Year: 2013

How To Receive A Person Distributing Flyers

Last day, after shopping at a supermarket when I walked out of the exit, a petite girl, possibly delving in her late teens, handed me a cyan-tinted flyer. Not because the single 4-rupee bag carrying munchies was heavy, I flashed her my left palm suggesting a “NO.” She frowned.

It is with her gloomy face in mind that I am writing this post. I am so ashamed of my action that I pondered upon it later that day. The girl was wearing a double-strapped bag which was stretching at her shoulders. So she possibly is a student with a heavy curriculum. Taking time out of her teenage schedule just to distribute flyers? To earn few bucks to cope with the daily life? That’d make her quite nervy & broke. And I just added up to her gloom.

So, how do you receive people who distribute pamphlets in the street corners because it is a compulsory task they should do to make ends meet? And what if it is a lady?

Next time I’d just take it and give back few words of gratitude. Because that there is an opportunity he/she’s throwing at me. Maybe,  the flyer consists details of a free exhibition nearby? Or a book giveaway session? Or a free dental checkup? Or… So, that serves two purposes: 1.) the person distributing has one flyer less to deal with and 2.) you are exposed to some offer. And further, if you are perturbed with it, just throw it in the next dustbin you find (which I am pretty sure in Mumbai would be at your own house). Easy!

I sincerely feel the girl I was talking about successfully deals with life issues as through personal experience I know, things are worse for people like her.

The Horror Of Errors

“Are you that dumb to not follow what we’ve been telling since the first day of exams?” the voice sounded effeminate.
I looked up to my right to see the person I had a bad memory of. Two students, sitting in front & rear seats from me, & elder to me by both physique & semester grade, thanked God they could waste time staring at what would ensue, so to get out of the hall after completing the ballpark number of minutes inside. It is mandatory for a student to at least spend an hour inside the exam hall before he/she can hand over his/her paper & get out.

“Sir?” I was already mad at Question No. 1 for it was not only compulsory but also included sub-questions I had unluckily skipped last day. The face of the person proved to be another source of exasperation. He was the head of a department.

“You are supposed to write with black ink.”

“Uhh, I did not knew that. Uh…” My English got worse every time I conversed with a person I dislike. He had me write an apology the previous month when I was late for one of the preliminary exams. My lie, that I was late for the first time, didn’t work; I blamed the traffic.

“It is written all over the notice boards that YOU HAVE TO USE BLACK INK. How hard is that for you to follow?” he stepped back a little “Everyone’s using black pen… see!”

I never bothered to look what others were doing and this time it looked I’d have to pay for it. It was Monday, December the 2nd and I was attempting to crack Radio Frequency Circuit Design (RFCD).

“Sorry, Sir… I didn’t know…” I moved my hands to the cluttered desk and removed a black pen, which thank heavens I had carried for the purpose of underlining main points in an answer. Now I would do that with a blue pen. Earlier, I had already been admonished by the supervisor for not circling the goddamn holes (for seat number, question paper code, subject code) in the bar-coded first page of the answer sheet with a black pen. The instruction panel overleaf had clearly mentioned to use a pencil.

The man with an effeminate voice didn’t care to make much hype of it and walked away probably thinking right that it was an exam hall. A hall conducting final, board exam. (I wanted to call him back to ask if I had to draw even the diagrams with black pen, but you see… this idea emanated hours later when I was going back home. Happens all the time.)

But the scope of this post has very less to do with a black pen; instead it has everything to do with the people or the organization behind that diktat. Newspapers the whole month mentioned how Mumbai University was getting dumber & dumber every day, thanks to all those erroneous question papers students have had to fret over since November through December 2013.

Question No. 6 -> b.) Explain the function of BJT in detail.

I was happy to see those lovely words that day and currently happier & shamelessly more proud than you to know the full form of that acronym. The exam had started at 3 PM, the worst time to schedule an exam & if you were to take a poll, a 100% students would just comply. At about 3:50 PM, the guy with an effeminate voice had turned away from me. Ten minutes later, the two guys I was talking about, walked out of the room. An hour later I attempted to complete the question I was so in love with.

I had carefully written 3 pages about how BJT is found in every day electronics and had I known the real reason behind the black pen diktat, I would go on to write how BJT is found in the computers & scanners that would be required to scan & analyze the answer sheets. The black pen was supposed to increase the clarity of scanned sheets. The university has come up with an idea of scanning all the answer sheets and sending out the digital copies to paper checkers & moderators. Although this is meant only for final year students, the lower year students could do with a practise, don’t they? And I secretly & unknowingly conspired that night how black ink manufacturers were in ties with Mumbai University for blue ink manufacturers opposed the recent incredulous Supreme Court verdict on gay sex. Ah!

At exactly 5:25 PM, a lady with lots of rouge on her cheeks & vanity on her chest walked in.
“EXTC students! There are few corrections…” she paused & continued, “Question No. 3 -> a.), the first formula… For the constant conductance circle as (Γr + g/(g+1))^2 + (Γi)^2 IS EQUAL TO (1/(1+g))^2. There is “an equal to” sign.”

