Learning from Legends

Small note on Professor C Raghavachari - How we lived in Stanley hostel - by Col S.Krishnan

Dr.C.Raghavachari was Prof & HOD Dept of Surgery in Stanley during my undergrad days there. He was a bundle of talents—Great surgeon, greater teacher, sports lover (avid tennis player) and a thespian of repute in Tamil plays. He acted as Mahendrapallavan in Kalki’s much acclaimed “Parthipan Kanavu”. He not just loved teaching, he was passionate about teaching. When promotion to DEAN Stanley was offered, (which incidentally was a stepping stone DMS (Director of Medical Services -dream of every doctor in state service) of erstwhile Madras Presidency) Prof CR declined it because post of Dean meant forfeiture of teaching commitments, his surgical ward, & operation facility! His revision lectures on surgery to final(?) year students were so much sought after that students from MMC and CMC Vellore thronged. Lecture usually lasted about THREE hours. He invariably said in conclusion “Those in last row may please wake up your friends “.He will enact a scene of a candidate taking oral exam in final year. He will introduce the characters thus “ When I stand on left side I am the examiner & when I move to the right side I am the student”. He will then move to the right side & act as a student: Student (ST) enters, fidgety & nervous & looking at the examiners laughing away at some joke thinks “How insensitive these oldies can be! My pitiable sight evokes laughter”. ST, unsure of whether to say “Good morning Sir or do Namasthe or just bow” Finally he does all three. Prof CR (CR) moves to the left “Hallo Young man Relax. Only simple questions, Okay” ST thinks “Why simple questions? Have I fared poorly in theory?” CR “Pick up one instrument on the table” ST thinks again “Why can’t he pick up & give? When I choose and fail to answer any question, he will then say that this was your own choice and still --!” ST fumbles & picks up one, keeps intently examining it without speaking. CR “Very good, very good what is it?” ST “ Catheter Sir” CR “ Correct but answer is not complete”. ST thinks “What more does he want?” CR helps “There are two genders, isn’t it?” ST “ Yes Yes sir It is a (loudly) male catheter Sir” CR “Excellent but feel the catheter & tell me the complete answer” ST ( thinks)“ Examiner had decided to fail me. Otherwise why keep on bullying me” Coexaminer pitches in “ Is it rubber in your hand?” ST “ No Sir, Metal” CR “ Your complete answer should have been—Metallic urinary catheter for male—” After this “drama” every exam going student will remember how to answer. Endless number of such anecdotes we were fortunate & privileged to have a teacher whose aim was that student should understand & learn.