Rahul Dravid's remarkable ability to
compartmentalise his quest for excellence in two
different spheres was, perhaps, a talent he
inherited from his mother Pushpa. She handled two
post graduation courses simultaneously during her
student days and later pursued a doctorate in art
and conducted numerous exhibitions even as she
taught in an engineering college. It was a trait
that Rahul picked up very early.
Indeed Rahul's academic excellence has seldom been
talked or written about even as his cricketing
acumen has received widespread attention. Father
Eugene Lobo, his principal at St Joseph's College
of Commerce, currently with St. Aloysius in
Mangalore, spoke enthusiastically of Rahul's stay
in the college.
"He was intellectually very good. All the teachers
liked him a lot. Although we were a co-educational
college with 30 to 35 per cent girls in each class, Rahul never allowed that to sidetrack him from his
pursuit of academic or cricketing excellence,''
said Fr. Lobo.
A role model
an interesting aside to this came from Fazal
Khaleel: "we were studying in II PUC
(pre-university college, equivalent of 12th
standard) and had a class party at a friend's
place. The whole class was coming to the party. We
had also invited some other girls. It was the first
party we were having with lots of girls around.
Naturally we were all excited. Rahul badly wanted
to come to the party. Now these were day parties,
during class hours (when parents thought the
students were at class rather than partying). But
Rahul also had a BUCC (KSCA senior division league
club team) game that day. He wanted to be at the
party and we all tried to get him to skip the
match. However on the morning of the party he
called me up and said he was going to play the
match instead. He was so torn by the urge to be at
the party and his love for cricket that he said he
would catch up with me in the evening and wring all
the details of the party out of me.''
That year, Rahul stood second in the whole college
in accountancy and third overall.
"Rahul's great gift was to absorb everything he
read. He had time to read just once and he had to
retain that in his mind,' said Fr. Walter Anrade
who returned as SJCC principal. Although Fr Andrade
was not the principal during the five years Rahul
was in SJCC, he was the principal before and after
Rahul's stint in college. Anrade was very well
liked by sportsmen in college, particularly
cricketers as he went out of the way to prop them
up. ``I knew Rahul well. His parents had spoken to
me before zeroing in on Commerce as his degree. I
was very proud of him and spoke of him as a role
model for the other students. He was very good in
cricket, excellent in studies and very well
behaved. What more can any teacher ask?'' queried
Rahul helped the institution in many ways. When his
Hindi teacher Amanula needed money for medical
expenses, Rahul willingly contributed his mite.
"I never had to worry about Rahul. If he was not
playing a cricket match he would be in class,
rather than whiling away the time like others on
Brigade road or in the cycle stand,'' said Fr Lobo.
Rahul, who was a Ranji Trophy player by the age of
17 and constantly on tour to play the various age
group tournaments or Ranji Trophy or Duleep Trophy
or India junior cricket, when not involved in
inter-collegiate or club tournaments, was seldom
able to attend classes. But he was not one to take
his studies lightly. He, therefore, depended on his
teachers to give him some personal attention after
Two of his teachers, Mrs Lily David and Mrs Vaz
helped him a lot. The former, in particular, was a
pillar of strength as Rahul and his dad openly
acknowledge. TN Narasimha Rao, the economics
lecturer was another who backed him.
Rahul used to go to Lily David's house in a bid to
catch up with studies. She coached him and then set
the agenda for his studies. She and Vaz always
claimed that it was such a pleasure to teach Rahul
as his grasping powers were above average.
GK Govinda Rao, the English lecturer was another
multi-faceted personality who dabbled in theatre,
films and union activities. He was very proud that
Rahul did very well in life. ``He had no airs. He
was very polite, a gentleman to the core. In this
he was unlike many other cricketers who put on airs
after playing for just the college team. I cannot
remember Rahul ever misusing his position or his
achievements in college. He was very respectful,
very cultured and very decent in a very serious
way. Although he did not have the time to involve
himself in the Students Union or in other extra
curricular activities I can very well say that the
Josephites are all very proud about the way he has
carried himself to this day. His conduct has
brought credit to himself, his family, institution
and country,'' he asserted.
The amount of goodwill and praise that were heaped
on Rahul by his school and college teachers and
class mates was simply staggering. Nobody had a
single jarring word to say about him. It is
unlikely that any other sportsman in India has
achieved as much as he has and still conducted
himself in such an exemplary manner.
"I made it a point to keep the TV room open even
during class hours wherever Rahul was batting in
Tests or One-Day Internationals simply because I
feel that the values he stands for will be a
shining example for young students. I know he will
never be satisfied with mediocrity in anything he
does. If the students want to watch him play and in
the process imbibe even a small percentage of his
values I know my role of an educator will be
complete,'' stressed Fr Anrade.
Considering that the Josephites have had scores of
international sportsmen in every discipline and
have taken a lot of pride in their achievers in
other fields too, the pedestal on which they have
put Rahul is a pretty lofty one.