Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The AH Chronicles Resume: Back To Work

After a long hiatus, I finally called up my boss. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, he went like, ‘So, what’s the plan now?’

I thought, er, I didn’t call you to just update you with mundane details of my university life, you know.

‘Um, I want to join again!’ I piped up in my best enthusiastic voice.

I guess he bought that, because I was told that I could join straightaway.

I was all pumped up on the following Tuesday. To say that I was in the seventh heaven of delight would be an exaggeration. No, I was more than elated at the prospect of lukewarm green tea (just because Miss chai nahin peeteen), a tiled floor that would make me slip no matter what sandals I wore, and hordes of weirdos who would offend me with their grammar as much as their greasy hair.

As I stepped in, an echo of greetings surrounded me.
I closed my eyes and braced myself for the warm, halo-like feeling to envelop me.

It never came.

The background sound effect of blowing streamers died down in my head.

Apparently Sir had forgotten to tell them that I’d be coming back. Hmph.

The people at the reception looked at me confusedly. A kind of ‘yes we are happy that you are here but why’ kind of confused. Some asked my sis in hushed tones ‘Why is she here today?’

I rolled my eyes. So much for the cake, gazillion candles, and welcome back banner I was expecting. Just a ‘surprise!’, and that too, on their part. I cleared my throat and declared pompously. ‘I’ll be coming regularly from now on.’

They smiled in recognition as it finally dawned upon them.

How anticlimactic. Sniff.

My bitchy teacher radar seemed to not function for a number of classes. I guess my elated self was so busy savouring the usual sights (men with hairy legs) and smells ( cheap perfume and rancid ones emanating from food stains on shirts) that I conveniently ignored the dumb grammatical interpretations of some students. Apart from this one student. Who I wouldn’t have barked at, except that he had a test the very next day.


Whenever we start off with basic grammar, I always drill two things into my students’ heads. Identify the subject first. And then the verb. Sometimes you can use the verb to figure out the subject too.

This kid winced in concentration. After an eternity of letting these two statements swish around in his head, he finally grunted ‘What?’

I ground my teeth in agitation. ‘You figure out what the subject is. Do you know what a subject is?’

‘Um, yeah....’ he fumbled, staring at the sentence as if the subject would pop up and hit him in the eye.

Unfortunately, we don’t use pop-up books to teach kids, which is like, so kindergarden-ish.

‘A subject is a noun,’ I offered , wavering in a moment of pity. A rare moment of pity.

‘Oh yes, a noun,’ he smiled weakly. But I wasn’t about to let him go that easily.

‘Yes, so what’s a noun then?’ I pressed smoothly, splaying my fingers on the table. Just so that he could see my razor sharp fingernails.

He gulped. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead and threatened to trickle down.

‘Name, Place, Animal, Thing!’ I fumed. ‘Haven’t you ever played that?’

I think I’m the only nerdy person ever to have recognized that that game we used to play during classes in school was actually a learning technique, aimed at increasing our ability to recall nouns.

‘Oh yes, I remember,’ he squeaked, and scanned the sentence hurriedly. He identified the subject correctly then.

Little did he know that I was just warming up.

‘What’s a verb?’

There was dead silence.

The other students were looking over to see if he would recognize the verb, or bear the fury of my Wolverine-ish nails. The fact that I had around fifteen people as spectators to witness this spectacle drove terror into the poor kid’s heart.

‘It’s....it’s....it’s a word that can be used in place of a noun,’ he blurted out, in a span of less than three seconds.

No, dude. After two handouts and a gazillion questions of Usage and Sentence Correction, you do not parrot things that you learnt in a stupid tenth grade English class. And that too, the wrong definition.

I raised an eyebrow. ‘No. That’s a PRONOUN.’

The onlookers watched with bated breath.

Incidentally, I decided to be as anticlimactic as my reception half an hour ago and muttered dully ‘It’s the action being performed by the subject, kid. How many times do I have to tell you?’

He sighed, and a tremor of ease spread into my little audience.

‘So, now that you know what a verb is, what’s the verb in this sentence?’

The words hung tremulously in the air. The audience let out audible gasps.

The kid squirmed. No matter how many times he pored over the sentence, scrunched up his eyes or rotated the sheet of paper to see if it made sense upside down, he could not figure out the verb.

