The Treasure Within, Class 8 English It so Happened Book Lesson 4 Explanation, Summary, Difficult words

 

The Treasure Within Class 8 English It so Happened Book Lesson 4– Detailed explanation of the lesson along with meanings of difficult words. Given here is the complete explanation of the lesson, along with the summary. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson have been solved.

 

Class 8 English (It so Happened Book) Lesson 4 – The Treasure Within

 

The treasure within- Introduction The lesson “The treasure within” is based on a conversation between Ms Bela Raja, editor of Sparsh, a newsletter from the Resource Centre, The Valley School, Bangalore, and Mr Hafeez Contractor, one of India’s leading architects. The conversation makes us realise the importance of being active in extracurricular activities in school and how the time spent in school builds the foundation of one’s career. The treasure within- Summary The conversation between Ms Bela Raja, editor of Sparsh, a newsletter from the Resource Centre, The Valley School, Bangalore, and Mr Hafeez Contractor, one of India’s leading architects begins with Hafeez confessing about having nightmares about appearing for a math examination where he did not know anything. He stopped seeing those nightmares four to five years ago which was quite positive as it happened his psyche got over it. Upon being asked about his earliest memories of school by Ms Bela, Hafeez Contractor revealed that he was a quite a good student in first and second standard but by third standard, he lost interest in studies and got indulged in games, pranks and jokes. He used to copy in his examinations until one day his Principal approached him when he was in the eleventh standard. The words of his Principal influenced him and he did not even step out in the field for that particular year even when he was a very good sportsman, cricket captain and senior champion for a number of years. That particular year, all he did was eat, pray and study. He finally got 50 per cent and earned appreciation from his Principal. Ms Bela asked Hafeez how he felt upon receiving caning from his teachers. Hafeez told her that they would receive caning every week so it did not affect them much. Although, it would hurt badly at that particular moment, but he would forget about it when he would think about playing. He related one such event when he did not want to study so he created a distraction and they ended up playing chor police for an entire hour. Even his books used to stay in brand new condition because he hardly ever opened them. So, his junior would book his books in advance for their following year. When Ms Bela asked him about how he ended up being an architect, Hafeez had a complete story to tell. He wanted to join the Army but the admission letter was torn up by his aunt. Then he thought of joining the police force but his mother advises him to do his graduation instead. So, he joined Jaihind College in Bombay where he chose German (out of the two options; German and French) but his German teacher died, so he took French when he was presented with a choice between either changing his college or the language. His cousin, who was an architect’s wife, used to teach him French in the architect’s office. One fine day, he saw someone drawing a wrong window detail. When he pointed out the inefficiency in the drawing, the architect was left amazed. The architect asked him to draw a few other things like the plan of a house which he easily did. Thus, the architect advised him to leave everything and become an architect. Now, the problem that came was that the college only gave admission in architecture to students having 80-85 percent but Hafeez only had 50 per cent. So, the architect went with Hafeez to his Principal who allowed him to sit in entrances. Hafeez got an A plus in the exam and from there, it was a smooth ride for him. Also once in his childhood, a teacher named Mrs Gupta advised him when she saw his sketches that although he was useless in everything else, his sketches were good. So, he should become an architect. He did not know it back then, but he surely went to see her after becoming one. He owes his skills and talent to all the other activities he did in school. He broke every rule in order to do things that needed to be done. Thus, he thinks that living school life the way he did, made him street smart. Ms Bela felt that it was because the personality and skills were there. According to her, he was able to find expression in a manner he was comfortable with. Talking about the present, he said that he looks at the client’s face, his clothes, the way he talks and pronounces, the way he eats and he would know what his taste would be like. He can relate to people in a way that would be comfortable. Then, he would sketch very spontaneously on a paper on the spot. That paper, he would give to people in the office. He further elaborates that it can either be called instinct or arithmetic but what he does is, combines design, construction, psychology and sociology together and makes a sketch from all that is ‘mathematics’. Thus, a complete circle is completed where he ended up finding his own suitable version of a subject that he disliked. The treasure within- Lesson and Explanation BR: Ms Bela Raja HC: Hafeez Contractor I HC: “I used to have this terrible nightmare. Only now, over the last four to five years, it seems to have disappeared. Nightmare- haunting fear/frightening dream One of India's leading architects, Hafeez Contractor begins by sharing how he used to have these frightening nightmares that have now seemed to have gone away in the past four to five years. BR: What nightmare are you talking about and why do you think it has disappeared now? Ms Bela Raja asks Hafeez to tell her more about the nightmare and the reason behind its disappearance. HC: I used to get continuous nightmares about appearing for a maths examination where I did not know anything! Now the psyche must have gotten over it, I don’t have to think about education and there is absolutely no time to get nightmares. Psyche- mind or mentality On being asked, Hafeez revealed that he used to have bad dreams about giving the maths exam, where he did not know a single thing about it. He feels it has faded away now because his mind must have moved on and made peace with it. He further elaborates that now he does not have to think about education or even studying. Moreover, he is so busy that he does not even have the time to see nightmares. BR: Tell us something about your earliest memories in school. Ms Bela asks Hafeez to talk about his memories of school when it began. HC: In the first and second year I was a good student. After I reached the third standard, I simply lost interest and I never studied. I used to be interested in games, running around, playing jokes and pranks on others. I would copy in class during exam times. I would try to get hold of the examination paper that had been prepared and study it, as I could not remember things that had been taught to me in class. Hafeez tells Bela that he was an obedient and bright student when he was in first and second standard. He talks about how he lost all interest and stopped studying once he got promoted to the third standard. All he used to like was games, running here and there, cracking jokes and playing pranks on others. He told Bela how he would cheat in his exams. He used to try to get his hands on the final question paper and he only studied that much because no matter how much he tried, he could not retain anything that was taught to him in class. However, later, one sentence spoken to me by my Principal changed my life. When I approached my eleventh standard, the Principal called me and said, “Look here, Son, I have been seeing you from day one. You are a good student, but you never studied. I have taken care of you till today. Now, I can no longer take care of you so you do it yourself.” He talked to me for five minutes, “You don’t have your father, your mother has worked so hard to bring you up and paid all your fees all these years but you have only played games. Now you should rise to the occasion and study.” I used to be a very good sportsman. I had been the senior champion for so many years and I also was the cricket captain. I used to play every game, but that year I did not step out onto the field. I would go for prayers and all I would do was eat and study. I normally used to copy and pass, but I realised that once I was in SSC, I could not do that. SSC- Secondary School Certificate Hafeez expresses how a