Thursday, 4 October 2007

Chapter 7

The Principal was a dragon, not the usual big, scaly thing with wings, which go around with smoke dribbling from their noses. Well, okay, some smoke from the nostrils, but at heart, she was all huge and scaly.

Rumour had it that she was from some interior village, which had always bred strong, capable women. Apparently the farmer’s there needed a wife who'd think nothing of beating a wolf to death with her apron when she went out to get some firewood. The lady was quite good-looking in an expansive kind of way; she was a fine figure of typical Indian womanhood. This meant she was approximately two womanhoods from anywhere else. The student body referred to her as the wicked witch of the west, and if not anything else her cat was ample certification of witchery.

She did not need a broom, the cat was enough.

I had been telling you of the dog clans east of the wicked witch, that is of the hostels and the clans were enough to send the average man, policeman or dogcatcher gibbering with insanity. Well, when the princi’s tomcat came out for his stroll, our dogs patrolled the borders of the territory ready for World War III.

The name of the cat was Sammy, and he was one of the Principal’s blind spots. While intellectually even the Principal would concede that he was indeed a fat, cunning, evil-smelling multiple rapist, she nevertheless instinctively pictured him as the small fluffy kitten he had been decades before. The fact that he had once chased a female wolf up a tree and seriously surprised a she-buffalo who had been innocently foraging for grass didn't stop her from worrying that something bad might happen to him.

To the principal, he was still the cute little kitten that chased balls of wool around the floor. To the rest of the world he was an enormous tomcat, a parcel of incredibly indestructive life forces in a skin that looked less like a fur than a piece of bread that had been left in a damp place for a fortnight. Sammy as a matter of feline pride would attempt to fight or rape absolutely anything, up to and including an eight-wheeler truck. Ferocious dogs would whine and hide under the stairs when Sammy sauntered down the street. Jackals kept away from the college. Wolves made a detour. Tiger’s kept in touch via jungle roar-telegraph, on the belief that it was better to have such a kin on their side than against them.

Sammy was hell with a tail on four legs and possibly the only cat who could snigger in purr and it was generally considered by everyone else in the college that the only thing that might slow Sammy down was a direct meteorite strike.

Chapter 6

The war between the faculty and the hostel never abated or lessened during the interim years. Much like law, pranks became a type of craft, at which we got better, the more we practiced. The usual run of jokes continued, but I guess that the children did have to practice their art forms as best as they could.

I suppose the keyword (superglue) says it all. The places they’ve liked to hit were the cars - namely the dust caps on the tire valve stems, the gas cap, and the windshield wipers. Then there's always putting a paper bag of shit on the person's front step, setting it on fire, knocking on the door, and running like hell. The victim will come to the door, see the fire, and will usually try to stomp it out with his foot. Taking an old window shade and to go anywhere where people wearing tight clothes and moving about could be seen, usually the nearby fashion-plate colleges, wait for someone to move a bit more quickly then they should, and tear the window shade briskly, making a very loud ripping sound ... It was good practice for anticipation and timing.

I'll be the first that these are rather terrible and childish but...the craft went on getting polished and some gems emerged.

This one was hearsay from some seniors. An alumnus some years ago related the following. Apparently a new prof was a bit of a braggart. His favourite topic was his car, a Maruti 800, and one sub-topic was the terrific mileage he got from it. After the first 3 weeks, the thing started getting monotonous. So it began one evening. The students then filled up a five-liter jerrican of petrol every week and poured it into the victim's petrol tank. I believe 4 weeks were sufficient. And then the jokers reversed the process. Each night for 4 weeks, the effect was reversed, and five liters or so of petrol was removed from the victim's tank. It was amazingly effective at reducing some of the stories and involved some rather intensive overhauling and servicing. The alumni who told it to us suspected that the truth was never revealed to the victim.

Now the boys hostel was accustomed to having mongrel dogs of every breed and size and there was tremendous co-operation between the dogs and the boys.

