Day 102: If she does not want to take class, you accept it and move on

I showed up at Uni today, after sucking it up in traffic for one and a half hour, and I find out that the class teacher, the teacher for hour 1 is absent. I understand everybody has emergencies, and every teacher needs her time off. But I what I do not understand is how your professionalism as a teacher lets you not show up to class, and not make alternate arrangements for your class.

When A spoke to the HOD (wink wink, the model citizen), he bombarded her with comments about how if teachers did not want to come to college, then students just had to suck it out and take a free hour off. Students didn’t have a right to attendance, he made it sound like. He did not let her respond to any of his comments, and just bombarded her with his outdated theories.

We spoke to JK later on, and she reminded us about her M. Ed days in Bangalore University, and how students had no right to question for attendance. Even if the teacher was in the office, but did not feel like taking the class, we could do nothing, she said. She asked us to suck it up, and ask teachers that we knew to see if they could adjust their classes with us. And if they couldn’t, to suck it up and have a break.

Unfortunately, I do not approve of or agree with their logic at all. Every student makes an effort to make it to class every day, mental, physical and emotional effort. I drive 20 kms every day to get to Uni, and another 20 kms to get back home. I take all that pain to learn something new from esteemed professors who have the knowledge and the expertise. If I had to stay at home and learn on my own, I could have taken up a correspondence course and not a full-time one. And if I am not ‘getting taught’ after my 20 kms long struggle, the least that I should get is attendance for the hour that I showed up. That is the least that anyone can do to respect my time, and everybody needs respect.

Don’t get me wrong. If there was a process that I could change, I would start by taking off the one which requires 85% attendance in the first place. But, if that is set in stone, and this very same teacher had the nerve to send me an email that read ‘strict disciplinary action will be taken if you miss classes unnecessarily‘ after I sent an OOO email for being sick, then the teachers should take enough care to make sure they aren’t faulting from their end.

“You spent 1.5 hours in traffic and you didn’t take me along. Saadd!! You know how much I love the driving? But, yeah, standing in traffic is not a lot of fun, and I hate that too.”      ~ Scotch

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Day 101: Your dog is actually very aggressive

Like Father

As I drove back from an unplanned long-distance drive through the city, between being stuck in traffic, and ambling along at a snail’s pace, I realized that I was my father’s daughter after all. Growing up, I’ve always seen my dad go out of the way to ensure guests got where they had to. His theory was always that we had the time, and the means, and we know the place; so why would we subject them to the horror of a new place. I remember all of us stuffed into the car at midnight to drop off my colleagues in Bombay that had come home for dinner. Most people would call a cab and then wave diligently from their pristine balconies; but not Balsu.

I think it all boils down to the love for driving, traffic or none, and like father, like daughter indeed.

Aggressive Dogs

Scotch and I headed out for the evening walk, and we were waiting for the elevator, when the neighbors at 201 popped out of their apartment. The man had the little toddler in his hands, while the lady ran behind him frantically. The child lay limp in the man’s arms, and he screamed out for B to come help, once and then again. As soon as Scotch saw these two grown adults run towards us, she sensed some strange danger to the two of us and started barking. I held her up against the wall while the man and the woman hesitated in front of the Bs, before running down to the family in the ground floor. The elevator dinged at my floor, and we got in and went down to the basement to finish our business.

It was evident that there was some problem with the little one – choking, maybe?

When we were done with the basement work, we saw the man holding the baby and walking around the front garden, trying to settle the baby down. So, I skipped Scotch’s ambling in the garden, and went back up to the house. As I put her back in the house, I saw Mrs. B, and so I went back out to check on the child.

Me: Hey, Is their child OK?

Mrs. B: Swallows some spit. Rolls her ballsy eyes. Your dog is very aggressive.

Me: Excuse me?

Mrs. B: Your dog, is actually, very aggressive.

Me: What did I ask you and what are you responding with? Turn around and walk away.

“She said what? She called me what? Are you sure the B in her name is not bitchy?

Oh! these humans. And they call us the beasts.” ~ Scotch

Scotch in the rain - Rajani

Day 88: Bhasha Utsav Part 1

The radio broadcast recording all done, we herded the Swiss to the Kengeri campus to attend the Bhasha Utsav, Ethnic Day, at their campus. Since they would all be flying out tonight and missing all the fun in the main campus, we figured this would be a suitable peek into what an Indian college fest is.

