Sunday, July 31, 2005

Eccentric Teachers I have met

It was just the other day that I lay in bed, thinking deep thoughts on the life of sin that I had led thus far. These deep thoughts led me to other not-so-deep thoughts – mainly about the eccentric teachers I had met. And teachers being as they are, I realized that I had seen quite a huge haul of them over the years.

Year: 1999

Lunatic under the microscope: Mr. Joludhu, English teacher

My English teachers and I were, as a rule, rather like Damon and Pythias. I got along with most of them so well that I could probably have gained entry into their caves and met the rest of their wolf pack if I so desired.

But, my equation with Joludhu was unfortunately not as favourable. I did not particularly care for Joludhu; he had an annoying habit of bathing us first benchers in a sea of his freshly minted saliva. Joludhu despised me almost as much as my Maths teachers usually did; so much so that he directed an additional jet of spitstream towards me.

Joludhu, like most other eccentrics, had a weakness – and no, I’m not referring to how he went about murdering the English language with impunity, while speaking all the while of the Received Pronunciation (RP) they used at Aaxford.

It was a weakness he shared with several great (and not-so-great) men like JFK and Bill Clinton. A terrible weakness for young women…

The blighter loved bending towards where the girls sat, his chest hair liberally on display (he never believed in buttoning himself up) as he scratched it furiously, giving his belly a cute little jiggle, and saying loudly,

‘So, girls, did you catch my point?’

(jet of spit followed by a (what seemed to most of us guys) lecherous grin)

Unfortunately for him, none of the girls ever did. ;-)

Year: 1999

Lunatic under the microscope:
Ms. Karpagam Mannan

To state that Ms. Mannan taught us Social Studies would be stretching the truth, considering she spent her classes reading out from her notebook, and we spent it chanting ‘Karpaga Mannan, bhooton ki rani…’ under our breath. Not to mention praying for some exorcist to exorcise her and deliver us from the never-ending lectures on the hanging gardens of the Amazons (F*** the hanging gardens, whatever happened to Xena?!!!)

If this is not enough to convince you of her (and my) lunacy, this should do. Any Lunacy Comissioner going through the following paragraphs would not hesitate a second before locking her up in a padded cell (preferably the same one as the Backstreet Boys’)!

But I was proved right on that fateful day when torrential rains flooded all of our campus, making the sewers completely indistinguishable from the rest of the grounds.

Ms. Mannan alighted regally from an autorickshaw, eyeing haughtily the bedraggled students who watched her in silence.

She took her first step, sari daintily held up and faithful little first bencher in tow (holding that huge bag where she stored her make up, pistol and other assorted torture implements, including that notebook from which she dictated her notes). There was to be no second step, as Ms. Mannan had completely disappeared into the murky water.

She had stepped right into the sewer!

In unision, every one of us burst out into peals of laughter; the faithful little first-bencher included.

Quite a few seconds passed before we noticed a hand struggle to come repeatedly out of the surface of the sewer. A couple of us ran towards the hand and managed to extract Ms. Mannan out of it. We could hardly hold our laughter back any longer when we saw Ms. Mannan’s make-up run down all over her face. It was rather like a Fair and Lovely ad run in rewind mode.

And instead of thanking us for us fortitude and courage, and promising to pass us in our examinations, the lunatic walked away from us, water dripping from every pore, screaming that her vengeance would be terrible indeed, and that she knew very well that we’d placed the drain there to have her fall in.

I mean to say, the gall of the ingrate, after my selfless service!! :*(

Year: 1994-2001

Lunatic under the microscope: Kamasutran, (tries to teach) Socially Useful Productive Work

Mr. Kamasutran is the kind of chap who would do the Marquis de Sade proud.

A typical class with Mr. Kamasutran went something like this:

(Kamasutran jumps about playing the fool, looking more like a bald chimpanzee fed on a diet of boot polish than anything else.)

Parthasarathy: (giggles) Good afternoon, Sir

Kamasutran: Dai, notebook engae da?

