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Interview with an Academic: Exam Special with Naresh Sharma

Naresh Sharma

By Alistair Rooms, BA History & Politics

To show the wealth of SOAS academics, Ally Rooms has decided to interview various teachers with a set of simple questions. Hopefully we will learn more about SOAS academics and gain some pearls of wisdom.

Naresh Sharma is a Senior Lector in Urdu and Hindi, working at the Department of Languages and Cultures of South Asia. He was born in Mbarara,, Uganda. Having studied at SOAS Naresh returned and began teaching here in 2008.

1. What is your first memory?

Nursery school in Kisii, Kenya.

2. Which living person do you most abhor? And Why?

My older brother – he really knows how to wind me up.

3. Which living human do you most admire? And Why?

My older brother – he’s a cool guy and is very supportive.

4. What angers you?

Cyclists jumping the lights at pedestrian crossings.

5. When were you happiest?

I generally have a positive outlook. This week I was most happiest when my Urdu students did excellent end of term presentations!

6. What stops you sleeping at night?

Thinking about my marking backlog.

7. What is top of your bucket list?

Getting up to date with my marking backlog.

8. What is the worst job you’ve had?

Selling photocopiers – though it paid well!

9. Which book changed your life?

The Ramcharitmanas – I came across it when I was 18 and decided I wanted to learn classical Hindi in order to be able to understand the text. So I changed my degree and came to SOAS to study Hindi.

10. What is your favourite word?

I like the word muhabbat (محبت) which means ‘love’ in Urdu. I particularly like the way it is written in Urdu because if you misplace just one of the dots in the word it turns into mehnat (محنت) which means ‘hard work’. So if you’re not careful love can easily become hard work!

11. If you could time travel, where would you go?

There are so many time periods that could be so fascinating, but I’m a fan of sci-fi: Star Wars, Star Trek etc – so it would have to be into the future, maybe involving a trip to another galaxy! Meet new cultures, experience new forms of communication.

12. How do you relax?

Crap TV (too embarrassing to go into detail)

13. What is your memory of 9/11?

I was living in Munich at the time. I was working for a bank, everyone was glued to the internet – it was awful.

14. If you could change one thing about SOAS what would it be?

Only one thing? That’s not enough…. ok, apart from fixing the lifts and printers I’d offer unlimited language courses to everyone!

15. What film/book would you recommend to the SOAS community?

Too many come to mind – most recently, the Bollywood film ‘PK’. It contains some good insights into the pragmatics of language, and I love the Bhojpuri dialect the main character speaks.

16. Who is the most inspiring person you have met?

My 5 year old daughter and my 16 year old nephew – between them  they’ve come up with many profundities over the years.

17. Describe your worst exam related experience.

Having a panic attack the night before my Maths O level (pre-GCSE days!)

18. What is the hardest exam you have had to do?

My Chemistry A level

19. What did you do to cope with exam stress?

Read trashy novels. Not a good idea though, because they can be addictive and take up valuable revision time.

20. Describe the worst thing a student has written in an exam you marked.

Misspelling their name (in course work).

21. What generally impresses you in exams?

Good planning, proper revision, and show-casing your ability in the exam – and neat writing too!

22. What is your greatest regret?

I’m a bit of a star-gazer, so in light of the solar eclipse this week, not going to experience the 2009 total solar eclipse in Varanasi is a big regret. Anyone who’s been to Varanasi knows what a special vibe it has – at the time I was just a couple of hundred miles away in Lucknow so I could have easily gone.

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