Travel nightmares

Travel for these guys is jinxed for sure.. We were just past the major hour-long traffic snarl, when the bus refused to start any more. The fuel gauge showed empty. Some magic with the choke and PGS behind the wheels and we managed to drive up to the gas station up ahead.

Noise galore

We were in time to join the last bit of the procession. After sweating it out, taking pictures, we doubled back to the auditorium, to our front row seats. We knew our mistake as soon as the MCs came on. We had two speakers directed straight at us and between their screeching voices and the music, we had a headache in 10 minutes. The Swiss lost it at 5, I think.

Unity or diversity

The events for the day had performers from each state or region putting together a show. The Malayalis came on, then the Telugus who claimed bharatnatyam was their own, and the Tamils sang about Tamilan pride and the Congolese sang in French.

Through it all, as different sections of the audience roared to support their community or region, I wondered if such events brought us together or simply showed where our allegiance would truly lie. All the malayalis sat together as did the Tamils or the International students. There was no evident intermixing. The Tamil students did not go manic when the Punjabi did their Bhangra and the malayalis did not care much for the kannadiga percussionists.

So are we really that united, after all?

Travel nightmares continue

The return was a more nightmarish ride than onward. A few had to drive to MG road to drop off a USB drive, which meant that they had to be near college before 3. We were near college at about 430. The little bus driver took crazy short cuts and diversions and still got us stuck in traffic. My temper was sky high.

I think my mood was wrought all the more because of the attitude of the Swiss. I’m not going to glorify the traffic jam and the mish-mash of houses in the slums. But if you wanted an authentic Indian experience, then this is it. And I’d recommend you sit tight and watch, instead of riding your holy horse and making value judgements. Even Google hasn’t figured out an algorithm to predict the traffic times in India. So it’s highly unlikely any of us have. When we tell you 30minutes, do realize that we are not fortune tellers and have no control over the city or the people around.

Goodbyes

When we eventually reached the Uni, we got together for one final, farewell chai. I had gotten TallSwiss a bottle of Indian gin and the delight on his face was unimaginable. I didn’t realize in the last two weeks that the sober man could get this excited.

It surprised me that a few had tears in their eyes. Perspectives. They were all missing perspectives, I think. This was a professional relationship, and the network would be alike, no matter what. So, why waste tears?

I made sure that I said a personal goodbye to all, and apologized to a few for any hassles they would have faced in the last two weeks. Why was I apologizing? Some sense of accountability for the country, I guess. ‘Give India a chance’, I told some and laughed inside a little.

Does this mean that you will not bore us with anymore stories of the Swiss, S? I did like some stories.

So, this fancy dress of yours. Looks pretty on me too.” Scotch

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Day 79: Stand-still

Traffic in bangalore has been progressively worsening and today was rock bottom. One of these giant trees near the university fell down, smack in the middle of the road. A temporary shanty was destroyed, as was the bus stop right by it. And that meant hour-long traffic snarls.

The previous day had been a mess too. But I thankfully had a premonition about it the minute I reached Agara, my half-way point. A quick detour and I saved myself some traffic blocks and reached on time. The Danseuse had been stuck at Agara till college time and had to eventually take one of the rape buses. Today, she drove with me, and the tree issue happened.

10 to 9 and we were still about a 20mins walk from the uni, almost an hour and a half into our journey. Some strange premonition again told me that things wouldn’t get any better in the next few minutes. I swerved into a lane nearby, and parked the car at someone’s door front. The gentleman was thankfully nice and allowed me to park at a more safer spot, despite it being on top of a garbage bin. Danseuse and I ran to college through A-town and were in class on time. Traffic issues do bring this entire city to a stand-still and is such a pity.

People and their chatty ideas

Anyway, we got an overview of the project needs and realized that we had to create a jingle for the radio show that we would be hosting. A half-assed effort ensued because TallSwiss and I were double-timing between this and the work for New Delhi. It seemed like the other two would work when we were around and the minute we went to the other project, there would be nothing happening at all. Very unfortunate. If only people took pride in the work they did!

The reality sunk in when we listened to the others’ jingles and they were all pretty cool and ours was only a little Meh! Sometimes, the most chatty ones have the most stupid ideas and the whole team’s ideas are derailed. Chatty and the lazy ones.

Chatty and lazy? What about the most hungry ones? We always get punished, but we get the most interesting ideas when we are hungry” Scotch

Day 65: God’s Scratch

I got scratched on the left side today. Oh wait! Not me. My car got scratched on the left today. A shady looking auto-tempo swerved into my lane, when the bus in front of him stopped. Of course, he expected me to disappear the minute he turned right, but I have still not figured that skill out. So, I now have three new scratches on the left side of the car and paint ripped off from the passenger side handle. He even managed to give me those wavy, curvy lines; not the boring straight scratches.