conversation with his Principal transformed his life. It was when he got promoted to eleventh standard, that his Principal summoned him and told him how he had been keeping an eye on Hafeez since the beginning. The Principal said that he could no longer look after him and he will have to do it for himself from that moment onwards. The Principal spoke to Hafeez for about five minutes. He told Hafeez that he had been unfortunate to not have his father with him but his mother had worked really hard to raise him and pay for his fees. And all Hafeez did was play games. The Principal advised him to “rise to the occasion” and concentrate on his studies. Hafeez told Ms Bela that he had been an excellent sportsman. Not only this, he had been the senior champion for a number of years and was also the captain of his cricket team. He revealed how he used to play every game but that particular year, he did not even step out into the field. Instead, he went for prayers and concentrated on studying. All he did was eat and study. Normally, he used to copy and pass his exams, but he realised that once he was in SSC, it was no longer possible. When I got a second class, 50 per cent, in my SSC my Principal said, “Son, consider yourself as having got a distinction!” This is my memory of my school days. I did lots of other things. See, as far as my things are concerned, I can’t remember. I forget things very easily. To remember, I have to see things as a photograph. I read a book and I can remember the matter as a photograph but not through my mind. That is how it works. Distinction- a grade in an examination denoting excellence As far as my things are concerned- perhaps he is referring to matters other than course materials and their details As a result of his hard work, the Contractor got a 50 percent in his SSC. The Principal was delighted and even remarked that Hafeez had earned excellence. Hafeez further tells Ms Bela that he was involved in a lot of other things as well. It was difficult for him to memorise the text in his course material as he would forget them very easily. In order to be able to keep things in his mind, he saw them as photographs. He would read a book and remember it in the form of photographs but not through his mind. That is how it worked for him. BR: When you were in school and you were doing badly, did the teachers pull you up and how did you feel? Pull you up-reprimand or scold someone Ms Bela asks Hafeez if he ever got scolded in school for performing poorly in academics and how did he feel when that happened. HC: I never felt anything on being pulled up. I used to be so interested in playing. I would receive a caning every week. Caning- punishment/ beating Upon being asked, Hafeez told Ms Bela that he had never felt anything on being scolded. All he had on his mind was playing and he was only interested in that even if he received punishments every week. BR: When you knew that you had incurred the wrath of your teacher by not doing your homework or by behaving badly, when you knew you would get a caning, what was the state of your mind? Incurred- become subject to (something unwelcome or unpleasant) as a result of one's own behaviour or actions Wrath- extreme anger Incurred the wrath of your teacher- made your teacher furious Ms Bela further asks Hafeez how he felt or what thoughts used to come to his mind when he was well aware in advance that he had made his teacher angry by not finishing his home assignments or by not conducting himself properly. Basically, she asked him about his state of mind when he knew in advance that he would be scolded or punished. HC: State of mind? Just lift up the hand and they would cane you. It would hurt badly and then I would have to forget about it, because I would want to go and play. He answered that the need to be prepared or the mind’s state did not matter at that time as all they needed to do was raise their hand upon being asked about the delay in homework or being the one responsible for poor behaviour. Only this much was enough and they would punish or scold you. He said that it used to affect him at that particular moment but then he would easily forget about it as he knew he could play later. BR: You never felt insecure or threatened? Insecure- anxious (here) Ms Bela asks him if he ever felt vulnerable or anxious when he knew he was about to be scolded or punished. HC: I was just interested in playing and nothing else. I was most interested in funny pranks. One day, I did not want to study, so I created a distraction. For one whole hour we played ‘chor police’. Every Saturday we were allowed to go into town to see a movie. So what I would do was have no lunch and collect money from 40 – 50 students, and run and buy the tickets. On my way back, I would eat to my heart’s content. I used to be the leader of a gang. We would have gang fights and plan strategies. These things used to interest me more than any academics. Students used to book my textbooks for the following year, because they were almost brand new. I probably opened them one day before exams. Distraction- something amusing and pleasurable Chor police- children’s game in which one child (thief) hides and others (policemen) try to find him/her Eat to my heart’s content- eat as much as I wanted; eat my fill Strategies- methods of winning fights Academics: academic or educational matters (books, discussions, debates, etc.) Hafeez told her that he never paid that much attention to the fact that he was about to face consequences for his actions as his mind was more engrossed in funny pranks. He was just interested in playing. He told how once he was not in the mood to study so he created a diversion and for one complete hour, they played ‘chor police’. He mentioned how they were permitted to watch a movie in town every Saturday, so he would skip his lunch and would take money from 40-50 students to go and buy tickets. He would eat till he was satisfied on his way back. He further mentions about being a leader of his ‘gang’ and how they would have gang fights where they built strategies to win. He was interested in these things way more than academics. Students used to talk to him in advance about taking his books because they were extremely new even at the end of the academic year. He would only use them a day prior to the exams. II BR: How did you get into the field of architecture? Ms Bela asks the Contractor how he ended up being an architect. HC: In the college for architecture, nobody who had got below 80 – 85 per cent was allowed to enter. I had only 50 per cent. I wanted to join the Army. I got my admission letter but my aunt tore it up. Then I decided that I wanted to join the police force. My mother said, “Don’t join the police force, just do your graduation!” So I went to Jaihind College in Bombay. There, I was to either take French or German. Though I had studied French for seven years, I did not know seven words of French. So I took German. Then my German teacher died. The college told me that I could change the college or take French. Now, who would give me admission in another college? I had got admission to Jaihind by influence. So I thought, ‘Okay, I will take French’ and I started learning French again. I learnt it from my cousin. She was an architect’s wife. I was going to an architect’s office to learn French! Hafeez Contractor told Ms Bela that those who got less than 80-85 per cent were not allowed to pursue architecture in college and he only had 50 per cent. He revealed how he wanted to serve in the Army and he even got his admission letter but his aunt tore it apart. He then decided to join the police force but his mother advised him to pursue his graduation. So, he took admission in Jaihind College in Bombay (now known as Mumbai). In college, he got a choice between studying French or German. He said that although he had learned French for seven years, he didn't know even seven words of the language. So, he felt it was better to take German. After a while, his German teacher passed away. So, he was proposed by the college to either take French or change his college. He changed his language to French because he would not get admission in any other college. In this college also, he got admission through contacts. So, he began learning French again, this time from his cousin who was married to an architect. Thus, he used to go to an architect’s office to study French. BR: Was it then that you decided you wanted to do architecture? Ms Bela asks him if it was when he began going to an architect’s office, that he decided he wanted to pursue architecture.

