Inspiration

The Classroom of Life

Parvathy Jayakrishnan
The Classroom of Life

An excellent education is something we think about and prepare to give our children as soon as they are born, sometimes even before they are born! We want them to go to the best schools in the city, and study in premier institutions so that they are not denied the opportunity to expand their knowledge, skills, values and beliefs.

Education, however, is not something that is merely acquired by going to the finest schools and scoring good grades. There are a number of other factors that give you an opportunity to learn and expand your interests. For instance, your life experiences can help you hone your skills too. Some are lucky enough to choose and pursue their interests whereas some others are forced to learn from the lemons life gives them.

Here’s looking at some of those inspiring individuals who have made tough decisions and taken rough roads to reach great heights, those amazing individuals who have been ‘educated’ the hard way.

Nana Patekar

For Vishwanath ‘Nana’ Patekar, the journey to becoming an actor was certainly an uphill climb, on a terrain filled with thorns and bushes. He has now been in the film industry for more than 40 years with National and Filmfare awards to his credit but his humble beginnings have made him the actor and the person he is today.

Coming from a small village called Murud Janjira, near Alibaug, he loved theatre right from his school days. His father was a businessman and the family lost it all when he was just 13 years old. He was forced to work then and would traverse eight kilometres on foot, painting film posters to earn Rs.35 a month and a meal a day. He believes that the hunger and humiliation he faced at that age taught him so much that he did not have to go to acting school. The responsibility of his family lay on his shoulders and that is what made him stronger and determined to fight hard in life.

He came into movies because of actress Smita Patil and he did incredibly well. He is known for his roles in PARINDA, ANGAAR and KRANTIVEER, to name a few. Recognition came in the form of the Padma Shri in 2013 for his dedication in the field of films and arts.

Nana upholds sound values and refuses to budge when it comes to breaking them. He rejected a role in the film PURUSH, although he had played the same role in the Marathi play because he was worried that the audience would clap at his entry in a rape scene.

Shunning the glitzy lifestyle which he can well afford, he lives simply and has not altered his needs. He still lives in the 750 sq. ft. house that he first bought and passionately works for struggling farmers in Maharashtra, via the NAAM Foundation set up by him.

Steve Jobs

The late Steve Jobs, widely recognised as the man behind the microcomputer revolution, who along with his partner Steve Wozniak, changed the face of technology in the world with the brand Apple. Jobs was abandoned by his biological parents only to be adopted by Paul, a mechanic, and Clara Jobs, an accountant. The family moved from San Francisco to Silicon Valley when he was five after Paul got a transfer and this helped Steve Jobs to be surrounded by engineers. Growing up in such a neighbourhood indeed helped him develop his interest in electronics. His father set up his first workbench with tools for him so that he could improve his skills.

Jobs also learned a lot from Heathkits and Larry Lang, the man who made them. Heathkits are electronic kits that came with instructions and pieces that were colour-coded.

He also had a teacher in fourth grade, who motivated him to study and push harder knowing that he was intelligent. He believed that a person who incites your curiosity is more important than any machine that tried to do the same. When he was 13 years old, Jobs got an opportunity to intern with Hewlett Packard. He was very thankful for his time growing up and believed that his childhood had a strong role in what he chose to do later in life. Later, he dropped out of Reed College to figure out what he wanted to do.  

At Apple, the glue that bound together the team was the drive and the dream to make products that were going to change the world. The average age in the company was mid to late twenties and not many had families, so they worked like maniacs to build something unique.

He was ousted from his own company in 1985 but he was never embarrassed to talk about his failures. He always believed that new ideas come up only from failures and, true to that he founded NeXT, a computer platform development company that specialised in state-of-the-art computers for higher-education and business markets. In addition, Jobs helped to initiate the development of the visual effects industry and the company Pixar produced the first fully computer-animated film, Toy Story with the help Job’s financial support.

