नातेवाईक

टीप : मी जवळपास साडेपाच वर्षांनंतर मराठी भाषेत लिहितो आहे. बारावीच्या परीक्षेच्या वेळी मराठी पेपर झाल्यानंतर “आपल्याला पुन्हा मराठीत लिहावे लागणार नाही!” अशी अपेक्षा होती, आणि काहीसा आनंद देखिल होता. पण शेवटी मातृभाषा, तिची ओढ वेगळीच असते.
हे सर्व मी स्वतः लिहिलंय, त्यामुळे अर्थातच एक  ‘सेकंड ओपिनियन’  घेऊन चुका दुरुस्त करून घेणे गरजेचे होते. त्यात सागर बगाडे सरांची खूपच मदत झाली, त्याबद्दल त्यांचे धन्यवाद.
मी मराठीत लिहिले, यावरच एक अर्ध्या लोकांना विश्वास बसणार नाही, तर दुसऱ्या अर्ध्या लोकांना हार्ट अ‍टॅक येण्याची दाट शक्यता आहे. तरी पहिल्या अर्ध्यांनी विश्वास ठेवावा, व दुसऱ्या अर्ध्यांनी स्वतःची काळजी घ्यावी.

धन्यवाद.

कोल्हापुरी पाहुणे हे म्हणजे कोल्हापुरी पावसासारखे असतात. केवळ कोल्हापुरीच नव्हे, तर एकंदर पाहुण्यांची जातच तशी आहे. सीझन असताना क्वचितच येणारे, आणि अगदी आपण पूर्ण तयारीनिशी घराबाहेर पडणार, तेव्हा, “अहो, बाहेर निघाला वाटते?!” असं म्हणत घरात शिरणारे…. उदाहरणार्थ दिवाळीच्या वेळी.
आई बजावून सांगत असते, “आज कुठेही बाहेर जाऊ नका, सणाची वेळ आहे, पाहुणे घरी येणार, घरी थांबले पाहिजेस…”, वगैरे. आणि नेमके त्याच दिवशी सगळ्या पाहुण्यांच्या घरी हाच सीन असतो. बरं, एखाद्या दिवशी ठरवून, “आज अमक्या अमक्या काकांकडे जाऊया ह” असं म्हणणार, तर आपण बाहेर असताना नेमका त्याच काकांचा फोन येतो, “अहो, घरी आलोय तुमच्या, बाहेर गेलात वाटते!” आता ह्यांना कोण सांगणार, आम्ही तुमच्याच घरी आलो आहोत म्हणून. अशा वेळी थोडी गम्मत सुद्धा वाटते. “कॉमेडी ऑफ एरर्स” हे वाक्य शेक्सपिअरनी बहुदा याच परिस्थितीला डोक्यात ठेवून उद्गारले असावे. असो. याला उपाय देखील आहे; एक फोन कॉल करून त्या काकांना, “तुम्ही घरी आहात का, आम्ही येतोय फराळाला” असे सांगता येते. पण तसे केले, तर मजा काय?
असे बरेचसे पाहुणे वर्षभर येत जात राहतात. काही नुसते सुखाच्या वेळी येतात, काही दुःखाच्या वेळीच येतात. आमच्या वडिलांच्या एक नाशिकच्या आत्त्या आहेत, त्या तर घरी कोण वारले असेल तरच येतात. वर आणि घरी आल्यावर, “बरं ते नाही, तुमच्याकडे पाणी तापवायला गैस वापरत नाही का?” असा एक प्रश्न देखील नेहमी विचारतात. मग मी, किंवा माझ्या बहिणीने गिझर सुरु करून दिला कि आपल्या सुनेला लगेच, “मुलं मात्र हुशार आहेत हा तुझी!” गिझर सुरु करण्यात काय हुशारी असते त्याचं त्यांनाच ठाऊक. आई मात्र लगेच, “एहेहे, तशी आहेत हुशार, अधून मधून जरा… एहेहे…!” नेहमीचं आहे.
काही पाहुणे हवेसे असतात, काही अगदीच नको नकोसे असतात. पण शेवटी पाहुणे आहेत, करणार तरी काय? एखादी तिर्राहित  व्यक्ती असेल तर, “सर आत्ता घरी नाही आहेत, तुम्ही नंतर फोन करून या” असे सांगता येते. डॉक्टर असल्याचा माझ्या आई वडिलांना हा एक फायदा आहे. पण एखादा नको असलेला पाहुणा घरी आला, तर त्यांना हे सांगू शकत नाही, कारण जर तसे सांगितले, तर, “त्यांच्या मुलांना काहीच शिकवले नाही आहे बाई, साधा चहा देखील विचारला नाही बघा!”.
असे असताना, काही पाहुणे असेही असतात, ज्यांची चाहूल देखील लागली ना, तरी बरे वाटते.
