Sunday, August 19, 2007

Between Taramani and GC

Warning: The following story is a fictional piece of writing. It is to be taken in a lighter vein. Any resemblance to any living or dead person, thing or place is purely coincidental (yeah right!)

"Trrrrrrrrriinnnngggg..." The alarm goes off. I reach out in the dark, groping for the clock, trying to shut it off. It won't. I get up groggily. Where had I put it last night? Like everything else in my room, I find the alarm clock at different places every time I look for it. This time, I find it under my bed. I press the snooze button, and get back on the bed.

I open my eyes. I check my mobile. Its 7:30. Shit. There's a class at 8, and the professor is too damn strict about the attendance. I will have to be quick (and that's an understatement) if I want to reach on time. I jump out of bed and rush to the shower. At this point let me tell you that there have been times before when I have had a shower, felt fresh and smug, and then gulped in frustration when I realized that I forgot to bring the towel. That's a long story, and I won't go into it now. This time I have the towel around my shoulders. It flutters like Superman's cape. I rush into the shower and come out before you can say 'Ceteris Paribus.' I rush back to my room, slipping and sliding all the way. Off goes the towel, on come the clothes. I grab the bag, and rush down. I get on my bicycle and pedal as hard as I can, swerving between students and deers. I tell you, you better watch out for the ones with the big horns; the deer, I mean.

Himalaya looms before me. I get off the bike, park it between two other bikes. I hear a crashing sound, someone's bike has toppled and one sees a wonderful domino effect of two wheelers. 'It wasn't me,' I shout and rush. The canteen is serving bread, butter and jam, and Maggi. Now Maggi is one thing I absolutely love to hate. Normally I have no choice but to eat it. Today I have no time. I grab four slices of bread butter, put two of them in my mouth, and the remaining in my bag. I rush down again to my bicycle and start off towards the department. I have to steer the bike through the huge peloton of late-latifs like me and I have to use both my hands. As a result, I look like one of the other famous inhabitants of the hostels, albeit on a bicycle and without a tail.

I fly down the slope towards GC. The wind feels good in my hair. But I realize that a 'W' won't look good in my grade sheet. I pedal harder. As soon as I reach the department, I jump off the bike and run towards the class. I sneak in through the back door of the class and make my way to a dark corner of the lecture hall. I sit down heaving, waiting for my roll call. Thankfully, the professor has just started taking the attendance. I answer the roll call and catch my breath. Phew, all the rush was worth it. "Present sir," says a muffled voice from the back. Definitely a proxy. But thankfully, for the proxifier and the proxyee, the professor doesn't pay much attention.

I shuffle through my bag and find the notes of the previous class. Most probably, the professor will ask for a recap. As soon as I manage to open the book, the professor confirms it. As soon as he asks for it, a general rustling spreads through the classroom. Duck, Hide, Avoid. But the professor knows it all too well. Legend has it that if you want to avoid the professor's eyes, you better sit in the first couple of rows. This story, passed on from seniors to juniors every year, has proved true most of the time. Yes, it is a paradox. But that's what I have to learn to manage.
I feel like trying out a theory. I look up at the professor. Research has proved that looking at the professor decreases the probability of your being called upon to answer. Of course, this theory fails if the professor has already read through this paper. I see the professor looking straight at me.

"Why don't you recap what we learnt last time?" Gulp, gulp, gulp. Now I realize how the coyote in the cartoon feels when he realizes that he has run over the cliff and is standing in mid-air.

"Me?" I ask like an idiot.
"The one with the glasses," the professor points out.

Like a bigger idiot, I actually lift my hand to feel if I wear glasses. Frankly by this time, I'm in so much shock that I can't decide whether I don't wear glasses or I forgot to bring them today. But to my relief, a voice comes from behind. The same question is asked, "Me?"

This time the professor's answer is in the affirmative. Now was my chance to make an impression. I give an outward disappointing look as if I wanted to recap what had happened in the last class. I don't even recall when was the last class. I make sure the professor sees me. Who knows maybe in MBA one gets brownie points for class participation?

I can almost hear the poor dude behind me gulping away his bad luck. He starts to give an answer and manages to finish it. The professor looks doubtfully at him, thinks for a while and then lets it go at that. He proceeds to start the projector, and the junta heaves in unison. No quiz today, no presentation today.

'The captain has turned off the seat-belt indicator. You are free to release your seat belts and move about in the cabin. Please note that smoking is not allowed for the duration of the flight. We hope you enjoy the flight.

'The back-benchers release the clip from the back of their seats and lean back on the chair. The front-benchers have a glazed look in their eyes, sitting upright and nodding their heads as if they actually understand something. Two hours grind by slowly. At times my hand scribbles something involuntarily on the sheets.

Tick tock, tick yawn tock.

"...and we wind up for today." The golden words for everyone. Everyone gets fresh, packs their bags and lean forward to rush out of the classroom before the professor gives any case study or before the CR has any 'small announcement.' If it is a morning class, we normally go back to the hostel directly. After an evening class, we go to Gurunath. Food is eaten, tea and coffee is sipped, supplies are bought. I realize that I myself have to buy toothpaste. I don't remember when it ran out. Ahem, before you accuse me, all I have to say in my defense is that I do have chewing gum before coming to class.

The rest of the day is going to be spent lazing around the room. Maybe a game of table-tennis or for those who are outdoor-inclined, football. Some of the studious dive into their books and for those from planet Orkut, the Internet is the place to be.

Dinner time is another battle. Eating whatever they pass off as food is a challenge in itself. But I can't complain. The idea is to stuff down as much as you can when you find something that's good. There's no knowing when it will be served again.

There is a case study to be discussed in the night. We gather in someone's room and decide to finish analyzing the case study in an hour or so. No one seems to want to open the case study paper, though. One among us informs the group about this interesting action movie he downloaded from DC++. The topic shifts from motivation and reinforcement theories to cars and guns. A couple of hours wasted. Never mind, we decide. We can do it tomorrow. The group disperses and we return to our respective rooms.

Random screams and shouts in strange languages sound through the empty corridors. The voices will continue throughout the night. This is a place that never sleeps. In the intermittent silences, I can hear the washing machines clicking and switching their cycles. Soak to rinse. Rinse to spin. Spin to soak. Another day ends in the the campus. The machines gets booted up. The routers are working overtime. Sounds of guns cocking, bodies flying and cars screeching. I can hear a frustrated scream. Someone has just been fragged. I open up a book and look out the window. I can see the city skyline through the window grill. This is my home for two years. This will be the window of my ... ahem... got a little too philosophical there.

I fire up my laptop, check my scraps. No change. I open a book and out falls a small note. I pick it up and read it. My eyes pop wide on reading it. There's an assignment due tomorrow and I haven't gone through the material yet. I put the laptop aside and pick up the text book. I page through the book and find the chapter I'm looking for. I am supposed to submit a soft copy. Oh great, I think. I'll have to type the whole damn thing. But the software engineer in me saves the day. I fire up the Internet, surf to Wikipedia and the rest is history. I'll have to finish it before 1 am when they switch off the Internet. By the time, I manage to bunch together some material for the assignment my eyes are fighting to get some rest.

I plop down on the bed and soon the sub-conscious mind takes over. I fall into a deep sleep and start to have a pleasant pre-placement dream. I see myself ready for the interview. Confidently I walk towards the interview panel and...

Deja vu.

Kirtan Acharya
MBA, Class of 2009


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