I ran my nails down the pencil I was holding. Curly shavings of wood peeled away from it.

And then finally, with some sudden burst of epiphany, he figured out the answer.

‘It’s this!’ he cried out triumphantly, jabbing at the verb with his pencil.

The audience broke out into smiles and applause.

I scowled. ‘Good. Now remember that for the next twenty-four hours.’

I shot him one last look of pure venom and stalked off haughtily. After that, I’m pretty sure that he’s never going to forget the difference between a noun and a verb. Mission accomplished, the bitchy way.


Monday, November 22, 2010


Dusk was approaching rapidly. It was just after the Maghrib azaan. The sky was lit up in pale blues and mauves. I walked across the parking lot alone. Cold and solitary, like my thoughts. Twilight descended down on the treetops in long, spooky shadows. Purple patches ominously stretched along the rocky asphalt. I weaved my way through the throng, thinking about him. Always thinking about him. I didn't even know what classes he had then.

Tall, willowy, he was standing right in my line of sight. My heart lurched guiltily.

JM was standing in front of him. 'Hey! Long time! How are you?' she chirped happily.

Grateful for the distraction, I plastered a smile on my face and exchanged pleasantries. He was busy talking to two other people. Half of me wanted him to look over and wave. Come over and talk to me. The other half squirmed awkwardly and wished it could vapourize instantly, there and then.

I stepped away. He hollered my name. Two syllables that made me cringe. The half that hadn't wanted him to notice me contemplated whether to stay there or move away. But by that time, he had already initiated a conversation.

'Hey! How have you been? How come you're here? Long time!'

Major understatement, I thought ruefully. I didn't even remember if there had even been a last time. I'd almost forgotten his face- well, almost.

'I have this class right now,' I replied, trying to sound natural. I felt extremely awkward. I gulped a few dozen times, and blinked rapidly in my nervousness.

He addressed the other two who were lounging about, talking about courses. Teachers.The needle in my brain that had stuck and made it freeze started whirring all of a sudden. I remembered that I had to be somewhere and excused myself.

I felt agitated when I got home. Forced myself to get distracted. Weakness got the better of me. I picked up my cell phone and punched in digits that seemed to have been etched into my memory. Stared at the little screen, willing it to change from 'Dialling' to 'Connected.'

Seconds ticked by like eons of eternity.

And then, with one last surge of indignation and contempt, I furiously jabbed at the little red button on the screen and flung the cell phone away.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Welcome Party

Ever since my sister joined IBA (note: encourage your siblings to have divergent academic interests from an early age to avoid public embarrassment later), all party evenings are marked by my sister barging into our room and whining 'I don't have ANY clothes! BOOHOO!'

Technically, that can never be true, since one always has the clothes on one's back. Just saying.

This was no unusual evening, and as usual, I continued reading the notes I was perusing and said absent mindedly 'You can wear the top you bought from XYZ (read really expensive) place, and those pair of jeans.'

That settled the havoc. For the next five minutes. The rest of her time was spent shrieking over not finding matching jewellery/ shoes/ or anything else that could possibly match her attire. Thankfully, my cat is a shade of brown. If my sis could overcome her hatred of her, she would've paraded her about like Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde with her pet poodle. More on that later.

The last cry of agony was heard at 9 sharp. The light had just gone out, and she regretted not having straightened her hair for the hundredth time.

We piled up into a friend's car and sped off. The moment we landed, I spied a number of aunties dressed to the hilt in shararas and ghararas. Unfortunately for me, the aunties looked old enough to be MBA students, and I panicked.

Sis grabbed my arm. 'The dress code was formal, right?'

I gritted my teeth. 'Yeah, that's what I heard.'

She thought that I was blind. I am, but only sometimes. 'Some people here are wearing fancy shalwar kameezes!' she wailed, stamping her feet.

'Maybe we should go home and change,' I mused out loud.

Trust her to take me literally. 'How are we going to get home? Our ride just left!' she wailed.

After much debate, dodging of valet-driven cars and ogling of aunties in hideous green clothes, we decided that one of our friends (who had dressed formally) should go ahead and check out the scene ahead of us.

Formal Friend haughtily sauntered up ahead and out of sight.

She didn't come back for ten minutes.

We, the irate trio, decided to go ahead ourselves, only to realize that FF had been peering through the doorway like some James Bond heroine -NOT.

