Jaysinh Birje-Patil
Jaysinh Birje-Patil

Well-known writer, former MSU professor Jaysinh Birje-Patil passes away

Vadodara, January 20, 2015

Well-known writer and poet Jaysinh Birje-Patil, who taught at the Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) of Baroda in the 1970s and 1980s and later at universities in the United States, passed away at a hospital here on Sunday after a brief illness.
He was 81. He was a bachelor.
Dr Birje-Patil served as the Professor and Head of the Department of English at MSU and also as the Dean of the Faculty of Arts for some time.
He had settled down in the United States for the past many years, but used to visit Vadodara regularly. He had travelled to Australia in December to spend some time with his niece and her family and arrived here on Tuesday last week. He was hospitalised the following day after complaining of chest pain and passed away on January 18.
Born and brought up in Vadodara, he studied at MSU before completing his Ph.D. from Manchester University in the United Kingdom. He was also a trained actor with certificates from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
He had written several literary works, including Chinnery's Hotel and The Good Muslim of Jackson Heights.
Dr Birje-Patil spent about 15 years teaching at Marlboro College in Vermont, United States before retiring from there in 2002. He had earlier tought at Brown University.
Most of his students and colleagues were amazed by his vast knowledge about literature. 
"When he finished speaking, my head was spinning. I had never heard so much information put together at once. In the years since, as I’ve known and studied with Birje, I have come to realize that his knowledge as a scholar and professor can only be described as vast. That word materializes in nearly every conversation about the man, in every conversation with the man. From the Greeks to Shakespeare to Joyce to postcolonial works from New Zealand and Africa, Birje draws connections and cohesive analyses. When around Birje, one cannot help but feel like a swimmer in the vastness of history, literature and culture," Lauren Beigel, one of his students, wrote in 2002 in the college magazine on his retirement from Marlboro.
"Even with his wealth of knowledge, Birje still listens and learns from his students; those just stumbling into a world in which he has been immersed for so long," she wrote.
“Teaching and learning go together. One learns such a lot from interacting with students. Students should learn to disagree and engage the professor in a dialogue," he told Beigel.
More than anything else, Dr Birje-Patil will be remembered for the many plays he produced and directed at MSU under the banner of the Shakespeare Society. The plays were a hugely popular annual event during his period in Vadodara, but he remained forever in the background, shyly walking onto the stage to acknowledge the ovation from the crowd after each performance, dressed in his trademark brown shirt. 
For those who attended some of those performances -- A View from the Bridge, Look Back in Anger, The Glass Menagerie, See How They Run, You Never Can Tell, and many more -- they remain unforgettable experiences.
“Working with Birje is a bit like spending time in the Louvre: you just get lost. There are maps to show you where things are, but it’s up to you to pick out your interests and find your way there...He is patient, detailed, and vast," another of his students, Ian Garthwait, wrote in the Marlboro college magazine.

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