I haven't posted in this series for a while. But it's Teachers Day, at least in India, so let me talk about another one of my great teachers today.
Gaurav Sir joined my computer institute when we needed somebody to teach us 'C'. Considering that the institute was small and restricted in budget, it could have been a terrible shortcoming, but in my case it turned out to be a great advantage. For example, when Chauhan sir came to teach us "COBOL" he was the best teacher for it, as well as for PLT. Similarly Gaurav Sir joined at a time when we needed a teacher for Unix and C and he was the best, bar none, who could have taught us those subjects.
Well, maybe Tenenbaum knew a little bit more about Unix than Gaurav sir, but not much, and I don't know if he was any good at teaching. :)
Why I say this about these teachers that they were great teachers, not because they knew their subject matter or because they knew how to impart the knowledge, no, that would not make them great teachers, that would make them adequate teachers.
What made them great was that they were geniuses in their own right and they could not help inspiring you if they tried. Gaurav sir was another such genius and you could feel that in talking to him though he NEVER, EVER, boasted or bragged about his prowess or even his experience.
For Gaurav sir, everything was casual, no big deal, even things that'd make me and my fellow students go wide-eyed , "You really did that, Sir?" :O
There's a whole lot I can say about Gaurav sir without covering the matter fully so let me say just a few important things and leave it at that.
Gaurav sir could not help challenge our minds. For example, the first time he took our class, he started talking about how to swap two variables without using a third variable. Even though he didn't ask us to try it, I just had to because I had never heard anything like this before. I showed it to him in a few minutes and he agreed that the solution would look something like that.That was always the way with him. He inspired me just by talking to him!
I don't remember exactly how it happened but he gave me his home address and I visited him there. He used to live in another part of the same city, Delhi, and I used to go to the public library near there. Then I made a practice of it, visiting him every 2-3 weeks at his home, on the weekend, even after he stopped teaching at the institute.
He himself was quite a scholar where computers were concerned. Every time I visited him I was awed by his book collection. He used to spend his money in buying the US editions of super-expensive computer books that were not available in India. Even though I was stupid in computers, I was smart enough never to ask to borrow a book. It's just something you don't do. Still, he lent me his notes and stuff more than once when I most needed it.
Later I followed in his footsteps, joining the same company where he used to work, etc. etc.
One of his peculiar (or maybe just enviable) habits was his love for certification exams. I remember very well how hard I had to study to pass my MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solution Developer) exams. 4 long, tough question papers. But Gaurav sir, had done that already, and done the 2 extra optional exams, plus gone in for MCSE certification, plus a few more certifications, plus he used to take the newly-launched papers as a test subject. My God!
It is a proud privilege for me that I am still in touch with him and I am always pleased to see that he's still doing amazingly well on his career path and still the same old certification-gobbling genius that he was. His email signature looks like a phonebook of doctors the way those abbreviations are lined up after his name.
To come back to my self-centred world, I would not be what I am and where I am today without Gaurav Sir's patient and selfless guidance and his continuous support. He is still a source of inspiration for me. And he doesn't have to do anything for it. I just think of him and it inspires me to do better and greater things in my life!
I wish him a long, successful, happy life!