After all, dogs barking at one another and at the universe in general in the mad, I’m-going-to-do-this-forever way of all dogs was generally quite acceptable by hostel standards, for the inconvenience caused to the rest of world. Then, of course we had a few which when you meet them, remind you that, despite thousands of years of manmade evolution, every dog is still only two meals away from being a wolf. Then there was a special one who could be called a dog. Or several dogs rolled, as it were, into one. There were four legs, and they were nearly all the same length although not all the same colour. There was one head, although the left ear was black and pointed while the right ear was brown and white and flopped. It was a very enthusiastic animal in the department of slobber.

Now, there are perfectly good, well-trained, well-behaved dogs who do not bark like a stuck record, or crap in the middle of footpaths, sniff groins, act like everyone's favourite on mere assumption, and generally whine, steal, and grovel in a way that would put a Bombay professional beggar to shame. ... There are also forgiving traffic wardens, tarts with hearts of gold, and lawyers that do not go on holiday in the middle of your complicated house purchase. We had them too.

Suffice it to say, the hostel did get along pretty well in the canine departments and had their inalienable and complete loyalty and devotion and ours to them. After all, it was a dog’s life that both species led.

We had a new vice principal who was not very happy with the canine population of the hostels, especially because on his first visit to the hostel at 3 am in the morning he was given a hero’s welcome and the madmen’s farewell.

Apparently our four legged pals got wind of treachery and war in the air and decided to take the initiative and politely asked the Vice and his stout bodyguard to take their business out of their turf and were menaced with a rather short stick. The dog clan chieftains were not impressed, after all, they had suffered through the principal’s depredations and there was a bitch who frothed at the mouth and the brain. It was all over by 3.10 am, with the Vice bitterly swearing eternal vengeance on the mad dogs of the hostel from the upper branches of a handy tree and through frayed nerves, skin and trousers. They found a belt buckle of the bodyguard and nothing else and the buckle was found hanging on a rather high branch.

The Vice declared outright war on the poor dogs and called for the dogcatchers. In the middle of the night, the clan summonses were sent and a conclave held between the partners in crime. Being allies against a common enemy, generally the world and specifically the Faculty, the Student Body believed in keeping its end up of the bargains. They called for the specialist, namely, my ex-roommate and asked him to do the honours.

This was around the time when the animal rights laws were being given a very strong voice across the city and most pet owners were accustomed to keeping their pets on leash’s and pet collars.

So this great pal of ours goes to a pet shop and buys a fancy looking pet collar and leash and then finds himself a dead dog and attached the leash and collar setup to its neck. Then with the rest of the gang holding on to its collective breath, this madman went and attached the whole thing to the Vice’s rear bumper, making sure to toss dead animal under the car so it won't be seen. When the Vice drove away, he was stopped within a few kilometers by a group of animal lovers baying for his blood and guts for dragging some poor defenseless pet down the road. By the time he was rescued by the cops, the man was a reformed character and resigned the next day from his post and joined a group of foreigners headed for the Himalayas.

Peace once again reigned in the corridors of the hostel.

Chapter 5

But the Faculty did not escape our vigilant efforts. One of the bright ones from the criminal law courses found out the phone numbers of the entire prof’s brigade and when one of them would give us a hard time with too much assignments, we would get started. We would take turns calling the prof’s phone number; obviously disguising our voices.

When the prof answers, we would try to leave a message for Jai Singh (or any name that sounds real). We would insist that we had the right number and even read their number to them and so on. We had quite a bit of fun here, and stretch this on as long as possible. After being repeat several times, once or twice every half an hour and letting everybody have a turn at calling. Just as the party is breaking up, one would place a call one last time. And once the poor soul answers the phone, the caller would identify himself as Jai Singh, and ask "Are there any messages for me?" This was sure to get a heart-breaking groan and a wracked out prof the next day.

My roommate was (and is) rather inventive and could be quite nasty. He buttered all of the toilet seats in the faculty toilets once posing as a janitor and later once wrapped cellophane over the girl’s commode. He also buttered all the classroom doorknobs and latches at one point. A man who could make the prof’s try to climb the walls when he passed, commanded a rapt audience in the hostel premises, as you could imagine.

According to my roomie, inside every sane person, there's a madman struggling to get out and there were plus points in being a madman. People hesitated to stop you, in case it made things worse.

