The theatre was pitch black. The crowd was dead silent. Kala Chashma screamed through a portable player. Amitabh Banerjee and Arnab Bhattacharya entered the stage with a grand entrance – their shirts lighting up to the rhythmic beats and grooves of the song. They danced, their lanky legs flailing in the air, attempting to mimic the disco step. The crowd couldn’t contain their excitement. They cheered and hollered uncontrollably. This was the best entrance I had ever seen in all my four years of attendance at the Chai and Why? talks. I was mesmerized by the changing techno colors from the t-shirts like a child on Christmas day.
Amitabh Bannerjee is like none other! A professor at the University of Cologne, he acquired a degree in Material Science (specialization in organic chemistry) and Teaching. Combining his skills, he focuses on making learning fun and exciting for local schools in Germany. He has already made durable, affordable, and practical kits to make solar panels and LED components in schools.
Bannerjee built an LED device within ten minutes. The audience was in awe when the small motherboard lit up when a power source was connected to it. After a chai break, he effortlessly switched the circuit boards so that the LED device could function like a solar panel – use light to produce electricity.
What was amazing was that he brought along some of his Germany with him. It was incredible to see how well he had adapted to the German culture and how he was sharing a small piece of it with his hometown. These kinds of stories intrigue me because there is a fine line between completely abandoning your home country and enjoying the NRA lifestyle. But with his Hindi German accent and interactions with Chai and Why?, I could see that he didn’t want to leave either his German or Indian heritage behind; rather he attempted to embrace his multicultural identity and tried to find a common point between the two to create something extraordinary. Within the two hours, I was thoroughly impressed by him. I was also amazed by his passion for his subjects and his goal – he attempted to make chemistry topics more interesting with the help of hands-on activities. Even though he struggled to explain some of the technical aspects of the solar panel in English, he didn’t give up! His perseverance and dedication shone through the fervor with which he answered questions and chided with the audience to keep them engaged. For that reason alone, it was an unforgettable talk.