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Friday, March 20, 2009

A Tale of two WHAT?

Before starting of with this post, let me apologize to anyone who maybe offended by me taking the name of a classic in vain. Considering the fact that movies have to put up with name changes thanks to offended communities, it wont be long before we have people offended with nonsensical blogposts.
However, I refuse to apologize for this story I put forth. This incident takes place in my engineering days, when I was an inmate of the men hostel. Isn't it strange that they refer to people who reside in Hostels as inmates? I thought inmates was used to refer to those-who-we-don't-dare-make-fun-of-for-fear-of-our-lives. In other words, People safely locked away in mental asylums and prisons.
Come to think of it, our hostel was part loony house and part correction facility.
In our mad house hostel, we used to have these impromptu gatherings in a hapless victim's room. Dapaankoothu music was almost always on the CD players, barring the few months when we repeatedly played Jassi Gifts 'Lejjavathi'. We imposed a moratorium on 'Lejjavathi' once we realized that we had started talking to each other in Gibberish rap, the language in which the song was recorded. Some of the studious types amongst us were never happy with the idea of us taking a break in their rooms. A classic case of which was Dildesh*. Needless to say, this reluctance was a green signal for us to invite ourselves to his room.
So there we were, chilling in Dildesh's room, soaking in the music, discussing Advanced Digital Signal Processing the hot girls in our rival college. All of a sudden, the ring of a cellphone interrupts us. As Dildesh was taking a shower, one of us in the room goes over to answer the phone. He picks up the cellphone and barely takes a look at it, when he rolls onto the floor, laughing rather hysterically.
Not realizing what had caused this reaction, we were all shocked for a moment. Impossible scenarios darted through our analytical minds: Could it be something like 'The Ring'? You pick up this phone call and laugh yourselves to death?
I braced for the worst and stepped over my still-hysterically-laughing friend to pick up the phone. I picked up the phone and looked into the display. Which was when I realized what had prompted the ROFL reaction:

There, on the display was the innocent message identifying the caller:

"Papa3 Calling..."

*- Dildesh was a typical example of the innovative nicknames we had in college. No, I wont be revealing what it means. No, I wont tell you what mine was.
P.S: It wasn't what you thought it out to be, you Perv! Dildesh went on to clarify that as his ancient phone could only store a number against a contact, this was his ingenious solution to store his Dad's many phone numbers.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

On Strict Educational Institutions

Last week, one of my roomies was hospitalized. Nothing serious, just a bout of diarrhea from which he has since recovered. Anyway, A friend and myself had gone over to the hospital to visit him.
On entering the foyer of the hospital, we notice a lot of visibly tensed people. A whole cacophony of languages is to be heard, with Malayalam and Kannada overpowering the others. My friend guesses that they must be students staying in some hostel. I agree, as I can find no other explanation for why such a large, pajama-wearing crowd should be assembled outside a hospital. Since we do not have time to inquire about the situation, we let it go and move directly to my roomies hospital room. A hale and hearty patient greets us, informing us that the doctors have given him a clean chit. Since we were not familiar with the formalities involved in getting a patient discharged, I go to the foyer to find someone who was aware of it. Which is when I overhear one of the students discussing that they are in need of AB+ blood. I butt into their conversation to inform them that my blood group is AB+ and that I was willing to donate it. They take me to the blood donation center and ask me to wait. Seeing that it would take a long time before my turn came up, I strike a conversation with another student who was also waiting to donate blood. He tells me what happened.
To cut a long story short, it seems that they were students at a reputed private college in Mysore, with a very famous figurehead. As is the case with a large number of reputed private colleges, this one was infamously strict. He told me that allegedly(this is how TOI put it) a member of their college administrative board went through the contents of a personal diary kept by a student. Allegedly, he also threatened her that the contents of the diary will be published on the college notice board. This prompted the student to take an extreme step: suicide. Fortunately, the attempt failed. However, she was in a coma and an urgent surgery was necessary to improve her chances. The surgery required eight bottles of blood and fate had willed that I should be there, at the hospital, to give my share.
I am sharing this incident because it would have faded into obscurity with a small note in the TOI being the only evidence that it occurred. The college will be back to normal, the member of the administrative board will continue his rein of terror on the students.
I have never understood the fascination for extreme discipline in private colleges. They believe that suffocating their students and stifling their voice will make them world movers. History tells us that this is rarely the case. Doing so might make them capable drones, but it would never produce original thinkers. I personally know of cases wherein once students escape from the strict confines of their academic institutions, they abuse their new found freedom. Teenage days and college days are very impressionable periods, and an important lesson that has to be picked up during this period is to learn from ones mistakes. Such educational institutions do not give students the freedom to fall, to make mistakes. They ignore the individuality of a student. They figure that every student can be replaced by a number against which violations can be marked, offenses can be fined and civil liberties can be conveniently neglected. One number to rule them all. However, they fail to realize that these numbers, when pushed and shoved for too far, too long, can behave unpredictably.
The destruction left behind in the wake of such behavior is devastating: A student's aspirations shattered, a family's dream destroyed and a section of the students body left emotionally scarred, perhaps for life.
This incident and the destruction it has sowed, is unlikely to shut down the college. I can only hope that this incident is a grim reminder of why 'we dont need no education', at least not of the strict kind.

UPDATE: I had written this post thinking that strict, nonsensical rules were a bane of the private educational sector. This post from Shishir tells me that these problems have started creeping into our premier educational institutes, including the IITs.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Take the bus, make big bucks!

I have read about how, after an aviation accident, airlines take out full page ads informing their passengers how safe flying really is.
However, the fact remains that I refuse to buy any of it. This could be a direct result of the pre-flight instruction: "In the case of the unlikely event of a water landing....". At least they called it right. Crash landing on water and making it in one piece is as unlikely as touring Pakistan, as a cricketer,without being shot upon. All of a sudden, we realize why the Hudson miracle was touted as a miracle.
Keeping this in mind, its heartening to know that there are others who are taking an in-your-face approach towards apprehending the fears of passengers.
The other day, I had boarded a K.S.R.T.C Airavat heading towards Bangalore. Being really bored with the familiar sights whizzing past, my eyes fall on the latest edition of 'Travel Karnataka'. I pray that you do not rush to a newsstand, as chances of picking up a copy of the 'Travel Karnataka' from a newsstand is pretty slim. Supposedly, its circulation had reached an all time high of 1 magnanimous reader as soon as I took it out of a waste basket. Anyway, this ad, placed in it by K.S.R.T.C. , grabs my attention:
In case you got carried away by the oh-so-fake graphics and the funky green background, I request you to check out the encircled point:

Yes, I know. What an effective way to persuade people to take the bus, right? Not only are they sure that you are a goner on traveling with them, they have even insured you for such regular occasions.
So the next time you are traveling in Karnataka, take the bus, grab a copy of the 'Travel Karnataka' and salivate at the thought of the big bucks that you could (God forbid) make!
P.S.: This blog post has been brought to you from an exhausted N82.
Mandatory disclosure: No Nokias were hurt in the making of this post.