The lesson “The Treasure Within” is based on a conversation between Ms Bela Raja and Hafeez Contractor. Ms Bela Raja was the editor of a newsletter called “Sparsh”, and Mr Hafeez Contractor was a famous architect in India.
The lesson opens with Ms Bela Raja was interviewing a famous architect called Hafeez Contractor. Hafeez Contractor was sharing some of his memorable experiences with Ms Bela Raja. Hafeez Contractor explained how he used to get terrifying nightmares. Also, he stated that his nightmares seemed to have disappeared over the past four to five years.
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Ms Bela Raja interviewing Mr. Hafeez Contractor

While hearing the term “nightmare”, Ms Bela was interested to know more about it. She was curious to know about what nightmare he was referring to, as well as why he believed the nightmares had vanished from his dream.

Hafeez Contractor said that he used to have continuous nightmares about attempting the Mathematics exam. He was terrified when he saw himself writing a maths exam because he did not know anything about the subject. Later, he also remarked that he didn’t have time to see the nightmares these days; thus, his mind wasn’t imagining anything. It meant that Hafeez was no longer a student, and his studies no longer bound him. Therefore, his thoughts had also forgotten about appearing for the maths test. He didn’t have to worry about it because he had completed his studies. On the other hand, as he was a busy architect, he would not have time to worry about or experience similar nightmares again.
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Nightmares on appearing for Mathematics exam

Finally, Ms Bela understood that Hafeez was talking about his early education. As a result, she was quite interested in knowing about his school days. So, she asked him to share his past memories in school.
When Ms Bela asked him about his school memories, Hafeez told her that he was a good student in the first and second standard. The term "good student" implies he was good at learning. However, when he got promoted to the third standard, he had lost interest in studying, and therefore he never studied.
While Hafeez was in third grade, he was interested in playing games, telling jokes, dashing around the school halls, and making practical pranks or naughty jokes on others. Hafeez's tendency to play in the class meant that he wouldn't be interested in studying. At the same time, he had the habit of copying in the exam hall. As a result, to pass the exam, he would copy from his classmates.
Hafeez had the habit of copying in the exam hall

Later, another trick used by Hafeez was he would try to get the questions papers prepared by the teachers the day before the exam. Then he would study that because he would not remember what the teacher had taught him in class. Moreover, he would forget things quickly because he lacked interest in learning, and he was deeply interested in playing.
Then Hafeez remembered how a conversation with his Principal transformed his life. While studying in the eleventh standard, his school Principal had advised him to focus on his studies as he was a good student. The Principal also told him that he had taken care of Hafeez all this while, but now as a youngster, he should learn to take care of himself, and also he urged him to focus on his studies. Those words brought a change in young Hafeez as he followed the Principal’s advice.
The Principal had a conversation with Hafeez

The Principal spoke to Hafeez for five minutes. He reminded him about the financial stability of Hafeez's family. His father had died earlier, and his mother was the only one taking care of the family. She was working long hours to pay his school expenses. As a result, the Principal reminded him of his mother's struggles in raising him in life. He said that his mother had paid all of his school fees, book fees, and other expenses, but Hafeez should have studied harder in return. But here, for these many years, what he did was having fun and playing pranks on others. Finally, the Principal concluded by saying that Hafeez had wasted many of his years by playing. And now it was his time to prove himself as a worthy boy. So he should work hard to study well and raise himself as a good man.
Apart from learning, Hafeez had several sporting interests. He was a great athlete. He had also been the senior champion for many years. He was also the captain of the cricket team and enjoyed playing cricket. Hafeez used to participate in all of the school's sporting events every year. However, after hearing his Principal's advice, he decided to prove himself. So he thought of studying, and he did not get onto the field that year. It meant that he had followed his Principal's instructions and showed an interest in academics rather than sports.
Hafeez was the captain of the cricket team

After that, Hafeez's daily routine started to change. He used to attend the morning prayers in school, and he would eat adequately and study well. Usually, in the exam, Hafeez used to copy from his friends, and once he reached his senior secondary, he realised that whatever he did was wrong and he should not copy from others. In general, copying is not a good habit. One should try their best to succeed, and copying did not give a piece of good knowledge. Finally, Hafeez realised his mistakes, and he started to study hard.

