Between the window of presenting my thesis and my graduation, many would expect one to take a breather. After all, these are monumental moments in a student’s life. But the chance to ignite passion for mathematics in young minds was an offer I couldn’t refuse. With a month to spare before my graduation, I chose to dive headfirst into teaching at Ashoka University. The Lodha Summer Program was a vibrant gathering of minds, all drawn by the allure of mathematics.

The curriculum was was focused on the topics of Geometry, Number Theory and Combinatorics. We discussed concepts of the Pigeonhole principle, Parity puzzles, and some ideas in enumerative combinatorics. The practice of employing complex numbers to solve geometric problems, a technique inspired by Needham’s “Visual Complex Analysis”, brought a fresh perspective to traditional problems.

But our exploration of Number Theory was particularly memorable. Modular arithmetic was one of the fundamental topics, laying the groundwork for a deeper understanding of several theorems. We discussed the ideas and combinatorial proofs of Fermat’s Little Theorem, Wilson’s Theorem, and the elegant Quadratic Reciprocity, ensuring students not only grasped the concepts but truly internalized their deep implications.

This was also a trip down memory lane for me as I found myself diving back into Arthur Engel’s book, a masterclass in problem solving. The book, teeming with challenging problems, became an essential part of our curriculum. There’s nothing like the joy of seeing a student tackle a tricky problem, their eyes narrowing in concentration, and then widening in realization as they find the solution.

What made this experience even more enriching was the company I was in. The presence of fellow educators from other institutions like IISERs, NISER, IISc, IIT’s etc gave every session a fresh perspective and I was humbled to be in the same teaching space as Prof. Amitabha Tripathi from IIT-D, Prof. Krishnan from JNU, Prof. Shanta from ISI-D, and Prof. Bhatnagar from Ashoka. Discovering mutual connections amidst intense mathematical discussions was an unexpected delight.

As I retrospectively journey through this chapter at Ashoka, it emerges not merely as a teaching endeavour but symbolises the profound beauty of mathematics and the joy of collaborative curiosity. For those with a knack for number theory, a visit to Prof. Tripathi’s Quora page promises a treasure trove of challenges.