अशीच माझी एक आत्त्या आहे. या जगात अशी एकच व्यक्ती आहे, जी जरी रात्रीच्या २:३० वाजता आली, तरी देखील मला फारसे काही वाटणार नाही. उलट चांगलंच वाटेल. ही आत्त्या म्हणजे आमच्या वडिलांची धाकटी बहिण. वडिलांचा तिच्यावर जितका जीव, तितकाच आत्त्याचा तिच्या भावावर. आमचे वडील नेहमी सांगत असतात. “सांगलीत मेडिकल कॉलेज ला होतो, तेव्हा ही तुझी आत्त्या, स्वतःची पर्स रिकामी करून, तिची स्वतःची पाकेट मनी मला द्यायची, दादा तू ठेव म्हणून!” यावर आत्त्या नुसती हसते, आणि, “हो, आणि हा दर रविवारी सगळे धुणे घेऊन यायचा, मग मीच सगळं धुणं धुऊन द्यायची!” असं सांगते. ही गोष्ट मी गेली पंधरा एक वर्ष ऐकतोय, पण मला कंटाळा नाही येत. हे सगळं झालं, कि पप्पा एकदमच, “आणि तुम्ही भावंडं बघा, नुसतं भांडण सोडल्यास काही करत नाही!” यावर मी आणि माझी बहिण काहीच बोलत नाही. कारण वेळ तशी नसते. एक जुनियर भावंडं विरुद्ध एक सिनियर भावंडं?
या आत्त्याचा स्वभाव म्हणजे काय सांगायचा. तसं तिने योगा मध्ये एम ए केलंय. पण ही जर एखाद्या सरकारी ऑफिस मध्ये हाय पोस्ट ला असती, तर मजाच आली असती. एखादा मोर्चा वगैरे बाहेर येऊन थांबला, तर ही स्वतः त्या ऑफिसचं किचन वापरून त्या मोर्च्यातील कार्यकर्त्यांना चहा वगैरे करून देईल. आम्ही शाळेत शिकत असताना उन्हाळ्याची सुट्टी लागली कि सगळ्यात आधी पोहायला जाणार याची उत्सुकता, आणि त्या मागोमाग ‘आत्त्याच्या घरी राहायला जायचं!’ याची असायची. त्यामुळे सुट्टीत तिची २ मुले, मी व माझी बहिण, आमच्या मोठ्या काकांची ३ मुले, आणि एखादा गेस्ट अपिअरन्स देणारी दीदी, अशी एक १० जणांची टोळी त्या घरात असायची. तसं आम्ही घरात नासायचोच, कारण दिवसभर काही न काही तर खेळायला सगळेजण बाहेरच असायचो. मग आम्हाला शोधत, हाका मारत, थोडासा रागावलेला चेहरा करत आत्त्या बाहेर यायच्या, आणि आम्हाला अक्षरशः ओढून घरी न्यायच्या. रात्रीचं जेवण झाल्यानंतर सगळ्यांना झोपी घालायच्या. त्यात आमच्यात ‘झोपल्याची आक्टिंग करा, नंतर दंगा करूया’ असाही संदेश आमच्यातल्या मोठ्या मेंबर्स कडून यायचा. बहुदा आत्त्याला हे ठाऊक असावं, कारण आम्ही उठून बसणार, इतक्यात ती दरवाजा उघडून परत आत यायची, तेही हसत. पुन्हा सगळ्यांना झोपी घालण्याचा प्रयास सुरु.
नुकतेच आत्त्याने घरीच योगाचे क्लासेस सुरु केले. माझी बहिणही थोडे दिवस गेली. ती घरी परत आली कि आम्ही, “आज काय शिकवलं?” न विचारता, “आज काय खाल्लस?” हाच प्रश्न विचारायचो. आत्त्याच्या हाताला एक वेगळी चव असते. त्यामुळे जरी मला कधी एखादे, “डबा देऊन ये” असे काम लागते, तेव्हा जरी गडबडीत असलो तरी काहीतर खाल्ल्याशिवाय ती घराबाहेर सोडत नाही, आणि मी जातही नाही.
आम्ही भावंडं जसजसे मोठे होत गेलो, तसतसे शिकायला बाहेरही गेलो. माझ्या वयाचा तिचा मोठा मुलगा पुण्यात असतो, तर काकांची मुलगी चेन्नई ला असते. मी सद्ध्या तरी इथे आहे, पण लवकरच मीही नसेन. पण कधीही एखादे कार्यक्रम असेल, तर आत्त्या स्वतः सर्वांना घरी बोलावते, आणि कोण नसेल तर त्याला फोन करून सगळ्यांना बोलायला लावते. स्वतः मात्र नाही बोलत.
शिक्षणासाठी मीही बाहेर जाईन, तेव्हा कदाचित मलाही असाच फोन येईल. मला ते टीवी मध्ये दाखवतात तसं ‘परिवाराशी नातं जपून ठेवणे’ वगैरे भानगड जमत नाही. मुळात नाती जपणे, हे मला लहानपणापासूनच जमलेलं नाही. पण इथल्या काही गोष्टी मला सारख्या आठवतील, मला परत येण्यास भाग पाडतील, त्यात “आत्त्या” एक आहे.