Usually, hard work never fails. The best example of that was Hafeez. Earlier, Hafeez had copied in all the exams. After his conversation with the Principal, he started to work hard. It gave him a good improvement in his studies. He passed his twelfth standard with fifty percent of marks. When he achieved second class in his board exam, the Principal told him to think that he had got distinction. Here, Hafeez got the second class, and the Principal asked him to feel as if he got first class. The reason behind his statement was Hafeez had worked hard to achieve, and he had achieved the second class. But the thing was that he had obeyed the words of his Principal and tried his best. So it was considered to be a worthy one. So the Principal said to him, “Son, consider yourself as having got a distinction!”

Hafeez shared his experience to Bela how he had scored fifty percent of marks in his board exams. He told her that he had done a lot of things to remember the concepts. He had the habit of forgetting things quickly and mainly forgetting the things which he had studied earlier. It was difficult for him to memorise the text in his course material as he would forget them quickly. To keep things in his mind, he saw them as photographs. He would read a book and remember it in the form of images but not through his mind. Here, "not through his mind" meant that he would not mug up the concepts; he would visually learn the concepts. That’s how it worked for him.
Hafeez would remember his concepts in the form of pictures
Ms Bela later asked Hafeez if he had ever received punishment from his teachers at school for poor academic performance and not obeying teachers. She also inquired about his state of mind and how he felt when his teacher punished him. When Hafeez heard this, he said that he had never felt bad about being penalised. Playing was all he could think about, and he was only interested in playing. Every week, Hafeez would get a beating or punishment from his teacher because he would not complete his homework or assignments.
Teacher scolding Hafeez for not being attentive in class

Ms Bela questioned Hafeez about how he felt or what thoughts came to his mind when he realised he had irritated his teacher by not completing his homework or not behaving properly in the class. She wanted to know how he felt when he realised his teacher was going to punish him.
Hafeez used to play while the teacher was taking class

Hafeez responded that it didn't matter whether he was prepared or not. The teachers would ask him to lift up his hand and they would cane him for not completing his homework. Alternatively, the teachers would sometimes scold him for not obeying them. Hafeez claimed that the canning had an effect on him, but quickly, he would forget about it because all he wanted to do was have fun and play. At last, he would go outside and play.
Teacher would cane Hafeez when he failed to complete the homework or assignments
After hearing about the punishments given by the teacher, Ms Bela asked him as if he had never felt scared or worried about being punished by a teacher. At that moment, Hafeez answered her that he was interested only in playing and nothing else. Here, Hafeez meant that even after getting punishments from his teacher, his intention was to play. Among all his game, he was more interested in making funny pranks.
A boy making funny pranks
One day Hafeez felt very bored, and he did not want to study. So he created a distraction in the class and made all the children in his class to play with him. He played "chor police" for an hour with his friends. These were the funny things Hafeez used to play in his classroom when he felt bored in his studies.

 Hafeez was a boarding school student. He and his friends used to enjoy going to the theatre on Saturdays. They used to go to the town to watch movies. To watch the film, they needed money to buy the tickets. So he would skip his lunch during the lunch hours, collect the money from 40–50 students, and run to get the tickets from the movie theatre. While he was returning after watching movies, he would eat food as much as he liked from restaurants.
Every Saturday Hafeez and his friends used to enjoy movies in theatre
Hafeez was not only a playful boy, but he was also the leader of his gang. Usually, in schools, the students would form separate teams, and they would fight with each other. Similarly, the Hafeez group and the opposing gang would develop a plan to defeat their opponents. Rather than focusing on his studies, Hafeez was more interested in playing, fighting, and performing humorous pranks on others. Academics wise he was very low, and his interest in playing was comparatively high.

