Friday, July 29, 2016
NDA - A Memory
While cycling to Sudan block, my friend Amrit confided to me that he had not done his home work and thus would not like to study any new topic today. He said that he would do something to ensure that the teacher does not start any new chapter. I too secretly wished that he was successful, as it had been a tiring day thus far; double outdoor days were always tiring. We had just finished the physical training (PT) class, after a drill class, and were heading towards Sudan block of NDA for a Mathematics class. This was the third, and the last class, before the sumptuous breakfast that all of us cadets looked forward to, especially after the outdoor days.
Drill at the Drill Square
Image: Courtesy Google Images
Our day started with a fall-in (roster call) every morning at 5:45 am in the squadron, and the first class at 6 am, either an outdoor one, like PT, drill, or equitation, or an academic class in either the Science or Sudan block. The siren at Science block sounded on the hour, every hour, to indicate the commencement of every class. Double outdoors and maths was a bad combination, but we had learnt to just follow the schedule, physically at least. The classes itself were of 45 minutes duration with a 15 minutes break in between. In these 15 minutes one is expected to leave the present location; pick up the cycle; wait to form a squad of 4 to 6 cadets, in twos, and then cycle down in an orderly manner to the new location; park your cycles in the designated spot, and march up to your class room.
Sudan Block at NDA
Image: Courtesy Google Images
Our maths teacher with the initials D.D. (affectionately called Daddy by the cadets) was a professional teacher: a teacher, who besides being good at his subject, also had two eyes in the back and could thus sense any untoward movement behind him, while still facing the blackboard. Those were the chalk and blackboard days. Daddy had this unique knack of being able to write with both hands. Also, he could break a piece of the chalk with one hand, and send it shooting like a missile towards any inattentive cadet. To his credit, he always hit the bulls eye.
He would start writing with his right hand and had the ability to turn the upper part of his body while still continuing to write on the board. His upper body would be twisted away from the board through about 180 degrees, so as to enable him to face the left half of the class. Half way through the equation that he was writing, he could switch the chalk to his left hand, continue with writing on the board while facing the class once again, now covering the right half of the class. In this way he could cover the entire class with an overlap in the centre, where he would make the most troublesome students of the class sit. I believe many a cadet who had passed through his hands before us had helped him perfect this technique to ensure that he could do his job, despite the troublesome and unwilling students.
Each one of his classes started with the standard questions. Have you all done your home work? The answer was always a full throat-ed yes from all of us. This was followed up with, ‘does anyone have any doubts on the chapter covered in the last class? The answer invariably was a, 'no sir'. Like every other day, we went through the same ritual today also, except that after a loud yes to the first question, when the rest of us were singing ‘no sir’ to the second question, my friend had raised his right hand high up in the air.
Daddy asked him about his doubt, and my friend said, ‘sir, I am not too sure how to do the 10th question, could you please show me how to do it’. Daddy was a seasoned teacher in NDA and had seen many students like Amrit. Daddy counter questioned him with, ‘have you done sum number 1?’ The answer was ‘No’. Have you done sum number 2? And so on it went until, number 9. It was now quite evident that Amrit had not even attempted to do the home work. Every 'no' was met with a missile thrown at my friend by Daddy. At the 9th no, even Daddy got very upset and now wanted to shake up my friend for firstly not doing the home work and secondly for disturbing the set routine of the class. He walked towards Amrit; Amrit got up from his desk and moved towards the rear of the class, with Daddy following him. Amrit got to the rear wall, climbed on top of the last row of chairs and crossed over to the other aisle in the class hoping that he would be safe now, but Daddy followed him around by climbing the chairs too, and with the chalk missiles being launched at regular intervals, until the chalk finished. The entire class was witness to the chase scene that had turned really hilarious. Every one was having a great time. It continued for some time and ended with an apology from Amrit. No fresh topic could be covered in that class; Amrit had achieved his aim.