Another celebrity lived in the hostel in my time who was an amateur chemist and by our standards, a brilliant one if slightly quirky. But then Genius is always allowed some leeway, once the hammer has been pried from its hands and the blood has been cleaned up, or so we believed.
One of his famous inventions was exploding powder, which was very effective during anytime anyone thought was boring. The ingredients of exploding powder were simple. First you need: iodine crystals and some ammonium hydroxide. Mix the two together and a brown sludge will form. Drain off the excess liquid and let the sludge dry. The result? Snap powder, a pressure sensitive explosive. Just sprinkle this on the floor and watch people's reactions. It’s quite amusing, to give an understatement.

Another of his discoveries was Neutral Red, a water soluble, crystalline, red dye with barely any taste. Mix some into a person’s glass of rum or cola and wait for them to take a leak. (Neutral Red comes out as red as it goes in, and people have a tendency to get really nervous when they start pissing what they think is blood!

Boy, did the doctors in town make money after any function, which involved the faculty and us, partaking of any refreshments.

Last, but certainly not least, was a great stink bomb invented by this mad hatter of a chemist. This one takes a bit of time for preparation, so it's not too good for spontaneous revenge but it's worth the time. Get a jar with a rubber seal. (Airtight jars work quite well.) Pour about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of crystal Drano along with about an inch or so of warm water into the jar. Place the lid on the jar and allow the mixture to sit in a warm place for about an hour. Take the lid off and add six egg whites, (no yokes). Add a quarter cup of Methylene Blue, and then fill the jar to within an inch of the top with water. Seal the jar tightly and allow to sit for four to six weeks.

When the 'bomb' is ready to use, you can either throw it like a Molotov cocktail, or shake it up and pour the contents out, making damn sure you don't get any on yourself. The results have to be seen, or smelled, to be believed.

It took a whole cleaning and painting crew more than a month to get rid of the smell out of classroom where it was first demonstrated. The latter attacks on bars and pubs, which gave us a hard time, became the stuff of legend around town.

One time the college gardeners and grounds keepers gave offence to this gentle chemist about sleeping off the excesses of the grapes on the cricket pitches and much aggrieved, the chemist went into consultation with my ex-roommate. They got hold of some grass and weed killer and stuffed the garden hoses with the stuff. They even managed some form of liquid, which they filled the sprinklers mains. Do I need to draw a picture of the ensuing events?

The last prank played by our mad chemist caused his expulsion, but by then he had already gone into business with my erstwhile roommate to start a novelty and joke items shop.

Apparently, the principal found out the instigator of the various chemical explosions and occurrences though stool pigeons. She lacked evidence to do something conclusive about the other partner in crime, so the principal for once just handed out a tongue lashing to the poor unfortunate chemist on his sad scores. Much hurt and dejected, the man decided to go down in flames.

He stole into the Princi’s office early one morning with a few large buckets with hot water and emptied some bottles of dishwashing detergent into the buckets (Brillo it was, I think) and garnished the whole by dropping in a few kilos of dry ice that has been crushed to small pieces.

Then, he coolly closed the doors, windows etc. walked back to his room, picked up his packed belongings and walked off into the sunrise. Later on, we were to understand that the said recipe was enough to fill up a large hall with enough foam to the ceiling.

We could hear the anguished screams even in our drunken stupors and hung over ears. College guys learned to be good at screams. There was to the connoisseur a world of difference between "I'm drunk and I've just trodden on my fingers and I can't get up!" and "Look out! Princi’s on a rampage!" This one was incoherent with rage and the only thing that escaped the lips was a form of compressed, suppressed and super concentrated steam of pure anger.

This scream went to make a new record and labeling. Now and again screams of rage rose from between the buildings with subsequent discoveries of destruction, but mainly there was the terrible numbing silence of the human brain being reduced to cottage cheese from the inside out. This created a form of feeling, the sort of fear and awe and not knowing whether to laugh or cry or wet their pants with whoever heard it. But the hostel boys were not stopped; after all they never feared anyone, especially enemies. In fact the hostel welcomes enemies, provided they are enemies with money to spend on the beer to wash the taste of defeat from their throats and minds. Their eyes said that whatever it was, they had been there. Whatever it was, they had done it, sometimes more than once. But they would never, ever, go near the college hostels now. And they did know the meaning of the word "fear." It was something that happened to other people.