A Reward In Itself

I encounter many scenarios where I hate myself for not being too glib. Moments where I wish I could have spoken my mind instead of just going with the flow. Not that I am bad at impromptu speeches; in fact, if the British Council is to be trusted, I am pretty good at it. But there are some social instances where I go completely numb, and can only muster that sheepish smile which I think is the best bit of modesty I am capable of. Moments which I later regret, wishing I could turn back the seconds, and express what I really felt instead of leaving it to imagination. Today was one such day.

I have always thought of myself as a fair teacher, as someone who can get the point across to the students inside the classroom. When I am teaching, I am no longer myself. That is one time where I can lose track of everything, and do what I like doing best; giving. Imparting knowledge about anything is in itself a skill, and as vain as I might sound, I have been blessed with this skill. However, till date, I was only a self proclaimed good teacher. To be honest, that is all the certification I need with most things, but when it comes to something that is a two way street, like teaching, I had lately begun to realize that maybe, just maybe, self assurance wasn’t enough. Which was why the project I took up last week was even more important to me. I was not only helping my students grow. I was gauging my own growth.

Today was the last day of the workshop. Needless to say, it was fun throughout, and enlightening for not just the students, but me as well. The past week, I learnt that as a person, if you have the determination, you can grow and develop as much as you want. I might have taught them professional skills, but I ended up learning a bit about life myself. You don’t always need a long time to improve; sometimes, pushing the right buttons can be even more effective. Effective it was; so much, that quantifying the difference between day one and day six would be an insult to the students themselves. And this, if I am honest to myself, was the best reward a teacher could ask for.

But I got much more.

The entire event ended with the usual feedback and pep talk given by me, and I was preparing myself for the evening traffic that I would have to go through on my way back home, when one of the students got to the front and asked for permission to add something. I pretty much lost track of what she said after saying that she was proud to have been part of my class, because that’s where I got numb. I vaguely remember the organizer of the workshop adding afterwards that I was someone other youngsters could look up to, and that I was different (I know that) in a good way (I didn’t expect that).

But I wasn’t really numb.