 

The treasure within- Introduction

 

The lesson “The treasure within” is based on a conversation between Ms Bela Raja, editor of Sparsh, a newsletter from the Resource Centre, The Valley School, Bangalore, and Mr Hafeez Contractor, one of India’s leading architects. The conversation makes us realise the importance of being active in extracurricular activities in school and how the time spent in school builds the foundation of one’s career.

 

The treasure within- Summary

 

The conversation between Ms Bela Raja, editor of Sparsh, a newsletter from the Resource Centre, The Valley School, Bangalore, and Mr Hafeez Contractor, one of India’s leading architects begins with Hafeez confessing about having nightmares about appearing for a math examination where he did not know anything. He stopped seeing those nightmares four to five years ago which was quite positive as it happened his psyche got over it. Upon being asked about his earliest memories of school by Ms Bela,  Hafeez Contractor revealed that he was a quite a good student in first and second standard but by third standard, he lost interest in studies and got indulged in games, pranks and jokes. He used to copy in his examinations until one day his Principal approached him when he was in the eleventh standard. The words of his Principal influenced him and he did not even step out in the field for that particular year even when he was a very good sportsman, cricket captain and senior champion for a number of years. That particular year, all he did was eat, pray and study. He finally got 50 per cent and earned appreciation from his Principal.

Ms Bela asked Hafeez how he felt upon receiving caning from his teachers. Hafeez told her that they would receive caning every week so it did not affect them much. Although, it would hurt badly at that particular moment, but he would forget about it when he would think about playing.  He related one such event when he did not want to study so he created a distraction and they ended up playing chor police for an entire hour. Even his books used to stay in brand new condition because he hardly ever opened them. So, his junior would book his books in advance for their following year.

