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Campus capers

Harmful pranks

I loved to play pranks while in college. At that time, I used to feel quite a hero when I played those silly pranks but now, decades later, the memory of those stupid acts torment me and I realise how childish I had been.

Pranks are okay so long as they are harmless but it requires a degree of maturity to understand whether pranks are harmless or otherwise. I simply did not have that kind of maturity then.

I was in senior college and our physics professor was quite an amiable person. He used to begin the class by taking attendance. He used to call out the roll numbers and those present were supposed to respond. The professor never looked up from the attendance sheet during this process.

My friend was not very fond of studies and he preferred to bunk classes. However, at least 70 per cent attendance was mandatory for being eligible to appear for the examinations. This friend, knowing the professor's ways, would urge me to answer for him during the attendance call. The friend bunked classes with glee and when the physics professor called out the roll numbers, I would answer twice - once when my own number was called out and the second time when my friend's number was called out. Since the professor never looked up from the attendance sheet, he never found out that I had responded twice. I, as a precaution, mimicked a deeper voice when answering the second time. The others in the class would giggle at this and I would feel quite a hero. But, decades later, when I come to think of it now, I realise my stupidity. I hold myself responsible for encouraging my friend to bunk classes. Because he bunked the classes, his concepts were never clear and he always failed in physics. Was I not responsible for that?

'Cap'ital mistake!

I had contracted a severe cold.

What with a constantly running nose and blocked nostrils, life was hell!

Adding to the misery were the practical submissions.

The academic year was coming to a close and we had to get a certificate from the respective laboratories stating that we had completed our practical assignments. If we failed to obtain the certificate, we would not be allowed to appear for the practical examinations.

There was, therefore, a flurry of activity as we made haste to complete our practical journals.

It was the month of March and the sun was at its peak. Sun or no sun, I do not like wearing caps. But considering my cold, Ma insisted that I should wear one. So, I had a cap always slapped to my scalp.

It was the last day of submission of the journals, and I had managed to complete my assignments. I packed the journals in a bag along with the other books, and cycled to college.

Upon reaching the laboratory, I unpacked the bag, took out my journals and handed them over to the professor.

Having done so, I gathered the rest of my belongings and tucked them into the bag. But I could not find my cap anywhere!"

I began searching for the cap everywhere. I looked around the microscope, I looked under the desk and even upturned the heap of journals to see if the cap was lying underneath.

This, of course, annoyed the professor.

"What do you think you are doing?" he asked me, quite irritated.

"I am looking for my cap," I told him.

"Well, it is on your head," he said.

I felt my head and sure enough the good old cap was stuck firmly to the scalp.

With a silly grin, I edged out of the laboratory.

Even as I made it to the door, I heard the professor's angry words, "And, next time, remember to remove your cap as a mark of respect when you are before your elders."

The lone scholar

The freedom in college after a strict disciplinary regime in school, I confess, had got into my head so much so that I began bunking lectures with impunity. But this carelessness cost me six months of my academic career which, when I look back now, causes me much embarrassment.

It was the last year in college and the last semester. I had jotted down the time-table carelessly and had omitted one subject. The result was that I never attended the classes for that particular subject. In fact, I was unaware that such a subject ever existed.

I realised my folly at the time of the examinations. It is only after the examination schedule was announced that I realised I had to appear for such a subject. I had no notes and no books and, besides, I could not hope to catch up on the subject within just few days ahead of the examination. As expected, when the results were declared, I had passed the other subjects but had failed in this one. It was the last semester. So, while my friends could get admission to post-graduate courses, I had to wait for six months to reappear for this particular subject.

Anyway, I reappeared for the examination and when I entered the examination hall, I found that I was the only student who was reappearing for the examination. It was the easiest subject and all the others, barring me, had passed in the first instance.

The supervisor assigned to oversee the conduct of the examination had an easy time since I was the only student in the hall. He took out a novel and began reading after handing over the question paper to me. So, there I was chewing at my pen while he sat there smiling from time to time (possibly the book he was reading was a humourous one). He must have been the happiest supervisor ever as it was no big deal keeping an eye on a lone examinee even when reading a novel.

It was very embarrassing to be the only one in the examination hall. My embarrassment ended when the bell sounded, signalling the end of the examination.

I passed the subject. But I had un-neccesarily wasted one whole year (I had to wait another six months for the commencement of the next academic year). The incident had occurred over two decades back, but it still rankles me.

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Some useful links for
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  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu