YM Joghee – A Master

2002. My sister’s wedding date got finalized. I went with her to invite teachers from our school (Mani Higher Secondary School). It was a moment of pride to know that our teachers – those who had still not retired, could remember both of us. We already knew that the one teacher, who I desperately wanted to invite,  had retired 13 years before.  I had not met him for over 5 years. I was hoping that someone would be able to tell us about his whereabouts. We did find out.

He was dead, a few months before.

How could he? He had always told us that he would live till 90. He would’ve been only 71 then.

YM Joghee. What a man he was, for those of us who cared to know him. The celebrations around Srinivasa Ramanujan’s 125th birth anniversary have brought back memories of him. I am reminded of the small poster of Ramanujan that Joghee master had gifted to me and which is still stuck onto the inner drawers of our steel bureau at my parent’s place.

I can’t think of Math and gifts, without thinking of Joghee master. He had a unique approach to teaching Maths. Something akin to Ramanujan’s. He never bothered about the text-book steps to arrive at a solution. He always encouraged us to find shorter ways of finding a solution. He exposed us to Vedic Mathematics, when it was not yet a fad. We were all made into mini-Shakuntalas, doing complex square-roots and multiplications within our minds in a few seconds.

But he didn’t stop at Maths, though he was only our Maths teacher. He taught English to those of us, who were interested. He sharpened our grammar. Any errors that you may notice in my writing now, would be those I have learnt later on. He introduced us to English literature. While, it was my father who ignited the passion for Tamil literature, it was with Joghee master that I took baby steps into the classics of English literature.

I couldn’t get enough of Joghee master at school. I started visiting him at his single room in a small lodge on a busy market road. He was 56 when he first starting teaching me Maths for my 6th Standard class. He was never married. He didn’t want marriage to interfere with his passion for teaching. That also explained why he was always having lunch at Hotel Vani Vilas, near our school.

For the three years that he taught me (till he retired – in any case, he was officially eligible to teach only till 8th Standard), almost all Sunday mornings were spent with him at his hotel room.  He used to talk to me about books that he read and give me math puzzles to solve. It was always a friendly chat. I felt that he treated me like his equal. He rarely taught me during those Sunday meetings.  I always returned home with a gift, usually, a book  with a distinct YM Joghee signature and seal on the first page. The gifts accumulated and grew into a library. Charles Dickens, Walter Scott, RL Stevenson, Alexander Dumas, Jules Verne, HG Wells, Conan Doyle are all authors introduced to me by him.  Those were three glorious years, when Pip and Ivan Hoe were my heroes; when I was traveling around the world in a day, travelled to the center of the earth and under the seas.  I even had the Complete Works of Shakespeare, which I finished reading in my early teens over a single summer vacation. (Now, I think, I did it too early and missed the nuances, and must revisit all those wonderful works of Shakespeare).

After a while, I had company for visiting Joghee master – my sister.  Along with books, we now started getting ice-creams too.  Arun ice-creams! What a luxury, they were at that time, for us.

Our school had an excellent library. Most of the English classics  there too, had the YM Joghee seal and signature.

After I moved to 9th Standard, I had a tough time adapting to the style of the new Maths teacher. Competent though, he was the exact opposite of Joghee master. He was a stickler to the text book and expected us to list down all the steps. No more shouting out the answer in a jiffy.  My appetite for Maths went on a slow decline, after that. I am still reasonably good with numbers, thanks to the strong foundation, but am not, relatively, as sharp as I was, for my age then.

I still continued to meet Joghee master. He moved to a distant place (10kms!) , close to a railway track.  The number of trips started dwindling –  partly due to the distance, partly due to other weekend commitments (I had become a busy inter-school debater!) and partly because I started feeling that I was outgrowing my favourite teacher. I was now grown up enough to develop my own literary tastes, and discover authors on my own. But I always knew, I was standing on his shoulders.

For college, I moved to Chennai. The visits to Joghee master gradually came to a stop. Then I lost track of him. And then, I realized we had lost him.

I did a Google search, before writing this blog. I couldn’t find any entry on YM Joghee. If this is the first entry about him on the internet, I am happy that I am doing it. But he deserves better.