'People are dressed both formally and casually!' she piped up cheefully.

I rolled my eyes and sallied forth.

Groups of people were huddled together across the wide expanse of the floor. The music was deafening and no one I knew was in sight. Thanks to this stupid jammer, I had to wend my way through the throng of chattering seniors and excited freshies to get to the other end where I could catch a signal.

Replying to my text, a friend replied that they were 'on their way'. When someone usually writes that, I interpret that as:

a) the person has left his/her house

b) is driving/ is on the road

c) is hastily giving their keys to the valet outside and is in the process of scurrying inside before they have to incur more of my wrath.

However, what this has ended up being a euphemism for is that:

a) the person yawned, checked his watch and decided that it was the right time to arrive fashionably late

b) stood honking outside a house while another friend spent eternity slathering on makeup

c) picked up a gazillion people 'on the way'.

It turned out that I was right, and all three situations had actually taken place. Hmph.

Not wanting to look like a loser with nothing to do, I went over to where a couple of my other friends were busy chomping on a burger. Yes, that's all you get if you enroll in a fancy shmancy business school- a burger that took ages to finish, a handful of flaccid fries and Pepsi.

Underage Senior and the Chai Chor were having an argument.

'The food is awful!' US wailed, as usual. 'I don't like it.'

CC chewed his burger thoughtfully and gave his verdict. 'Um, the burger's actually not that bad, my patty is ok, and the whole thing is warm.'

'My burger is awful!' repeated US, even more loudly for emphasis.

Picture this: if everyone is shouting to be heard above the din of raucous music, does it really mean that they are shouting if they can’t hear each other?

Guess what? YES, because we all had to repeat ourselves a gazillion times.

I looked back and forth from US to the CC and held up a hand. 'Ok, I'll go and get mine to decide for myself.'

CC was so wrong. US was wrong-er. The burger wasn't awful, it was BLEGH.

Things perked up a bit when I decided to go ice skating with some other friends. I must say it’s great fun to see people teetering on roller blades and falling down with a wallop- making asses of themselves by literally falling on their asses. I half wanted to push some people I particularly detested, but people were watching. And, er, it would have been mean. So I didn't.

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, said someone I seriously wish would die already. Ok, maybe he already has. Some people decided that if life means having music blasting from every nook and cranny possible, then you make a dance floor. Sure enough, two skinny guys (yes I looked, and did not think they were hot) were trying to vow the ladies by a series of quirky dance steps that honestly looked like they were having a seizure each. Or were performing bad imitations of Step Up movies' moves. Not surprisingly, the only audience around them comprised of wimpy looking guys who looked on in jaw-dropping admiration.

When I came back, I discovered that the accursed friends were busy staring at scantily clad girls. Since now there was nothing else to do, we put on our bored, cool, 'been there done that' looks and took our seats above the mini-golf area. The friends (why am I even calling them friends, I should've disowned them by now) proceeded to stalk two guys and pronounced them to be gay. All they were doing were shaking hands, and smiling at each other, which is so NOT gay. The rest of us weren’t amused. Like duh.

Did I mention the stupid jammer? Well, it turned out to be even stupid-er in the end. I spent ages rounding up people when it was time to go home. The ride home was a treat, with a noisy Hobbit sitting next to me and Sis who wouldn't stop saying the most insane things.

*beep beep*

I just censored those insane things.

The car pulled away, and I was left standing in the rain with an Energizer Bunny-ized sister. It was indeed the anticlimactic finish to the evening, since I was the one who had to tolerate her babble all the way home. Up to our room. Until she fell asleep exhausted.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Birthday Boohoo

Surprises of surprises. This week, I am in an especially cowed down mood, and my hatred for nerds has once again taken a backseat. However, something came up, and while I usually don't blog if I don't have to talk about samosas, nerds, and uber-nerds, I felt it imperative to write about this.

The only other most talked about word, apart from 'recession' and 'Megan Fox' lately has been the word 'extremist. Let's not call them that-  like one would call the physically handicapped 'disabled', for want of a better word- rather, they shall be addressed as the over-zealously religious ones. An image that pops up in my mind is of shuttlecock burqa clad women skirting about nervously and bearded men wielding Klashnikovs. But many of them breed among us. They sprout up as if from cracks in the pavement and become part of the milling crowd. They attend elite institutes and compete with the not-so-religious ones. They believe that there is no point in studying since it is the Hereafter that matters. And yes, some of them, in their disdain for all things Western/Indian, heretical and irreligious, denounce the celebration of birthdays.