Something snapped in me when I saw the callousness with which he hit me, tried blaming it on me and then made nothing of the matter by waving me to drive on. I asked him to pull over, made a mountain out of  the mole hole of three scratches, and a ripped paint, and yelled my heart out. When he realized that I was not one of those girls who would break into a tear, or accept blame and walk away, he hurriedly pulled out a crisp 500 rupee note from his wallet, stuffed it into my hands, said Sorry a few more times and drove away.

I stood there for a minute, a 500 note in hand, and three new scratches on my car, confused about the seriousness and the triviality of the scene confusing me. A number of vehicles passed by, looking over this discussion. A teacher I usually rode with called me to check if everything was OK. Of course it was. This is India; you are expected to get into a traffic issue at least twice a month. No?

Earlier that morning, when I was about to step out of the house, I realized that I hadn’t done my morning prayers before heading out. My morning prayers typically constitute a general nod in the direction of the prayer room, a ‘Dude, thanks for everything, and take care of everything’ conversation, and a little game with Scotch and the vibhuti; she loves licking that ash. I brushed the thought aside and went out the door.

I hadn’t done this crazy morning routine today and that’s all I could think of as I drove to college after this early morning drama. Was it God’s little way of punishing me for not having our early morning conversation? Did he really care about such little shows of gratitude? Shouldn’t the almighty be more worried about bigger things? And anyway, what true-blooded brahmin would consider my morning ritual a formal prayer? I mean, which Hindu God really speaks English now! So, it wasn’t technically a prayer in the first place. And what if I went for a few days without this morning ritual? Would it then be a bigger dent instead of a beautiful, wavy scratch?

Hmm! This God that you speak of… Will he give me the power to control your mind so you can give me good whenever I want? Like right now?” Scotch 

Day 50: Staring at death

My broken wrist has kept me out of the driver seat for a few days, and buoy, have I had some junkie, adrenaline-fueling episodes since then! I haven’t gone bungee jumping, or sky diving, or white water rafting in the last year, and yet, I’ve not felt as psyched out as I did this week. I’ve been crossing the Outer Ring Road to get to the bus and back, and that is all it takes apparently.

Today, I almost killed myself…twice. A lazy truck was slowly catching pace, after going over the mountain of a hump, and I thought that was a good opportunity to cross over to the central median. This was after all 7 in the morning, and not what you would call ‘peak hour traffic’. I was absolutely wrong. I’d crossed over mid-lane, when a Fortuner overtook the lazy truck and sped from 0-60 in under 2.3 seconds and was heading straight for me. My body immediately juggled between the fight or flight reactions, and made it’s choice in under 2 seconds. It froze, right there, in the middle of the road. I was the proverbial deer stuck in the head-lights, and this was broad daylight.

So, this was how I was going to go. Not a bad look if I think about it now. I had showered fresh in the morning, put on my crisp formal blacks and white (Damn! I would miss the Council photograph day), had a good hair day too and had had a sumptuous breakfast. My picture in the newspaper would tell a good tale, wouldn’t it?

I saw the whites of the driver’s eye, as his Aana’s (Elephant) ABS kicked in, sensed the out of ordinary braking, cycled 15 to 16 times per second and halted, a feet away from me. If I had to pick between the lazy truck and the white Fortuner, this would have been it; maybe the driver was cute too. Who knew? I was busy staring at death in the eye. He smiled and waved at me to pass; like you would that spotted deer that was about to become dead meat.

I ran away to freedom! I did get to take the fancy photograph for the Council website.

Life went on, uninterrupted, until at 1 AM, Scotch and I hear a loud bang and we’re up. I fumble in the dark, trip over some metal on the floor that I do not remember leaving there, turn on the lights, and see the fan on the ground. The ceiling fan. That is meant to be hanging from the ceiling. Turns out that the fan decided to give way bang in the middle of the night. Scotch and I had our heads intact by the nick of a feather. One of the blades crashed on the side of the headboard, and that’s what woke us up.

I had stared into the eyes of death today. Twice.

That fan killed my beauty sleep. Without my required 20 hours of sleep, I will get dark(er)  circles, S. Cmon! Fix that fan.

 

Anyway, forget that now. Yayy! Mum and Dad are coming over. Let’s pick em up” ~Scotch