September 05, 2010

On Mir Publishing house

Back when I was schooling in Chennai, books from MIR publishers were the rage..they'd dominate book fairs at our schools and at such dos I'd usually return home with bagful of goodiees from the house of MIR.

Of course my introduction to MIR happened much earlier with the magazine Misha(Are they not from MIR?..can't be sure but I think so!) and of course, an awesome book I'd read as a kid call "When Daddy was a little boy"

But this post to share my gratitude to two books in particular:

The first called " Barankin's Fantasy World", a rather large sized hard bound tome gifted to me by my Mama (who is a big shot Gyn-obs doc at Chidambaram) when we used to stay in Adyar.The exact timeframe eludes me, but this was definitely before I was in my 4th standard. Written by Valeri Medvedev the book is actually two novels individually named "Be a man Barankin" and a part two by the name "The super-adventures of a Cosmonaut".This book shaped my attitude towards learning. A review here is meaningless , go find the book and read it to understand its awesomeness!!

The second one is another hard bound (though significantly smaller in size) tome called "Tales about Metals" by S Venetsky.Again given to me around the same time by Mama. Now, this particular book, is no book for a fourth standard (or lower) kid,but, even as a youngster, this book was an awesome read with amazing trivia and snapshots of how various metals were discovered, profiles of their discoverers, how metals are mined, refined, their interesting properties and uses. Did it shape my ultimate desire to become a metallurgist?..I think so.

The next time I re-read this book was when I was in junior college, in Eleventh standard , the book was given to me by my Chemistry teacher Padmini Iyer maam (I'd lost my copy by this time and was thrilled to see it again) along with a lot of other reading material,when she handpicked a team of three of us to represent Hindu Junior College at the prestigious national level Prof. Brahm Prakash memorial Metallurgy and Materials Quiz. This quiz has local quizzes organised at the IITs/ other prestigious engineering colleges [The Pune venue has been COEP for a few years (and maybe still remains?) and I remember helping my Quizzing and College super senior Niranjan Pedanekar organise the very first Pune leg of this Quiz at the TRDDC when I was later studying Metallurgy at COEP] by the local chapters of the Indian Institute of Metals with the top two winners at each of the local quizzes going to the national finals usually held at a prestigious Research Institution. In my year, we'd won the Chennai chapter quiz which was organised at IIT Madras ( and this was also the first time I seriously considered that it would be fun to study at an IIT) and had gone to the National finals at the awesome IGCAR Kalpakkam Nuclear Plant (where we did reasonably well but didn't win the national title..though we did rub shoulders with the absolute who's who of the Indian Materials science establishment and made it to local televison to boot,and from here on in I wanted to be nothing but a materials scientist -DO NOT ask me why i'm selling food products in Africa today)

These books are a must read.

Again when I was prepping for IIT (not really as hard as I should have but still!), MIR books by Irodov & a host of other Russian authors were irreplaceable in my preparation.

When in Engineering my introduction to Superconducting Materials and their physics, Quantum Mechanics & quantum chemistry, Applied Mechanics, Plasma physics etc. were all largely again due to MIR books. While at COEP we had a huge number of book fairs at the IE convention hall across from our hostel gate with again a fair representation of scientific titles from the MIR stable. I had amassed a huge trunk full of the most excellent and treasured books over four years ( a trunk that unfortunately was stolen before I quit college by one of our hostel peons , the b!@%#$d must have sold them as scrap to make a few bucks and entertain his friends with booze on a weekend - one of the greatest losses i've suffered in my life)

Anyways, on teacher's day, my thanks to MIR publishing house for providing me with a huge number of my most influential teachers