When Ms Bela asked him about how he ended up being an architect, Hafeez had a complete story to tell. He wanted to join the Army but the admission letter was torn up by his aunt. Then he thought of joining the police force but his mother advises him to do his graduation instead. So, he joined Jaihind College in Bombay where he chose German (out of the two options; German and French) but his German teacher died, so he took French when he was presented with a choice between either changing his college or the language. His cousin, who was an architect’s wife, used to teach him French in the architect’s office. One fine day, he saw someone drawing a wrong window detail. When he pointed out the inefficiency in the drawing, the architect was left amazed. The architect asked him to draw a few other things like the plan of a house which he easily did. Thus, the architect advised him to leave everything and become an architect. 

Now, the problem that came was that the college only gave admission in architecture to students having 80-85 percent but Hafeez only had 50 per cent. So, the architect went with Hafeez to his Principal who allowed him to sit in entrances. Hafeez got an A plus in the exam and from there, it was a smooth ride for him.

Also once in his childhood, a teacher named Mrs Gupta advised him when she saw his sketches that although he was useless in everything else, his sketches were good. So, he should become an architect. He did not know it back then, but he surely went to see her after becoming one.

He owes his skills and talent to all the other activities he did in school. He broke every rule in order to do things that needed to be done. Thus, he thinks that living school life the way he did, made him street smart. Ms Bela felt that it was because the personality and skills were there. According to her, he was able to find expression in a manner he was comfortable with. 

Talking about the present, he said that he looks at the client’s face, his clothes, the way he talks and pronounces, the way he eats and he would know what his taste would be like. He  can relate to people in a way that would be comfortable. Then, he would sketch very spontaneously on a paper on the spot. That paper, he would give to people in the office. He further elaborates that it can either be called instinct or arithmetic but what he does is, combines design, construction, psychology and sociology together and makes a sketch from all that is ‘mathematics’. Thus, a complete circle is completed where he ended up finding his own suitable version of a subject that he disliked.

 

The treasure within- Lesson and Explanation

 

BR: Ms Bela Raja

HC: Hafeez Contractor

 

I

HC: “I used to have this terrible nightmare. Only now, over the last four to five years, it seems to have disappeared. 

Nightmare-  haunting fear/frightening dream

One of India’s leading architects, Hafeez Contractor begins by sharing how he used to have these frightening nightmares that have now seemed to have gone away in the past four to five years.

 

BR: What nightmare are you talking about and why do you think it has disappeared now? 

Ms Bela Raja asks Hafeez to tell her more about the nightmare and the reason behind its disappearance.

 

HC: I used to get continuous nightmares about appearing for a maths examination where I did not know anything! Now the psyche must have gotten over it, I don’t have to think about education and there is absolutely no time to get nightmares. 

Psyche- mind or mentality

On being asked, Hafeez revealed that he used to have bad dreams about giving the maths exam, where he did not know a single thing about it. He feels it has faded away now because his mind must have moved on and made peace with it. He further elaborates that now he does not have to think about education or even studying. Moreover, he is so busy that he does not even have the time to see nightmares. 

 

BR: Tell us something about your earliest memories in school. 

Ms Bela asks Hafeez to talk about his memories of school when it began.

 

HC: In the first and second year I was a good student. After I reached the third standard, I simply lost interest and I never studied. 

I used to be interested in games, running around, playing jokes and pranks on others. I would copy in class during exam times. I would try to get hold of the examination paper that had been prepared and study it, as I could not remember things that had been taught to me in class.

Hafeez tells Bela that he was an obedient and bright student when he was in first and second standard. He talks about how he lost all interest and stopped studying once he got promoted to the third standard. All he used to like was games, running here and there, cracking jokes and playing pranks on others. He told Bela how he would cheat in his exams. He used to try to get his hands on the final question paper and he only studied that much because no matter how much he tried, he could not retain anything that was taught to him in class. 

 

However, later, one sentence spoken to me by my Principal changed my life. 

When I approached my eleventh standard, the Principal called me and said, “Look here, Son, I have been seeing you from day one. You are a good student, but you never studied. I have taken care of you till today. Now, I can no longer take care of you so you do it yourself.” 

He talked to me for five minutes, “You don’t have your father, your mother has worked so hard to bring you up and paid all your fees all these years but you have only played games. Now you should rise to the occasion and study.” 

I used to be a very good sportsman. I had been the senior champion for so many years and I also was the cricket captain. I used to play every game, but that year I did not step out onto the field. 

I would go for prayers and all I would do was eat and study. I normally used to copy and pass, but I realised that once I was in SSC, I could not do that.

SSC- Secondary School Certificate

Hafeez expresses how a conversation with his Principal transformed his life. It was when he got promoted to eleventh standard, that his Principal summoned him and told him how he had been keeping an eye on Hafeez since the beginning. The Principal said that he could no longer look after him and he will have to do it for himself from that moment onwards. 

The Principal spoke to Hafeez for about five minutes. He told Hafeez that he had been unfortunate to not have his father with him but his mother had worked really hard to raise him and pay for his fees. And all Hafeez did was play games. The Principal advised him to “rise to the occasion” and concentrate on his studies.

