Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Story of a Malnad Boy-74

I had always found Physics an interesting subject in my educational career. It used to be a high scoring subject for me. In our college this subject had the best faculty. Under the able leadership of Krishnappaiah the department was in real limelight.

I always had a special relationship with Krishnappaiah. I respected his no non-sense attitude. I should record our first reaction when we heard his name. It brought us the memory of the proprietor of a famous hotel in Thirthahalli. In those days, Krishnappaiah’s hotel in Thirthahalli was as famous as the MTR in Bangalore. A visit to his hotel for eating the delicious Masala Dosa was a must during the famous Yellamavasye festival in Thirthahalli. One could miss a bath in the sacred river Tunga, but not the Masale Dosa at this hotel!

Basing on the looks of the said proprietor, we had expected to see a middle aged business man like personality as our Physics lecturer. But we were pleasantly surprised to see an impeccably dressed smart young man instead! Our spirits suddenly went up on seeing him. But we had to wait and see his performance as a lecturer. We were not disappointed. He was the best teacher and a professional we could ever find in our college. However, heart of heart, we still felt “if only he could delete ‘appaiah’ from his name and make it as simple as Krishna, things could have been quite different!”

Krishnappaiah carried lot of respect even from students who had no opportunity to attend his classes. But basically he was a reserved man and always meant business, I mean his subject. On only one occasion I had a small showdown with him. He had handed over the corrected answer papers of the first terminal examination in my final degree class. He had committed an error while totaling, by leaving out an answer for 5 marks. I had been all along very sensitive when it came to valuation of my papers. While I never questioned the basis of valuation, I would strongly object for mistakes in totaling or exclusion of certain marks inadvertently.

In this particular case also I went to Krishnappaiah in a highly agitated mood. He coolly rechecked the totaling and then handed over the papers back to me duly adding back the marks. As an offside remark, he told me that it would not have made any difference if those marks were left just like that. I really got wild and told him that it made hell of a difference to me! He kept his cool.
After some time I repented my behavior. I thought I had gone too far with a teacher whom I respected so much, just for a petty matter. I went back to him and apologized. He consoled me and told me to forget the matter.

We were at the fag end of our final year classes. One day Krishnappaiah asked me to meet him at his home. He remained a bachelor and was living with another colleague. I met him at his home. He was in a relaxed mood. He asked me what my future career plan was. To be frank, I had not seriously thought over the matter. Things were very hazy for me on account of my family problems. But I told him that the only possibility for me was to go for postgraduation in Physics.

Krishnappaiah took out a book from his book shelf and gave it to me. I just went through it. It was the prospectus of Indian institute of Science Bangalore (IISC)-more popularly known as Tata Institute. The booklet had quite exhaustively covered everything about the great Institute. Krishnappaiah told me that he expected me to join this Institute for my further studies. The Institute offered three-year degree courses in engineering in three different branches, for students who had finished their basic graduation in science. The three branches were metallurgy, electrical engineering and electronics & communication engineering.

Krishnappaiah wanted me to take up metallurgy which was in great demand in those days. IISC had thirty seats for each branch on an all-India basis. I was told that the students in metallurgy on completion of the degree with overall distinction would straight away land in US. All others would be offered jobs by TISCO. In those days other than IISC, only Benares Hindu University (BHU) offered the courses in metallurgy. Krishnappaiah asked me to keep the book and to work in the direction getting admission in the Institute.

Under Krishnappaiah’s leadership our college arranged for a picnic to the famous Coffee Research Station at Balehonnur. Balehonnur is located just before Jayapura in the Chickmagalore-Sringeri road. Even though we had heard about the Institute, none of us had the opportunity to visit it till then. A brother of one of our students was working there. He took us around. We had a great time at the Institute.

It would be appropriate for me to write in brief about this Institute: 
The district of Chickmagalore has the distinction to be the highest coffee growing district in India/Asia. Research work on coffee was initiated during the year 1915 by setting up a temporary laboratory at Koppa.  Initial studies focused attention in combating the dreaded leaf disease of coffee.  Later it was deemed necessary to have a full fledged experimental station to tackle the multifarious problems that the coffee industry had been countered with.  Accordingly the Government of Mysore started a field research station and officially named it the “Mysore Coffee Experimental Station" during 1925.  The land for the research station was gifted by Major C.S.Crawford of Guntanaik estate. Subsequently the erstwhile Government of Mysore handed over the established farm to the Coffee Board, which had come into being during 1942. Organized research on Coffee started from 1946 onwards.

The Central Coffee Research Institute (CCRI) at Balehonnur is presently one of the premier institutes in South East Asia.  There are seven different disciplines viz. Agronomy, Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry, Botany Entomology/Nematology Plant psychology, Biotechnology, and post harvest technology striving to evolve strategies aimed at increasing productivity and improvement in the quality of coffee. There are about 60 scientific and technical personnel who are involved in carrying out research in various disciplines. 

The total area of the institute is 130.94 hectares.  The area planted to coffee is 80.26 hectares comprising 51.32 hectares of Arabica and 28.94 hectares of Robusta.  In addition about 10.0 hectares has been planted to C X R during 2000 with 28.3 hectares. Jungle remaining for future expansion, about 12.38 hectares of land, is utilised for nursery roads and buildings.          

The picnic was a great success. There was a singing competition. A group of girl students singing the Kannada song- “Undaadabahudu, Odibaa ennappa, Ootake baaro krishnappa”-created lot of amusement to all of us as the song referred to the name of Krishnappaiah.

Just before our academic year came to an end there was a big news. The UGC had permitted the University of Mysore to set up a department of Hindu philosophy at the postgraduation level.  The University was on the look out for a suitable candidate who had a doctorate in Hindu Philosophy to head the department. There was no necessity to shortlist the candidates. The University deservedly found our Principal to be the only right person. It sent the appointment order straightaway. He was asked to join duty before the commencement of the next academic year.

Our examinations commenced in the last week of March. I could answer my Physics papers to my full satisfaction. However, I was not exactly happy with my performance in Chemistry papers. But I did the practicals extremely well in Chemistry.

I had a problem with the Physics practicals. The University had a system of giving the students in advance a list specifying the experiments in which practicals would be conducted. The examiners had to select the experiments from this list only. We were expected to get prepared for those experiments only. A visiting Professor from a different college conducted the examination along with Krishnappaiah. I had prepared well for only those experiments covered in the university list.

To my utter shock I found that one of the experiments given to us was not from the said list. I thought it was pure injustice. I wanted Krishnappaiah to talk to the examiner. But he said he was helpless. We had to write the formula first and show it to the examiner. I was not able to recollect the formula. Krishnappaiah then just told the formula to me in a low voice. I could recollect it then and wrote it in full and presented it to the examiner. Ultimately I could manage to complete the examination to my satisfaction.
------- (To be continued)------

No comments: