Thursday, 27 December 2018

Unusual Friends - #14 Teachers & Profs

Continuing the series about Unusual friends - #14 Teachers and Professors

My earliest recollection of a teacher is when I was in primary school. One day I had a test at school and the teacher asked me 'What colour is a dog?' (In Hindi of course) This question has affected my personality in no small way. It is right up there with the Koan 'Can a dog achieve Nirvana'.
I was puzzled by the question, and wanted to respond that dogs came in many different colours, but in my eagerness to respond I chose the wrong word. 
I responded 'Dogs are multi coloured'.
Now one would have got away with the mistake with perhaps a lower mark in the test, but in my case, when I got home the family (united for an evening tea) asked me how was the test and what did the teacher ask me.
I was eager to impress (not knowing that I had got it wrong), and when I came up with my question and answer, the whole family, even the kids, fell to the floor laughing! ROTF 
And to  my embarrassment, they still do when we remember this anecdote, which is far too often.

From that point onwards it was plain sailing in comparison, with many memories of wonderful teachers who taught me everything that good education demands. However there are some events which will always remain fresh as the day they happened.
One physics teacher in particular (when I was fifteen) was responsible for the following two gems. First 'Come here both of you three' and the second 'What kind of this exercise book is'. The latter particularly rattled me because at boarding school I never had the right books or writing materials, so my homework was always presented in (shall we say) creative ways. Perhaps my love of computers started with that, but I digress.
I later realised that the 'exercise book' statement was in fact a literal translation of the same statement in Hindi. But at the time this was a source of great hilarity among my classmates.
The University at Kumasi
Some years later in 1967 the professor of mathematics at university did me a favour for which I should forever be grateful. He correctly identified me as a student who would benefit from learning about computers. I had not heard the term before. Someone from IBM came to show a few of us how this big machine worked and showed us elements of Fortran. By the time Mr IBM left two weeks later I was the only one with any interest. I was entrusted with the key to the University Computer System.
Thus started a lifetime association with these amazing machines.
IBM 1400 similar to the one at University

Later in London I came across Prof Dowling, an Irishman who knew a thing or two about complex mathematical simulations and adopted me for one of his interests in research. He also initiated me into the complex world of Irish Jokes, but I won't go into that. (Just drink a pint of Guinness and Google 'Irish jokes')
I have to say that when I finished my studies I was down to Zero in my bank account, and I applied for a job in desperation. To my complete surprise when I revealed that Prof Dowling was my supervisor, the interviewer said 'when can you start'?

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