Hafeez told Ms Bela that he had been an excellent sportsman. Not only this, he had been the senior champion for a number of years and was also the captain of his cricket team. He revealed how he used to play every game but that particular year, he did not even step out into the field. Instead, he went for prayers and concentrated on studying. All he did was eat and study. Normally, he used to copy and pass his exams, but he realised that once he was in SSC, it was no longer possible.

 When I got a second class, 50 per cent, in my SSC my Principal said, “Son, consider yourself as having got a distinction!” This is my memory of my school days. 

I did lots of other things. See, as far as my things are concerned, I can’t remember. I forget things very easily. To remember, I have to see things as a photograph. I read a book and I can remember the matter as a photograph but not through my mind. That is how it works. 

Distinction- a grade in an examination denoting excellence

As far as my things are concerned- perhaps he is referring to matters other than course materials and their details

As a result of his hard work, the Contractor got a 50 percent in his SSC. The Principal was delighted and even remarked that Hafeez had earned excellence. 

Hafeez further tells Ms Bela that he was involved in a lot of other things as well. It was difficult for him to memorise the text in his course material as he would forget them very easily. In order to be able to keep things in his mind, he saw them as photographs. He would read a book and remember it in the form of photographs but not through his mind. That is how it worked for him. 

BR: When you were in school and you were doing badly, did the teachers pull you up and how did you feel? 

Pull you up-reprimand or scold someone

Ms Bela asks Hafeez if he ever got scolded in school for performing poorly in academics and how did he feel when that happened.

HC: I never felt anything on being pulled up. I used to be so interested in playing. I would receive a caning every week. 

Caning- punishment/ beating

Upon being asked, Hafeez told Ms Bela that he had never felt anything on being scolded. All he had on his mind was playing and he was only interested in that even if he received punishments every  week.

BR: When you knew that you had incurred the wrath of your teacher by not doing your homework or by behaving badly, when you knew you would get a caning, what was the state of your mind? 

Incurred- become subject to (something unwelcome or unpleasant) as a result of one’s own behaviour or actions 

Wrath- extreme anger

Incurred the wrath of your teacher- made your teacher furious

Ms Bela further asks Hafeez how he felt or what thoughts used to come to his mind when he was well aware in advance that he had made his teacher angry by not finishing his home assignments or by not conducting himself properly. Basically, she asked him about his state of mind when he knew in advance that he would be scolded or punished.

HC: State of mind? Just lift up the hand and they would cane you. It would hurt badly and then I would have to forget about it, because I would want to go and play. 

He answered that the need to be prepared or the mind’s state did not matter at that time as all they needed to do was raise their hand upon being asked about the delay in homework or being the one responsible for poor behaviour. Only this much was enough and they would punish or scold you. He said that it used to affect him at that particular moment but then he would easily forget about it as he knew he could play later.

BR: You never felt insecure or threatened?

Insecure- anxious (here)

Ms Bela asks him if he ever felt vulnerable or anxious when he knew he was about to be scolded or punished.

HC: I was just interested in playing and nothing else. I was most interested in funny pranks. One day, I did not want to study, so I created a distraction. For one whole hour we played ‘chor police’. Every Saturday we were allowed to go into town to see a movie. So what I would do was have no lunch and collect money from 40 – 50 students, and run and buy the tickets. On my way back, I would eat to my heart’s content. I used to be the leader of a gang. We would have gang fights and plan strategies. These things used to interest me more than any academics. 

Students used to book my textbooks for the following year, because they were almost brand new. I probably opened them one day before exams.

Distraction- something amusing and pleasurable 

Chor police- children’s game in which one child (thief) hides and others (policemen) try to find him/her Eat to my heart’s content- eat as much as I wanted; eat my fill 

Strategies- methods of winning fights 

Academics: academic or educational matters (books, discussions, debates, etc.)

Hafeez told her that he never paid that much attention to the fact that he was about to face consequences for his actions as his mind was more engrossed in funny pranks. He was just interested in playing. He told how once he was not in the mood to study so he created a diversion and for one complete hour, they played ‘chor police’. 

He mentioned how they were permitted to watch a movie in town every Saturday, so he would skip his lunch and would take money from 40-50 students to go and buy tickets. He would eat till he was satisfied on his way back. 

He further mentions about being a leader of his ‘gang’ and how they would have gang fights where they built strategies to win. He was interested in these things way more than academics.

Students used to talk to him in advance about taking his books because they were extremely new even at the end of the academic year. He would only use them a day prior to the exams.

 

II

BR: How did you get into the field of architecture? 

Ms Bela asks the Contractor how he ended up being an architect.

HC: In the college for architecture, nobody who had got below 80 – 85 per cent was allowed to enter. I had only 50 per cent. 

I wanted to join the Army. I got my admission letter but my aunt tore it up. Then I decided that I wanted to join the police force. 

My mother said, “Don’t join the police force, just do your graduation!” So I went to Jaihind College in Bombay. 

