pen & brush

Thursday, July 05, 2007


In every college funny stories are told about the professors. These tales may not always be authentic. But they do bring out the idiosyncrasies of the professors, and entertain generations of students.

Absent-minded Professor

Madras Christian College abounded in such tales. In the 1950's many of these were about Dr.Kibble, the brilliant mathematician who was terribly absent-minded. While working out a problem on the blackboard he would mentally calculate about ten steps and write the eleventh on the board. The bewildered students would ask how the last step came about. Whereupon Dr.Kibble would look at the board, do mental calculations again, and then say, "What's wrong? It is quite right".

Dr.Kibble had a car, one of the very few on campus. Sometimes he drove up to the city from Tambaram to do some shopping. Then he would forget that he had come by car, and return by train. Mrs Kibble would then dispatch some students to the city to find and drive the car back. One day Dr.Kibble came back home in the car, and seeing the empty garage started yelling, "Somebody has stolen the car", until Mrs.Kibble pointed out to him that he was sitting in the car.

Once Dr.Kibble was invited to speak at the Loyola College. He went to the Tambaram station, which was the terminus for electric trains. He found two trains ready to start for the city. He enquired which train would start first, found a seat in it and started reading a book. The train started and went to the northern terminus, Beach Station, and then returned to Tambaram. Engrossed in his book, the professor didn't notice all this. When he happened to look up from his book and found that the train was in Tambaram, he accosted a railway official. "When is this train supposed to start? I've been waiting for hours". "But, Sir," said the official, "This train came in just a minute ago."

Whether these anecdotes were true or not, I can vouch for the authenticity of one incident. Dr.Kibble was taking a moral instruction class for us. A number of students opted for this class, not because they wanted to be morally educated, but because it was easy to slip away from Dr.Kibble's classes. Every time he turned to the board, a few would escape through the door in the rear of the classroom. Dr.Kibble never noticed all this. But one day, hearing some noise he turned, and saw two students "escaping". And then to everyone's surprise, he gave chase. Considering his age he was very fast indeed. It was a long chase, and finally he collared the two escapees near Heber Hall. When he hauled them back to the classroom, there was no one there. All the others had escaped too.

Tube light with a torch

Dr.Kibble had designed a sundial that was the pride of MCC. If any visitors came, they were first taken to the sundial before going on to other landmarks. The story goes that a professor of Chemistry (let us call him M), coming back late one night, flashed his torch at the sundial to see the time. This professor might have made a few mistakes in English now and then. But the campus anecdotes made him out to be some kind of a moron.

He was going in an electric train to the city from Tambaram when another train going the opposite way crossed it noisily. Prof.M said with relief: "That was a narrow escape." A female student who had not submitted her record notebook gave some lame excuse for it. "You are lying with me," Prof.M told her. "Yesterday you were lying with me. Today also you are lying with me. You are always lying with me."

One day Prof.M was in Mount Road when he met Mrs.Kibble who had come in her car. Though she was very old (She was older than Dr.Kibble) she drove the car with great expertise. "Are you going back to Tambaram, M?" she asked. "I could drop you back." And so M got a ride back . She dropped him off at the entrance to St.Thomas's Hall. "Thank you" said Prof.M. "Oh, don't mention it" said Mrs.Kibble. Whereupon M looked about furtively and said, "All right. I won't mention it to anyone."

Well, I suppose this must have been mentioned a million times since then


Blogger Prabhakar said...

I keep reading it again and again and I can't help smiling everytime.

6:36 am  

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