Parthasarathy: (running away)Illa, Sir

(Kamasutran, being the maniac he is, runs behind him, a length of coiled wire in tow. Parthasarathy, being the insane idiot he is, decides to plant his posterior next to me. Kamasutran runs comically towards him – a walrus on steroids. I, being the idiot I am, laugh out loud, awaiting the sharp crack when the wire would strike Parthasarathy’s naked flesh.)

(I hear the crack, and notice that it is accompanied by a sharp burning pain in the thigh. I, being the idiot I am, do not notice the second blow descending upon my thighs. I, being an idiot, but a perceptive one at that, notice the glowing red welts on my thighs.)

Puzzled moi: Why me, Sir?

Kamasutran: (accompanied by insane, Amrish Puriesque laughter) Simply.
(Descends the makeshift whip on the shoulder blades of the bloke next to me)

This series continues soon with a few more eccentrics expected to join in this list. Unless I’m certified myself in the meanwhile, of course…

N.B: All names changed, in case you were wondering. :)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Snapshots From Hell

Chandamama Institute of Technology is the kind of institute that would give Mr. Squeers a complex.

The pain and sorrow that is felt within this modern day Dotheboy’s hall will, in all likelihood, leave your blood curdled. I was unfortunate enough to visit the institute to attend a technical symposium.

It happened a couple of years ago, but the terribly memories fail to die…

Therefore, what follows is not recommended reading for pregnant women, children with water in the brain and students who’ve just paid their first year fees at Chandamama.

First Impressions

The first view of Chandamama is hardly encouraging. One espies buildings in every colour of the rainbow – blue buildings, green buildings, violet buildings, and even a pink building with blue stained glass.

These buildings are placed right in the middle of nowhere – surrounded by acres upon acres of flat bushland. Informed sources tell me that it is to prevent procreation on-campus, though I cannot assure you of the veracity of that report. Some other theorists state that this is to prevent the inmates from trying to stage a break-out.

For it would be child’s play for the look-outs (purportedly armed with sniper rifles) to pick out a haggard human form trying to limp away towards civilization.

I bet what the luminaries envisaged when they built this was something along these lines.

A. Arokiyaachaami, Student of 3rd Year CSE, tries to escape from prison…er…college.

At Look-out tower number 15, Tevidiya Ponniyan, a dutiful Chandamama guard, notices the glint of steel as the sunlight falls upon poor Arokiyaachaami’s leg irons and dog tag.

He cocks his sniper rifle, looks carefully into the sight, and fires.

Arokiyaachaami stands no chance. He feels nothing but a burning rod run right through a bodily orifice. He falls to the ground screaming. The vultures circling overhead swoop in for the kill.

Tevidiya Ponniyan smirks in satisfaction, and paints another skull on his sniper rifle – ‘The sixth student this semester’, he mutters to himself. ‘Chairman Aiyya will surely give me a raise and let me plant landmines on the grounds now!’

Inside the fortress

Not being Chandamama inmates, my friends and I were thoroughly frisked by the octogenarian standing guard outside the buildings. He probably wanted to ensure that we weren’t carrying in any cakes with files hidden inside.

Once inside, we were asked by a petrified-looking chap who was wearing a tie tight enough to choke him to stand in line for registration.

We pointed out to him that there were only two other people anyway.

A lecturer, with eagle eyes and a nose like a particularly ugly vulture (a scion of the family that devoured poor Aarokiyachaami’s flesh) walked toward me with an expression that reminded me strongly of a villain in a C-grade hindi movie.

‘Enna da? This is a discipline caallege. Not like yer Hindustan. You stand in line, ar else…’, said he, rather dramatically.

And then he suddenly noticed one of my friends wearing a T-shirt.

‘Dai, enna da? Porki rascal mathiri varae? (What? How can you walk in dressed like a vagabond rascal?) You no wear T-shirt in good callege. You wear proper formals, or you properly punished’

He gestured rudely to the terrified looking underling and walked away. The underling scooted away, and returned a moment later with a shirt as ugly as the one everyone else in the college seemed to be wearing.

