Mrs. Singh (buddhi) used to teach us geography when we were in school. She is probably dead now – though I wish that she isn’t. She taught us a lot – and we learnt without realising it. We learnt where mica and zinc deposits in India exist. I still know that Kerala has the maximum deposits of Thorium. We learnt about leeward and windward sides and names of places.
We didn’t ever learn the “concept” of geography.
All we knew that it was just a more tolerable subject than Calculus – integration and differentiation (at least for me).
The concept of geography is distance, constitution, and location. In some form or the other, this is all that we learnt. We never learnt the philosophy of geography (yes, I think geography has philosophy). It’s analogous to our life.
If you ever understand the concept of geography, you will never distress at a friend who is on the other side of the world. If you understand geography, you will never doubt the integrity and constitution of a person in front of you. If you know where you are and where you want to go – you will never get lost. Distance, constitution, and location – that is geography.
I often felt gloomy of the fact that not a single friend of mine resides within 100km of where I am, when I think of Mrs. Singh, I let the gloomy feeling retire. I remember her and the cheerfulness of Mrs. Singh’s class. It was cheerful because we were never interested in the facts – the concept of the class – the sense of freedom and joy of not having to remember (and apply) something like (a – b) square = a square + b square – 2ab, gave us that much more time to be friends and have fun in the class. The teacher never being aware, of how much we enjoyed her class. We always believed that geography was about facts; all we had to do was learn them by-heart and puke it out on the examination paper.
Today I remember her, Mrs. Singh, who used to live off raw vegetables, speak with a heavy Punjabi accent, and was actually so affectionate, but the adolescent brats that we were, never saw the affection. I remember her because without even her knowing it, she helped me understand the concept of geography – albeit a little late – seventeen years later.
Ma’am, if you are around, and if you ever get to read this, I want to thank you – for helping me learn the “concept” of geography in your class. You helped me make friends and bond with them in your class – and today it is geography that keeps us apart.
Eventually, it will be geography that will bring us together.