In the year 2016, I was a sophomore student back in my country. In those days, at the beginning of every new academic year, I usually skim the course contents to find interesting topics and study those beforehand. During this skimming process, I found a course entitled ‘Nutritional Biochemistry’. My young mind found this name very attractive and my expectation was that I could learn something related to food (finally!) from the core of my heart. And, it was related to biochemistry. Hence, there is a high chance to get learning more applicable knowledge for real life.
The first week of February, our class in Nutritional Biochemistry finally started. One day each week, we went to the Biochemistry department for this course. There were two teachers responsible for this course. One taught us the structural biochemistry of food: carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and vitamins. As a teacher he was cool, but in between class lectures, he loved to talk about his wife a lot. As far as I understood, he loved his wife a lot and couldn’t help himself from expressing his emotions in front of his students. We enjoyed his class a lot; however, some of my classmates (sometimes me too) made fun of his repetitive words, Tomader Vabi (Your Madam), while saying any new sentence about his wife.
However, this blog is dedicated to the second teacher. His name is Khaled Hossain – a smart professor and one of my favorite teachers of all time. He is one of the renowned researchers in Bangladesh, specialty in arsenic and environmental science. Professor Khaled was rewarded by the Bangladesh government for his valuable contributions to science (multiple times). But for us, he was beyond a teacher – more like a big but loving brother, sometimes like a caring but strict father. He doesn’t follow conventional teaching strategies and likes to engage with his students while taking a class. He was the first teacher in my university life who declared that ‘There will be no attendance mark for my part of the course; If you guys want to come in my class, please come from the interest, not for the silly attendance mark.’ I know it was a bold statement; however, I hardly saw any of my classmates absent during his class throughout that whole academic year.
Furthermore, he loves to provide the most up-to-date knowledge regarding his courses, e.g. updated survey results and current discoveries from the peer-reviewed articles. However, he discussed a lot about ethics and the moral fallacy of human society. He also loves to throw philosophical questions at us – not because he was trying to show his scholarship, but to enhance our philosophical and moral side of development. His famous line was, ‘A smart professor makes a smart graduate’. As a teacher, he believes that to produce excellent graduate students, teachers have a bigger responsibility on their shoulders, and most of the time they fail to deliver appropriately. Overall, his arguments were very subtle, sometimes witty and funny, but always deep and powerful.
He taught us the functional biochemistry of food. The value of nutrition was one of the core points of his lectures. He suggests our female friends to take more iron-rich food and literally forced us (both male and female) to find a time where we could do our exercise. He said why regular but light exercise from a very young age is vital for long and healthy life and why he runs every day in the evening. In his class, I usually sit on the very first bench, and I try to respond to his question, whether it was philosophical or biochemical.
Professor Khaled was literally our idol, our true hero. I can’t remember a teacher in my whole life who is adored by all the students in a class. There was not a single student in our class who had no crush on his scholarship. Through his lecture, he tries to break sexual stigmas. He often talks about hormonal changes for adult girls and boys and why we should know reproductive biology, from its real core, for the sake of our own betterment. At one point, he used to talk about the menstruation cycle of girls, which food they could eat during that time and the paradox of male hormones.
Sometimes, we felt uncomfortable, but he helped us to broaden our mental boundaries. At the midway point of his course, we all started to enjoy it from the very core of our hearts. I literally had a notebook where I used to note down his philosophical one-liner. It was more than just a course in nutritional biochemistry. It was our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn the fundamental philosophy of human life. A half-decade later, I realized that he also had a vision to change our thinking process – not only through his academic scholarship but by mixing both academic knowledge and external philosophical concepts.
In the last part of our course, we had a topic on Ice cream. On ice cream, he talked about its preparation process, nutrition values, and the rise of the ice-cream market throughout the whole world. Also, he talked about psychological facts: why most people love ice cream. At the end of the Ice-cream lecture, he had one recommendation, ‘If any of you guys will go for your higher study in Europe, don’t forget to experience the taste of the Haagen-Dazs ice cream.’ Dr. Khaled mentioned that Haagen-Dazs was his favorite ice cream while he was doing his Ph.D. in Europe (even though it was at first produced by an American company). I noted that recommendation in the small corner of my class notebook, and set this as a life goal: I have to feel the taste of Haagen-Dazs ice cream.
Six years later, now in 2022, I live in Paris. I almost forgot the ice cream recommendation from Professor Khaled. However, today when I was buying my groceries in a shopping mall, my eyes were fixed on the word ‘Haagen-Dazs’. My neural connections reminded my past memories and I was nostalgic about Professor Khaled. I checked the price and by default, it was one of the most expensive ice creams in the mall – almost two-fold higher in price than normal ice cream. But, my nostalgia, and my craving for ice cream, after a long winter in Paris, hit my brain hard. Therefore, I couldn’t help myself from buying the famous Haagen-Dazs.
A few hours ago, I experienced it with my four food senses. It was so delicious, and honestly, I have never experienced something like this before. My expectations, nostalgia, and serotonin meet at one point. The life goal I set six years ago, in the biochemistry building of Rajshahi University, is now truly accomplished. Haagen-Dazs is delicious (as the ice cream), as was Dr. Khaled, as THE professor.
Both are unparalleled and timeless.