The underling asked my friend to wear it, pretty please, and that if he didn’t wear it, the lecturer would roast him – the underling, not my friend - over a slow fire and call over his – the lecturer’s, not the underling’s - grandparents to make a meal of it.

My friend relented, and walked around the rest of the day looking a slave on a Roman galley.

Another terrified looking inmate came running towards us and begged us to remain seated, for the chairman was about to walk in and make a speech.

Used to walking away from a hundred such speeches, we decided to follow Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and bugger off. It was then that another of the vulture family ordered us to sit down.

The chairman was an erudite man. He had performed most creditably during his education, and had even scored 76 percent in his second standard examinations. But, after that, realization dawned upon him that running an engineering college was more profitable than struggling with LCMs and GCDs in class three.

We learnt a lot during the speech – mainly how the Queen’s English can be brutally butchered - and were intensely glad that we were forced to attend it.

Some of the gems that we were fortunate to listen to were:

• In this callege, boys boys chit chit no prablem, girls girls chat chat no prablem – but boys, girls chit chat no no.
• Now all baays, girls father mother thinking child flying Amerigha. All flying my college to Amerigha.
• I feel like I have four legal daaters and four hundred illegal daaters.
• Boy hardware, girl software. Hardware-software combine means new technology.

We walked away with a warm glow inside – the kind of glow that suffuses through one after one has had the opportunity to listen to a great orator. Kind of like how the masses probably felt after Hitler or Churchill delivered a particularly hot one!

Want to learn How not to conduct an event? Don’t do it as it is done at Chandamama!

The ad-zap competition is, in most of the civilized world, a fun event.

But Chandamama, as I have had reason to mention before, tries to break away from civilization.

As the competition started, a scrawny looking ferret and the vulture whose taste in human flesh and blood was akin to Dracula’s, walked in. We could see nothing in the room that could appeal to their bloodthirsty natures, and wondered why they’d decided to haunt the room.

Then, the human vampire spoke. His eyes raced around the room, and he bestowed a glare of Snapeian proportions as his eyes rested upon us ‘goondas’ from Hindustan.

‘I yam the judge, and Mr. Selvakumar is the judge also. Yin the ad-zap program, you should naat use obscenity worrds, you should naat say anything about paliticians, yactresses , yactors and wother VIPs. No boy-girl team – wautomatic disqualification.‘

(read: you say something about our honourable chairman, I will personally see to it that you are castrated.)

This was a body blow to us. Being exactly the kind of politically incorrect blokes who revel in using obscene language calculated to turn the air around us blue, the vampire had practically driven a stake right through us!

The first team made the lecturers laugh, and us barf. The second team actually got them to laugh harder – not a pretty sight, trust me!

And they did it all in Tamil.

And we knew that if we spoke in Tamil, we were likely to get the rest of the audience laughing at us – what with our undeniable skills in waxing eloquent in Classical Divine Tamizh being as it were.

The non-controversial, politically correct topic given us was ‘Suchi mango pickles’ – an ad that Prahlad Kakkar would have been hard pressed to create. And we couldn’t even get some woman to strip on stage to grab eyeballs (and a few other similarly rotund objects), like Mr. Kakkar would have done.

After arguing with each other for five minutes – an argument which culminated in one of my team-mates trying to strangulate the other for reasons lost in the mists of time today – we went on stage and said:

‘Suchi pickles, semma taste machchi.’

After that, being at a loss for what to say, we decided to inform the audience that it was a 10 second radio ad, and the company couldn’t afford any more airtime.

The ferret spoke for the first time, ‘Why you are saying radio? How we know how the pickle taste on radio?’

I was going to give the retarded blighter some non-committal answer when my friend grabbed the mike,

‘Sir, have you seen a Durex ad for a lemon-flavoured condom? Were you able to see how it tastes? But you still buy it, don’t you?’

A stunned silence followed, and we executed a hurried exit, followed by bear – like that chap in one of Shakespeare’s plays.

If you’re wondering what happened next, it will suffice to say that we weren’t castrated.


As we left ignominiously, I espied in the distance an old schoolmate of mine. I waved out to her, smiled that smile that so many have found irresistible, and mimed a salutation.

She merely glared at me and turned away.

I remained perplexed until I received a call from her in the evening.

You retarded b******, why on earth did you have to say hi? My lecturer screwed my happiness for being chummy with a guy and now I have to bake in the sun for the next three days - punishment!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Dares and other techniques to embarrass yourself (or some readily available scapegoat)

These anecdotes of real-life dares performed by real people should give you an inkling of the kind of dares you can perform (and the kind of people myself and my comrades are.)

Dares to pester the teacher with-

For years, I have mulled over how lecturers manage to make topics which make such interesting reading in magazines like Chip and Digit so dull when it comes to putting chalk to blackboard.

And therefore, due to this enforced idleness, I have spent many of these aforementioned idle hours researching how a student could contribute to the fair cause of making lectures less tortuous.

And indeed, nothing livens up a boring lecture more than some student playing a prank on the lecturer as a dare.

Students who are game for a dare or two can be classified into two sub-genres –

1. The insanes–

These are the people who are ready to do anything for a lark. And thankfully for bored instigators like myself, their definition of anything really means anything! Sadly, the insanes are a dying breed and their declining numbers stand testimony to the increasing efficacy of lunatic asylums around the country.

2. The mercenaries

The mercenaries are, quite literally, mercenaries.

These are the blokes who refrain from spitting on Singaporean streets only because of the fines, and not because of Lee Kuan Yew’s efficient handling of the whip.

These are the blighters who would dance naked over a minefield in Doda if paid five rupees to perform the feat. Most people who agree to do dares are, rather unfortunately, mercenaries.

Anecdote # 1 - ‘Miss, miss, this boy, no, miss…‘ – a.k.a The Return of Gandhi

NOTE: To gain a quick introduction to Gandhi, the character who features prominently in this tome, please read my earlier post on PRANK SMSes

It was during a lecture which was breaking every contemporary record (by turning out to be the most boring ever in the long and dreary history of engineering education)
that one of my friends placed the offer on the table.

I was astounded, shocked and proud of my friend for coming up with the idea. It was an idea worthy of Gandhi, that reincarnation of Machiaveli who had repeatedly proved himself to be twice as villainous as the original (readers who have read the post where I had spoken of my tryst with being a prank SMSer will definitely agree). I told him so.

The chap seemed pleased as punch and beckoned to Gandhi who was sprawled over the last bench, snoring.

‘Dai, Gandhi…’

The snoring continued unabated.

However my friend was a rubber-band snapper of such note that he could have won India an Olympic medal in the event, if only the Olympics organizers showed enough sense to turn the ancient rubber-band snapping into an event. So, he decided that the moment was ripe to snap a rubber-band or two at Gandhi.

The rubber-band achieved what neither the monotonous drone of the lecturer nor our repeated pleas could. Gandhi snapped up, wide awake.

The lecturer looked startled as this was probably the first time she was actually seeing signs of life in Gandhi. Till that moment, she had imagined Gandhi to be a motionless mane of shaggy hair buried under the desk. Gandhi’s sudden movement moved the lecturer so much that she took it upon herself to thank Gandhi for indicating to her for the first time that he was not part of the classroom furniture.

My friend beckoned him over. Gandhi rose up groggily and walked across the classroom to where we were. Since the lecturer’s back was turned by then, she was not witness to this astonishing sign of life in the man!

My friend quickly explained his master plan to Gandhi.

‘Good… I’m proud of you, m’boy…’, said Gandhi, in a fatherly manner I found terribly patronizing.

‘Shall we do it?’, my friend asked, bouncing up and down in his eagerness.

‘Sure…go ahead. I plant firmly my seal of approval on this plan…’

‘Er… I was more like, y’know, thinking of you doing it, y’know!’, said my friend in
a rather awe-struck manner which was entirely unbecoming when he was talking to a rank swindler like Gandhi.

‘How much do I get?’, asked he.

I couldn’t stay silent any longer.

‘How the f*** can you sell yourself in this way, you &%^&!!?’, I screamed. A first bencher turned around and glared at me for disturbing her concentration with such ungentlemanly language.