A friend of mine had her birthday today. Since it was Facebook, and everyone out there usually strives to come up with the wittiest status updates and garner the maximum number of 'likes', this one came as a surprise. It said that she was sad because the birthday meant that her life had become a year shorter.

I think the post was pessimistic, to say the least. Nothing extremist, so far. What followed was an unprecedented flurry of messages- the religious ones immediately sought to capitalize on this opportunity and swooped down like eagles on fresh carcasses. The initial ones were a bit solemn, reflecting upon the impermanence of life. Nothing Keats or Shelley wouldn't have said.

But then there were others, that were obviously riled up by the ones pacifying the aggrieved birthday girl and wishing her a happy birthday. They promptly unleashed words of vengeance on the infidels (us, I believe) and copy pasted a number of Quranic verse translations in the comment box. This certainly impresses me in two ways- their ability to get worked up by something as innocent as a status update, and their ability to copy paste stuff from Google in a matter of minutes.

Please note that the birthday girl applauded one of those who had posted an extremist comment.

A friend of mine, who had been emphasizing on being positive, politely backed out of the convo. But I picked up where she'd left. My little brother passed by my computer screen and admired how there were already a number of likes on my short comments, while the dude with the quotations had none. 'Kisi nae itna lamba parha bhi nahin ho ga (No one must've bothered to read such a lengthy post),' he told me decidedly.

Before you guys start rolling your eyes and prepare yourself for an anti-religious sermon, let me clarify- I don't remember quotations from the Quran, so I'm not going to type out any verses indicating the incurrence of Allah's wrath on those who celebrated birthdays. And I don't remember any evidence of the Holy Prophet admonishing anyone that a gazillion years from now on, birthday celebrations will be rampant and should be regarded as the work of Satan.

I remember watching this movie called Khuda Kae Liye, and this one scene where Shan tells someone that that's all extremists do- brand every fun activity as un-Islamic. Back to the birthday status- someone commented 'What is there to celebrate?'

Isn't the enjoyment of life, i.e. a gift from Allah, something to be celebrated and cherished? I believe that rather than sit down and lament over the loss of a year of life, we should reflect upon it and cherish the fond memories it has generated. I believe that only those who have spent all their life fretting about enjoying what Allah has generously given us are the only ones who would have no reason to be happy. And even then, wouldn't someone be happy to come to the end of such a miserable existence? The blowing out of candles on a cake seems to be symbolic of the snuffing out of one's flame of existence. How morbid could one be?

No one is telling you to go and get drunk or get high just because it's your birthday. But it makes no sense that the Almighty would want you to be unhappy over something you have no control over- the inevitable passing of time.

And indeed, if death only brings us closer to Allah, that very aspect is meant to be celebrated.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Stupid hourlies have finally come to an end. Yay. As usual, this week of prolonged academic horror gave me more material for nerd-bashing. So here goes.

About two weeks before the hourlies, I came across this one nerd who was freaking out about one of our Finance courses. 'Hourlies are in two weeks!' she exclaimed, even before I had the chance to say hi or hello. 'Did you know that?'

'Yeah,' I said, acting like the cool person I am. So yeah.

'I have to go to a shadi tonight, and a birthday party tomorrow. I so have to start studying. Have you started studying?'

'Me? Abhi sae? No,' I shook my head, thinking of how to steer the conversation away from such nerdy issues. Nerd- talk gives me hives. No, seriously.

'Have you bought the book for the course?' she continued to pester me. Maybe that's one part of the cerebrum rote learning fails to develop - the ability to pick up hints.

'No, I'm going to do my notes,' I told her.

Her forehead creased with worry. 'Do you think we should get the book?'

'I'm not going to get it. Our teacher didn't say he would be giving stuff from it.'

'So you're not getting it?'


That finally shut her up. For ten minutes max.

As the week of the hourlies drew closer, it led to greater procrastination on my end and an increasing sense of trepidation on the part of the nerds. Hordes of them clustered around the printers in the library lab, which were spewing out reams and reams of slide printouts. If any non-nerd even dared to approach any one of the printers, a look of vile nerd venom was shot in his/ her direction. That would leave said non-nerd in a dazed state for the next half hour or so.

