Archive for the ‘Idiots’ category

Numerology

March 31, 2013

We heard the other day that someone named his son ‘AAAbhishek’ because he wants him to be first in everything, including the attendance register.

This is a dangerous precedent, no?  Opens the door to complete chaos.  Allow me to demonstrate.

I think if my son were in that kid’s class, I will legally change his name to AAAA, just to mess with this AAAbhishek’s father.

I will mess up the teachers too, because I will change only the spelling, not the pronunciation.

‘Okay, welcome to the first day of class.  Time for attendance.  What the heck?  The first guy is a battery?  Quadruple A?’

My son puts his hand up defiantly.  ‘No, ma’am, I am not a battery, although I do get that a lot.  It’s just written that way, my name is pronounced Pramath.’

‘But, …’

‘Yes, Ma’am, English is a funny language.  Surely, you know that, being our English teacher and all.’

Now, you know how competitive our schools are, no?  Very soon, the entire attendance register looks like a practice sheet for the letter A.

‘A’

‘Double A’

‘Triple A’

‘Quadruple A? What the heck kind of attendance register is this?’

‘A^5’

‘A^43’

Unfortunately, there is no option of saying anyone’s name anymore because of all the silent and hidden letters.

This numerology business is really blurring the lines between ignorance of the language and plain ignorance, no? I am not sure how some arbitrary rules ascribing arbitrary numerical values to letters dictate what happens to your life.  That is just plain ignorance, but now you have to start butchering names to make them fit your messed up scheme.

‘R-a-a-w-e-a-e? Wow, that’s a beautiful name, but I don’t think I have ever heard it before.  How do you say your name?’

‘Um, Ravi, okay?  Jerk! Never heard it before, my aaassssss!’.

And ‘shop’ has become ‘s-h-o-p-p-e-e’.  Now, what the heck is that all about? Shop-pee, come on, there has to be some limit.  Unless this is a urine bank or a urinal store where you can sample the goods, I don’t see a justification for this spelling.

One night, for whatever reason, we came across this song from Unnaipol Oruvan with Shruti Haasan and this guy B-l-a-a-z-e. After the whole Ravi thing, I thought it was numerology at work once again, and assumed that his real name is Balaji, but apparently …

… apparently, he really means it and wants to be called Blah-zay. Who woulda thunk, eh?

Theatre of the absurd

March 15, 2010

Tragedy struck our campus over the weekend.  A student, celebrating his 20th birthday, complained of acute chest pain, following which he collapsed and died.   My heart goes out to the friends and family of this kid. 

After the initial shock, now come the details, some of which is probably subject to revision.  The student had a relatively sedate party, ate some cake around midnight and retired for the night.  When some of his friends did not get a response when they knocked later on his door, they became suspicious and eventually broke down the door and got him out.  They called for an ambulance and of course, they could not get through.  So, they alerted the warden of the hostel, who then called campus Administration, who finally got through to the hospital.  In any case, it was 20 minutes before the ambulance showed up.  Of course, that is not the official line, which is (from Dean, Students, Prof. Govardhan):

There was a small delay… much less than 20 minutes in the arrival of the ambulance. Incidents of such nature are rare at IIT-Madras, so the driver of the vehicle was not prepared

Well, yes, such events are rare.  Thankfully!  But, an ambulance driver has to be prepared for these things, right?  He is not going to a party, he is going to face potential life-and-death situations, emergencies, sir.  When the ambulance did arrive, neither the driver nor the two helpers knew what to do to help the student.  In fact, the kid’s friends did as much as they could to revive him, like giving him chest-rubs and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation done to the best of their ability.  The supposed helpers did not even do this much.  Eventually, by the time the student got to the hospital, he was pronounced dead.

I tagged ‘apathy’ on my last post on child labour, not knowing that the response to a student fatality would be even more stupefying.  For starters, there has been no communication from the Administration on what happened.  The chief medical officer has been conspicuous by her silence.  No official line on the sequence of events, no information passdown, no nothing.  The only chatter here has been from some of the faculty members.  Not too many, mind you, definitely not as many as those that responded to an almost contemporaneous discussion on performance-related bonuses for us. 

However, in an event symbolic of the shambles this campus is when it comes to useful intelligence, one Prof. speculated that perhaps excessive drinking was to blame.  This without actually bothering to find out that real reason was the pre-existing respiratory illness of the student.  As a completely gratuitous slap, said Professor also connected rampant pornography to alcoholism as issues that need to be addressed in getting down to the bottom of problems such as this.

It is at this point, we are supposed to collectively say, ‘WTF! WTF! WTF!’  Seriously, kid dies from pre-existing condition on our campus.  The best this guy can come up with is that we should address drinking and ‘consumption of porn’.  Fantastic!  I objected to this nonsense and was promptly asked to not think like a lawyer (for agruing for free speech, no thought control etc.), but to think of it ‘as a social issue as if you are personally involved’.  The law is a pesky thing, innit?  Kinda applies to people outside campus AND INSIDE.  Here are some excerpts:

Well, if you were a parent and found your son consuming pornography 24 x 7, besides a lot of alcohol, instead of studying, would you check yourself as having outdated notions?  Think about it as a social issue as if you are personally involved, not a legal issue as if you are a lawyer.

There are limits to everything.  Talk to Prof. —– about the extent of this problem, besides rampant alcoholism. We are a residential institution, so it is reasonable for us to expect students to follow a reasonably healthy life style.  At the same time, we also become answerable when things go beyond reasonable levels.  I am ok with us not being a residential campus, in which case we won’t bother, and I would like to assert that unhealthy life style would not contagiously spread across the entire student population if we weren’t residential.