‘I’ll leave being a gigolo to you. I’m a mercenary, pure and simple…’

Ignoring my guffaw that was laced with the purest brand of sarcasm, my friend forked out a twenty rupee note out of his wallet.

Gandhi viewed his (unfortunate) namesake who beamed at him beatifically from the face of the note greedily. The deal was sealed…

A few minutes later, the lecturer turned towards the class and began reflecting on the wonders of the RISC architecture. Gandhi stood up.

The lecturer stared at Gandhi, dumbfounded. A few seconds later, she collected her wits and had a pleased expression on her face. She was probably congratulating herself for weaning someone she considered a dreg of society back into the world of the living. And he was actually attempting to ask a question.

‘Yes, tell me, S&^&%&, how can I help you?’, she said rather expansively, referring to him by his given name, which had never been used by a single one of his classmates in the three years he had spent as a student - most of us preferred to savour the irony of calling the blighter Gandhi.

Gandhi stood silent, staring at her with a blank expression on his face. Then he slowly lifted his hand and pointed a finger at me. The lecturer was taken aback. She could see nothing on my person that had anything to do with RISC architectures (or other less RISCy architectures, if that came to that! ;)). She goggled like lecturers are wont to do.

Gandhi blinked a few times, stroked the abomination he pompously proclaimed was a beard, and opened his mouth.

‘Miss, miss, this boy, no, miss… I am asking him for pencil and he is instead poking me with compass miss!’

This done, he sat down, still with the same blank expression on his face.

The lecturer stared at me in disbelief, made a general plea for order during her lecture, and continued…

A few minutes later, Gandhi stood up again, his previously dazed expression giving way to a more annoyed one.

‘What?’, said she, hoping against hope that he actually had something important to state.

The hand went out again in the same direction.

‘Miss, this boy is scribbling in my Rough note book, miss. I won’t be able to write notes into fair copy tonight, miss…’

This from a bloke who was still using the same exercise book he used in his fifth standard for ‘writing’ notes in class…!

The lecturer did not say much, but threw a terrible glance in my direction.

I began to have misgivings. The lecturer did not seem to be reacting the way I had hoped she would. But Gandhi and my other friend (whom we fondly call Big Ass for obvious reasons) over-ruled my objections and proceeded with the plan. I silenced the little voice in my head that kept reminding me of what happened the last time I ignored a bad feeling.

A couple of minutes later when the lecturer was clarifying one those doubts that first benchers seem to perpetually keep asking, Gandhi leapt up screaming shrilly,

‘Miss, miss, this boy is troubling me too much, miss… he is pinching me and grabbing my pen and trying to push me, miss’

‘Get out!!!’, the teacher yelled.

Gandhi tried to look shocked and maligned, though he just succeeded in looking more like a gargoyle than he usually did.

‘Ma’am, this boy only no…?’, he said, forgetting to put his falsetto on.

Then the teacher made the most ludicrous statement that I had ever heard in my life.

‘Not you, dear… you sit down…’, and pointed her finger at me.

I was at a loss of words. All my mind could focus on was the little voice which kept yelling, ‘Machiavelli strikes again…’

She turned to me.

‘You are a total menace. I’ve been watching you torture this boy for so long. Can’t you see he’s trying to rehabilitate himself – become a good student! People like you are enemies of mankind’.

Upon giving the request to leave a little more thought, I realized it wasn’t such a bad thing after all. The canteen offered immensely greater scope for entertaining onself.

But as I stalked away, the lecturer – who had probably spent her time till the year before last teaching inky fingered first standard babies – called to my retreating self.

‘And you dirty boy, you just watch what happens to your internals this semester!’

And a few months letter, as I beheld a scoresheet which read like Ganguly’s batting average, I knew what she meant…

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Long legs, irascible bus doors and other such ramblings

It’s been a long time since I have last put pen to paper, or to be more precise, fingers to keyboard. (Though many of you may argue that since the monitor plays the role of a paper, the metaphor that I have constructed is inaccurate.)

