Sunday, May 20, 2012

Resemblance Entirely Coincidental (Influenced)

Disclaimer: This post is terribly and shamelessly influenced by Diptakirti's post of the same name. You see, I was totally moved by this immense work of fiction, and felt like producing something of a similar kind. Why, I didn't even bother to change the title!

***

Long, long ago, when the Universe was, say, a lot of years younger, there was, you know, a very renowned educational institution. This institution, despite being somewhat consistent in their course structure, offered a choice to the final year students: they could take their own specialisation, or in other words, follow their own hearts as far as the options allowed them to.

Since the subject was Statistics, following the heart didn't leave one with much options. The coolest (and easiest) seemed to be Statistical Quality Control, that mysterious domain of statistics which budding statisticians have looked upon with a skeptic view over ages.

SQC, with its own unique course structure, had several remarkably unusual subjects to offer. By some bizarre twist of fate, one of the compulsory ones turned out to be Basic Engineering (there was also a Basic Engineering II in the next semester, but that was entirely optional).

Throughout the course, the SQC brethren never ever took a feeble attempt to look serious about this rather unusual of subjects. I mean, after spending four years in the pursuit of Lebesgue Measure, Bolzano–Weierstrass Theorem, Kolmogorov-Smirnov Test and Chebyshev's Inequality, surely the final year was not supposed to be spent going to workshops to learn metallurgy and read copious amounts of, well, inorganic chemistry?

The seven SQC people had a summit meeting a week before the final examination, and Subhasish (abbreviated to Subbu by his mates; shall also be subsequently referred to by the same name) conjured up the courage to ask the Professor about suggestions, which was basically one word for "Sir, what questions should we expect in the final examination?"

The Professor smiled. And then, with an unexpected good-humoured air, turned his back to the budding statisticians and started writing down the questions on the ancient black greenboard.

***

Two days later, the SQC brethren assembled once again, in Sanjeev's (or was it Jatin's?) room. The rather innocuous huddle was inevitable: despite the facts that they knew all the questions, had all the answers ready in their notes, no one was prepared to give up valuable time from their last year of academic life to "mug up" notes on metallurgy or inorganic chemistry.

The discussion went on for hours. And finally, a consensus was reached.

Subbu and Sanjeev were the most daring of the lot. They went to The Dean's office, looking for random stuff. They knew the right hours. They also knew the correct cupboards. The other five stayed in vigilance, ready to alert the duo in the case of danger of the minimum order.

The Institute had a curious practice. To save time, the answer sheets to be handed out during the examination were signed in advance by the invigilator. What the duo had managed to acquire was a bunch of these.

The rest, as the believers say, was history. The answer sheets were distributed. Each valiant SQC warrior went to their rooms with one, and immersed themselves into the rather demanding task of meticulously copying out the answers to twelve questions. They probably even missed afternoon tea at Rafi-da's, such was their dedication, though they did turn up for Friday night TB-6 at the hostel lounge. People like Chitra even asked for two answer sheets (he had copied them wrong on first attempt), but the team had surplus of everything.

***

Fast-forward to the big day now. Seven hard-working students made their way to the examination hall. They  were all carrying bags, a rather unusual spectacle for examination candidates in the institution (where everyone went with a couple of pens). They were also equipped with (horror, horror) T-squares (making the entire hostel gape in awe) - this was an engineering paper, you see? It required them to draw as well.

The tables were equipped with drawing boards. The already populated answer sheets slid quite comfortably underneath the boards. The empty bags lay at the feet of the warriors as the pens came out to write gibberish on the answer sheets provided to them.

There was a collective, audible sigh in the room as the question papers were handed out. The questions were a 100% match.

Soon, all of them asked for extra sheets: they need to draw after all. The heads stooped over the drawing boards, and very, very accurate, prolonged geometrical artwork was produced on paper.

One hour left. More extra sheets asked for. This time for writing. If only the invigilator left once - the answer sheets would be swapped, and the examination sealed.

Forty-five minutes. Slowly, slowly, very slowly panic started to set in, What if the question papers could not be swapped?

Thirty minutes. Time had come for drastic action. Someone had to act. Abhijit and Tomar looked at each other. Tomar acted.

"Sir, I have a severe headache, can I have some coffee?"

Taken slightly aback, the invigilator said "No, you cannot leave the room without submitting your answer sheets."

Abhijit backed up: "Sir, can we at least have the coffee over here?"

Luigi seconded: "Please, Sir...?"

Of course, the other four added to the chorus. This was definitely a first for the invigilator.

"Okay, give me a minute," he uttered as left the room. After about a minute or so, he came back with a totally redundant bit of information: "sorry, all you can have is tea - I've asked them to bring it here."

The fourteen hands in the room had, of course, been through the most action-packed one minute of their lives. There was a lot of work to be done: the "ready" answer sheets were to be swapped with the "useless" ones, which had to be duly stuffed in their bags.

***

All seven students passed the exam (curiously, with different marks), and made it through the course. All of them got nice jobs from campus interviews, and have jobs of varying levels of decency at this point of time. None of them is doing too badly as far as a career is concerned.

Of course, there is the usual disclaimer, copy-pasted from Diptakirti's story:

This is a work of fiction.
All characters are fictional. All the described events are figments of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. 

11 comments:

  1. I am sure many of us will have such completely fictitious stories to tell. As do I.

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  2. Work of fiction, indeed! Nice read.

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  3. :D
    ghyam!!!
    puro byapar tai besh ket er...r tomar lekha niye r notun kore ki e ba boli!

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  4. Oh my God! Work of fiction!

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  5. haha.. darun ! abhida lekhalekhitayi profession kore nayo..dourobe! ar tumi ro emnitei guru :)

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  6. Excellent writing Abhishek...but I don't really believe in the disclaimer :) .... Please keep writing... Waiting for more...

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  7. How come I never heard this story when I was there??

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    Replies
    1. Heard of what, Apoorva? Where were you? What are you talking about? How could you have been in an entirely fictitious world?

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  8. Brilliant tongue in cheek writing.Cheeky.Did not notice the disclaimer.

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  9. :D I am giggling like there's no tomorrow. (No clue why)

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