My reply

Well, since you make it personal, if my son is consuming pornography 24×7 at his college and it is affecting his life, I would be seriously concerned.  But, I would be perhaps more concerned if he was consumed by some swamiji 24×7 or if he was consuming Facebook 24×7 or even only academics 24×7 or if he was going around 24×7 telling people what they should or shouldn’t be reading.  The recourse to pornography I can understand as being hormonal, and being exacerbated by social norms just like the one you espouse, but the latter ones I wouldn’t know how to handle. 

I don’t need to talk to Prof. —- or anyone to tell me how bad the ‘problem’ is.  I have come through the same hostels, seen it and dare I say it, partaken of it.  The problem is firmly in the minds of the self-righteous.  Reminds me of ‘Rain‘ by Somerset Maugham.

Thought control has no place anywhere, especially on the campus of an educational institution of our stature.

Pathetic! Pathetic! Pathetic! There was one more Prof. who privately said to me that the ‘present younger generation grows up in narrow-minded, selfish, consumerist, unitary families’ , and that we need to monitor our youngsters more closely because  ‘over the generations, it appears to me that improper behaviour – alcoholism, eveteasing, etc. – is on the increase’.  Chew on that cud, folks! 

Still, no word from anyone in Administration on what happened, or why!  Shameful!  In this set, there are people who go around asking us for our ‘Vision’ for the next 10 years so that these things can be distilled into a Powerpoint that will be floated up to the … who fucking cares where?  How about your ‘Vision’, sir?  Is it too much to ask for a good support system for the faculty, staff, and most importantly, students who have been entrusted to us?

Institute of National Impotence

March 4, 2010

Conversation at a cafeteria on our beautiful campus.

Me (to boy bussing tables):  ‘How old are you?’

Him: ‘Eighteen’

Me: ‘Really?’

Him: ‘Really’

Me: ‘You don’t look eighteen’

Him: Shrug

Me: ‘How long have you been working?’

Him: ‘Two years’

Me: ‘So you were sixteen when you started working?’

Him: ‘   ‘

A few minutes later at my table.

Him: ‘Sir, I am really eighteen’

Me: ‘I believe you, but shouldn’t you be in school?’

Him: ‘I really want to, I will as soon as I quit this place in May’

Me: ‘Where are you from?’

Him: ‘Vellore’

Me:’Why are you here and not in school there?’

Him: ‘Didn’t have money for school’

Me: ‘Doesn’t the government pay for school?’

Him: ‘Yes, but I still need money for notebooks and stuff’

Me: ‘How much do you need?’

Him: ‘Rs. 2000 for a year’

Me: ‘For the whole year?’

Him: ‘Yes, sir, the whole year’

Me: ‘How old are you really?’

Him: ‘Seventeen, sir, and I have been working for only two years’

Me: ‘When did you stop school?’

Him: ‘After class 9’

Me: ‘Brothers and sisters?’

Him: ‘One elder brother, one elder sister, one younger brother.  Only my sister has studied more than me’, anticipating my next question

Me: ‘How much longer are you going to work here?’

Him: ‘I told you I am leaving in May. I want to go back to school’

Me: ‘I teach here’

Him: ‘Can I get your phone number?’

Me: ‘Yes’

Him: ‘See my English is good’, showing me my name on his phone.

Me: ‘Yes, it’s good; when do you finish work tonight?’

Him: ‘At 7’

Me: ‘And you started at …’

Him: ‘9’

Me: ‘Breaks?’

Him: ‘Half an hour at 11 and half an hour at 2, but they want me to stay here till 2 a.m.  Some of my friends stay here till then’

Me: ‘So you will get paid more then, since you will work more?’

Him: ‘No, sir, the pay will be the same’

Me: ‘You better get back to work or they might give you trouble’

Him: ‘I don’t really care, I am leaving soon anyway ‘

Me: ‘Take care’

Him: ‘I did well at school; the best in the family’

Me: ‘How well?’

Him: ‘You know, 35 marks to pass, I got 40 or 45’.

Me: ‘What would you like to be when you finish studying?’

Him: ‘I would like to work at Hero-Honda company’

Me: ‘What would you like to do there? Be a mechanic?’, probably betraying my own prejudice.

Him (irritably):  ‘No, I want to be a manager’

A glimpse of what one might see around here everyday.  On the campus of this ‘Institute of National Importance’, we see children working in all kinds of places: various shops, cafeterias, construction sites and households and I am sure the situation is much worse in the city at large.  Most of the time, we choose to look away simply because we are busy and there are just too many such issues.  But, child labour is a bit too much to bear. Maybe because I am a parent myself.  Or maybe because children are defenseless, although I must say that this kid has a lot of streetsmarts, presumably from having to fend for himself in a big, unfriendly city.  He was so smooth that at several instants I thought he might be taking me for a ride, a feeling that I haven’t been able to completely shake off yet.

For what it’s worth, here is the Indian Embassy’s take on child labour:

While child labor is a complex problem that is basically rooted in poverty, there is unwavering commitment by the Government and the people of India to combat it.

Maybe the government is doing something; they do have some rehabilitation schemes and provide food and shelter for migrant children, many of whom come from the north and northeast.  But, to say that the people of India show ‘unwavering commitment’ to combating child labour is a bit of a joke.