There, I was to either take French or German. Though I had studied French for seven years, I did not know seven words of French. So I took German. Then my German teacher died. The college told me that I could change the college or take French. Now, who would give me admission in another college? I had got admission to Jaihind by influence. 

So I thought, ‘Okay, I will take French’ and I started learning French again. I learnt it from my cousin. She was an architect’s wife. 

I was going to an architect’s office to learn French! 

Hafeez Contractor told Ms Bela that those who got less than 80-85 per cent were not allowed to pursue architecture in college and he only had 50 per cent. He revealed how he wanted to serve in the Army and he even got his admission letter but his aunt tore it apart. He then decided to join the police force but his mother advised him to pursue his graduation. So, he took admission in Jaihind College in Bombay (now known as Mumbai). In college, he got a choice between studying French or German. He said that although he had learned French for seven years, he didn’t know even seven words of the language. So, he felt it was better to take German. After a while, his German teacher passed away. So, he was proposed by the college to either take French or change his college. He changed his language to French because he would not get admission in any other college. In this college also, he got admission through contacts. 

So, he began learning French again, this time from his cousin who was married to an architect. Thus, he used to go to an architect’s office to study French.  

BR: Was it then that you decided you wanted to do architecture? 

Ms Bela asks him if it was when he began going to an architect’s office, that he decided he wanted to pursue architecture.

architect’s office

HC: Actually, it all happened quite by chance. 

In the architect’s office, I saw somebody drawing a window detail. A window detail is a very advanced drawing. 

I told him that his drawing was wrong — that the window he had drawn would not open. 

He then had a bet with me and later he found that indeed, his drawing was wrong! My cousin’s husband was surprised. He asked me to draw a few specific things, which I immediately did. He asked me to design a house and I designed a house. 

After that, he told me to drop everything and join architecture. We went to meet the Principal of the college. 

The Principal warned me, “I will allow you to take part in the entrance exams, but if you do not do well I will not allow you to join.” 

Hafeez told Ms Bela that it was all a matter of chance that he ended up doing architecture. He goes on to tell a story about how once, when he was in the architect’s office, he saw someone drawing a window detail, which he specifies, was a very advanced drawing. Hafeez saw it and told the person that his drawing was not right. He added that with this design, the window would not open. So, they bet upon it and later it turned out that Hafeez was right and the window he drew would not open. 

The architect, Hafeez’s  cousin’s husband was amazed by this and he asked Hafeez to pen out a few other sketches which Hafeez easily did. If he asked him to draw a house, he drew a house. The architect was so impressed that he advised him to drop everything immediately and enter the line of architecture. He even went to the Principal of the college with Hafeez. The Principal allowed him to appear for the entrance exams but he warned Hafeez that he will not get admission if he does not perform well in the entrances.

I got an ‘A+’ in the entrance exam and from that day it was a cakewalk. 

I had never made a plan, but I knew how something looked like, from the top. 

I had never known what a section was, but I knew if you cut a plan what it would look like. 

I stood first class first throughout, after that. 

I believe that all this understanding came from what I used to play and do during school. 

I had a friend called Behram Divecha. We used to have competitions between us for designing forts, guns and ammunition. Each of us would design something in an effort to be different.

In school, when I was in the second or third standard, one of my teachers, Mrs Gupta, saw my sketches and told me, “See, you are useless in everything else but your sketches are good. When you grow up you become an architect”. 

I did not know at the time but she was right. Later, after I became an architect, I went back to meet her and tell her.

Cakewalk- smooth ride/something easy to achieve

Ammunition- bullets

Hafez appeared for the entrance exam, bagged an A+ and from that day onwards, it was a smooth ride for him. He never made a plan but he was aware of how things looked like, from above. Similarly, he had never known what a section was, but he knew how a plan would look like if you cut it out. He always stood first in his class.

According to him, his great understanding of the architecture came from how he played and did all other activities in school. He tells Ms Bela about one of his friends named Behram Divecha with whom he used to compete about designing forts, guns and ammunition. Both of them would really put in a lot of effort in order to be different and make their piece stand out. Even in his school, when he was in second or third standard, a teacher named Mrs Gupta told him when she saw his sketches that his work was good. She liked her sketches. She mentioned that she knows he was useless in almost everything else but she advised him to be an architect when he’d grow up. Quite obviously, Hafeez did not know it back then that he was actually going to become an architect. So years later, when he became one, he went to see her and tell her about it.

BR: Why do you think you did not like studies? Was it because you felt you could not cope, could not deal with the curriculum?

Cope- manage/handle/deal with 

Curriculum- (here) school subjects or prescribed courses of study 

Ms Bela asks Hafeez Contractor what according to him was the reason behind his disliking of the studies. She asks him if it was being unable to cope up, or deal with the curriculum that made him dislike studying in school.

HC: I was very bad at languages. Science and geography I could deal with, maths was very bad. I just was not interested. I was studying for the sake of studying. What they taught me today, I would forget after two days. I would not bother because there was no application of mind there, to begin with.

