I like observing people and understanding their ways. It’s interesting to know why a particular person behaves in a particular way. Why behaviors are programmed and how can we predict that how will a person react in a situation. I enjoy this, like, will a person behave in a situation the way he should or will he do something unusual than expected. I try this on myself too. It’s funny.
I have observed everyone I have known. I found that some people are more interesting and they draw your attention more towards them. It’s because they have something different and unique. There is a large variety in people and this makes humans the most beautiful species in animals.
I observe my teachers a lot. In fact they are the ones who teach us things and we are supposed to learn a lot from them. Of all the teachers I’ve known, those ones whom I remember the most, used to teach me physics. Ah, I don’t want to discuss why. I just find physicists the most interesting people in this world.
I am going to talk here about one of my professors who has been teaching me for the past one year. Professors carry an image of their cadre and those of physics are just easily distinguished. Well, he is a person who amazes me and I deeply observe him when he is around. He is a very simple personality with nothing to draw your attention at first sight. But once you’ll know him you’ll put all your efforts to know him more in order to solve the mystery he created so that it no longer draws your attention more than the topic he teaches.
He comes to college on a bicycle and among all the professors; he is the only one to do this in my department. This should not be the first time you should see him. When I first attended his lecture he appeared to me as a very serious person. And he is one. His subject was Mathematical physics. So he used the board most. But he actually uses it the most than others. He writes everything on board. We hardly hear his voice. Reasons- he speaks very little, and whatever he speaks, is hardly audible. So you have to pay all your attention to his words with your ears wide open. And you have to be the first bencher. I never understood this one thing that why teachers always like the first benchers, when they too can’t get everything into their minds. I am also not able to understand everything that is being taught in class but yes, at least the teacher will know you and you can assume some emotional strength, though fake, that when you sit on the first bench, you know more than others. A nice assumption which sometimes can boost your confidence. Well, you can take this benefit if it is of any help to you. He too likes sincere students. You may not be a very bright student but you have to pay attention to what teachers say if you want to be remembered by them. Its one way. I don’t know why but everyone likes to be remembered. And there’s nothing wrong in that.
So, he writes everything on board and his handwriting is very neat with all the perfections possible. He pays a lot of attention to each word and beautifully writes the symbols. When it comes to check our exam papers, he never likes if any step goes missing from what he taught. You must get each and every step and hence, your derivations should be complete with all the details. I remember when I wrote a two page derivation in my answer and got a zero marks in it. Horrible. I never performed that worst. But it was funny too. I laugh whenever I remember this because I did the complete derivation when the first step was wrong! He might have got too angry at this.
He rarely smiles. He doesn’t like complications. But when he smiles it forces me to think that what was so special. And it’s often not expected. (Smiling is taken to be a complicated thing. Isn’t it strange?) Why it happens this way, I don’t know. But one thing is for sure that he is a very serious person and you are supposed to be serious too when he is present. I try my best. But am usually not because whenever he’s around I don’t know but I start laughing. I think I have lots of guts to do this silly thing but he is the reason behind this. I laugh because I think that what he is going to do now. He seems to be so perfect that nothing can go wrong. Gosh! How is he able to maintain this balance? No mistakes at all. Strange.
The one thing that surprises me the most is that I have never seen him looking at a book or his notes for any reference while teaching in class. He enters the room. By breaking the silence, he bangs the duster to the wall to clean it and this brings a smile to my face. It’s the beginning. Then he will clean the board to make it perfectly neat with not a single spot on it. Then he will pick up a chalk, well, he carries just one chalk with him as if he just knows that it won’t break and will write properly for one hour and that he will not need a second one, oh god! Then he starts writing. Speaks to us just thrice or four times to explain what he will do and then continues writing. He writes so comfortably, giving every detail as if it’s flowing directly from his mind to the board, as if his mind is nothing but a hard disk which has all the data stored in a programmed fashion. I have always thought how he is able to do so.
How he can remember such difficult derivations and such complicated explanations with the most confusing equations of particle physics, to be written at the perfect time. And he never checks again.
It was now that when we came into our final year I started asking questions comfortably to him. The one reason is that now he can hear me clearly and I can hear him too as the students are few and he can give more time to answer our questions. Well, he likes it too and we have started understanding a portion of what he teaches.
One day while he was teaching and I was laughing slowly, looking at him and his actions, I tried to gather some strength to ask him a question that I have been thinking for a long time. But I never asked it as it was a bit weird for him and I knew he would have definitely considered it silly. So, I was afraid. I needed to be confident that he will not get angry at me if I asked it. So I waited for the right time. It wasn’t anything important but the beauty is that I really thought about it a lot, thinking that his answer will help me to develop some special techniques that can benefit me. Before asking this I asked him another question, in a way to start. He was teaching us inverse beta decay. He said that detection of neutrino wasn’t easy or possible because of its less interaction probability. When I asked him why, the answer made everyone laugh. He said that it’s a question like he asks me why I weigh 50 kg! I was shocked. I mean almost such a right approximation of my weight, just an error of 5%. And such an answer by him. I wasn’t able to find the connection then. I just laughed. And he was laughing too. It was amusing to see him that way. Then he answered that he doesn’t know why. Why he said this, I know.
I thought that this can be the right time to ask that question. But I was now thinking that what he will answer after hearing something so much out of way. May be, he will not answer it at all. That could have been the worst. So I waited for the lecture to end. When he ended it, I went to him. While he was busy packing his file, I took permission to ask him something. When I got it, with a laughing smile, I asked “Sir, how are you able to remember all this? I mean these derivations are so difficult and you do them all with ease. How do you do this?” He was listening to me and I was waiting for the reply, ready to receive anything that was going to come, even if it was going to be the worst. I just tried to maintain my calm. He said “Well, I have been doing all this for a pretty long time”. Then he went to wash his hands. I was surprised. I knew this and I wanted to hear something more special. And that he was calm at my question. I waited. When he came back, I tried to continue before he would leave, to know something more about this secret. I said “So, is this all because of practice?”. He said “Ya, you can take it that way” and left.
Everyone was staring at me as if I did something horrible. But I was completely surprised. It’s just so difficult to get something out of him. I didn’t want this answer. It felt like it was of no use to ask this. May be, he doesn’t want to reveal the secret behind his knowledge. Whatever. But it was a strange experience. And as usual, I was happy. I have always been the best in doing such stupid things, like asking something quite unexpected and weird and just out of the subject. The point is, very few people dare to do this. In my case, it has always been taken in a good spirit. And I did sense that how he felt on my asking this question. The feel on his face told me that he was proud of himself. Overall, it was great and I was happy on doing this. It’s something so silly to think about but I always waited for the answer. And when I got it, all I want is to forget.