Prof. Mangesh Borse: The Difference!

Oct 05, 2011 | Posted by admin in Faculty Talk   9 Comments »

Prof. Mohan Desai was reading Chetan Bhagat’s “Two States” and after the initial few pages he got stuck at one particular paragraph. There was an oblique reference to a professor (the story was referring to an IIM A professor). The protagonist, who is a student at the IIM A, calls all professors frustrated. “They are bound to be” went on the explanation – “what do you expect when everyday you are dealing with people half your age, who will be earning twice of your salary in the next couple of years”.

It was a reality check for Prof Desai. He took great pride in his association with MBA students and he had never ever felt “frustrated”. It was too strong a word for a career of choice. After schooling at Shishuvan, he had studied Economics from Xavier’s and had worked very hard on his field work led Ph.D in Working Capital Management. He worked meticulously on his research papers and was looking forward to a great future in academics.

But he thought of giving a fair hearing to the allegation. At a basic level, the point being made was right. Typically, professors don’t drive BMWs nor do they earn a fortune. One has never seen any professor featuring in the Fortune lists of prodigal rich. It is a rather predictable and a boring lifestyle. A typical Indian father would never really aspire to see his daughter marry a professor working in India (Even if the 10th Pay Commission was the norm). Desai considered himself fortunate to have a great wife and a friend in Asmita, who was a Vice President at Citibank.

Desai’s thoughts continued to gallop like Hussain’s horses that jumped out of the canvas. Poor salaries (especially in the early days), lack of enough successful, smart contemporaries and almost zero invitations to parties had resulted in the male professor community being labeled “losers in career”. Surprisingly, everybody loved and looked up to a lady teacher/professor/trainer.

India’s most loved author Chetan Bhagat’s protagonist was not really wrong…

Desai was feeling low and depressed. His power points suddenly looked jaded. He had neither the power – nor the point. He needed to overcome the deep anxiety and the feeling of erosion of his net worth. He wanted to get out of the staff room and go out for a small walk.

He was passing by the Gymkhana ground across when he saw a yogi sitting on the famous ‘katta ‘(boundary wall) of the playground. He was fair, had long flowing hair, was immaculately dressed in glowing saffron robes and exuded power. As he moved towards the yogi, someone whispered in his ears – Baba Karmanand. Desai never believed any form of human worship and had no intentions to change that belief.

“Hi”, the yogi said. “Whassup?”

The choice of words surprised Desai. Baba Karmanand had a great eye contact and was wearing a mild musk perfume. Generally, Desai never liked light eyes because it reminded him of a certain someone who had dumped him during his Xavier’s days. But Baba looked even more powerful because of them. Desai also noticed a shining new Blackberry Bold close by.

Baba repeated the question with a gesture.

“I am good” was the lame whisper.

Desai neither meant it nor did he express it.

“It’s not that bad Professor. Commmmon!”

His invitation was real. Desai stopped. He did not want to look like one of those many ‘velas’ who sit on ‘kattas’ to spend an hour in a vegetative state.  Desai looked around for a decent chair. Of course there was one. A broken stool was the perfect seat for a one-on-one on life!

He sat facing the baba, the freshly watered cricket pitches and the gymkhana pavilions.

Before he could ask the question, Baba started his answer – “Life is all about success. But success is not all about money. I do believe in living a good life. But I don’t think you need too much money for that. In our new socio-economic classification, SEC A1 ends with any graduate with 6 consumer durables. We really need to break the hypothesis that power of success comes from the fuel of money”.

Desai had heard that piece of trap before. Advice is always easy to give and tough to emulate. He stared at the yogi’s Blackberry again. The yogi got the point. “Bold 3; I love Blackberry, what a machine!  It cost me twenty seven thousand rupees. I chose it over a laptop. Life is all about making choices. If your priorities are right, choices fall in place” said Karmanand. Desai smiled. If it was Facebook, he would have clicked on the ‘Like’ button. For the next ten minutes they just sat quietly, searching for words. One wanted to know why everyone called him a loser. The other wanted everyone to call him a hero. Silence in any form is soothing but in a conversation, silence can be disturbing.

Karmanand sipped from his mineral water bottle and said – “You are a Guru. It means – heavy, weighted, and serious.  Heavy of knowledge, wisdom and wit”. Baba paused and after a pause smiled and said “If you ever read the Bhagwad Gita, you will end up with a superiority complex. Every teacher will. A guru-shishya relationship is supposed to be the most ideal one as per Gita”

At this point one of the Guru’s assistants whispered something in his ear. Suddenly, as if it was planned, the yogi got up and told Desai to follow him. They went to a huge air-conditioned van parked nearby. It looked like one of those used by film stars during their shoots. The van had a sitting area for four people and an observation deck for another two. The observation area was meant to be for learning the behavior of the people in the sitting area. The observation deck was separated from the seating area by a one way mirror and hence the person in the sitting area was not aware of the observers.

