Tuesday, March 11, 2008


For some reason, I remembered Geometry yesterday. I realized with a start that it had been one of my favourite subjects in school. I wonder why I liked it so much. Perhaps it was because it was "different", a break from the monotony. You had to draw, and I liked drawing. Perhaps it was because we got to use a lovely, shiny Geometry Box, and the fascinating instruments inside. Or perhaps, the subject simply appealed to me - who knows?

I remember my first (and only!) Geometry box so well. It was an orange Omega pencil box, with a blurred cherubic kid smiling on it. Inside, sitting prettily in an orangish-red frame, were the shiny divider (the purpose of which is still vague to me), and the compass (the instrument most misused). Below these were the two set squares, a protractor, and a small 6 inch ruler. I loved to take all the instruments out, and arrange them neatly by the side of my book while I drew.

Geometry for me goes nearly synonymously with our first Geometry teacher. She was extremely particular about everything - what we had in our boxes, and how we drew.

Other than the little pencil that we affixed to the compass, there had to be two extra little pencils in your box, all sharpened to perfection. There had to be three long pencils at least, which protruted high above your hand when you clasped it. Again, they had to be very sharp. Other than this, you had to have a sharpener (or mender, as we called it back then) handy, for emergencies. Clutch pencils (or pen pencils, as we called them), though enjoying a lot of snob value otherwise, were explicitly taboo in Geometry class.

Our drawings had to be perfect. A double line, or a vague arc, or worse, a point that was too huge, would bring out the volcano in the teacher. "Look at this point!" She would roar. "It is as big as my bindi!" She would then proceed to cross out the entire diagram with the dreaded red pen. She has also been known to throw particularly untidy books right across the classroom, and throw unsharpened pencils directly into the dustbin.

We would draw our diagrams with painful care, keeping our erasers handy. (We called erasers "rubbers" then. Oh well.) "Scent" rubbers smelt good and looked pretty, but left dark grey marks when erased with them. So it had to be good old Natraj or Camlin erasers. After finishing the diagram, we would take it to the teacher, and stand before her, trembling. In other classes, we could look forward to "Good" or "Neat" remarks. But in Geometry class, all we hoped for was just the teacher's initials. But more often then not, we came back holding pages full of deep red gashes, and stinging rebukes ringing in our ears.

But I must say this for us, towards the end of the year, most of us escaped without red marks in our books - we were finally perfect.

And I must say this for the teacher, her training lasted for years. Many, many years later, during Engineering Graphics, or Electrical Drawing, if I happened to make a smudged line, or a double point, a voice would boom from the deep recesses of my mind.. ".... AS BIG AS MY BINDI.... " and I would hurriedly fish out my eraser and make amends.

Even when Geometry graduated to theorems and postulates, with more theory and less drawing, more lenient teachers and less red marks, it still remained a favourite subject for me.

Did you like Geometry?


Anu said...

My most faavourite. So much so that I'm hurrying to comment first. The first year that I was taught Geometry was also the year I first discovered the pleasures of teaching. If a friend did not understand the reason why this angle was equal to that at the faraway corner of the diagram, how I enjoyed explaining! Later, the pleasure of proving that the tangent to this circle was perpendicular to that chord in the next circle and such ... Oh so juicy!

Usha said...

I too looked forward to starting geometry simply for the pleasure of handling those lovely looking instruments in the box.
Geometry was the only part of mathematics I could relate too - unfortunately we started algebra around the same time and that was a nightmare!

Shyam said...

Not in the least. :) I used my compass to make concentric circles and other designs... but never really did anything more useful in class. I dont think I liked anything but English, History and Geography, really.

Anonymous said...

Well, we used to play dart with the divider, we used to open it 180 degrees and throw at wooden boards in the class, which had the bulls eye drawn. It was the most used instrument in our class.


Dhanya said...

Oh yeh it was my favorite subject too and same for engineering graphics :) If someone tells me they hate geometry I used to wonder why or rather how is it possible at all.. :P

Anonymous said...

Wow, Omega,Nataraj,Camlin! This post was a walk down the memory lane for me!

Good old memories of using the silver colored sharpner,semi-transparent scented eraser,the blue colored Apsara pencil,Brill fountain pen ink passed across me.

Out of curiosity I just looked around on the web and my god those products still exist and are much better now!

Finally to answer your question, yes Geometry was my favorite subject too and that helped me,as it did to many others who have already commented, in Engineering Graphics another one of my favorite subject while in college.

Nice post.


Bit Hawk said...

Nice post! Brought back so many memories of pen pencils, menderru and rubberru. Remember those half pink - half blue erasers that would erase whats written using pens? :)

Geometry was my favorite too. In fact, I loved everything in math excluding the statistics. Dividers and set squares were the least used and I used to feel that those stupid instruments occupied space for nothing.

