Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | July 26, 2013

Lake Gardens (er) Dadu

I was around 10 or 11 years in age. Baba was recently transferred to Durgapur. Ma and I were in Kolkata and a decision was to be made whether we should move to Durgapur or not. A very important aspect to this decision making process was my school. My parents were worried that I would not be that keen in moving to a new town, new school and make new friends. They were correct; I was not excited at all. Having said that, certain things eventually happens even if you have reservations about them. Perhaps you can only make the transition smoother. My Baba wanted the transition to be smooth and he introduced me to Mr. Binoy Nag or Lake Gardens Dadu (that is what I referred to him since he lived in Lake Gardens).

Ghoshdajethu was Baba’s colleague at work and our family friend for some years. Mr. Nag was his father-in-law. I would not blame you if you cannot connect where I am heading with this.

Mr. Nag, when young was a teacher of English language (that is what I think!) and Baba may have thought if I could brush up my English skills, I may adjust well in Durgapur. I was annoyed with Baba to start with because before I went to Durgapur, I was quite successful in lot of “English speaking” educational/extra-curricular activities by then and widely recognised as fairly decent. His thought was driven by the fact, that the standard of English education in West Bengal school board curriculum was fairly low in comparison to ICSE school board (Durgapur’s best school that time was affiliated to ICSE school board) and may be Mr. Nag could enhance my skills. Accordingly, despite my reluctance I was taken to meet Mr. Nag on a bright Sunday morning.

Mr. Nag was old and preferred to be called “Dadu” (grandfather in Bangla). He was probably 70-75 when we met him. He was welcoming, jovial, and loud. Later I found out that Dadu was forgetful and was hard of hearing. Dadu lived with Dida (his wife) in that big house that time. Dadu was tall and was a handsome man.

I had never met someone so loud before. Dadu was keen to help enhance my English speaking/writing abilities and did not want to get paid for his assistance. He was not a private tutor after all and he was not even looking for a job. I felt a tad embarrassed that Baba asked for his assistance. However, I had no control on these things and I created a fuss but I was not a rebel.

Following that first meeting, it was decided that I would visit Dadu once a week for couple of hours. Though I was not keen to be taught but I did not feel bad about visiting him occasionally.

I did not go to Dadu with any books from school. Every evening, he asked me to write a short essay or a letter, do a translation from an English book of his and go through a chapter from an English grammar book. I must say it was not that bad after all since it was not “course” driven. Dadu’s knowledge of English literature made our evenings interesting too when we talked. He was fond of idioms, metaphors and similes. Having grown up in the British era, Dadu’s English and habits were very “old-school” British. When he read out a paragraph from a book or talked to me in English in his robust voice, it was a delight.

Dadu was full of life and he would burst into laughter the moment he got an opportunity. Often he would also tell stories of his childhood days. That is why, though there were the usual days when I would complain, overall I ended up adjusting with Dadu.

Did the sessions with Dadu, enrich my English? Most certainly it did. Dadu made me interested in the subject. As far as making my transition smoother, Dadu had an indirect effect. Since I was never used to any tutors outside my school and my parents, Dadu opened up a different perspective for me. He concentrated only on my improvement and provided me with confidence.
I still use certain phrases that he taught me when I write. He introduced me to figures of speech and he recommended various classics that I read later.

After we left Calcutta for Durgapur, I met Dadu only couple of times. The last time we met, he had forgotten me (or our family) by then as it took my Baba some effort to make him remember who we were. I do not think he recollected but then he was still welcoming and met us with his usual laughter.

Dadu was a nice man. In today’s time I am not sure whether anyone would assist someone like that. He did not expect anything in return either. In his personal life, Dadu had enough reason to be gloomy but his jolliness was infectious, so much so it could turn a very cynical me to a fan of his. I will forever be indebted to Ghoshdajethu to have introduced me to Dadu.

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Responses

  1. Dear Tanmoy da,

    Since I am a first-time commenter on your blog roll, let me start by introducing myself. I am Saikat Chakraborty, a student of Suvro Sir since 2003. I have taken the liberty of calling you dada and I hope I haven’t offended you.

    This post touches the heart; your reminiscences portray how much this person has affected you. It is strange how some people come into our lives due to unexpected turn of events, that too for a brief span of time, and yet they leave behind a permanent impression.

    Please do keep writing. I have read some of your posts but did not comment out of sheer laziness. However, it is always nice to read your posts, especially the travelogues.

    With regards,
    Saikat.

  2. Hello Saikat.

    Thank you for your comment.

    Regards
    Tanmoyda

  3. definitely a good piece of writing. keep it up.

  4. Dear Tanmoy,

    Nice piece. I have a premonition that I may know the Lake Gardens(er) dadu or closer, may even be related. In this regard, would a request of certain further information be all right? Such as his name, his wife’s name and the address at which he stayed? I would be grateful if you could provide it and would be delighted to learn that I had met them decades ago in (then) Calcutta.


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