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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

To Sir, with Love

I don't know whats making me write this post. but I guess I need to write this. For the affection i have shared with this teacher. If you think He has ever been a part of your life, please leave a comment.

An Ode to Hansraj Sir.

“May I come in sir?” I would peep in with hesitation at 9:15 am, from the door of 211-B, with pleading eyes towards a pale elderly figure near the blackboard. But this pale elderly figure would let me in, one thing I loved about him; unlike others who would either welcome me with terrorizing glances or most of the time drive me away from the class. I just had one grudge with him at times; as to why could he never miss a class; or why would he always be on time. Whether it be an eight o clock lecture or a two o clock tutorial; whether there be ten students in the class, or full class strength; this old gentleman’s effort and dedication to his teaching would never change.

Steel structures was his subject. Not that it mattered.

For me all civil engineering subjects were the same. Dry, pointless and suffocating.

But his dedication to his students, his spirit to teach and his exuberance. That mattered.
That always mattered to me.

And this was the reason that inspite of getting a meagre 50% in his previous course; and still never understanding a word of Steel Structures; I would look upto him him with a respect I have not for many people in this world. There was something about him that I would come up with awesome verse and prose in his class; and would pen them down while the rest of the class was busy solving steel numericals. And some of those writings would actually amaze me.

They said this eighty year old soul lived all by himself. His wife had passed away long back. His daughter was said to have been married somewhere in Mumbai, and all we could guess was that he must have chosen not to live with her for his principles.

We would often see him cycling to or from the P.C.T. and he would respond to our good mornings and good evenings with a heartfelt smile and his peculiar salute, which reflected a spark, an enthusiasm ,an ineffable zeal. Where did this zeal come from; what did it feed upon; would often fill me with awe.

He was so different from the mankind around him; with his freedom of thought, his affection, his graceful bearing and humility and this gentlemanly zeal.
He would salute us as we wished him.
I would salute this gentleman in him.

It was this zeal oh his which would sometimes inspire me to take interest in steel structures; but as other civil engineering subjects, I would only end up in suffocation.
That day after his class, he happened to ask me why I bunked so many classes and why I would not be attentive.

I could have lied to him as I had learned to with ‘others’ who never cared. But that zeal in his eyes urged me to speak the truth. So I told him he was never at a fault as a teacher. It was me who couldn’t grasp the concepts of civil engineering. I told him I would often write poems in his class.
He did not say a word, just walked away. But I could see disheartenment in his eyes. I felt a bit guilty of having spoken a bit too much of truth that day.

Days passed as they pass in Pantnagar and we heard that hansraj Sir was soon leaving the University. He was joining some college in kichcha.

“Why?” was the first question.

No. he needed the job to keep the zeal alive.
Not either, as he had great memories attached to this place and would not like to leave it at this phase of his age.
I discovered the reason soon. I won’t mention it here. But as I came to know it, a sudden convulsion of madness and rage passed over me.
“How could they?
To such a noble soul!
But past few days I had known deception, false hopes, betrayal and untrust. I had seen egoism, false pride and unjust decisions and someone being sacrificed. Today it was His turn.

It was a bright Monday morning. I walked up to his cabin with a card I bought for him.
“We’ll miss you Sir” I gave him the card and implored him to open it after I leave. He asked me the reason for the same.

I told him I had enclosed within all the poems I had written during his steel classes.
To my surprise, he took out those pages, kissed them and pressed them against his forehead.

His act left me speechless.

He then pointed at a glass pane on his table and said-
“Look there! Those are scribblings by my daughter when she was a child. I have still preserved them.”

As he said that I could see a tear drop struggle hard with his eyes. I looked at the glass pane. There lied, tiny pieces of paper with thoughts scribbled in coloured sketch pen.

Something erupted in me and I felt like crying.

But I looked on, surprised and moved। I looked at that man, loyal to a vision, betrayed by his dream, faithful to his everything.

I saw that everything might change one day. What shall stay is the inexorable zeal this man is carrying along. The zeal that shal keep him going, that shall drive him on, no matter where he goes. Zeal to live. Zeal to love.

Zeal to say ‘Yes’ to the life ahead।

“May be he’s required there for a good reason” I said to myself and smiled.


  1. truly.....i hv rarely hapnd to come across
    people as simple n pure as hansraj sr...d void he hs left behind...vl remail dere...in COT...always....
    we miss u sr....
    n gazal mam...i always believd...hansraj sr is beyond wrds...he is...
    bt really...u've dn cmplete jstice to dis legendary figure wid dis piece of writing.
    congratulations mam!

  2. deepika
    hanrsaj sir.. really an awsum personality..our dear daddu...he is really a man of few words.. gazal you have brought tears on ma eyes ...really he deserves an hats off.. and i wud also like to say that gazal you are also a very awsum person your thoughts and creations truly depicts that...congrats dear...

  3. Really awesome post for a really awesome person. I can very safely say that if there is any person genuinely respected by everyone in our college, it is Hansraj sir, popularly known as 'daddu' among the students. He's so caring and affectionate for his students. He treats them just like his own kids. And today, when the profession of teaching has become a commercialised thing, we desperately need teachers like Hansraj sir to uphold standards of 'learning', which is much more important than any other things education is associated with. Any student to have studied any course under him is very very lucky.

    Very nice post, ma'am! :)

  4. I would say that the humble portrait that you have created of a man might not have been so influential to you academically.....but still was able to leave his imprints on your life.....is simply touching and even as a total stranger I feel tremendous respect generated inside me for 'Hansraj Sir'.