The rest of the college populace were a God-fearing people. They had a great deal to fear. Although assured that they had nothing to fear, the news that they have nothing to fear is guaranteed to strike terror into the hearts of innocents everywhere. Indeed, there were things to suggest to a thinking person that the Creator of mankind had a very oblique sense of fun indeed, and to breed in their hearts a rage to storm the gates of heaven.

On being asked for a repeat performance, the chemist and his partner complied and did it on the bed of their TATA pickup with the rest of the hostel following behind on their bikes to see the fun. While stopped at traffic signals the whole bed would fill up to the rim with suds. Then, as we would accelerate away from the light, large "chunks" would break loose and waft lazily through the air, causing much consternation to the traffic behind. On the highway the result was much smaller pieces of suds billowing out of the back of the truck. It looked like a snowstorm! It's funnier to see than the description sounds. We were hysterical.

The chemist never had to pay for anything in the college canteen till we were there, but coming to the canteen was akin to slipping into no-man’s land for him. The last I heard of the feud was the Princi taking shooting lessons and the chemist building some form of rocket propelled stink bomb.

Chapter 4

The next people on our hit list were the mess hall owners. You will have to remember that this was a form of serving food to several hundred students and the idea was to maximize profit and reduce costs. Things were really bad at the dining halls and messes. Most of them used dirty tricks like mixing soda in the rice so that eating a little would induce burps and therefore leave one believing that the tummy is full, when in fact, hunger really hit town within an hour of lunch or dinner.

We were itching for revenge and vendetta. But then, the student union led by the hostellites usually had a low-key, chronic vendetta against all other life forms other than themselves.

Most jokers used to wait till the end of the month, the usual time when gags were pulled on suspicious mess-wallas was during the end of the month, so as to not to have to hunt a new mess and pay full month’s dues for food again. But we always paid our bills and dues. Despite giving the appearance of not being able to count beyond ten without ripping off someone else's arm, and having an intimate involvement in the city's complex hierarchy of crime, we were known to pay our bills. If you were going to be successful in the criminal world of college students, you needed a reputation for honesty. Especially where food was concerned.

One of the best stunts was the foaming and exploding saltshaker. The messes usually used opaque plastic saltshakers with pop-off tops that could be pried off with a knife blade if you were persistent enough.

The preparation in a restroom nearby or with a few pals covering your back was simple enough:
Empty salt from the previously 'acquired' containers and fill about 1/3 full with concentrated lemon juice. Place a thin tissue across the opening; poke it down a bit to form a depression. Fill the depression with about a teaspoon of baking soda. Cover (from the inside) the holes of the top with tape of the appropriate color. Replace top on container and trim visible tissue from around the top.

Carry the device to dining hall (upright and as stable as is possible... for your own sake) and warn everyone not to use the targeted ‘bombs’ and sit back, as far as possible. Some poor fellow would invariably use one, never a collegiate. If luck held, the person would be usually a working guy type, big, heavy and short-tempered was how we liked them. After discretely placing the shaker on your table (only place it near to you... see caveat #1 below), observe the next person to use the salt.

The lamb or ‘bakra’ would shake lightly at first, then harder as nothing comes out. Due to the breakdown of the tissue and the pressure resulting from the classic acid/base reaction, the top will pop off (quite spectacularly) amidst a shower of foam. The victim (as will as everyone around) would have quite a reaction, since one does not usually observe this type of behavior in a saltshaker!

There were a few caveats however to be followed;

* The top will come off with some force. If the holes are sealed well, this will happen on about the second or third shake. Once, though, due to poor sealing, it took about 5 seconds, during which time our victim started looking at the shaker to examine the "foamy stuff coming out" of the holes... The poor man had to be taken to the nearby Joshi Hospital and the mess owner stopped serving any more collegiate types.
* Under no circumstances be caught by the victim, direct rage towards the mess owner for badly run dining room. In duress, be prepared to burn all boats and flee. A pal who was caught shouted, "help!" in fourteen languages and screamed for mercy in a further twelve. We took his example to heart and posted the next motto on the hostel walls –I run, therefore I am; more correctly, I run, therefore with any luck I'll still be.

