिया

  2. you all are grt humans and grt writiers

  3. A very lucid piece. I feel as if I know David personally merely from your description of him. That says something about your writing skills. But, I wish I could know Jag the same way as David. A little more about Jag would have helped me relate to him as well. A few lines about Jag would certainly be in order.

    1. Thanks Sir, Your comment has indeed boosted my morale and also set me athinking. You are right and I do realise I have really not succeeded in portraying Jag I should have. Jag is Sr Lecturer heading the Faculty of Health and Community studies who organised all the modules' resource persons and introduced us to the finest of teachers like Karen Chouhan, Joe Joseph, Parvin Patel. He took our first module on anti oppressive practices and it was from him I first heard and understood the word 'internalisation' and I take a lot of pride in the fact that I scored the highest in that module. I was elated to interact personally during his recent visit to India and was awed by his humility, modesty and his serious concern and interest shown in the work I am doing as administrator here. It was meeting a 'gem' I must say.

  4. आप का यह लेख पढ़ कर एक बार तो ऐसा लगा कि David aankhon के सामने खड़ा है. bahut achha likha hai. swad aa gaya.