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Students and/or Colleagues
As I first walked into the Science Wing of the main block, I was overcome by a feeling of great reverence for the imposing architecture of the building. I felt I was truly at the threshold of a completely new period of serious learning. The huge hall and the long corridors with high ceiling and the pervasive silence made me look at learning from an entirely new angle. The Department of Statistics far from the maddening crowd was a palpable peaceful corner, which it still is. The lectures were often enough brilliant, sometimes so brilliant the we the average lot felt very intimidated by the flow of technical words. We religiously took down notes verbatim from the blackboard that kept gliding up and down. We kept all our notes and notes-related doubts intact until the start of the internal assessment when our feet automatically led us to a room in Selaiyur; the occupant of the room T K Balaji. Balaji, a classmate of ours was a friend, philosopher and indispensable guide to all of us. He helped us overcome even our most basic, call it childish doubts. I give him credit for the progress I made despite the subject seeming invincibly difficult to understand. Several others in my class would join me in recognizing his extremely helpful nature. We were the students who thronged his room the night before every test and never let him have a good night's sleep.
When we were in our third year we were pleasantly surprised to see a student who had only that summer got her master's degree walk into our classroom saying she was going to take class for us. That was none other than Ms Ruth, who became one of our favorite lecturers. Her polite advice to us when faced with any problem, even if it did not help us directly, was music to our ears in terms of the encouragement we received. She was very successful in relating to all of us and continues to do so with every new batch of students.
Our Head of the Department, Dr Siromoney who taught us in our third year had an uncanny ability to lift our spirits, even during a hot dull afternoon, with an incidental comment or two. He made us all happy by a piquant mix of the serious and flippant. He would introduce into his lectures a short discussion on the rate of brinjals and potatoes with refreshing novelty and ease. On another occasion he regaled us with an interesting account of butterflies. Though his sense of humour can be said to be bizarre, his showmanship made him absolutely likeable, he was immensely respected for his genius and loved for his cool unassuming nature. We are glad to have had the opportunity to relate to him. His smile bon homie made him seem ageless. With his passing away we lost a true genius, but his genuine sense of modesty would continue to remind each one of us who knew him of the natural goodness in him.
Prof. R Chandrasekaran was supremely confident of his subject and taught us with cool abandon. He gave sparse notes but his lectures were meant to be carefully heard and understood. The quality of his lectures was definitely high.
Prof K R Rajagopalan was a very keen lecturer who taught and gave notes almost non-stop. He painstakingly and repeatedly explained concepts, but needless to say it all went over our heads, thanks to the difficult subject that Math was. He used chalk and duster almost simultaneously. We had to keep our eyes pinned to the black-board in order to take even half of the notes he gave. He was a respectable teacher and a likeable person
Statistics was challenging, exiting, boring and sometimes even frustrating. However, all this made us work on the subject with determination. The Department was special to us not only in terms of the scholars it had, but also in terms of the 'real' people who related to us naturally.
Joseph D P James (B.Sc. Stats, M.A., M.Phil. Philosophy 1983-90)
From the Souvenir of the Department of Statistics, Silver Jubilee 1995.