Another favourite pastime was to super glue or epoxy resin plates, spoons, bowls, anything and everything down to the tables. Anything not nailed down was more less nailed by then. The guys would quietly sit, eat their food, preferably on the last day of their dues and coolly do the deed, wait for the glue or resin to get set and get up and walk away. Its unbelievable fun to watch the servers and later the owners try to lift the stuff glued on the tables. One old and cantankerous lady who ran a fearsomely strict mess whacked steadily at the table and its contents for ten full minutes with her stick, rumbling the choicest curses that it was our privilege to hear. Remembering some of them, I believe a retired army sergeant turned truck-driver would have much to learn from her.

Seven friends once pulled this at a cafeteria that shortchanged us once. One put a hot water bottle filled with pea soup down his chest; he sat at the head of a table, with the other six friends sitting along the sides. When the cafeteria was pretty full of people, he stood up, bent over and squeezed his chest and made a loud noise (to attract attention). This caused a huge gush of green liquid to spew all over the table and the other’s plates; the other six immediately began to eat this green liquid. I think a lot of food went uneaten that night but the faces to be seen were worth the trouble of never again visiting that cafĂ©.

Chapter 3

Now, the definition of the faculty being enemy was an interesting idea but most of the students got along very well on the idea that the faculty didn't know it was the enemy, and that was the best kind of enemy to have. In fact, attacking a dangerous enemy who isn't there is one of the
more attractive forms of warfare...especially in college.

And then there was the Principal who was god’s gift to enemies, any enemies and a walking encouragement to desertion of her own forces; in other words, namely ours, she was not the enemy, she was a nemesis, a perdition, an abomination, all by herself. Insanity did not quite cover the facts, somewhat similar to sequins trying to cover up a playboy center spread model.

The dogs of the hostel had a special howl especially set to music for the times when the Princi would venture forth on her nocturnal lunar expeditions.

The enemy, in short the faculty, wasn't the men, or women, or the old, or even the dead. It was just bloody stupid people, who came in all varieties. And no one had the right to be stupid when the student hostel motto was always to pick a bigger enemy, because he's easier to hit.

A show like that would have turned a full battalion of professors into gibbering mental wrecks, but the Law College professors were made of sterner stuff and were inoculated against madness by being a little bit crazy all the time. They do say that there is a rather thin line between genius and insanity and most of the faculty geniuses had fallen off it a long time ago.

With precedents set like this, there war hardly any holding back as each class attempted to break records set by previous years. Some batches loved physical jokes while others preferred to set their professors rooting out their hair and howling at the moon with subtler forms of torture.

By the time summer breaks were at hand, most of the professors had perfected their skill in running away, which over the years they had elevated to the status of a genuinely pure science; to them, it didn't matter who you were fleeing from or what, so long as you were fleeing. For them the first and last rule of running away was, never to look back.

Jokes on professors and the enemy (The faculty) were one thing, but things took a turn for the worse when the goof’s also tried their hands. Good jokes, well planned and executed were duly appreciated, but we had our share of Dumb attempts, worthy of the capital D.

A constitutional expert and an erstwhile prof (I'll call him Dr. B) had a habit of telling his students to "jump out of the window" when they gave dumb answers. One student decided to take the prof to task; the class was taught in a second floor room so the student practiced jumping out the window (with the help of an assistant who would catch his arms as he jumped).

The two got this down to an art, and one day provoked the "jumping out of the window" comment from Dr. B. The student said, "Okay, if you say so," turned around, and leapt out the window. His partner (who was supposed to grab him but say, "oh God, I missed him!") did miss, and the jumper fell and broke his ankle.

As a result of this episode, the department head had to file an accident report. One line of the form requires the Head to outline, "What actions will be taken to prevent future recurrences of this accident?"

The Head replied, "In the future, all of Dr. B's courses will be taught in the ground floor classrooms."

We were done for. The Faculty had joined in the fun and had climbed aboard the fabled bandwagon.