Usually, when Hafeez was promoted to the next grade, his juniors would book his books for the following year. Because Hafeez would have rarely opened the books and there were no markings in it. Since the other students knew about their senior Hafeez, and they would get his books for the next academics. Moreover, Hafeez had the habit of opening the texts only the day before his examinations. As a result, it was quite common; his books appeared to be brand new.
After hearing about Hafeez school days memories, Ms Bela was very curious to know how Hafeez got into the field of architecture. Architecture means the art or practise of designing and constructing buildings. Hafeez told Ms Bela that those who got less than 80-85 per cent were not eligible for admission in the architectural college. He also stated that he had only got 50 per cent marks in the board exam.
Hafeez later stated that he was interested in becoming an Army officer. As a result, he applied for it and was accepted. Unfortunately, the admission letter got into the hands of his aunt, and she tore it up. Later, he thought to pursue a career as a police officer. He told his mother about his desire.
On the other hand, Hafeez mother refused to let him join the police force. He was asked to do his higher studies. At last, he joined Jai Hind College in Bombay to do his studies.
Hafeez thought of becoming an Army officer
After joining in Jai Hind College, Hafeez had to take either French or German. He had spent seven years of his studies studying French. But he didn't know even seven words of French. It implies his disinterest in both the subject and the language.
Hafeez studied French, and he did not know anything about the language. If he took the same language, no one would teach him the basics, and others might have criticised him for not knowing the language. So he decided to start learning a new language from the beginning. So, he felt it was better to take German. Unfortunately, his German teacher died after a few days. As a result, he was in a tight spot to choose French or change his college. It meant that if he weren't ready to learn French, he'd have to choose a college that offered German.
Hafeez was in confused state either to select French or to change the college

Later, Hafeez was stumped as to what to do next. Because he was aware that no one would admit him to other colleges due to his fifty per cent score in the board exam. Later he remembered that he had got admission in Jai Hind College by influence. As a result, he decided to enrol in French classes and study the language. His cousin taught him French. She was an architect's wife. He would usually go to the architect's office after classes to study, French. His cousin would assist him in learning the language.
Ms Bela asked Hafeez, "Was it then that you decided you wanted to do architecture?" Hafeez said that nothing had been planned previously. According to him, getting into the field of architecture happened by chance. Then, he started to narrate an incident that occurred earlier. The incident had made him to become an architect.

On a fine day in the architect’s office, Hafeez saw an advanced drawing of a window detail designed by an office employee. Hafeez examined the design and informed him that there was an error in the sketch since the window he had sketched might not open. Then the man had a bet with Hafeez thinking that his drawing was correct.

Hafeez saw a man drawing a window detail
However, the man's sketch was incorrect, and Hafeez's remark was correct. When his cousin's husband saw this, he was taken aback by his expertise and requested him to sketch a few things for him. He did so right away. The architect told him to design a house, and he did it perfectly. Hafeez's ability surprised the architect, who recommended him to begin studying architecture. His cousin's husband recognised Hafeez's abilities and encouraged him to drop out of other activities and pursue higher education. This is how he decided to undertake architecture.
Hafeez drawn a house design
The architect took Hafeez to meet the college Principal after learning about his interest in developing plans. The Principal stated he would let Hafeez attempt the entrance exam, but he wouldn’t be admitted to the college if he didn’t perform well. Fortunately, Hafeez scored ‘A+’ on the entrance exam, and he continued to perform well throughout his course. He scored first class throughout the year.
Hafeez had never made a plan before, but he knew how things looked like, from the top. Likewise, he had no idea what a section was. A cutting across the body of a building perpendicular to the horizon line is referred to as a section. But he knew what a plan would look like if it were cut out into a specific shape. Throughout the year, he was always top in class.
According to Hafeez, his great understanding of architecture came from how he played and did all other activities in school. Hafeez told Ms Bela about one of his friends named Behram Divecha, with whom he used to compete about designing forts, guns and ammunition. Both of them would put in a lot of effort to be different and make their piece stand out.
Hafeez and his friend used to draw gun
Later, Hafeez told Ms Bela that he had a teacher named Mrs Gupta. One day, when he was in second or third grade, Mrs Gupta told him that his work was good after seeing his sketches. She acknowledged that he was useless in practically every other area, but she recommended pursuing a career as an architect when he grew up. Hafeez had no idea that he was going to be an architect at the time. So, when he became an architect years later, he returned to meet his old teacher, Mrs Gupta and told her that her predictions had come true.
Ms Bela asked Hafeez Contractor why he disliked the studies so much. She also questioned whether he could not cope or deal with the curriculum, which caused him to dislike studying in school.

