Thursday, March 17, 2005

March Blues

Keeping up the 'March' afloat, I think not only the Ides, but the whole month of March is generally a scary one. In the larger part of the country, the weather is changing with the squeamish ones running with perpetual running noses.

It's time for income tax deduction as well. Okay, I agree that all private sector organizations and many government sector ones now adhere to monthly tax deduction at source, but still many of them do not do it, including the largest employer in the world under single administration - Indian Railways.

The worst nightmare, if one actually manages sleep at night, is during exams. Higher and senior secondary students have their board exams; graduates, post-graduates have their yearly exams, while rest of the classes have their annual ones. Not only the students, it's virtual examination for the parents as well.

First board exams are special. People keep telling you it's make or break. Our History teacher had begin the count down even when we were in just VIII standard. All this built an anticipation, though a negative one. And as the luck would have it, I had an interesting experience on the very first exam.

Traditionally, as it happens in ICSE examinations, the first paper was of English Language. The chief invigilator was a certain Mr Chauhan with the built like that of a battle tank, and a copious moustache on which one can graze a cow. He was from St Paul's School in cantonment, and seemed to rank no less than a major himself.

He sat on a raised platform, and my seat was plumb in front of him. Soon, the question papers arrived in a packet, and to my shock he suddenly called me to the parapet. He was huge, and seemed even more when I stood beside him. I was relieved when I realized that he had called me to break the seal.

He first showed me the package and confirmed with me if the papers were properly sealed. Then he asked me to open it. I thought it would be easy. It was a pain! First layer was an ultra thick polythene covering. The scissors given by my school were blunt. They won't have cut a butter cake, leave alone that polythene.

Luckily I found a blade, so I began criss-crossing it on the cover. My hands were so sweaty due to tension that I was finding it very difficult to hold together both blade and polythene. After innumerable attempts, an opening was created, I tore it with some attempt.

Now there was a parchment-cum-gunny sac covering. I cursed my luck. Again the whole process of blades and scissors started. It was more difficult than ripping up the polythene. I had already taken considerable time, and by then papers should have been distributed. Mr Chauhan was also in considerable discomfort now, so he started helping me. Together, we tore opened that seal as well.

By then, the whole class was wondering what was happening. I sighed with relief when papers were distributed in a jiffy. It was a bad beginning, but at least that ensured one thing. Mr Chauhan never called me again to open the seal. It was always the girl sitting next to me.