I corrected it even though I didn’t know a thing about the question. She corrected two more questions for minor spelling mistakes and then she said something for which I wanted to run out of the room and jump off the window by the corridor and dive with my head down into a plank full of upright nails made of diamond. The gaffe in that question was epic.

“It is “Explain the functionALITY of BJT in detail”… not function. It’s a minor typo there…” she looked at the bearded supervisor and chuckled. Minor? Minor typo? Lady, that is not what you call a typo… it is bloody mistake of the millennium. “Functionality” & “Function” are two very different things and now my answer would literally buy me a zero. And the icing on the top is that I knew “the functionality of BJT.” First, the question paper is riddled with errors and then you correct it half hour into end time. What sort of horseplay is that? I sat there puzzled, unable to think, cursing everyone I blamed this effect for. I don’t know how two of my exes found their way there.

But, it was 5:30 PM and I had three more questions to go. Eventually, I completed the paper with a handwriting which would make the moderator hire an assassin for a lookout.

This happened almost everyday and worse, the final year students suffered the greatest. It is shameful & naive of the Mumbai University to not check the question papers before sending out to colleges. I really don’t know the inside story on how they get prepared or anything about it. But this induces horror to the hapless students while they are attempting something which would decide the fate of their career. Not my case, but so much preparation goes into these exams and the varsity can’t spend a minute to check the papers? Or correctly send out guidelines? Or if you are so in continuum that when you err, you cannot send out the corrections a little earlier? This is so shameful of Mumbai University. I hear the repeaters have had the worst time. They are already finding it tough to crack subjects, and with these errors, I can not even imagine their plight.

It is a very serious topic that the university must take steps to contain & eradicate forever. We pay lakhs of rupees every year, why not create a question paper department? Why not make it temporary (i.e. only during exams season) & solve the problems of thousands?

No. What makes this episode reach crescendo is that the college teachers expect the students to correct the errors by themselves and assume the right question. How doltish is that?

On December 12th, a missing decimal point in a 10 mark question of Principles of Control Systems made my whole answer look like it was written by the panel of justices who gave out the verdict on Section 357 of the IPC… err, looks like I have got so much attached to the Mumbai University habit that I am writing erroneously. It is the section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which would lead to incarceration of few of my close friends for doing the same thing I so casually indulge with my imaginary girlfriend. A single period speaks two episodes of pure Barbarism, huh?

PS: BJT stands for Bipolar Junction Transistor.

A Theater Habit

Last day I booked three tickets for the largely hyped Hollywood space drama film “Gravity” at an INOX Cinema (formerly FAME Cinemas) through an online portal. Not only was the 3D excellent, but the film also was worth the price. I rated it 10/10 here! And guess what, the 3D goggles cost me nothing. Everything was brilliant, until the film hit an abrupt interval…

The 90 minute science-fiction film has to be seen in a single stretch for two reasons: one, it is made so & two, the enjoyment factor. The screenplay requires you to focus on the story in a single setting. Introducing an abrupt, yes you heard right, an abrupt interval just so the patrons go and burn a hole in their wallets purchasing heavily priced popcorn and tiny samosas is the modern-day malevolent technique these theater owners adopt. At least they could find a pre-planned apt seek position for the interval! And what’s worse, the so-called interval goes for 20 minutes playing ridiculous commercials of beauty products and stuffs. Imagine the latest Idea cellular 121 advert on big screen! Disgusting! It took me around ten minutes to get into the flow of the film after it resumed. Few minutes later, credit roll diminished my whole experience. I had planned to watch it once more, but now I think I will wait for the rentals!

The level of exasperation cannot be expressed in words, although my friends could write a book about that. I would understand if during a movie like “3 Idiots,” you give me an interval; the Indian makers also include the word starting with an “i” for being friendly, but when short movies are screened, theaters should act accordingly. They need to generate revenue, all right but what about the ultimate purpose of theaters? It gets obliterated completely. But the people behind this business know that aficionados will return to catch the next week’s big release.

A solution can be made, but it will only materialize if like-minded people start building theaters. Or is there any way that we can coax these theater owners to shun the “i” word? Is there?

I Once Named A Cyclone & Felt Acutely Bad About It

It is November 2013. The name was Rena. And it caused more than a thousand casualties. Although it was a dream which I now wish should never come true, I glanced at the headlines of TOI and instead of inducing jubilance, it worked against the purpose.

People in the eastern-most outskirts of India and beyond gasped last month whenever they heard the name of Phailin (pronounced Pie-lin) which was the given name to the devastating cyclone moving faster than the drunk teenagers’ expensive sedans in accident-prone Palm Beach highway, the only difference being the cyclone crashes and destroys whatever it hits unlike the sedans. Phailin means “Sapphire” in Thai and by the look of it, the people who named it are jubilant. It is derived from a list of 65 names given by few Asian countries. And before today, I didn’t know that even citizens of the world can suggest names.