That was primarily because of what one could term an acclimatization period that I had to go through. After spending the lion’s share of one’s life in a place, one finds it tough going for the first few days one spends in a new place – among unfamiliar faces in a completely unfamiliar environment. Faced with situations which one never has had to face before – primarily washing one’s own clothes and cleaning one’s own room, not to mention ‘cooking’ cornflakes and coffee. :-P

So the first couple of weeks that I spent in Singapore could be termed hellish. I had been through the furnace. If today, Messrs. Shadrach, or for that matter, Messrs. Abednego and Mesach *, were to walk up to me and tell me what a hard time they had playing squash with Satan in the fires of hell, I would look them strongly in the eye.

I would tell them,

‘Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego, you have merely been through the fires of hell. That’s child’s play. Ask any KC Tech passout.’

And then with a light laugh, I would continue, ‘Have you had your heads half crushed by the doors of a bus in Singapore, just because you stood too long at the door staring at a cute wench in the miniskirt? Did you almost get torn apart by a VERY angry man for jumping the queue for a taxi – a queue that you believed did not exist? Did you have to wash your own clothes in a washing machine full of fluff? Did you ever have to realize the hard way that airline seats in Executive class have this thing below you which rises up and kicks your ankles if you press the wrong button at the wrong time? Did you ever drink porridge and smack your lips in satisfaction, just to be told it was a frog’s intestine that you’d just imbibed?’

A mortified Shadrach would trace little patterns on the floor with his feet. Mesach and Abednego, chastened by the perils I have faced, would apologize to me for bothering me with their troubles.

And my blog readers (assuming they haven’t forgotten the existence of my blog during the long silence) would throw slippers, stones and money at me. (Throwing the first two allowed, if you throw item number three as well. US dollars preferred.)

One of the best things about Singapore are the legs. Long legs. Curvaceous legs. Legs in shorts. Legs in micro-minis. Legs, period! A few trips on the MRT is likely to result in a severe case of eye-strain.

(MRT, for the uninitiated, the fancy acronym they use for a train that has doors and lets people in. And if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, the doors try to crush you into custard. Scoff if you may, but believe me, they can.)

One of the worst things about Singapore are the rules. You can’t spit! And once you’re told that you can’t spit, you just desperately want a good long spit. I spent 21 years in India fighting with a friend who liked making his presence felt by creating a ring of paan masala around wherever he stood.

And I have spent the past two weeks appreciating how much fun it would be if I could do so.

Last I heard, dogs who try to mark their territory by urinating on street lamps receive fifty lashes on the backside. That holds good for dogs of the two legged variety too.

Talking of urination, urinating onto a tree by the side of the road isn’t explicitly banned. But, when you live in a country where you’re likely to see the same people everyday, you wouldn’t really want them pointing to you every morning and exclaiming loudly, Nee wann piss treesh ne 63 64. 98 go go Shiee Shiee

(Which roughly translates to - here comes the orang utan/Indian who pissed on Trees 63 and 64 in Singapore. He just has 98 more to go before he’s made his presence felt on every tree here.)

No, that’s not the worst bit. The worst bit is that I shall from today be scoffed upon by my readers for not practicing what I preach. That’s because regular readers of my blog (assuming there are a few) would remember that I had once told them about the virtues of watching porn when in doubt. But I shall not (and more importantly, cannot) practice it here. (I hope however that most others have taken this most elevating maxim to heart.)

And now I turn to the little icon on the right hand side of my screen. And I see my worst enemy look at me. The little clock there screams at me – lazy *&(&(, you still haven’t done any work, and half the day’s behind you. It reminds me of the dangers of falling below a 3.5. It reminds me how I could create history of sorts by being the first person to be thrown out of SMA. It evokes in me the possibility of being remembered for posterity at the coridoors of SMA – maybe they’d put this portrait up and students would point to it and say, oh this is the bloke who scored a 3.4.

I would join the ranks of Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin and an old classmate of mine who attended classes at the neighbourhood wineshop more often than he dropped into class.

But I digress. What I wished to say was, Bye bye, sayanora, and a few hundred other words to the same effect.