Don't you DARE approach this printer, or else.

The facebook statuses followed soon after. The annoying part wasn't simply the fact that they were nerdy. For some time, they were quite bearable. When a nerd puts up a status that says 'KSL is studying Corporate Law' (read: is rattofying all the handouts back to back until they can narrate them in their sleep), all I can do is roll my eyes and ignore it. It's when the nerds think that their creative juices have begun flowing and use them to concoct statuses that make me hurl. Needless to say, I did not take kindly to statuses that suggested that

a) Security Analysis was creating 'insecurity' amongst the student population

b) Ethics had forced them to resort to 'unethical' means,

or that....well, you get the drift.

It is amazing to see how people unite in the face of a national crisis, or rather a university-wide one. Nerds and non-nerds alike festoon the tables in the library where they pore over the aforementioned printouts. These pre-hourly sessions of cramming ultimately take the form of picture albums titled 'Semester Madness/ Mayhem'or something equally riduculous that would suggest madness in the form of a wild party with a pinata. The pictures, however, would display nerds in all their dark-circled glory hunched over a stack of notes. Any other pictures would be close-ups of pages in textbooks where they'd have drawn stick figures or circled some word with a double meaning. After the hourlies, a further examination of '10 new photos added' is bound to reveal close-ups of each paper with marks of at least 18 and above (out of 20').

Note: If a nerd only puts up five close-ups instead of six, he/she got bad marks in that paper for sure. Something like a 17.9.

The irony here is that the moment one's hourlies come to an end, people start putting up statuses like 'Finally! FREE! EEE!' No one could have guessed that this happiness is short-lived, and that in about fifteen hours we will have dragged ourselved back to university and will be slumbering over early morning lectures on brands and capitalization of assets.


Which is precisely why I never indulge in putting up an EEE!-ing status.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Elections! Whoopee!!!

Once again, for the gazillionth time (ok, the fourth time) since I've started university, the start of the term was marked by the one event that is remotely interesting for some, and a matter of life and death for many. Like Jedi warriors, hordes of students battle furiously as interglalactic (read: inter-campus) forces of good and evil. However, instead of lightsabers, they sport- nothing. Blegh. It's just a battle of good old bitching and backstabbing- 'games', they call them.

For those of you who don't know much about them, elections are monumental. The end of elections marks the beginning of the reign of people who rule university throughout the academic year, occassionally stealing money out of uni funds to get a headstart on the car they want to get once they graduate. It may be because one wants to get back at a political rival/ be an attention-seeker to the max/ brag about how he's going to work at PnG and be be the VP of such a prestigious university. Nevertheless, there are many who aspire to be in the thick of planning and plotting, have slumber parties at the boys hostel, make ridiculous freshies swoon (when are our election candidates ever really hot?) and eventually win the the most coveted posts.
This semester, I have an awesome timetable. It allows me to sleep through three hours of classes on four days, and sleep at home for the remaining two days. So this time, I was mercifully oblivious to most of the election proceedings. Even then, a number of irksome incidents took place, and of course, I absolutely must talk about them.

For freshies and juniors, elections are a novelty. After days of mugging up for A levels/ Inter exams, Anees Hussain-ing/ IBA Grad-ing, and getting bored during the summer vacations, they crowd around election candidates like bright-eyed kids in a candy shop, ooh-ing and aah-ing at all the 'leadership' spiel being dished out. Our new VP was  certainly in his element, with loads of ex-students from Anees Hussain hanging on to every word of his. Some juniors were misled into believing that they were his core campaigners, and went about ensuring that everyone else felt so.

On Saturday, as I wended my way through the throng of people milling about in the corridor, I was ambushed my a number of campaigners. Absolutely everyone who's best friend/ boy friend was standing up had lined up, beseeching me 'Please vote for Shahzeb/ Daniah/ Ali Abbas/ XYZ'. Worse were the candidates themselves 'Please vote for meeeee.....Please vote for meeee......you're voting for me right?' like the annoying ancient zamanay kae songs my dad plays on repeat in the car and I can't shake out of my head. Right in front of the library, my way was blocked by this junior.

'Maryam, please vote for Saad Khaleel, please,' she pleaded. 'You're voting for Saad Khaleel right?'

My eyebrows shot up. I mean hello, this junior, this JUNIOR, was asking ME, to vote for Saad Khaleel. I've known Teddy really well for three years, so I immediately thought of saying 'Excuse me! I think I know who to vote for, and considering it's him you're asking me to select!' But the nice person that I am, I bit back all the bitchy remarks that broiled in my head and just nodded.

She looked relieved. 'Oh really, thank you,' she chirped gratefully, as if I'd done her a huge favour. As if I had decided to vote for Teddy just because she had asked me to. Two minutes before I was about to cast my vote.

Let me mention that this particular junior is of the attention-seeking variety. Sadly, some lame juniors like her jump onto the campaigning bandwagon and forget who they're talking to.

Come senior year, and some embittered souls decide that it's finally time that they act all knowledgeable about election candidates. They will promptly launch into speeches about how so and so candidate has mauled, molested, and threatened them for the last three years, and that it is imperative that they bring about his downfall this year. Which is why they bitch like embittered old women, dying to hog all the glory and saying 'I made him lose.' Like Overexcited Classmate.

A loserly tent had been set up near the admin office. As I stood in line, an Overexcited Classmate and a Bored Guy took their places behind me. Under the watchful eye of one of the guards, the line shuffled forward at a snail's pace. I winced in the glare of the sun, feeling more bored by the minute.

A voice hissed 'Boy, who are you voting for?' It was OC.

BG yawned and answered 'Of course, Teddy. Why? You're voting for the opposition, right?'

OC was obviously high on something. He hopped around like a nervous bunny. 'BOY! Don't vote for Teddy. Has he ever really spoken to you? Kabhi Teddy Bear ban jatay hai aur kabhi Panda. He's not reliable!' 

Apparently someone on an overdose of PLE (Philosophy, Logic and Ethics).

The line moved forward. BG looked annoyed. 'Whatever, man! Does it really matter? These guys don't have much power now! And anyway, I'm voting for Teddy.'

'Na kar yaar!' OC wailed, hoping to get a convert out of him. 'Vote for the opposition! Vote for the opposition!' he chanted, like an ominous mantra.

Whoever said that repetition drilled ideas into your head was obviously mistaken. Sometimes, it annoys the hell out of people. BG squinted at the shining sun, shifted his feet impatiently and burst out 'Kya hai yaar! Mujhay nahin karna vote! I'm going home. I think the point's here.'

OC was apalled. 'Yaar ruk! Vote to kar kae ja!' he pleaded, as if addressing a naraaz lover. But BG paid no heed and happily scampered over to Gate 1, out of sight.

The most annoying person, however, was somebody my sister came across. She was at the LearnFest being held at Sheraton when a text bubbled up on her screen. It was Psychotic Senior.

'Oh hey, I was just wondering, who are you voting for in the elections?'

'Haha, why? Who do you want me to vote for? :P' asked my sister.

'Me? No, I was just asking because I've been out of touch with the election scene lately, and I don't knoq anyone who's in it this time. Are ABC and XYZ standing up for anything?'

'ABC is, I don't know who XYZ is. And it's ok, you can tell me who you're campaigning for.'

'Me? I'm not campaigning for anyone. And it's ok, I got my answer. You're a bad liar. Tee hee.'

PS is one of the very few girls who keep tabs on minute-by-minute election proceedings. Right then, she also sounded like a girl who had become delusional and demented because of that.

My sis scowled. 'Lying?! You're the one who's a bad campaigner!' she texted furiously.

'I wonder why you're lying about this, when you don't even have a big stake in this,' PS shot back. Apparently, she was just high on retardedness.

My sister ignored a text, and PS started bombarding her with them. What then ensued was bitchy bantering between the two, which grew more heated by the minute.

Finally, when PS was done with her retarded rampage, she texted 'Dude, I just wanted to know who you were voting for. So I just texted all my friends.'

My sister and PS are so not friends. They've hardly ever spoken to each other, and we later found out that she had gotten my sister's number just then from another friend.