And there can never ever be a geometry teacher who will not try to measure the length or calculate the area of the "point" drawn by students :D

Abhinava S.N said...

Aye... I remember her... She really made me love geometry after the year was over... the year with her was, ofcourse, ouch.
I managed to meet "her baap" in engineering though... imagine a male version.. add a touch of sadism and a demonic laugh... you get the picture :)

Anonymous said...

hey shru,

Nice post .. Geometry was one of my most favouite subjects too second only to physics. Oh .. i remember those omega geometry boxes and the scent rubbers .. I would have them in my box just to smell them often in the class while i was bored.. yes they were no good for rubbing .. oh those school days.


Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

Of course I loved Geometry ... as you have pointed out, perhaps it was the shining box that aroused such enthusiam. I had Camel geometry box which I used all through my school years.
Incidentally I was trying to prove Pythagorus theorem last night and failed miserably ...

Kadalabal said...

ALAS!!!!geometry was my not favorite at all I was poor at drawing and this part was very boring for me. other than that in general I liked maths and loved it. yes you took me back to days of mender, rubber, scale( we used it for ruler). If your geometry teacher was my teacher then my whole book would have been with lot of X marks and would have flied out of class many times along with not neately sharpened pencils. thank god we were not having such teacher our maths teacher who laid foundation was also angry and never did it when it comes to explain if things are not ok he will call and tell me if you draw like this u will not get full marks so u need to improve and that helped me a lot in improving to a larged extent and I can not forget him even today. pen pencils were not there at our time.
shruthi as usual you have done a great job and narration with all minute details simply bowled me over. I have no words to express my appreciation for this. I only wish many many more such writings bloosom from your pen and we get opportunity to read and enjoy and cherish our old memories.
great work keep going


Anil P said...

You won't believe it, I've still retained my Geometry box, that prized possession which used to be adorned with stickers et al :)

LAK said...

Oooh, yes, Geometry was my favourite too---all those instruments, yes---I remember we were soundly reprimanded for calling the protractor a "D"!As for having the same geom box all thru school---nowadays I need to buy two every year for my son---Haven't been able to inculcate that love for geom the subject, or the box, in the kids! And I loved the proofs, too--it never felt like studies, just puzzles.Sigh!Were we nerds? I don't think so!

vidya said...

Sigh! I never understood geometry till I taught myself to teach my son.I had a terrible teacher who wouldn't open her lips while she spoke and I would sit staring at her poker face. Perhaps she saw anemosity in my eyes , and I am quite sure she didn't like me.
The result? A month before the 10th exams, my dear sister asked me a few questions and she was aghast."You dont know anything Viddi!" she said and took up the onus of teaching me -not Geometry but tips on 'how to pass'. As my comprehension was good, she told me to write 'to prove', 'data', and a rough diagram and leave the proof for the examiner to tackle. I passed my SSLC with a decent 58%in optional Maths and a62% in General Maths and bId goodbye to the subject.

Veena Shivanna said...

Shruthi ,

That was a nice post. You just made my day :-)
LOL on your geometry teacher, Do you remember those theorems?

The pythogers theorem, the hypotenus???During out times, we used to get spare compass and protracter so I got the complete geometry box(camel - yellow and orange colored) only when I came to high school..Initially I had tough time to mug those theorems and later one of my teachers explained the whole logic.. Sigh, it was such a relief.. I loved to do those arcs..

Once I got promoted to PU, trigonometry was my favourite too.. sin, cosine, tan.. Analytical geometry was never my cup of tea. My maths teacher in college was so lovely, he made the subject sound so easy

Those school times and the lovely learning time. Thanks for refreshing the memories.


Anonymous said...

Nice post , but maths ow

a combo of a stupid brain +lack of aptitude+ non chalanant elders+uncool teaching = hate-maths-club-member


Anonymous said...

oops , that was nonchalant spelled erroneously as non chalanant

Anonymous said...

Ahh Geometry...As much as I disliked free hand drawings (a.k.a Biology), I loved these things 'coz I could use a scale and a pencil...I always used a Nataraja Box but in sixth standard or so, my father got me a Omega one...Every year I though I should use it next year as next year's Geometry would be tougher and would need a good box...I finished my studies and yet box was unopened....I chose to walk with Nataraja all along :)


Hari_Aphale said...

What a lovely post! Takes me back to my school days. I loved Geometry too, mainly because of the shiny Geometry box that we were allowed carry in our school bags. I loved the compass, from the Geometry box, most of all; since drawing a circle with the compass was the most challenging aspect to me without disturbing the rhythm of the fingers and the thumb; we had to use both our hands, sometimes. It was great fun, indeed.

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