Even though this wasn’t death, I was having flashbacks of my life. And my thoughts could only lay on two people. Two ends of a spectrum of teachers, but who, weirdly enough, were connected by a fine thread that was me.

One of them was the first person who believed that I could be a teacher, and gave me my first teaching assignment a couple of years ago.

The other was my grandfather who passed away when I was two, but the stories of whose teaching and life I have been fondly listening to ever since I could remember.

And after what I witnessed today, I realized, this was something I could keep on doing. Not at a professional level, no; that would commercialize it, and that’s where the fun dies. I want to play the game for the game’s own sake.

This was not in accordance to my usual style of writing. But then again, what I received today was not in accordance to what I expect either. This was something else, and while this should have blown my ego to the point of bursting, this has humbled me.

I don’t know when I will be teaching those kids again. I don’t even know if I ever will teach again. But if the opportunity arises, I can now say even more confidently to myself; you got this.

And that is the only way I am going to get better.

L.O.R. : Liar On a Roll

The past fortnight has been a blur for me, what with the preparations for university application processes about to start in October, and the fact that my mom decided to spring a ‘surprise’ family trip of one week right in the heart of it all. I now understand more closely the struggle Bruce Wayne has to face, looking after the family legacy during the day, and doing what he needs to do during the night, without sleep. However, that is not the only thing I have discovered about myself; in fact, I seem to have done some self reflection, even though that was not my intention.
As is known, every student wanting to apply for a master’s degree outside India has to provide a set of documents, one of which is the letter of recommendation. Technically, it is a letter written by someone who has worked with me, which by default means not me, about myself. But through some reason or the other, the task of writing two of the letters fell on me. Suffice to say, it was fun.
The most remarkable thing I noted about myself while writing these letters was the sheer brutal nature of my honesty in evaluating myself. A few friends (and family) joked that I could write anything about myself, now that I had a free reign (which is actually untrue, considering that I would still require the recommending person’s signature after they read the entire thing). But I could not bring myself to do that. At least at first.
I initially ended up adding a few undesirable traits about myself in the letters as well, which, if I had submitted to the universities unedited, would have meant “Goodbye, the end” for me. So I had to do a bit of trimming of the unnecessary, and amplifying the good parts. Here’s an excerpt of what I finally ended up with:
…possesses a cheerful and creative personality, as has been noted by the other members who have worked with him. He has a special knack for easily mingling with kids during the projects…   …the consistent qualities Virendrasinh has shown over the years are good teamwork, enthusiasm to perform any kind of work, and above all, a professional attitude towards work. He has also displayed an eagerness to learn new things from his seniors, his peers, and his juniors as well, and employed the skills wherever required…
To be fair, most of this can be described more efficiently, using the chocolate yoghurt emoticon.
Here’s another:
…in addition to being an excellent professional, has shown a willingness to do his part for society as well…  …possesses a cheerful, friendly personality, and most of all, is adaptable and respectful towards all kinds of people…
In all fairness to me, parts of this are true. I pride myself on my adaptability. Everything else? CHOCOLATE YOGHURT EMOTICON.
But these are the things you gotta do. Honesty isn’t always the best policy. And adding masala to everything is part of the genes for chefs, and engineering students.
I just hope the university officials don’t die due to either of disbelief or excessive laughter (or both) after reading the letters. That would jeopardise the process.
P.S. This is coming after a gap of almost two months, during which I have been riding on my luck way too much. But that’s for another time.