People like PS really top the list of annoying people. They are mostly ex-veterans who campaigned vigorously for someone the preceding year, can't bear the idea of being ignored this year, and are mistaken in believing that they can act like a current candidate's secret weapon. Unfortunately, the only place they end up being mentioned is on a blog. Like mine.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nosy Spy

The following is a conversation that I just had with a Nosy Spy:

NS: Hey there Maryam

Maryam Khan: Hey

NS: I just read your blog post, and I can kinda guess who PN is. And it's not that unobvious.

MK: Lol, haha. Who?


MK: Blegh, no. I got scared for a minute there.

NS: Haha, I know it is. Khair, keep pouring it out. Better out than in.

MK: No it isn't. I hardly travel home with her. And the purpose of the blog is not to target specific individuals, rather what they do. Btw JSJDKF is not the only nerd in our batch.

NS: True. But who can be fat? Lol, and paindu. According to you that is (notice the emphasis on my understanding of the definition)

MK: Haha, NS, that was an exaggeration, because I was stuffed in the car with four people. It might have been SJDL for all anyone knows. And there are lots more paindu girls as well.

NS: Good, what do you mean by paindu in that case (maybe she thought I meant her?)

MK: The way people talk, you know.

NS: In your area, there aren't too many. HHSK, ALD, WSKL to name a few.

MK: I didn't even say that I was passing through my area.

NS: Whateverrrr....let our imagination wander :D (notice the use of the smiley to show that she was ok with it. When she was apparently perturbed at the fact that I hadn't told her.)

MK: Haha, yeah.

For everyone who personally takes delight in the fact that I bash people they know here....please feel delighted in your own personal space. While I make no pretense of liking people I hate, I prefer bitching here. Not backbiting, which are two different things. Also, I make no claims that all stories are a hundred percent true. For all you know, I could've been in a truck, on my way to Bahamas, squashed amidst thirty people in the last blog post. So duh, I make up a lot of details. Don't pride yourself into thinking that you know everyone I talk about.

Because you so don't. Keep on guessing.

Why I Hate Nerds- Part II

Since I'm just warming up on the subject of nerds, it's tough to sift through memories of all of my encounters with them. Tougher to come up with the retardest ones. Anyway, another reason why I hate nerds will be illustrated by the following story:

It was a fine February morning, and the weather of Karachi was crisp and cold. Our last exam had ended, and a friend of mine was giving me a ride back home. Friend and her Mom were in front; Friend's Mom was driving. The car swished through the dry air, and I clutched at the car seat uncomfortably. The reason for my discomfort was the fact that I wasn't alone in the back of the car- I was smushed together with three other people. Little Nerd, Paindu Nerd and Non-nerdy Guy.

Paindu is a difficult word to describe. For me, it just doesn't stand for someone who wears loud colours or has a retarded fashion sense. Rather, it denotes an unrefined way of life, attitude and mannerisms. In that twenty minute car ride, Paindu Nerd pretty much summed herself as all of the abovementioned characteristics.

PN, like Uber Nerd, also has a tremendously high GPA, Mashallah sae. However, it is sad to see that this high GPA has not translated itself from grades to 'education', for want of a better word. PN was high after having aced the exam (in her opinion) and couldn't stop blabbering about it. Her incessant stream of blathering had commenced from the lobby, till the parking lot, getting seated in the car, and was still on.

'LN, what did you write for the answers to Questions 1 and 2?' piped up PN in an extra high-pitched voice. That's another annoying thing about nerds- they like to recite each and every word they've penned down in an exam. Like people dissecting every detail of a cricket match after the game, multiplied by a million times mundane.

'I wrote about the Utilitarian Theory, the Rights Theory and the Justice Theory,' LN announced triumphantly.

PN, not wanting to be outdone, spoke up again 'Oh, but I also wrote about the Care Theory,' and beamed around as if expecting us to applause.

LN looked downcast. I was least bothered, since I didn't have the same teacher as they did, and yawned. Non-nerdy Guy, obviously bored, looked out of the window.

However, PN would not settle for being ignored. No sirree. I think she knows that I hate her, and that I would've bitchslapped her to the other end of the world if she had tried to engage me in a conversation. So she paused briefly and targeted the only other polite person in the backseat- NG.

'NG, what did you write for those two questions?'

The car careened over a winding bridge. Did I mention that PN is obnoxiously fat, and was the main reason why I wasn't sitting comfortably in the car? Apparently she was so busy nailing down all those Ethics theories that she had never bothered to learn basic stuff. Like sitting in a car, for starters.

