...Be first class!
That's what a teacher at school would say to us. Unfortunately he passed on before we got to senior school, but in many ways, his teaching has outlived him.
He taught English Literature, did Mr. Joe Sheth. One of those aristocratic teachers, he had an aura about him. An air of class and panache. His leisurely afternoon smokes in the Gent's Staffroom were commonplace, much to the chagrin of fellow teachers and most certainly the school principal. His faults notwithstanding, the man left an impression on you.
I only wish he had taught us Julius Caesar like he did for the batches 3 or 4 years senior to us. I love the play even without him teaching it to me and I can only imagine the effect his interpretation of the play would have had on me.
I loved school life, the rowdy lunch breaks in an all-boys school, playing dodge-ball, this sometimes painful game called abba doobi, volleyball, cricket, football... the works. The days we got detention for making nuisances of ourselves, the few classes that I enjoyed, art, physics (at times), english literature and a few others.
But one of the things I'll be grateful to my alma mater for is the times spent with a few wonderful teachers who were also outstanding characters.
While I may have taken the first part of Joe Sheth's quote ("Don't get first class, be first class.") a bit too seriously, it is the second part of the quote that will always be an aspiration and an inspiration for me. I didn't learn very much academically throughout my education. I was an average, or at best a slightly-above-average student. But I remember the little lessons that our teachers taught us that never there in books. And those are the lessons that I find help you through life the most. The good times and the bad. Not some Pythagorean equation to find the hypotenuse length of a right-angled triangle.
Of the many many important lessons I've learned in school, the one that is reverberating through my head these days is... Don't get First Class, be first class.