Hafeez tells her that he was hopelessly bad at languages. He could still tolerate science and geography, probably because of the logic and facts but he was very bad at mathematics. He confessed that he was simply not interested. He studied only for the sake of doing it and not because he was interested. He would often forget whatever was taught to him after two days. He says that he didn’t even try because there was almost negligible application of mind and logic in it.

BR: Did you think that what they taught in school was boring or did you feel that once you understood the concept of what was being taught, you lost interest in the rest of the lesson? 

To understand the Contractor’s point of view better, Ms Bela further asks him if he considered whatever that was being taught to him as boring or it was the case where he would lose interest in the lesson once he got hold of the main concept behind what was being taught. 

HC: Living in a boarding school is difficult. We were just living from day to day. Nowadays, there are so many tests. Back then, whenever we had tests we used to just copy. The teacher thought that we had done our work. 

Hafeez tells Ms Bela that life in a boarding school is hard. So, they just lived one day at a time. He says that nowadays, there are so many tests but back then, this was not the case. They rarely had any tests back then and whenever they had one, they would just copy. This would make the teacher think that students had done their work.

BR: There is a contention that giftedness and learning disabilities go hand in hand. Do you think this applies to you? 

Contention- view; belief or opinion

Giftedness- having special abilities

Mrs Bela mentions that it is generally believed that special abilities and learning disabilities come together. She asks Hafeez if he thinks that this is the case with him

HC: Well, take some students from my class. Those who always stood first or second are today doing very ordinary jobs. 

Hafeez mentions some of his fellow classmates who always bagged the first or second position in academics but are now doing very typical and common jobs.

BR: I have come across this situation in so many different places where people tell me that their class toppers are doing very ordinarily today. 

Ms Bela agrees with Hafeez as this is something she has come across in so many different places where people have told her that their class toppers are not doing anything extraordinary now.

HC: In school, I think living our lives there made us street smart. I have learnt more by doing what I did on my own than what academics would have taught me. 

Street smart- smart by doing things independently/ by choice rather than force

According to the Contractor, living life to the fullest, especially in schools, makes people street smart. He himself had learnt more by doing things on his own than what academics would have ever taught him.

BR: That is because the personality and skills were there. You were able to find expression in a manner you were comfortable with and you defied every rule so that nobody would stop you from doing what you needed to do. 

Defied- broke

Ms Bela explains that in doing other activities or while participating in sports, skills are involved and one’s personality gets enhanced. One gets exposure which helps them to find expression in a manner which is comfortable for oneself. Hafeez defied each rule in order to do what he needed to do without letting anybody or anything stop him. 

HC: I was more interested in other things. If, for example, while in class, it started raining outside, I would think of the flowing water and how to build a dam to block it. I would be thinking about the flow of water within the dam and how much of water the dam would be able to hold. That was my interest for the day. 

When students lost a button while playing or fighting, they would come running to me and I would cut a button for them from chalk, using a blade. Discipline in the school was very important and no student could afford to have a button missing. The student would get past dinner with a full neat uniform and after that it did not matter.

Hafeez explains that he was more attracted to other things. For instance, if it was raining outside while he was in class, then he would begin thinking about the flowing water and from there he would think about building a dam to stop it. He would go in depth and think about the flow of water inside the dam and moreover, about the dam’s capacity to hold water. It would become the topic of interest for the day. 

He was so smart that whenever someone lost a button of their shirt while playing or fighting, they would come to him. He would cut a piece of chalk with a blade to make a button for them. Even a thing as buttons were very important because in school, discipline was very important. They had to get past dinner time in proper uniform  because post dinner, it did not matter.

 BR: Coming to the present, how do you decide as to what kind of structure you want to give a client? 

Ms Bela now asks Hafeez about his dealing with clients now. She wants to know how he decides the type of structure for  a particular client, in the present day scenario. 

HC: I look at the client’s face, his clothes, the way he talks and pronounces, the way he eats and I would know what his taste would be like. I can relate to people in a way that would be comfortable. I sketch very spontaneously on a paper on the spot. That paper, I give to my people in the office.

Hafeez shares thatfirst, he analyses his client by looking at their face, noticing their dressing style, the way they talk and pronounce, their taste and style of eating. He says that he can relate to people in a way that is comfortable for both the parties. He is very instantaneous when it comes to sketching the structure. He does it on a paper on the spot which he would then give to the people in his office.

 BR: You do it instinctively? 

Instinctively- naturally (not coming from training or based on reasoning)

Ms Bela confirms if Hafeez wants to say that he works based on his natural instincts.

HC: Call it instinct, call it arithmetic, whatever. Now it comes to me like mathematics. Putting design, construction, psychology and sociology together and making a sketch from all that is ‘mathematics’. 

Arithmetic- the branch of mathematics dealing with the properties and manipulation of numbers

Hafeez Contractor explains that they can call it whatever  they want, whether instinct or arithmetic. He feels that it comes to him like mathematics now. All he does is put design, construction, psychology and sociology together and makes a sketch from everything that is ‘mathematics’.

