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A former student in the Department of Mathematics
I joined Madras Christian College as a Pre-University student in the year 1965 and I was allotted to PU (i)(b) Mathematics. My mathematics teachers were Dr. Gift Siromoney and Dr. P. Balasubrahmanyam. But for Dr. Gift's encouragement and motivation, I would not have taken up Mathematics as my career. Dr. Gift was a very successful P.U. teacher. I had the fortune of being his student once again in the III year B.Sc. Mathematics class. Astronomy was considered to be a very tough paper to pass, those days, and Dr. Gift made it very simple and interesting. He had arranged many observation classes on top of the Zoology block and one could see the real Gift in action those days. One incident comes to my mind very vividly. One day Dr. Gift came to the Astronomy class with his usual bag. After unbuckling the bag, instead of Ramachandran's book on astronomy, he took out a red apple and a sharp knife. He kept the apple on the table and asked us to watch. He said the half facing you only you can see at a time. Then he sliced a thin piece of the apple close to the circle dividing the two halves of the apple. He asked us to observe the white portion inside the apple. Then he continued the slicing process on the half of the apple facing the class, until we saw the creamy white side of the other half. He was actually teaching us the phases of the moon! This is one illustration of Dr. Gift's innovative and lucid way of explaining difficult concepts.
He was interested in languages and he wanted me to take up the study of Brahmi script. When he knew that I got admission in the Indian Statistical Institute as a research scholar, he was excited and told me to join at once. Dr Gift used to tell me certain Malayalam words to check its correct pronunciation! Later I understood that he was trying to learn Malayalam. Dr. Gift was a multi-faceted personality, who inspired many youngsters of those days to take up research in some application oriented subject. I am fortunate that I had such a great teacher during my undergraduate days!