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The boy stood on the burning deck...

I've often been told that I'm unique... and more in the spirit of a spat-cum-hissed epithet rather than a compliment. In one regard though, I'm fairly confident that I am of the majority - I loathe exams. Completely and absolutely.

(So, why am I doing another Master's degree at present ? Because I am a glutton for punishment)

Within a few weeks, I had contrived to fit in with the rest of the public in my Anthro class, basically because they were the friendliest bunch I'd ever met. But, a sense of bonhomie was not going to help me in the mid-semester exams that were approaching with the clinical purpose one of those carnivores one sees so often on Animal Planet. I was approaching the mid-sems with a sense of trepidation and decided that there had to be some truth in the old adage about misery loving company and all that. So, I brought up the subject of the papers with Gaurav. You know how it is... people egging each other on with an absolutely transparent and blatantly false sense of bravado. Anyway, I may have opined something along the lines of studying for the papers not being a problem since we had to give 1 a day. We were walking toward the canteen as this conversation took place and I expected something similarly reassuring from him. Without breaking a step, Gaurav turns toward me and gives me a look usually reserved for the village idiot - a mixture of pity and kindness. Then, in his usual blunt fashion (which I admire as a rule, but not at that precise moment) he tells me that we have 2 papers a day. Calmly and coolly, like he's reciting one of Confucius' maxims.

It's amazing how many thoughts can go thought one's mind in the space of 3 seconds. "Arrrgh" I think was the first one followed by "Oh! F**k " and similar choice blasphemies. Simultaneously, I had this wild urge to both assault Gaurav and throw myself in front of a passing car and ending it all then and there. In one of those tones popularly described as a 'strained whisper', I half-questioned, half-accused him of lying. The bugger, still passing himself off a paragon of truth, assured me that he was not. A couple of weeks later, staring at the 1st of my two papers for the day, I was convinced of it.

Samosa pav and tea was lunch that week. Its perfect in that it satiates your hunger without satisfaction, leaving you wide awake and edgy. At the same time, it arrives and is demolished within the space of 10 minutes, leaving you with about 50 minutes to study for the next paper. By Wednesday's set, I'd reached the low point. I knew my marks would be competing only with the Titanic for the prize of 'greatest disaster in recorded history'. Thursday, I couldn't care less. Friday, I was glad it was all over.

I walked out of the class after the last paper and volubly thanked the heavens that I'd never have to go though that experience again. On cue, Gaurav gently breaks it to me that the finals also followed the same pattern, with one notable difference - for the finals, we had the whole syllabus.

At that juncture, I may have become slightly hysterical... I don't exactly recall. The next thing I remember is staring at a cup of tea in the canteen.

Just staring....

Next: I find religion


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