Chapter 2

Some of the most memorable moments of college occurs only when someone or the other is pulling a fast one, making a horses ass of himself or someone, so on and so forth. Huge syllabuses and massive amounts of curricular work left the malignant spirits sated for most of the time, but youth is a rather elastic time for evil minded destructive elements, of which yours truly was wholeheartedly a part of.

As in a previous time, I told you of how our seniors set us such a great example of ragging the professor’s silly during the annual examinations. Now it was up to us to continue in the very best of traditions and as events proved us out, we did not do too badly.

The next rag to be tried was when a few of the fifth years, on leaving the college, decided that they should be remembered by their much suffering teachers. After all, what’s the use of waging war if the enemy does not remember their eye-watering defeats, they reasoned? The faculty was enemy territory as far as the hostel boys were concerned and the feelings were mutual.

So, the whole batch of the seniors started cutting out coupons for anything and everything and getting all the proper addresses of all the professors in the college, not to mention all other means and methods of documentary warfare

The whole thing was conducted like a military operation and the then law students, now lawyers truly showed their true capabilities when planning some really deep down dirty and crazy.

About twenty of the seniors started a junk mail chain all directed to the principal and the proportions it reached were gargantuan. I believe, one of them, even signed up one of the professors for the SSC in the armed forces. He wrote (honestly) that he had graduated from a fine college and was interested in the Army, Navy, Air Force, etc. etc.

About 7 years after the senior’s departure, the poor man was still getting phone calls from 2-4 times a month.... they were very persistent even over he (loud) objections that he was 45 and not interested in a career change...

A couple of the other seniors were more inventive. They went and found some phone books for large cities, like Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. They found names in the phone book, that is, they found persons who had the same name as the targets. Then the whole lot of them went down to the post offices and filed a temporary change of address for the respective targets forwarding their mail to themselves in a far away city.

Some of the meaner ones went around to the offices of real estate agents and second-hand furniture dealers, movers and packers and finalized deals for sale, transfer of furniture etc., all paperwork to be completed at the house of the target. There were regular crowds every other day at the college premises of people who wanted to finish the deals.

Another person I know managed to copy out the vice principal’s business stationary on MS Word, and used it to place an order for a 70,000 kilo steel coil to be delivered to this person's address. The coil showed up and got dumped on the front lawn and payment was demanded. He also placed orders for bricks, cement, sand and iron girders.

A prize goes to the chubby girl who was the butt of jokes of a chauvinistic professor who used to make out of line remarks during class about her size. She got him a paid subscription to a raunchy skin-mag delivered to the college address. He got called on by the enquiry committee but good, and the Principal (quite a round female herself), would not believe his protests of innocence…

With precedents set like this, there war hardly any holding back as each class attempted to break records set by previous years. Some batches loved physical jokes while others preferred to set their professors rooting out their hair and howling at the moon with more subtler forms of torture.

Most of the professors cursed the gods in general and some in specific, but then, it was always a considerable annoyance to any Indian professor with pretensions to culture that they were ruled by gods whose idea of an uplifting artistic experience was a musical doorbell with ten differing tones, but more on this later.

Chapter 1

Many things went on at my old college, and, regrettably, teaching had to be one of them. The faculty had long ago confronted this fact and had perfected various devices for avoiding it. But this was perfectly all right because, to be fair, so had the students. According to the lore of the prof’s, tenure was automatic or, more accurately, non-existent. You found an empty room, turned up for meetings as usual, and generally no one noticed, although if you were unfortunate you might attract students. The Principal, herself, as a general rule avoided getting to know the students, since she felt they were a tedious interruption to the proper running of college life.

The students had a different take on it; education was a sexual disease, it makes you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you have the urge to pass it on. The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it. They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it's not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance and sometimes it is better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness.

And therefore education at the Law College mostly worked by the age-old method of putting a lot of young people in the vicinity of a lot of books and hoping that something would pass from one to the other, while the actual young people put themselves in the vicinity of pubs and bars for exactly the same reason.

What most students failed to remember was that the senior members of the faculty had also been students once, and also like them were quite adept at almost all possible scams and scenes and still participants of most of them. This naturally led to a certain amount of embarrassment and diplomacy on early hung over Monday mornings.

