Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Small Towns

After one of my classes, I was the last person to leave the classroom, so I switched off all the lights and ACs in the room. At least, that’s what I thought I did. What I in fact did was flip some master switch which cut the power supply of the entire institute. Both floors. I emerged from the classroom into Stygian darkness and (I imagine) scores of accusatory glares.

“Umm, was it me?”

Someone went back inside the room, tripped over a few chairs, cursed a bit, and electricity and normalcy were restored.

If I did the same thing at the Calcutta centre, I suppose people would have been somewhat irritated at this exhibition of over-enthusiasm and sheer stupidity. I might have got a few contemptuous looks, and soon enough people would have got back to their business. Not so in Bhubaneswar.

The other teachers and administrative people were more bemused than anything else. For the next fifteen minutes, we discussed nothing else. But what they found most surprising was that I, as a faculty member, thought it was my duty to turn out the lights.

“Are faculty members in Calcutta expected to switch off the lights at the end of a class?” they asked.

***

Mrunmayee told me that it is scandalous for girls in her town to get up on the front seat of an auto. Earlier she would never dream of doing so, but five years in Calcutta had wiped out the effects of her socialization. Just after college got over and she returned home, she was going somewhere with her mum, and they hailed an auto which had no space in the back. Without thinking, she got up on the front seat, and nearly gave her mum a heart attack.

***

I have not seen too much of Bhubaneswar, but I’ve seen enough to have a basic idea about the layout of the city and the names of the more important places. I would sometimes play a game with my students just to amuse myself. “Do you stay in Bhubaneswar?” If they answered yes, I’d ask, “Where do you stay? Kalpana? Vani Vihar? Rupali? Near the Railway Station? Acharya Vihar? Rajmahal?”

After four or five tries, I would generally hit upon the right answer. “Yes, I stay near Rupali,” they’d say. Or “Yeah, my place is not far from the station.” But it is possible that out of exasperation some of them randomly said yes to one of my guesses, just to get me to stop.

9 comments:

Rahul Saha said...

There's no difference in these small towns: your'e as irratating there as you were in Calcutta.

Indecision Personified! said...

Exasperation sroyon. Exasperation. Nothing else!

Opaline said...

Onek haha for the last one.

Shrabasti Banerjee said...

Haha. :D

Doubletake, Doublethink. said...

So this is why they thought you were talkative. Can't blame them.

The auto thing happened with us at Kottayam, when my mother suggested that I sit in the front so that everyone could fit into one auto. For a moment I thought the driver's moustache would fall off.

Abhiroop said...

Malobikaaaa of course was trying to be the conspicuous one. The doyen of the sexual revolution in Bhuv, of course, with her wild partying and auto-front-seat-hopping ways.

How our little kid has grown!!! :( (Wipes tears....)

new age scheherazade said...

I hereby SHUN this blog until all second-hand accusations of my fatness are withdrawn.
maybe.
and pinka, you're becoming a free uncomfortable-truths well.

Sroyon said...

@Saha & IP: I was just being sociable.

@Opaline & Shrabasti: Thank you. That makes onek+1 haha.

@Doubletake: They are now getting their revenge by calling me 'sir' on Facebook. The brats think it's funny. I have a full time job deleting their scraps.

@Lahiri: You should have seen the red pyjamas in which she came to Rupali Square to pick me up. Total traffic-stopper.

@scheherazade: Haha, you noticed even quicker than I had hoped. :D

Priyanka said...

@ ana: what, being called pretty is an uncomfortable truth? some people are just ungrateful.