ABU DHABI // Pupils and teachers have paid tribute to a popular teacher at the city's biggest school after he collapsed and died at work this morning. Clifford Aranha, 68, an Indian national who taught at the Abu Dhabi Indian School for more than 22 years, suffered a suspected heart attack just as he was about to start another day of teaching. "He was not only a teacher but our friend, philosopher and guide. We are deeply saddened by this loss," said Vinay Venkatraman, 16. A special assembly attended by more than 800 high school students gathered to pay their respects to Mr Arahna at 4pm, Vijay Mathu, the school's principal, told the assembly: "This is an irreparable loss. There are a lot of you who had the very good fortune of being taught by him."
Students and faculty members said that Mr Aranha had not indicated he was ill. Instead, he had arrived as usual, climbed two sets of stairs to the first floor of the boys section of the school building, and was last seen struggling with the door of the staff room before he collapsed. Teachers rushed out to assist him before he collapsed. "He reached the door. We saw him. There was no conversation. We rushed out to help him and he fell in the arms of his friends," said Krishna Bihari Tripathi, a Hindi teacher. Mr Aranha led the school magazine as an editor for more than 20 years. He also helped students with more than 200 scripts in debates, speeches, and elocution. Lokesh Vohra, 16, said: "His teaching was different. He added his own experiences from his spiritual travels and shared them with us.
"He merged them with the chapters and gave us a better outlook about the course. He stuck to the curriculum but it was his deep love for history that also came through." After the administration of first aid in the school, he was rushed to the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City where he was pronounced dead 15 minutes after arrival. Upon hearing the news, nearly 40 alumni gathered at the hospital to pay their respects and assist with paperwork, said Mr Mathu. "He has taught at least two generation of students. His popularity among the students, teachers and parents was immense," he said.