TO SIR WITH LOVE

My association with my teacher and mentor Professor Tarun K Ghose started when I was in the first year of my undergraduate engineering at Harcourt Butler Technological Institute (HBTI) Kanpur. He was our departmental head. After a year he left HBTI to take up a prestigious assignment that was waiting for him in the USA. After his return to India, he joined the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi. I joined him as his doctoral student.

Prof. Ghose was known among his students, as a hard taskmaster. He used to say, “We don’t come here only to exchange niceties.” He did, however, exchange niceties, more often than not. There was so much warmth in those informal get-togethers at his residence. Thanks to Mrs. Atreyee Ghose, his wife whom I call Kakimoni, we looked forward to the frequent lunches and dinners at their residence. Professor Ghose often tried to come out of his hard shell of ‘Sir’. Often, he succeeded. We, the first batch of Ph.D. students working under his supervision, were a part of his family. Those were our golden student days. After a long stint at IIT Delhi, first as a student and then as a teaching faculty, I moved to Jaipur. I no longer lived in Delhi. I tried to meet Prof. Ghose whenever I was in Delhi. We, however, often talked over the phone. Until five years ago, he used to send me emails. In one of the emails, he writes, “It was so nice of you to spend an evening with us ….I am now a reader and no more a disjointed biographer. I want to say so many things with lots of happiness, but I am unable to bring all those years for others to read. ….This is not my pride but happiness.” In another, he writes, “I wonder, why you have kept us out of your mind so soon. Despite my indifferent health and restricted movements I am interested to remain on the same page with a few people as long as possible.”

Sir, distance can’t take away the beauty and the warmth of closeness. Though I am married to his niece (his elder brother’s daughter), he has always been my ‘Sir’. I am grateful to him for his patience and salute his persistence as my supervisor, and later as my Boss. He is truly my mentor.

What you are, Sir, in my professional life my parents were in my personal life.