The problem came when both parties to the contract, that is the students and the faculty had to submit to exams annually. It was like being presented the bill after a truly great party and it was around this time that the whole college collectively suffered Exam Fever. It’s a bit like a really bad hangover, if you could mix it up with a few nasty viruses and a solid dose of paranoia and schizophrenic insanity.

Law College had no mercy on the ham-fisted and mutton brained. Some clumsy students were lucky enough to walk out, others were removed in bottles. Students tended to pick up practical law as you went along, and sometimes scraped it off the walls as well. The graffiti was amazingly erudite. In any case, real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.

It was my first year in Law School, not a good year to be in as all the dirty jobs are given to us, on the basis that if we got things wrong there wouldn't be too much education wasted. And at the time of the final exams, there was a huge stand – off between the student body and the faculty over autonomy issues and there was a general decision to go on strike against the final exams as a protest. Now, if no one gave their papers, the university could not take action against the whole college and so it was decided to boycott the whole process. In any case, the Law College prof’s were a mad lot, and if they were weapons, then international treaties would ban most of the faculty. But the students were always the underdogs, and an underdog can always find somewhere soft to bite. According to some crazy named Chinese philosopher, chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats order, because it is better organized. And so it proved.

It was in those tumultuous days that some great wag and joker decided to get even with the whole system itself and proposed to the whole student body to make a farce of the whole exam by being present and yet jamming things up, without any violence or sloganeering. Since the exam was in the university premises, it was proposed that we let our imaginations run wild. Suffice it to say that if complete and utter chaos were lightning, then this great man would be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting 'All gods are b********s.' Well, Genius is always allowed some leeway, once the hammer has been pried from its hands and the blood has been cleaned up. The motion was seconded, ratified and carried unanimously.

D-day arrived and I was inside the huge exam hall with all the other students.

"Goooooooooooooooooood mooooooooooooooooooooorning, sir," muttered the mutineers.

A nod from the troll-like creature assigned to us indicated that he was prepared to accept, on available evidence, that it was morning and, in certain circumstances, by some people, it might be considered good. This was a man under pressure, if stress were food he would have succeeded in turning his life into porridge.

There were about 300 students inside the hall and the place could give you the creeps. I wished I could do some redecorating with some floral wallpaper and a firebomb for choice.

To this day, I do not remember all that happened but it all started with a senior coming into the class with a pillow and falling asleep (or at least pretending to) and then waking up in 15 minutes and screaming "oh God, better get cracking," and then doodling some gibberish on his paper and turning it in.

That truly set the mood.

Someone got a copy of the exam and ran out screaming, "Abdul bhai, Abdul bhai, I’ve got the secret documents!"

Next came the paper airplanes out of the exam question papers and aimed at the examiners left nostril.

Someone started talking through the entire exam, reading questions aloud, debating the answers with themselves out loud. When asked to stop, the person yelled out, "I'm SOOO sure you can hear me thinking." Then the guy started talking about what a jerk the examiner was.

By this time, things were getting interesting and the examiners were well and truly mad.

Then came along some rich brat and the guy brought along an entire band party as in a marriage band with dancing people and sat down with great flourish and asked for the question paper. When asked, he claimed that he was going to be taping his next video album during the exam and almost convinced the examiner to let them stay by telling the examiner to expect a percentage of the profits if they were allowed to stay.

Then one guy who had been sitting quietly with his paper screams at the examiner, "I don't understand ANY of this. I've been to every lecture all semester long! What's the deal? And who the hell are you? Where's the regular guy?"

By this time, some girls brought out some Nintendo Game Boys (very popular then) and started playing with the volumes at max levels

The guy next to me was answering the paper in the midst of this chaos very earnestly. As no one was bothering, I leaned over and saw that he was answering all the questions with refusals! Sample answer –“I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that it conflicts with my religious beliefs” Some other guys joined in, some even invented a new language on the spot and gave long and detailed answers involving equations, integers and fractions and roman numerals in a law paper. Some guys were making acronyms with the multiple-choice questions, for eg. DCCAB.BABE. etc...