    I dont know whether its an effect of the personality of the man himself or that of your mesmerising portrayal...

    Now I can say eith full confidence.....you ought to be a writer!!

  5. salute to the great man.....his acts of love towards his students can never be 4gotten...
    n congratulations 2 u ma'am 4 writing such a heart shaking post...... cnt put his image out of ma head 4 d last few minutes....
    hats off 2 u both......
    kaushal pant

  6. well, i heard it many times that greatness always comes with politeness..and hansraj sir is the best example for this statement..he was the most easily approachable teacher in department..always ready to teach you from very basics of the topic..and the simplicity, love he holds for his students,is really above than words.
    well, its very nice to see your article nd a way you accepted the truth in front of sir, is really good..because a simple person can never have the guts to face the truth ..a very nice article dedicated to one of the greatest person of a lifetime and it is written form a pure heart..:)

  7. Mam,u have truly done justice to such a great legend.In a world lyk ours,rarely do we find such sincere and dedicated teachers.
    Ur article actually brought tears to my eyes.He is not just a gud teacher but a pure soul.His zeal transcends the barriers of age.
    V all will miss him n his eversmiling countenance wenever v wished him.And how like a luving elder he walked wid us n talked to us lyk a friend.I dont have words but i want to say"jahan divyatva ki prachiti hoti hai,uske samne sirf apna sar jhukta hai..."

  8. thank u so much ppl...
    U know Its d aura n zeal of this gentleman which was d muse behind this post...
    God bless Him

  9. One of the few teacher's who taught me a lot (positives i mean... ), apart from the textbook stuff. I always looked up to him as a fighter, continuing as a guest faculty coping with politics & hardships. I felt he always considered COT / Civil Dept. as his family. Still remember that he never attended any of the functions (be it colosseum, nirmaan events, farewells watever...) as if he was told by someone that he is not welcomed there or it was just a promise he had to keep post his retirement that it would only be classes & teaching here on. He was working on his own Steel Structures book and struggling with publication houses for printing rights when we left college. In college, he was a fatherly figure for us... people would crack pranks on him many a times (cant help that), but there were many who sincerely loved the wonderful person in him ... Our very own HANSY sir... may god bless him with a better professional atmosphere at the new institute. Hope I could meet him sometime. Thanks Gazal.. i could remember the old days through ur description. Kindly convey my regards to him (on behalf of my batch).

  10. I'm where I am today and I am what I'm because of the teachings and love of my teachers. A big salute to all my teachers.
    Thanks Gazal for sharing such a beautiful thought.

  11. i feet like crying too. it is good, m moved. m glad u mentioned the 'salute'. sir may look so frail, but if you know him, u wud easily see the steel and fire inside him. and he's got such a style, he's in a class of his own. such cute looks, he reminds me of the gentlemen of yore. i had always thought that c.s. wale got the worst of teachers but hansraj sir is an exception. one teacher i truly luvd, whose sincerity inspires sincerity in everyone who cares. i remember i used to be late in every class in first year, but in hansraj sir's class, ek baar late hui, and uske baad har class me sbse pehle pahunchi. there had been no reprimand but the silent look of disapproval did its job. and jitni baar jaldi pahunchi, utni baar his mute approval was my trophy. some people you simply want to please. i love hansraj sir. i wish for more teachers like him. but of course, he's the one and only. great loss for techniche that we never could get a mentor's column from him.... vidushi

  12. A nice blog.. could imagine wat it meant to all of you...

    May god bless your beloved teacher..

    Such teachers are really rare & precious..

  13. I may not have been taught by Hansraj sir... but still he commands a lot of respect from me... he is probably the only teacher whom I respect and I don't know for what reasons because like I said he's never taught a word to me...I consider dis as my misfortune or rather an unfulfilled wish... but nevertheless he is a great personality and the way he responds to your wishes and greetings fills you with a positive feeling and more regard for him...he truly is one gem of a person.Thank you for this wonderful post ma'am.gave a platform to xpress ourselves..

  14. i realy consider myself fortunate that i've been taught by sch a wndrful teachr.he is among those teachrs 4 whom respct genuinely comes frm inside. he actually justifies the real meaning of a teacher.
    his pure nature,the love he holds fr his studnts, n the way he responds to their wishes stnds him apart frm others.. may god bless him alwys.
    gr8 wrk frm ur side too :)

  15. there are few teachers for whom one says that he teaches well, for few we say they make the classroom come alive but there is absolutely no one other then Hansraj Sir for whom each one of his student says look there comes are teacher, our guide, and our friend....
    it was 12 august 2009 that v had our 1st steel class.nd since that tym till date v wonder that how can anyone be so punctual??but now with every passing day i believe the answer lied in his principles whom he followed extremely sincerely...
    thank you so much for everything sir...i still can't believe that we would never b able to see our dearest daddu in the very first corridor of PCT...v will miss u sir..u r d best
    Aali Pant

  16. We were'nt fortunate enough to be taught by the great personality. but I have heard about him a lot and a the way he replies to our wishes is really commendable.....
    He really deserves a lot for all hi devotion and dedication.... Pantnagar has got very less teachers like him..... He is really a gem

  17. I guess he is the most revered teacher of all. This post and the comments following shows how much we love and respect him. We actually steel salute him..
    I congratulate u too gazal for penning down every incident so beautifully..

  18. Hello,
    I graduated in 99 in CE and share the feelings portrayed in this post. Can someone suggest me whereabouts ( phone/email/address) of our respected and dear sir. Which college in Kichcha has he joined. My mail id is swarnagupta@hotmail.com.