 Here we almost come to a full circle where Mr Contractor has derived his own interpretation of Mathematics — taking it from a subject he hated to a subject he now loves dealing with!

The phrase ‘almost come to a full circle’ means that Hafeez Contractor disliked mathematics to the extent that he used to get nightmares about it but in the end, he says that he does his work from all that is mathematics. He has derived his own meaning of the subject mathematics and earlier, it was a subject that he disliked so passionately but now, he loves dealing with it.

 

The treasure within- Question and Answers

 

Comprehension Check 

 

1. What did Hafeez Contractor have nightmares about? 

A. Hafeez Contractor used to have continuous nightmares about appearing for a maths examination where he did not know anything.

 

2. What did the Principal say to him, which influenced him deeply? 

It was when he got promoted to eleventh standard, that his Principal summoned him and told him how he had been keeping an eye on Hafeez since beginning. The Principal said that he could no longer look after him and he will have to do it for himself from that moment onwards. 

The Principal spoke to Hafeez for about five minutes. He told Hafeez that he had been unfortunate to not have his father with him but his mother had worked really hard to raise him and pay for his fees. And all Hafeez did was play games. The Principal advised him to “rise to the occasion” and concentrate on his studies. This influenced Hafeez deeply and he began concentrating on his studies.

 

3. “… that year I did not step out onto the field.” What was he busy doing that year?

A. The year when the Principal spoke to Hafeez, his words influenced him so much that he did not even step onto the field despite being a senior champion for consecutive years and the captain of his team. That year, all he did was pray, eat and study. So, when he said, “… that year I did not step out onto the field.”, that particular year, he concentrated only on his studies.

 

4. (i) What “distraction” did Hafeez Contractor create one day? 

A. One day, Hafeez was not in the mood to study, so he created a distraction in his class and they ended up playing ‘chor police’, a children’s game in which one child (thief) hides and others (policemen) try to find him/her for one complete hour.

 

(ii) Would you have liked to participate in the “distraction” had you been with him?

A. Yes, I would have loved to be a part of the “distraction” Hafeez created in his class. Playing chor police for an entire hour with my classmates would have been one of the most memorable memories of my school life. We need to understand that playing and making memories with our friends is as important as our education. So, it is good to have “distractions” like these once in a while because as the Nobel laureate Dr APJ Abdul Kalam said, 

“Sometimes it is better to bunk a class and enjoy with friends because today when I look back, marks never make me laugh, but memories do…” 

 

5. Hafeez Contractor wanted to join the police force. Why didn’t he?

A. Hafeez Contractor wanted to join the police force but he did not because his mother suggested him to do graduation instead. Thus, he took admission in Jaihind College in Bombay.

 

6. In the architect’s office, Hafeez Contractor was advised to drop everything and join architecture. Why?

A. Hafeez used to go to the architect’s office to learn French from his cousin 9who was the architect’s wife).  Once, he saw someone drawing a window detail in the office. Although window detail is a very advanced drawing and Hafeez was not an architect, Hafeez told him that his drawing was wrong — that the window he had drawn would not open. The guy then had a bet with Hafeez and later he found that indeed, his drawing was wrong. Hafeez’s cousin’s husband, the architect, was surprised. He asked Hafeez to draw a few specific things, which he immediately did. The architect asked him to design a house and he designed a house. After that, the architect told him to drop everything and join architecture

 

7. (i) What was Mrs Gupta’s advice to Hafeez Contractor?

A. Mrs Gupta, Hafeez’s teacher in the second or third standard, advised Hafeez Contractor to become an architect when he grew up.

 

(ii) What made her advise him so?

A. Upon seeing some of the sketches made by Hafeez in school, Mrs Gupta told him that although he was useless at almost everything else, his sketches were good. Thus, she advised him to become an architect.

 

8. How did he help fellow students who had lost a button?

A. To help fellow students when they lost a button, Hafeez Contractor would make a button by cutting a piece of chalk using a blade.

 

9. Which rules did he break as a school boy?

A. Hafeez broke a lot of rules that stopped him from doing what he needed to do. He would play all the time and play pranks on others. He would create a distraction if he did not want to study. He would copy during all his tests and teachers would think that he did his work. He was more interested in other things which made him street smart. 

 

10. (i) what is Hafeez Contractor’s definition of mathematics?

A. According to Hafeez Contractor, the definition of mathematics is “Putting design, construction, psychology and sociology together and making a sketch from all that is ‘mathematics’”. 

 

(ii) How would you want to define mathematics? Do you like the subject?

A. Mathematics is a very important subject that builds the foundation of our intelligence. Basic mathematics teaches us to do calculations and helps us in making budgets. Advanced mathematics, however, teaches us in finding the solutions behind complex issues and is used in advancing technology. While basic mathematics is important and necessary, not everyone likes studying advanced mathematics as it can be a little complicated. 

Yes, I like the subject as it has added to my set of skills and made me smart.