Hafeez told her that he was bad at languages. He could accept Science and Geography because of the logic and facts, but he struggled with Mathematics. He admitted that he was merely not interested in the subject. He studied only for the sake of doing it and not because he was interested. He would often forget whatever was taught to him after two days. He said that he didn’t even try because there was no application of mind and logic to learn mathematics.

To better understand Hafeez's perspective, Ms Bela asked him if he finds what was being taught to him was boring. Or, he had lost interest in the class once he grasped the central idea of the topic.

Hafeez told Ms Bela that life in a boarding school was hard. So, they just lived one day at a time. He said that there were so many tests nowadays. Later, Hafeez compared the current exam status by stating that students are asked to write many class tests. Coming back to his story, he said in his time, whenever they had test, they would just copy others. But the teachers were unaware of the fact, and they would think that the students had done their works.
Copying in the exam hall
Ms Bela mentioned that there was a belief that giftedness and learning problems are mutually contradictory. She inquired if Hafeez agreed that this was the case with him.

While hearing Ms Bela's point of view, Hafeez highlighted a few of his classmates who had consistently received first or second place in academics but were now working in ordinary occupations. Ms Bela agreed with Hafeez since she had heard from so many people who said that their class toppers were no longer doing anything special. The statement implied that those who applied logic and learned things without mugging would shine in the world. For instance, nowadays, to score high marks, people would mug up everything from the course book. It did not give an essential knowledge. After the exam, the child would forget everything. But if they were learning things in a logical way, they would remember it in their lifetime. It would make them succeed in life.

According to Hafeez, the kind of life he had at school made him street smart. Here "street smart" means smartly doing things independently or by choice rather than forcing anyone. It also meant that Hafeez had gained the experience and knowledge necessary to deal with the potential difficulties or dangers of life by becoming street smart.
Coming back to Hafeez situation, he had learned more by doing things on his own rather than what academics would have taught him. Finally, he said he became a famous architect by exploring a lot of things. Even though he was mischievous, he was interested in designing and drawing. His interest in understanding things in the form of images or drawing had made his life a pleasant one.
From the conversation with Hafeez Contractor, Ms Bela understood that Hafeez's skills were developed by doing other activities or participating in sports. Hafeez broke down each rule as per his wish. He studied and worked hard in his way without letting anybody or anything stop him. That made him succeed in his life.

Hafeez explained that he was drawn to several things. If it were raining outside while he was in class, he would start thinking about the running water and then consider building a dam to stop it. He'd feel about the flow of water inside the dam, as well as the dam's capacity to contain water, in great detail. It would become his interest for the day.

Hafeez would think of how to construct a dam

Hafeez was so clever that if somebody lost a shirt button while playing or fighting, they would come to him. He'd use a blade to cut a piece of chalk into a button for them. Even small things like buttons were essential in school since the discipline was so important. They had to stay in proper uniform until supper time got over, and later it didn't matter. No one would question them about the broken buttons or untidy clothes after supper time. It implies that they should remain neat and discipline as they were in boarding school until they go to bed.
Ms Bela asked Hafeez about his dealing with clients. She wanted to know how he decided the type of structure for a particular client in the present day scenario. Hafeez stated that he would begin by analysing his client by looking at their face, noticing their dressing style, how they talk and pronounce, their taste, and their eating style. He said that he could relate to people in a way that was comfortable for both parties. Then, he was very instantaneous when it comes to sketching the structure. He does it on paper on the spot, which he would then give to the people in his office.
Hafeez would sketch very spontaneously on a paper on the spot

Ms Bela confirmed if Hafeez wanted to say that he worked based on his instincts. Hafeez Contractor explained that they could call it whatever they want, whether instinct or arithmetic. He felt that it come to him like mathematics now. All he did was put design, construction, psychology and sociology together and sketches everything that is ‘mathematics’.
The statement ‘almost come to a full circle’ means that he disliked maths to the extent that he used to get nightmares about it, but on the other end, he said that whatever the work he had done had been in the form of Mathematics. Earlier, it was a subject that he disliked so passionately, but now, he loved dealing with it. At the end, he had derived his meaning of the subject 'mathematics'.

The conversation makes us realise the importance of being active in extracurricular activities in school and how the time spent in school had built the foundation of Hafeez’s career.