Adventure. Sort Of

I am probably the last person in the world to act on an impromptu urge to travel, to any place in general. As a result, this also rules out the possibility of striking a conversation with strangers from different regions; I hate it. Maybe it is cause and effect, I’ll never know. But whenever I do encounter situations where a long travel is inevitable, the experiences are pretty overwhelming.
It is at times like these when I have to get out of my comfort zone (also read as “room, blanket, books and WiFi) and step into the shoes of ‘Virendrasinh The Adventurer’. Decide if it’s an adventure after reading this through. It is at these times that I realize that I can, after all, put on a mask of being a social, even friendly, being. And every time (thrice in my life so far), I have found, much to my dismay, that it is pretty easy. I do not have to work towards it; I, for some reason, attract conversation.
And maybe because it isn’t that difficult, I don’t fancy it.
Even now, as I type my way through this blog post, sitting all cozy on my berth, I can actually sense the eyes of my fellow passengers boring into my screen, making it harder for me to type (partly because I have to reduce the font size so that they cannot read what I am writing about them, and partly because, you know, stage fright). But I have had this nagging sensation for days, a conscious feeling that I haven’t posted anything on my blog in a long time. It gets kinda awkward introducing yourself as a blogger when you haven’t blogged in weeks. (In my own defense, I have been putting a lot of proverbial irons in the fire since I finished my final exams, and have been too busy checking which ones got the hottest). ((I think that’s all for the allowable quota of parentheses in a single article)).
Today, as I waited for my train (as much as I make others wait, I discovered I am bad at waiting myself. I swear this will be the last time I do this; by which I mean both, waiting, and using the brackets in this post), I realized that I have much to offer to others, even when I’m not in my comfort zone. When a random stranger, who I correctly deduced to be another member of the mechanical engineering fraternity, approached me out of the blue, it took me a moment to figure out the big question: why me? Then I realized the answer was in my hands all the time; no, literally. A novel. A weapon you rarely expect anyone wielding these days, least of all at a railway station. And I found that despite me having had so many hurdles in my journey through the first year to the last, and despite me not sharing everything I had to, I could help him. In fact, he thought I helped him more than what was normal for a stranger; that gave me another idea of how much I had to share, and was keeping cooped inside me.
That being said, I don’t think I’m going to change myself into an outgoing human; it’s too huge a leap. I’d much rather stay the way I am and help those who seek it; but going out on a limb and helping people?
Nope.

Angst

“अपने हिस्से की जिंदगी तो हम जी चुके
अब तो बस धडकनोंका लिहाज करते हैं।
क्या कहें ये दुनिया वालोंको जो आखिरी सास पर भी ऐतराज करते हैं।”

“दिल के छालोंको कोई शायरी कहें तो परवाह नहीं
तकलीफ तो तब होती हैं जब लोग वाह वाह करते हैं।”

Fleeting Acquaintances

How often does it happen, that you immediately connect with a total stranger on a level that is usually attained after years of acquaintance? Everyone has at least one such friend; one that you’ve never met before, one that you most likely will never meet again, but one that you will never forget. You might not even talk to one another ever. But deep down in your heart, there’s a corner permanently occupied, that no one else can take.

Time passes, life goes on, and that person becomes just another entry in your contact list. A name that you are supposed to come across while looking for someone else. A hook that will remind you fleetingly of the few moments from memory lane. Something that you will then ponder upon at leisure, soon.

That’s when it gets tough. The floodgates are opened, you start remembering everything around that time, and you unconsciously reflect on how far you have come from that point on. Sometimes so much, you start to wonder if it really is the same life. Only to realise it isn’t anymore. You have changed. Your life has changed.

And so has theirs.

Then it gets awkward and apprehensive to even drop in that random text or call; what if you aren’t in that place for that person? What if you have to remind them of every thing again, which takes away the charm? Worse, what if you really are in that place for that person, and what if you develop a different bond, and thereby lose the ‘fleeting acquaintance’ tag?

It is memories of people like these who are a solace in turmoil, a lighthouse when your life is a storm. Sure, it’s impossible to know the real human under the exterior shell, but at times, we’re better off that way. These cameos bring faith that you can still forge a bond, that time isn’t really a factor to determine the strength of a relationship. That if you let them be, people can be good. That light you see in a storm, it isn’t always pirates.

It’s not always good to dwell in the past, sure. But sometimes, just sometimes, it might be the exact thing you need to remind you of who you are.

And these fleeting acquaintances do that just fine.

To 5555

84 mm

This is something I had to write for my book club. In doing this, I realised I can write stuff like this too, and not just humour. Time to take off the ‘humour’ from my humour writer tag.