What is the purpose of this feature? It is irony.

Naming a damaging natural calamity is okay as it serves the purpose of easy communication and record-keeping. But, asking the people of the world to suggest names is the most malevolent feature/thing I heard & possibly will hear today. In the dream, my alter ego, who is a bumptious bastard and can sometimes even adopt mind of a psycho, didn’t look happy when Rena made headlines. He had suggested the name online and the next cyclone that materialized (pun unintended) after the imminent Helen, was named that. Unlike how traditional government jobs take eons to conclude, the name-selection happened swiftly. The day came when the headlines adored the newspapers and outside the dream, I had visualized how the alter ego would hatch a Facebook status about it and tell every person he meets for the next twelve-thirteen months that the cyclone that caused very large casualties was named after his suggestion, which in turn was the name of the lady who he had dated the previous month and the relationship with whom had ended over a petty issue of the Hobson’s choice of watching the newly released Gravity through an illegally downloaded CAM copy and later how he would watch it alone in IMAX 3D was another thing which actually happened.

The irony is stupendous and can only infer to something dumb & eerie about our current world walk. The humor aside,
here’s praying good luck for the people who are bearing the brunt of a calamity which is playing havoc in their lives and which is also being talked about here in the noisiest city in the world to create unfunny humor. May the good be with them!
(Any humor in the previous sentence was unintentional.)

I Once Asked A Girl Out To A Temple Who Was…

…menstruating. And she agreed.

[Note to readers: The following post can be offensive, blasphemous & unorthodox at the same time.]

And it was the time when every other friend of yours refrains from non-vegan food due to one of the imminent festivals related to God. I remember, Ganesh Chaturthi was on its way and the girl in question was helplessly furious. She was to attend pujas at her friends’ places the coming week.

People who had invited me for their pujas felt my presence in their respective places, but the girl in question could neither go to her friends’ places nor invite them over. The reason for the latter being something like this: if I visit your place and since you’re on your periods, it will render me impure and I may not be eligible to be anywhere near my house, let alone attend the pujas. The “may” used in the previous sentence can be replaced with “will” or “would” according to the foolhardiness intended and/or involved. So there she was, approximately ten meters away from all the shining, colorful pictures of Gods & Goddesses at her home, watching a Television series produced in a state of a country where menstrual cycle only purportedly affected one’s sex life.

She wasn’t a girlfriend. She wasn’t anybody’s girlfriend, so when I called her up to ask her out for a nearby temple, she did not refuse. It is not true that I wanted to visit the temple to pray, but the following activity was just to thwart some beliefs. A temple wouldn’t prove the point, so I took her to a friend’s place who, knows that I would never have a girlfriend &  doesn’t know that the girl who was accompanying me was menstruating.

So, what’s the point? That, if it was the omnipresence that gave us men the Adam’s apple, then he, to be modestly equal, gave women the menstruation cycleNow, you should understand that I believe God exists, so that’s that. The point is that if He gave women the most-irritating thing, which also is an advertiser’s nightmare, then He sure should accept the fact. Why would He prevent them from visiting Him? Isn’t He being a mountebank? And by the way, what impurities does it bring, if at all? It is not a human doing, the cycle, is it?
 There may be numerous mythological testimonies proving why what’s what, but do I write like I care?)

There is one more belief that girls who are menstruating prefer to be left alone. Well, according to my experience, that’s terribly wrong and women need someone to talk to during “those” days. Of course, they are the boss, at least during “those” days.
(Note: An article on “What if men could menstruate?” coming up!)

And, the family of the friend who doesn’t know, welcomed us with smiling faces. I prayed standing beside the so-called impurity-causing material & imagined the impure frequencies swaying away from her towards the idol. It reminded me of many a principles in engineering and started solving problems on account of why there were ripples in my output frequency response. The idol was smiling at us gleefully as if it had no issues with us. And it looked like the smile magnified when the girl opened her eyes. Damn, before I could figure out the positive discrepancy in the response, pedas & sweet appetizers came my way and we both were directed to sit. She was cautious while sitting while I asked my friend where his sister was. “She is not well, she’s in the other room!” he replied & I got an inkling of what might be the cause. She was on her periods, too. Whoa! And I still remember the face on his mother’s face. I still don’t know whether it was due to the hidden cause or was she suspecting me of eyeing her daughter to make her fall in love with me. I will never find out.

We left and four years later, the girl in question missed her periods once before she panicked in her bedroom along with her boyfriend. I was not in that room, instead I was having the time of my life, having thwarted the belief. How? Well, the friend I had visited four years ago was successful in his academics, his sister still sits alone watching Ryan Gosling flicks a whole week, at least once a month, depending upon the proximity of her long-distance relationship, his parents still make love and both earn a total income of few million rupees per year. Nothing was affected with our visit that day and I believe, nothing will.