Neeraja Poddar

Jan 2009

Just to clarify Neeraja was not a TA of this course (as previous reviews suggest she was for whatever she taught before), but the Professor. Great class, great professor. When I read the reviews about Neeraja before the first day of Masterpieces of Indian Art and Architecture I was horrified and desperate to find another class to take. My schedule did not allow this change, and I thought I was destined to suffer, seeing as the previous reviews are horrible. I found Neeraja to be a great professor who loves the subject of Indian Art-this is her first time teaching this class. A class about Indian art can be daunting if you know nothing about Indian heritage, culture, or religion. However, Neeraja made this learning experience fun and exciting, choosing interesting articles to read and discuss. She was very patient and helpful with these new terms, myths, etc. We received handouts at almost each class to supplement what we read in the book and these were helpful. Class participation is important to your grade. Everyone will present on at least one article, which is mainly just leading a discussion on what you read, guided by Neeraja. The exams were not easy and did require a comprehensive knowledge of the subject matter. There was never an easy A, but I also was not aware of anyone failing an exam or making below a C. Her grading of our papers was less lenient, but the same principle from above applies. I also wanted to briefly mention how approachable Neeraja is. On many occasions I had to discuss personal issues with her after class and she was understanding and very willing to help. If you have problems in the class--go to Neeraja's office hours or make an appointment! Also, she is very helpful with paper feedback if you take questions to her before the due date. This class is not an easy A, but if you show up to class, do the reading and participate in class you will be fine. This is a great choice of career for Neeraja. I'm sorry the previous reviewers had such a bad time experience with her, maybe she wasn't an expert on the subject matter she taught prior to this class? In this class she is an expert on the material, and if you're willing to put out the effort in this class, not only will you learn a lot, but you will enjoy it...I did!

Oct 2008

Unfortunately, the previous review, while being a tad intemperate in its use of superlatives, seems largely faithful to my experience interacting with this individual. When I had her as a TA several semesters ago, Neeraja definitely came across as suffering from competence issues. She was congenial enough as a person, BUT 1. most assuredly possessed neither the confidence nor the knowledge to lead a discussion section on 19th-century European art, 2. contradicted herself on requirements for the midterm and then flatly denied it when confronted, in what turned out to be a pattern with her (declaim, deny, disown) 3. seemed overly concerned with trivial matters, to the point of driving people to exasperation, 4. proved herself either incapable of understanding requirements for assignments or not being in touch with the instructor about them, and, worse of all, 5. absolutely REFUSED, just point blank declined with all the force that self-duplicity and willful obtuseness can muster, to admit to her shortcomings or to try to see matters from the other party's point of view or that she quite simply made a mistake; talking to Neeraja was like trying to make contact across light-years of interstellar space with a two cups and a piece of string. As far as my grade was concerned - the main bone of contention between us - the professor had to step in to resolve things, the fact of which speaks for itself. Conclusion ? - Decent human being, bad choice of career.

Apr 2008

She has to be perhaps the worst TA I've ever encountered at Columbia. She does not care about undergrads and cursorily grades papers and the midterms. She never attends class and when she does, does not give much attention to students nor their questions. This woman is a horrible TA and pompous grader when she barely comes to class or confers with Vidya regarding the material. Oh by the way, don't expect to get your first paper back until 3 months after you've handed it in. She gives numerous excuses as to why she cannot meet with you, i.e. she's going to a party or has too much work going on to be bothered with you. When she does actually capitulate to a meeting, she will take you to Hungarian Pastry Shop but won't speak to you for more than an hour. STAY AWAY FROM THIS CLASS AND THIS TA.