Category Archives: Books etc

April 10, 2015

Today is the 100th day of my blog, so I wanted to make a special gift today, or at least give something to someone special in relation to this blog project. The gift itself was small, simple and not terribly valuable in monetary terms – a book mark, one that I made from a beautiful card that my sister Roshan gave me. I couldn’t stand wasting the paper so I decided to preserve it in a form that would be useful and I could enjoy each time I dipped into my book. The recipient, however, was someone whose impact on my life was far from small. When we lived in Trois Rivieres, Quebec, I learned a lot of French, but it was my two outstanding English teachers who left the biggest mark on my life as a teenager. One was Keith (of course I called him Mr. Doyle back then), a tall, handsome, energetic man from Prince Edward Island who was as passionate about English grammar and punctuation as he was about sports and about life in general. Though my father is an expert in the English language, it was in Keith’s classes where I first met the dangling modifier, the split infinitive and the gerund.


Of all my teachers, it was probably Keith who first seemed to see something special in me at a time when I felt very uncool, very unattractive and unspecial. I was a disaster on the basketball team, the boy I liked had no interest in me, and my best friend May and I were not really interested in the things that the cool kids were. Thanks in great part to Keith’s enthusiasm as a teacher and his encouragement over the few years that we attended Three Rivers High School, I began to believe in my academic ability, and eventually in myself more generally. (My other English teacher, Jim, who I will surely write about another day, also played a huge role in this growth in self-confidence.) By my last year at the school, I was editor of the school year book and president of the student council, and it stopped mattering that I couldn’t play sports or didn’t hang out with the cool kids. One of my fondest memories of my time at the school was just before we left, when May and I, as a way of thanking Keith and Jim for being such wonderful teachers, arranged a picnic lunch with them on the school lawn – something that no doubt looked very strange to the other kids. I will always be glad we thanked them then, and today I am thanking him again – with something small but symbolic – for helping me to believe that I can write something that others might actually want to read.

Incredibly, although well over 30 years have passed since I sat in Keith’s classroom and there have been gaps in our communication, we still remain friends and we email each other every now and again, checking in on each other’s lives and sending each other warm wishes. Normally, I don’t re-read personal emails before I send them, but when I write to him, I make sure to check my grammar and punctuation before I press, “send.” I would hate for him to think I hadn’t been paying attention in class all those years ago…