Apple merged with NeXT in 1997 and Jobs returned as the CEO of Apple and revived it from bankruptcy. He also worked with chief designer Jonathan Ive to create iMac, iTunes and iTunes Store, Apple Store, iPod, iPhone, App Store, and the iPad, which are to date some of the best-selling gadgets in the market.

Destiny was not kind to Jobs as he was diagnosed with a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour in 2003 and he passed away in October 2011 at the age of 56. He is known to have worked till the day he died, giving to the world electronics and innovations that would stay on for many more years.

Mary Kom

The story of Chungneijang Mery Kom Hmangte or Mary Kom is filled with some extra punches, which makes it worth recounting to young girls like a fairy tale. Hailing from the Kom tribe in Manipur, she set a new standard in amateur boxing without ever competing in professional boxing.

From her childhood days, Mary was good at athletics, volleyball and football. She would race her friends back home or run around in the fields. Her parents were farm labourers and she believes her growing years helped toughen her. A high school drop-out, her interest in boxing wasn’t acceptable to her father, a wrestler in his younger days, who was worried that she wouldn't be able to find a groom if her face was hurt playing the sport. Manipuri Dingko Singh’s gold medal in boxing at the 1998 Asian Games is what inspired her to move from athletics to boxing.

Kom took a short break from boxing training post marriage and she returned to the sport after giving birth to twins. Her husband Karung Onkholer Kom was fully supportive of her ambitions and she started training again. In 2010, Kom won the gold medal at the Asian Women's Boxing Championship in Kazakhstan, and at the International Boxing Association (amateur) AIBA Women's World Boxing Championship in Barbados, her fifth consecutive gold at the championship. She competed in Barbados in the 48 kg weight category, after AIBA had stopped using the 46 kg class. In the 2010 Asian Games, she competed in the 51 kg class - the lowest in the contest - and won a bronze medal. In 2011, she won gold in the 48 kg class at the Asian Women's Cup in China.

London Olympics 2012 was her next target and she was accompanied there by her mother and her husband. Her coach Charles Atkinson could not join her as he did not possess an AIBA 3 star certification. She still did her best and won the bronze medal for our country. She continues to train and hopes to win gold at the next Olympics.

A R Rahman

Alla Rakha Rahman, born A S Dileep Kumar, has revolutionised Indian film music composing a number of hit songs in different genres that have been remade in different languages. When it comes to making music, he is simply genius and there is no denying that.

Rahman’s father was an arranger for composers in Madras. Composers would write tunes and he would arrange the music for them. Rahman assisted his father on the keyboard, but his father passed away when he was just nine years old. His mother ran the house for five years by renting out the musical instruments that they owned. After that, his mother was advised to sell the instruments and live on the interest but she refused saying that her son would need them. Sure enough, his mother identified her son’s talent and urged him to drop out from XI grade as she was sure that music was the line for him. Rahman was upset to leave school and he even thought that he would earn some money and get back to school. But destiny had different plans for him. His first job of working with composer Ramesh Naidu, as his second keyboard player, is what helped him buy his own instruments, which then became his future.

He mastered the keyboard, piano, synthesiser, harmonium and guitar, developing an added fondness for the synthesiser because it combined music and technology.

In 1992, director Mani Ratnam engaged him to compose the score and soundtrack for his film, Roja and there was no looking back after that. The songs from Roja are still a favourite of people from all generations.

Rahman has awards pouring in from everywhere in his kitty. He has received a Kalaimamani from the Government of Tamil Nadu for excellence in the field of music, musical-achievement awards from the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and a Padma Shri from the Government of India. In 2009, he won the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music and two Academy Awards (Best Original Score and Best Original Song, the latter shared with Gulzar) at the 81st Academy Awards for his background score for Slumdog Millionaire. He continues to thrill crowds with his musical concerts and talent.

This article is a republication of a story originally published in the Anniversary (August 2017) issue of ScooNews magazine. Subscribe to ScooNews Magazine today to have more such stories delivered to your desk every month.

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