The first wave hit him hard as he finally surrendered to the call that he knew he would one day have to answer. It washed over his entire body, like the music playing in the background, invoking in him a feeling that he could define as a mixture of gratitude towards the one who invented the guilty pleasure, of mocking towards the ones who still believed him to be unknowing and naive, of loathing at those who had doubted him and had been proven wrong time and again, and of overwhelming at this sudden surge of emotions he had never before felt in his life. The wave cleansed him of all the inhibitions he had been carrying deep inside himself, and helped him find yet another connection with the one person he never had the chance to know.

The second wave was even better, intensifying all the emotions he felt with the first wave, and then some more. He could feel the tension in his muscle ebbing away, and a new sense of hope rising somewhere in his chest. A hope that he somehow knew would last for a long time to come.

The third and fourth wave came in quick succession, taking the hope to a level of euphoria he was surprised to know even existed. A sense that nothing he did tonight could go wrong. What a night to pick!

The fifth wave came with the thrilling realization that he was almost halfway there. That he was halfway on the path of becoming a new person entirely, and that no matter what, he could not go back to being who he was before. In an odd way, it was satisfying to know this.

The sixth wave brought a slight sense of nausea with it, which passed quickly, and he was back to the newly euphoric self in no time. He marveled once again at the experiments he had tried so far in life, and could not fathom why he had been avoiding this ‘series of waves’. Surely, this was the best he had had?

Waves seven and eight were more somber, as he thought of the moments when he had been the one to ridicule anyone who even thought of getting involved in this method to happiness. It all seemed to have happened in another life now.

The ninth wave forced him to smile at his own hypocrisy, of how he had always cracked jokes at the ones who had dared to confide in him. He made a mental note to apologize to them, and to his surprise, realized that he could remember every single name.

As another experiment, he checked if wave number ten could further amplify his recollecting powers; as if his body wanted to punish his own skepticism, the wave brought about a fit of violent reactions. He was quick enough to accept that you could only truly enjoy the waves if you surrendered fully to them. This was no place for doubters.

The eleventh wave; he realized there was still some way to go. You never know when your journey ends, not until you reach the destination. The distance may seem fixed, but as you near the end, it sometimes takes longer to reach. Humility had made its presence known. Turns out, humility isn’t as humble.

The twelfth wave. It was poetic, how it coincided with the midnight chimes of the clock. He smiled inwardly at the little jokes life played on humans, and almost burst out laughing at how we thought we control life.

The thirteenth wave. The final one. The one that would give birth to a totally new person, come morning. The end that signified a new beginning. He knew he would no longer be half the man he was before it all started, but that was the point. It all seemed alright. It all seemed like something he could deal with. A voice inside him whispered to him that it was still not too late to go back, but he knew it was a child’s plea. He could not go back now.

He did not want to go back now.

Der Ärztsohn

Having doctors as your parents is like riding the Scary Trail in an amusement park; seems fun for the outsider, but leaves you witless while you’re inside. As someone who has been on the inside for his life, I can offer a fair insight into this life; most of which you have to live through for one sole reason, that your grandparents decided to make their child a doctor.

The worst thing about being in this demographic of ‘Doctor’s son’ is that no one can imagine you falling ill. “Aren’t your parents doctors? How did you fall ill then?” The worst I’ve had was when I hurt my shin. “How did a doctor’s son hurt himself so badly?”  If by chance you are blessed with an immunity of a two year old, then you’re done for. It is very unfair though. I don’t see anyone talking about Albert Einstein’s children having never won the Nobel.

Then there’s meeting other doctors’ children at any event, as a kid. I still can’t put my finger on what’s worse; having to deal with people older than you who have already settled, having to deal with children your age who are probably on the verge of entering some medical college, or having to deal with kids younger than you who make you feel like you would be better off explaining projectile motion to your dog. In all fairness though, the same group of people of the opposite gender make it worthwhile.

Then there’s the nightmare of explaining to your parents how studying for an engineering exam is different from studying for a medical exam. I could post a Venn Diagram of the similarities between the study methods for the two, but then I might as well post a topless photograph of Mia Khalifa. It’s like Rahul Dravid decided to conduct a course on Advanced Techniques in Shot Stopping for Goalkeepers.

