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by Michelle N '15

Teacher of the Month: Mr. Rajiv Mahajan

What’s the craziest excuse you’ve ever heard for missing homework?
Someone said their bag was once stolen. It’s always the deal with the subway basically. They say something like, “I left my bag on the subway” or “someone took my bag and it had all my homework in it” that’s usually as creative as they get. Usually they just kind of look down at the ground, at their shoes.

What grade do you prefer teaching?
I like them all, actually. I’m really happy with the second year french students that I have, and I’m very happy with my fourth year  students. The problem is actually when they become sophomores, they become sort of jaded. Juniors, they change, and by 12th grade they realize it was too late and they should’ve wised up a lot earlier. So that’s the only thing I don’t like. Especially when they’re past that Sophomore age and they say, I can’t learn anymore and I won’t learn anymore and whatever. And they think they know everything at that age. I was the same way at that age too. And then I realized I didn’t know anything.

What do you like/dislike most about yourself?
I’ll just start with dislike; I’m not really a positive person. I wish I were better organized. I would like to be taller, I’m quite small, so that would be nice. I don’t like the fact that I’m not as good at sports as I’d like to be. I like that I’m a good cook, a very good cook! I play guitar, I make my own songs. I have a lot of interests including natural history, I’m a big dinosaur fan. I like to explore, collect fossils. I’m good at pottery.

What’s your favorite dish?
A last meal would be seared foie gras on a pomegranate and wild berry reduction. That is awesome. I know, it’s one of life’s guilty pleasures. Once you eat that you don’t really care how much Donald or Daffy ate; that’s how good it is.

What are you most scared of and why?
Those huge flying cockroaches, like those big water bugs that can fly? I was typing an email in bed, and the lights were really dim and one of them ran right across my laptop. I was screaming like an eleven year old schoolgirl! It was right in the bedroom too, I don’t know where it came from either. I think a window was open or something like that. It was flying around, and it was pretty scary. It was after midnight.

What’s your favorite season?
SPRING! Because the fashion is so awesome. I like wearing light, pastel colors under a dark jacket. I just can’t wait. I have this really cool jacket that I can’t wear it in the wintertime but I can wear it during Spring. I have this awesome scarf that goes with it. That, and fall. But winter? Coming from Chicago, it gets twenty bellow zero. That’s in Fahrenheit. And in the summer it’s very hot. So I like the in between.

Have you ever run away from home?
Yeah, I was gone for about fifteen minutes. I was at the park saying ‘Oh, I hate my parents’ but then I came home because I got hungry and realized dinner would be up soon.

Is there a specific thing that makes you happy or angry immediately?
Yes, students who don’t follow instructions and grading gets me very angry. Also, students who speak English in class. Traveling and having dinner with my wife are things that make me happy.

Have you ever gone on an adventure?
Yes, I hitchhiked once across the Belgium-Luxembourg border. I ended up in some forest and crossed through and took a train. I was trying to get from Luxembourg from Belgium when I was a student. I took a train, then at the last stop I got off and hitchhiked. Then I just said, “let me off here” and I crossed through a forest and just ended up in the city. I didn’t know where I was going sleep or anything, but I got a room in a youth hostel. It was all in French, no English involved. It was amazing. The other time was hitchhiking to Ostend Beach, which is in the North part of Belgium, close to the English border. That was an adventure and a half, I went up with friends at this beach house who had all gotten there separately.

What class have you ever failed?
There was only one class that I’ve ever failed: French. The teacher said that I would never, ever, ever be able to learn French. I was her worst student. That was tenth grade, then I quit French. Then I went to Belgium and I stayed with a host family for eight weeks, and  promised myself I would only speak French. I went skateboarding, had girlfriends, joined a rock band. I did just about everything. Then I came back and started taking it at University and got straight A’s. In my third year I studied abroad in Brussels. I lived on my own and played guitar on the street for money, taking exams and studying with all these University students- no English, except for one class I was obligated to take in my program with the other Americans. Then I worked two and half years at a French company in Chicago, and quit because I got accepted to NYU at the Institute of French Studies. It was through an old classmate that I actually found out about this place. I actually trained as a History teacher and got a double certification.

Where do you imagine yourself in ten years?
I really don’t know. I don’t like to think about the future because once you get there you just become disappointed. I just like to think about where I am now. You should always be looking up. Hopefully I’ll have kids.

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