By this time, someone introduced two pet dogs to the general pandemonium. Pomerians if I remember correctly

Soon there was a bevy of prof’s trying to bring control into the huge room when a slim rather dark fellow dressed in a lungi and shawl ran into the exam room looking about frantically., breathed a enormous sigh of relief, went to the professors and said, "They've found me, I have to leave the country" and ran off.

It was a riot. The V.C. was sent for to control the mayhem

Fifteen minutes later, a goan fellow stood up, ripped his papers into very small pieces, threw them into the air and yelled out "Merry Christmas." And then went and asked for another copy of the exam, saying that he had lost the first one. As soon as the prof handed him the question paper, he ate it.

Someone broke out crayons and fluorescent markers and drawing class was on.

One dude came inside the exam hall at this stage wearing slippers, a bathrobe, a towel on his head, and nothing else.

Soon the students were bringing things to throw at the prof’s when they were not looking and blaming it on the person nearest.

Then there was this bunch of guys who every five minutes, would stand up, collect all their things, move to another seat, and continue with the examination.

One guy turned in the answer script approximately 30 minutes into it. As he walked out, he started commenting on how easy it was. One of the professor’s (the one who set the paper perhaps) saw red and chased him all the way to the university gates, I believe.

One showed up completely drunk. (Completely drunk means at some point during the exam, they should start crying for mommy or their ex-girlfriends)

Twenty minutes before the warning bell someone threw the answer papers down violently, screamed out "Fuck this!" and walked out triumphantly.

Every now and then, a few students clapped twice rapidly. When asked why, they were told in a very derogatory tone, "the light bulb that goes on above our heads when we get an idea is hooked up to a clapper. DUH!"

By this time, the fun was catching, we had students from different classes like engineering and management who had no clue about law and claiming that they had been to every lecture and were fighting for their rights to take the exam.

One female upon receiving the exam, looked it over, laughed loudly and said, "You don't really expect me to waste my time on this drivel? Saas bhi kabhi Bahu thi is on!!!"

One guy brought a water pistol with him. Enough said.

One guy started humming film songs from the moment the exam began, and when they finally get him to leave one way or another, he began whistling “Vande Mataram” and marched outside the hall alternating the whistling with “Inquilab Zindabad” and saluting the professors every time he passed the doors

Some one came in wearing a full dress costume, beard, sword, shield and all in Shivaji the Maratha costume and politely asked for a question paper

By this time, the Vice Chancellor who had come to stop the mess was laughing so hard that he had turned red and needed water.

But he had some serious manpower with him. A couple of what we thought of as the big men on campus stepped through and gave everyone the official, professional look that said that for your comfort and convenience we have decided not to kill you at this very moment. It just plain did not work.

A girl came up with her boyfriend and requested a back massage the entire way through the exam, insisting that this person was needed, as she had bad circulation.

Another guy, quite the stud, complained about the heat and started stripping like a Mumbai bar dancer and two others started showering him with torn question papers like money.

My neighbour called the raging professors over, pointed to a question and asked for the answer and started trying to work it out of him.

Some guys started playing Frisbee inside the class.

One guy brought a really large, cumbersome ganesha idol and put it right next to himself and started conducting prayers to it with flowers, and diyas and all

A smart dude started delivering candy, flowers, balloons, telegrams etc to the girl he was trying to impress, so every few minutes, there would be this totally freaked out messenger boy bringing stuff and calling her name out. The whole class would stop whatever they were doing and also chant her name. This went on through the exams. I think she said yes when the exam ended

Our musically oriented classmates went back to the hostel and brought back their instruments and started playing various tunes. When asked to stop, they claimed that it helped them think and brought copies of the Examination Rules with them, challenging the professors to find the section on musical instruments during finals. The professors tried…oh, they tried……

The rest of the prof’s were not technically insane by then. They had passed through the rapids of insanity some time previously, and were now sculling around in some peaceful pool on the other side. They were often quite coherent, although not by normal human standards

After that, well, it was at the point that normal language gives up, and goes and has a drink.
The whole show ended with the bell and the next day, the faculty board gave into the Student Body demands without a murmur and for quite a few terms after that, any loud noises during an examination would get rather pleasing results from the professors who were present during the one time the students took on the system and blew it to pieces