The bright side is the extended school leaves, a good collection of books on the working of the human body, and most important of all, the lozenges. Also, some of the gifts the Medical Representatives give are actually useful. I do sometimes doubt if they keep tabs on every family member, though. Why else would a medicine company gift a doctor an entire ensemble of computer connectivity cables?

All in all, it is quite fun to be on this side. Lifestyle restrictions are rules, and rules are meant to be broken. Only slightly. Just once. Maybe twice.

Good, Bad, Whatever

There is no such thing as bad publicity’ – Don’t care who said that.

‘Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet’ – I know that one’s Abraham Lincoln.

‘Out of sight is out of mind’ – Again, couldn’t care less.

It’s the constant bombardment of crap quotes like these that gives birth to the Rakhi Sawants of the society. Sometimes you sit back and wonder if these people get paid for every Google hit for their name; why else would anyone go to such lengths to stay in the media limelight, for however short a time and for however stupid the reason?

Why else would one person of relative fame take a potshot at another person of relative fame? Because let’s be honest, it is getting pretty tiresome coming across unfunny, singled out one liners by unfunny people who think they’re cut out of the same cloth as Chandler Bing. Especially since you can’t avoid seeing the sponsored clickbaits on social media. Lucky we’re not forced to read them. Yet.

It’s not like the television media is any good. If anything can be said about the channels, they’re just trying to be the non-internet user’s internet. What with greater onus on sensationalism, you don’t even have to turn to entertainment channels. There’s always something going on, you don’t even have to follow a schedule.

So where do you go if you really want the actual news? Talk about dilemma.

The Missing Assignments

So I did something I do every semester: ask someone else to write one of my journals. That’s normal, because the university has distributed the workload unevenly among all departments of engineering, and while we in the Mechanical Department practically slog ourselves through the entire semester and still barely finish everything in time, there are students of other departments who don’t know the struggle at all. As has been my norm for the last 3 years, I gave one file to an Electronics department friend. Only this time, the situation became slightly awkward. Now there were a total of 9 assignments, but I don’t know why, she only said she’d do 8. That was a problem because when I finally check the assignments, there would be one assignment written by me, in my handwriting, and eight others in a different hand. It was very likely that the professor would accuse me of asking someone else to write one assignment for me, and not asking someone else to write eight assignments for me. So it was slightly tiresome, writing the one in a different hand, but at the end of it, I discovered that I could do a pretty acceptable forgery of handwriting.

Now, for the most awkward part. When she gave me the assignments after writing them, I didn’t really bother checking if she had given all; one, because she was in a hurry to get home as she was done with her journals and two, because I was in a hurry to get home because there was no point in staying at college any longer. So it was a nice shock for me when I went home and saw there were only six assignments in the bag. Where were the two missing assignments?

As is the standard action in these situations, I asked her if she had forgotten to give me the two. No. I asked if she had left them at her hostel. No. Her locked cupboard? Maybe, but no one but her had the keys, and she had already reached home. But proving that she was a better person than me, she offered to come back to college the next day, check her cupboard, and if she could not find them, she would write them again for me. Cool enough.

The next day, she traveled about 20 kilometers, checked her cupboard and did not find anything, and hence asked me to send the assignments she had to copy. I decided to check what she had written, and then send her the ones she hadn’t. And here’s where I realized the blunder.

She had stapled the last 3 assignments together. So while she gave me six bunches, she had actually given me eight assignments, as was the deal. If I told her that I had made a mistake in counting from one to eight, I would probably have died the same day, while being labeled an idiot. Plus, she had traveled all the way for what was obviously nothing, and that could and would be used as motive. So I decided to take a risk. That it didn’t work is another matter.

I decided to go ahead with it, and gave her the shortest assignments to rewrite. All was well, and I collected them, and neatly put them in the bag, never to be used in the future. The file was ready to be checked, and at the end of the day, when I was back home, and decided that she must be back too, I told her the truth about the assignments.

I leave you to imagine what would have happened next. And yeah, you’re free to verbally abuse me in the comments, because I, for once, am at fault.