“Just sit here, relax and have some coffee. I am waiting for someone who is scheduled to meet me here now. I will be back with you in fifteen minutes. Should I get you some Cappuccino or Latte”? Somehow the coffee shop culture had failed to evolve to Desai’s coffee taste. Coffee to him was always filter coffee. Baba sensed the dilemma and said – “no issues. You will get your filter coffee – from Mani’s”. In a while, a young volunteer helped Desai with a nice steaming filter coffee.

The coffee was good and real. It changed Desai’s mood a bit and he suddenly felt energized. Just then Vaibhav Shastri entered the sitting area with his father. The Professor was surprised to see him come there for counseling. Vaibhav was the perfect example of how an MBA student should not be. He never looked interested, was a poor reader, seldom participated in class discussions and nobody gave him a chance to get a great placement. He was restless and kept fiddling with his Blackberry and kept checking for non-existent messages.

Suddenly, the Baba entered the sitting area. The microphones in the sitting area were picking up even the silence of the room perfectly. The father cleared his throat and started nervously – “This is my only son, Vaibhav. Baba – I am worried about his future. He never…” Baba stopped his impending laundry list with a hand gesture and looked at Vaibhav. With a smile which even Vaibhav could not resist mirroring. He asked, “How are you today Vaibhav”? “I am good” was the reply. He then proceeded to ask Vaibhav about his life, friends, food and football. Baba was completely updated on football. He knew the difference between Man U and Man City, knew the latest gossip about the managers and knew the Champions Cup scores of last night. Vaibhav loosened up and was conversing freely. Baba then started his counseling. In the middle of that discourse came an interesting question.

“Tell me 3 people who have made the most difference to you in your life, to make you what you are”

Vaibhav thought for a good one minute. Then he looked up and replied “ 1) My mom, 2) My Dad and 3) Prof Desai.”

Prof Desai sank in his chair with disbelief. “Vaibhav? What have I done for him? Just last evening I had fired this boy in my class for his casual approach to life”. Desai had told him to get serious in life and start a turnaround. He had dared him to take an oath on fire that he will take responsibility of his life.

Desai’s thoughts were interrupted by Vaibhav’s father’s voice. “Baba – just see what he has done to himself? Will this mark ever go?”He lifted Vaibhav’s right hand.

Desai missed a heartbeat. Vaibhav’s right palm was heavily bandaged. One could still see the burn mark.

The fire was not very far from the belly.

India’s most loved author Chetan Bhagat’s protagonist was not really right…

9 Responses to “Prof. Mangesh Borse: The Difference!”

  1. Mihir Kaulgi says:

    Well written and true.. A prof encourages a student to succeed. Have rarely come across a successful person who doesn’t value atleast one professor of his!

  2. Rohit Bhargava says:

    Moving, intimidating and helpful, a rare insight to the concept of perspective and power of actions/words in this case…clearly you can never underestimate your actions as exemplified here and surely whatever you do and preach, does impact someone around in some way. Very well written.

  3. Snigdha says:

    True sir..The fire is not very far from the belly…but sometimes it just needs the correct push to burn brightly in the heart…a direction only our teachers can give us!!! Indeed teachers have,at least for me , take a long hard look at my life and where do i want to go….and many times we achieve, what we thought we never could,simply because we could not dissapoint the staunch faith that a teacher has placed in us!!!

  4. Yashodhara Katkar says:


    What a wonderful story ! I could almost see Prof Desai leaving the institute ,walking along the Katta and meeting the Guru.A real life experience …Keep it up,Prof Borse.

  5. Maha says:

    Very well said. Touches your heart. It is important to make a difference to the world and that is not necessarily linked with money.

  6. Akansha says:

    Funny, deep and meaningful. Truly captures the current scenario. High time the Authorities realize the importance of the teaching community and the great impact it has on young minds.
    Thanks for the insight.

  7. Priscilla says:

    Saved, I really like your blog! :)

  8. Anandita says:

    So well written! So true!

  9. Lots of beneficial in a row. I give rise to bookmarked your place.

Leave a Reply to Yashodhara Katkar

Copyright © 2011. All Rights Reserved. Designed by Singapore SEO SEO Blog  SEO Web Design  Mind Movies