I think its time I write this due credit to my Sanskrit Teacher.
Today I am a good speaker. Can talk in front of 1000 , no problem. Speak often at conferences. Did you know I was not always like that. I think I owe it to two people. First is my dad who himself is a speaker. So that may be a gene effect. But I really owe it K T Sundarasampatkumarachar, my 8th standard Sanskrit teacher.
In 8 th grade, when I studied at National High School, Bangalore, ( which by the way is a fantastic school), we used to have these inter school debates in science. I was chosen from my school to participate against many competing schools in Bangalore. There were other kids too from my school.
Competition day came, and I went to Vidya Vartaka, another sought out school at that time. I remember even now my name being called, and I got this weird feeling in my tummy. Went of the stage and all I said was good morning all or something to that effect. After that i had a complete brain freeze.
I could not take the tension of 200 kids and teachers from other schools watching at me. After a few minutes, I was told to come back as I could not speak a word. I think I did say thanks in the end. Not sure how I felt that day, But i am assuming I must have not felt that great.
What i remember clearly is the next day. KTS who was a Sanskrit pundit and a very strict teacher ( my class teacher) had heard about this fiasco. The entire class would freeze at this stern look. I remember him calling me that day at the steps and asking me to come and meet him.
The conversation with him did not go that well. I remember him shouting at me for what I had done. I had actually done a lot of preparation for this competition. I remember even now telling him that I will never again be able to speak on a stage as get scared looking at other teachers and kids faces.
Next day when I came to school, I was in for a surprise. I was told there was a special presentation and this was by me on the same topic that i had failed to deliver. KTS had asked me to go do well. He also gave a tip , look at someone you are comfortable with.
I did not know what he had done that day. He had invited our principal, all teachers and made them in the first row. He also had invited all 10th and 9th grade kids whom I would rather not look in the face.
I remember KTS patting me on the back ( He had this pundit ji brahmin cut and would also be in a dhoti and kurta) and saying look at someone I am comfortable at. There I went on the stage and was more scared than ever as all my teachers were sitting in the first few rows staring at me.
I said hello and starting looking for my familiar face. All I saw that day was the smiling but stern face of KT Sundarasampath Kumarachar sitting somewhere in the back.
I don’t remember how I started and finished in style in 20 minutes . I remember his nod and smile even now and lots of clapping in the end.
Thank you sir, Without what you did that day, I would not be what I am today. I got selected as a keynote speaker recently at a conference again and I really want to thank the man, who made it all possible.
Teachers are really great. They do things with no return favors just like Parents I guess. KTS is no more today, but i am sure he will read or hear what I am feeling today
To you sir, Many Thanks.