Saturday, February 7, 2009

Femme Fatale!

I was about to pen down something weird about operating systems when this crazy incident happened which has left me in splits. Well, it so happened that this third year of college has been teaching us professional begging, which people sometimes mistakenly call: requests for sponsorships. It’s high time for us to wind up our fest preparations, but all I see is people virtually falling on their knees before HRs and night after night of intense phone calls pleading for that coveted association. So, one fine evening while I was busy contemplating about the messy condition of my bed and counting the no of objects permanently on it which has now taken a static figure of twelve and includes clothes, a bottle, locks, keys, coins and a pen; Cheema walks in with a cell-phone in his hand, looking for a guy who speaks Bengali. “Here are the contacts of three tentative sponsors for that event related to Geophysics. Two of these are our alumni and the third is a lady. That should be easy picking for you. Just employ that sweet Bengali tongue of yours and let the bucks flow.” I promptly came up with a “sure, I’ll do it” reply. Now I’ll be frank and end the possible confusions that could have emanated from my affirmation:

  • I have no particular interest in geophysics. Truly speaking, I have absolutely no idea regarding what the subject is all about. All I feel is that, what dt: the infinitely small time period is to mathematicians, a millennia is to geophysicists. These people are mostly concerned about what is going to happen to earth in the next thousand years, nothing short of that.

  • I speak Bengali with an ‘UPish’ accent and have been screwed for it a number of times at Kolkata.

  • I do not like to impress lady CEOs and alumni of our college. I do not think any good is ever going to come out of it.

So why did I say ‘yes’? Simply because it is so hard to say ‘no’ to things which let you spend time in the always welcome ‘no brainwork’ fashion.

I sailed through the first and the second telephonic conversations, chanting in Bengali, the well mugged up stuff regarding how fantastic our fest really was, with the actual multiplied by four number of participants visiting the campus from the actual multiplied by two number of colleges from all over India. The bait was well set and they fell for it. Finally, I managed to obtain their email ids and promised to mail them the details ASAP. With the smile of a winner and an unfamiliar confidence, I now dialled the third and final number. It was the lady’s turn.

I have said that the lady wasn’t an alumnus and therefore my strategy was to introduce my college first and then proceed with the pleading –an art which I seem to be mastering in this year. When the conversation began, I came to know that she was in a train (probably local) and was asked to be ‘loud and clear.’ I proceeded in English this time. (I usually like to talk in English with an accent, especially when I am feeling jovial. Don’t ask me why. I do not know.)

“......................................... and so ma’am we would like you to associate with us in the event. We guarantee widespread publicity to your company.”

She: So dear, (now that’s a start) it is so nice of you to have approached us. I will see what I can do. By the way, may I know your branch?

Me: Uhhh. I really don’t want to sound stupid by dropping that I am from mathematics, seeking sponsorship for a geophysics related event. Anyways, what would this lady know? So here goes my bombshell. Ma’am I am from third year Applied Geophysics.

She: Oh! Final year of the postgraduate course? Well, how many students do you have in your batch, dear?

Me: I really don’t get the hang of what she just said. Nor do I realise the deep pit I was sinking in. I simply look at Cheema for aid who mumbles something. I stammer out twenty three for no apparently obvious reason.

She: Twenty three! So many students these days! Oh, my God! So what is the placement scenario like? Are all of you placed?

Me: I was falling down the rabbit hole. The thud was coming. Well, three; no ma’am; two are still to be placed. Economic recession period ma’am, you know. Tough time ma’am, really tough...

She: Oh! I am so sorry! By the way what all companies visited this year? I need to get down from the train but keep talking. It is so nice to hear about my old college.

Me: I cut the phone. Let her get off the train. What was going on? (I suddenly felt the urge to play Hangman with Cheema. His turn first to be hanged!)I knew I had to call back again but companies, placement scenario of geophysics: I didn’t have the faintest idea. I looked at Cheema for aid. This time he was smiling. The game wasn’t up yet. I dialled.

She: The phone got cut somehow. So, you are in this postgraduate course. Tell me about the companies that now visit the campus to recruit you guys.

Me: Cheema has been trying hard to pursue the petroleum engineering course at our college. He definitely had more idea about geophysics than us –guys whom our department wishes to call mathematicians of the future. (Laugh out loud!) He starts stating one by one the companies that recruit geophysicists and I repeat along with him on the phone. I now realise that postgraduate course was ‘deep waters’ and so: Ma’am, actually I am from the undergraduate integrated course. I can mail you the exact details of our seniors if you please.

She: So you are not even confident about your seniors? Undergraduate course... hmmm... you must be JEE qualified.

Me: My chest swelled with pride on having heard her mention JEE. Uncyclopedia describes my feeling in the best way:

Oh, you are an IITian. You must be very intelligent.” ~ What every IITian wants to hear.

The quote also applies to ISMites. Guys unfortunately tagged by JEE as ‘people supposed to be brilliant.’(Laugh out louder!) Anyways, the ball was back in my court. Then the bullet hit me.

She: Tell me, who is the HOD now?

Me: This time, I seriously thought the woman was making a fool of me. She wanted to prove that I was an impostor. HOD... I thought hard. Then I remembered my friend Siddhant from geophysics. I slammed heavily on his door. It was locked. I knocked on several doors for aid. Seniors and friends from all sorts of branches came out. None from geophysics though. They were all eager to watch the show. I thought hard. Siddhant had mentioned someone. I had already been silent for 20 seconds now. “ Srivastava... Dr. V.K. Srivastava.” I blurted out. I must have leapt at least two feet in the air. The bulls-eye was hit.

She: Oh! Fine enough. Is R.K. Shaw sir still there? And who else is there in the department?

Me: The woman was killing me. I stamped my foot hard on the floor. I hadn’t heard anybody by the name Shaw in the past two and a half years at college. I decided to play a blind. No ma’am, he left three years back. I had the heart in my mouth as I mouthed the letters D-I-A-R-Y to the small group of onlookers surrounding me. Cheema rushed for it. I must have sounded like a typical newsreader as I said: Ma’am, we have one professor.... and in the associate professor category there are...... and three more assistant professors. I fought hard to keep a straight face as the ace was being played and finally gave a sigh of relief, not finding anybody by the name Shaw.

The lady must have finally decided to call it a day. She gave her email id and asked me to mail the brochure. My pen shook heavily as I burst out with laughter, while still on the phone.

Later Cheema mentioned: “You managed to sail through!” “Heh! The sea was rough though,” I replied.