Friday, December 16, 2011

An ode to the boobs from the West

It all began ten minutes ago, the haunting memories, the compulsion to write it down and the exhiliration of releasing those pent up emotions. And it was all because of her, the beauty from the West who was enjoying her dinner with her friends. I kept stealing glances. No... I do not feel anything for women.. I am straight like a pole, neither do I fancy her in anyways but she has been the central character of the 'play' of my life , she had affected my life in many ways she could never fathom and she never would. And as I ruminated over this my eyes slid down from her face to her boobs. I felt repulsive. I never could imagine severing relationships over boobs and 'her boobs'? and she does not even know about it.

It all began few months ago. I was irritated with a series of mishaps over the week with a conked laptop, being fooled by a laptop dealer, missing my hubby and delayed work. I badly wanted to talk to someone sensible and thats something I seldom found at this place I was.
I was trying hard to avoid advices, and apathetic anecdotes when suddenly my friend called me to her and said in a very serious tone ' Don't you think 'V' s boobs have flattened.
I was not a friend of 'V', and boobs were not my favourite topic of discussion. I grew up in a culture where boobs were always the cause of world's misery. I was constantly hauled, taunted and denied access to many dresses I fancied and I had thought of cosmetic surgeries a trillion times in life. I was also contemplating on countering these stances by learning to stand up and be grateful for what I have. I was even contemplating on writing an aesthetic primer on boobs and this female was criticising someobody's boobs to me.
" Since when are you interested in this ,I asked". I knew she would never broach this topic on her own and neither would she discuss it casually over breakfast with anyone else. Oh I heard the guys discuss this when they saw her at tea last eve she said.

I knew the guys and that this was always their favourite hobby. They considered themselves connoisseurs of female anatomy and freely awarded grades to contours. Though it did irritate me often I never brought this up in our conversation. But I was irritated how somebody's boobs was making way into our discussion. My friend looked upto me for an answer as if we were oncologists discussing over "lymphosarcoma of the intestine" and my nod was of grave significance.

I left her and pondered would they be analysing me too. But then they told me I was insignificant. Now did that irk me? I called the guys for tea. And as I walked to the cafe I casually asked them why they considered it necessary to include my friend to discuss a fellow female's anatomy. I asked them why this was necessary at all and if they were any different from any pervert out there.

I tried making them understand it felt horrible to survive a world of gropers and gawkers and the new category of aesthetic lovers was no different. I degraded their art to voyeurism and the guys froze. One turned to me and asked me to proceed for tea without him. I stared at him for a while. I thought I was making my stance clear and this was after all a conversation. He looked at me like an insulted critic- labelled- sleazy- porn- writer. He stared for a while and I even considered apologizing. I paused and pondered and saw he was walking away.

As his steps farthered I measured the distance between us. I did some calculations. 4 years of friendship never deserved a retreat over somebody's boobs. Was it so easy? Perhaps it was. It was always principles versus relationships for me, so I walked forward too. I had my first tea in 4 years all alone and I continued it for days there after. And I dont regret. Life never came to a standstill which was my worst fear.And we all survived happily ever after.

So my beauty from the West do you know those boobs of you'rs liberated me from relationships that were fragile enough to break away because of you ? And though I lunch and dine in solitude, thanks to you I spoke my heart out and sleep peacefully.I wish I could tell you some day that your boobs created waves in my history. You made me a freedom fighter lady of the West. And no matter what any critics think, your boobs are fine and so are you :)

P.S- To perverts who read through searching sleazy words... you should have quit reading after the first two lines.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Catharasis of a research scholar part 5- A note from a humble T.A

Invigilating exams is part of a T.A’s life. Its an exhilarating as well as an excruciating experience. Five years of overdose of invigilations has forced me to write this up on the catharasis section in this blog. It is my attempt to explain what invigilations have taught me in general. It also my subjective take on the topic and it is in no way a representation of the experiences of the entire T.A community.

What has invigilations taught me in these five years?

It has taught me I am the oppressor who gets up late than the students writing the exam and yet I end up getting a vada and coffee for doing nothing but walking up aisles and handing over papers.

It has taught me that I transform into a werewolf the moment I step into a classroom because if I don’t, I can be sacked for being lenient and cool.

It has taught me that even if students fart or hiccup it sounds like ‘ma’am’ and off I rush to answer their query.

It has taught me that management should install clocks or give students wrist watches instead of laptops else you are bound to run up and down the aisle every time someone asks ‘what’s the time’? (60 students asking the time every one minute makes me walk up and down for an hour announcing the time)

It has also taught me that invigilation is one exercise fit for bossy people who feel happy enough screaming ‘ I can confiscate your phone’, ‘ I can cancel your paper’, ‘ No talking you blue t shirt’ , ‘ Who the hell do you think you are fooling’.

It has taught me after 4 years students forget their names and end up being roll numbers and they tend to sign their names with roll numbers.

It has taught me that boys have a weak bladder than girls and even weaker bladder than older men. Because I dont remember going to the washroom in any exam duty in the past 5 years. Neither have I seen a male T.A or a prof do the same. But our male students like the primary school kids constantly asks for a break, unlike their female counterparts. I wonder if the male washrooms are inspiring comfy zones luring students out of exam halls. I hope to check that place out before I leave the institute.

Invigilations has taught me that even a final year student gets the shock of his life hearing ‘NEGATIVE MARKING’ and ‘ TIME UP’ ( which reminds me how effectively the system has perpetuated fear)
It has taught me that a room freshner is the invigilators best friend. After all its better than chloroform as you need to stay awake for 3 hrs. in a class where people like conserving water and seldom bathe.

It has taught me how not to dress lest you would want walking up the aisle to answer stupid questions like ‘ what is the course code’ , ‘ can I sharpen my pencil’ ‘ could your borrow me an eraser’, ‘can I drink water’. I discovered very late into y life here that male T.A’s seldom received such queries.

My experiences have also taught me that students dont 'copy' they 'help' each other and these are two distinct terms in their dictionary though for the T.A's both constitute 'malpractices'. Hence my favouite line these days is ' Exam is not a social service'. I still see the puzzled looks on their face when they earnestly try explaining ' ma'am I was not copying, I was just helping my friend'.

Invigilating exams have taught me to deal with crisis, mistakes in papers, malpractices and man handling, threats and tears . sleepy heads and clowns. It has taught me patience, tenacity rather arrogance and impatience. It has amused me as to how students evolve and so do us T.A’s from students to scholars to invigilators to gladiators.

And yet people ask me what's so much to observe while invigilating......... is it not a mindless activity?

Well I disagree... there is a lot more to it.