12 Responses to YM Joghee – A Master

  1. Anonymous says:

    Came to your blog when I was searching for Saraswati Mahal library. Loved to read this post… Such teachers, who inspire are rare…. and I am glad to read about one such hero!

    • Kannan says:

      Anonymous – Thanks for your comment. Good to know that Joghee master can be appreciated by even those who never knew him.

  2. Balakrishnan CR says:

    I spent only one year under his tutorship when I moved to Mani High, and it was just limited to school. In fact, only once I accompanied you to his room on a weekend. Looking back, he left a lasting impression on me – though I didn’t realize it at that time. I owe him whatever skill I have with numbers and exposure to English literature. He was the one who encouraged me to speak more – in any language, he said – to get out of my stammer. Felt really nice to read about him, Kannan. I never went back to see him after school, because I didn’t fully realize his impact on me. How I wish I could rewind all these years that have passed and go back to thank him properly. He is, as you rightly put, a Master and not just a teacher.

    • Kannan says:

      Bala – I remember your grand entry into our 8th Standard. But the mild stammer – I’ve almost forgotten, which means you have done quite well to overcome it.
      True, even one year of Joghee master can make quite an impact. I wish, we had more like him.

  3. Swaminathan says:


    I have very vivid memories of Joghee master. he was our class teacher from 6th to 8th. I’ve been googling him for quite sometime as well. Reall sad to know that he ‘s no more.
    I too remember him saying that he would live for more than 90 years.
    Always used to come in whites!
    Nostalgic ….in a sombre way

    Thanks for writing about Joghee master.

    Swaminathan (passed out from class XII in 1990)

  4. p.gokulakrishnan says:



    first of all we are lucky to be students of Manis & especially

    to be under the tutelage of staffs like him. He taught us English &

    the habit of reading books. am happy to be a part of His English

    Literary club.

    if am right we used to have it on Wednesday last 2 periods.

    The fisherman song about Napoleon he taught us his still

    fresh in mind,

    “Boney was a warrior way i yah

    boney was a warrior john france wah” like that it goes……….

    he might have left us but am sure he will be living in the numerous

    books he has donated to many people.

    Kannan its really a nice initiative from your end……

    gokulakrishnan (10-D in 1990-91)

  5. Mano says:

    Kannan, its always a pleasure to read your blog, this one is more interesting. It reminded me of people who inspired me in many ways, and I started googling now to know their whereabouts, at least to say “Thank you” (the least I can do) in making me what I am today. Thanks for posting one more nice article.

  6. Mohanraj Cp says:

    We were students of Joghee Sir in the eary 60s. Always dressed in white and a stickler for rules. He used to stay in rooms in 100 ft road then. There used to be an icecream shop downstairs , I think.So sad to hear of his passing away. Reminds me of Mr Chips! RIP.

    • Kannan says:

      Thank you for your comment. Good to know that even in early 60s, he was the same Joghee master who I knew in late 80s.

  7. A.Ramani says:

    Im A.Ramani, who passed out of MHS in 1973.

    Your words about Jyogee Master is very much appreciated. Some more qualities inculcated by him are
    -be prompt and do not delay your duties (hv seen this working at various stages in life)
    -speak the truth and be bold enough to speak the truth
    -disciplined habits – as mentioned by several ppl
    -i still remeber the systematic approach in his teaching and practice
    -I hv never seen him in any other outfit other than the full sleeved white shirt and the white trousers. Still he made us remember him for the neatness in wearing such simple dersses…..

    A great teacher indeed. I happened to read ur blog and I thought I should mention a few sords about him.


    • Kannan says:

      Mr.Ramani – Thank you. I am glad to see that the memory of Joghee Master remains so fresh with so many of my seniors.

  8. Ramesh says:

    Kanna, nice to read about our Joghee master.
    Joghee master has molded me more than anyone in my life. While I started reading Tamil novels at a very early age, he introduced me to English classics. He led me to Dickens, Dumas and above all Shakespeare. He had a special liking for Bharathiar as well. I visited only a few times after he retired and I still blame myself for not keeping in touch. Have so many books from him in my boxes. His no nonsense attitude and standing up against authorities ( they respected him for that even if they did not like it) are somethings which everyone knew in the school.


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