NG cleared his throat and decided to be polite. 'Um, I wrote more or less the same stuff,' he drawled casually.

If he was hoping that that would shut up PN, he was sadly mistaken. Because this was PN, who is like, the grand-daddy of all nerds. Grand-mummy. Or whatever.

'Oh, but did you put in examples?' she trilled in a tone that made me cringe.

NG smiled ruefully. 'Nope.' And he went back to staring out of the window.

LN squirmed uncomfortably, and said 'I didn't either. I didn't think it was that important.'

At that moment, I so hated LN that I would've strangled her alive. Overlooking my pact not to harm harm-less nerds.

That was the moment PN had been waiting for. She aahed and oohed, and preened in all her paindu glory.

'But the instructions in the beginning explicitly stated that you had to put in examples,' she argued.

Since PN was sitting right behind me, her gravelly voice made me wince.

Nobody had taught LN to shut up at the right time either. 'But the instructions said "use examples where possible". So I think that doesn't make it compulsory.'

PN huffed and puffed like a disgruntled elephant. 'But-'

Friend's Mom, who had so far been trying to ignore PN's racuous voice chimed in 'Where do I have to drop you, PN?'

'No LN, you're wrong. Those two questions said "illustrate with examples", and there were a lot of examples that were applicable.' PN bellowed, totally ignoring Friend's Mom. Which was downright rude of her. Any rational, normal, non-nerd, would have known that. But no, not PN. When she gets down to embarassing herself, she does it thoroughly.

So, PN decided to outdo that level of rudeness and take it up another notch. I saw Friend's Mom visibly stiffen up, and reiterate 'PN, where do I have to drop you?'

PN shamelessly continued with her tirade. 'There was this example about the care theory that I wrote-'

Friend twisted around in her seat and directly addressed her. 'PN, where do we have to stop for you?'

PN gasped for breath like an oxygen starved fish, and continued blathering.

Friend's Mom cut in again, irritated like hell. 'WHERE DO I HAVE TO DROP YOU?'

PN opened her mouth like a gaping fish again, and said firmly 'EK MINUTE!' (Just a sec)

*dramatic music*

*dramatic music on repeat*

Friend's Mom was shell-shocked.

I bit back a cry of 'EW!!!!'

PN's spittle had landed on the back of my neck. 


 I wiped it off with the edge of my dupatta. And never wore that dupatta ever ever again.

PN rambled on in that raspy voice of hers. 'Yeah, so I hope he approves of all my examples. Because if he doesn't, I might end up getting an-' Hushed voice. '-A minus.'

PN paused for dramatic effect. NG had long stopped paying attention, and LN had her head bowed in defeat, as if in acknowledgement of the superior nerdiness of PN.

I was disgusted beyond comparison. PAINDU. NERD. SPITTLE. ON THE BACK OF MY NECK.

PN bristled like a stout hen (yes, she does resemble a number of creatures depending upon the occasion) and finally burst out her address.

I felt more spittle spray on  to the back of my neck. I think the second time it even caught some of my hair.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why I Hate Nerds- Part I

Once upon a time, like some ten years ago, I was destined to become a nerd. After I got my O level results, I think it had pretty much been written down in blood. However, I soon realized that I needed a life more than I needed straight As, and so thankfully, I was spared of the ordeal.

I don't hate nerds because they are more motivated, disciplined or focused than me. Those are all admirable traits. I hate nerds simply because they are bloody annoying.

Nerds love to cry over marks. Crying over a dead kitten, or flood relief victims, or even clothes that the tailor ruined is understandable. Crying over one mark is not. I should elaborate that by crying I mean
a) wailing like a banshee, incensed at the audacity of the teacher to mess with their marks
b) yelling like a three year old baby high on crystal meth
c) smudging the ink on their papers with tears that spout from a fountain rivalled only by those of women in Star Plus soaps

There have been numerous instances, but I will recount just one. In my first year of university, there was this girl in my batch- still is- let's call her Uber Nerd. The first time the hourlies rolled by, and the results came out, I spotted a destitute and forlorn UN leaning against a pillar, bawling her lungs out, surrounded by two friends who were busy consoling her. I interrupted one of the friends to inquire why (I wasn't sympathetic, I was just curious) and asked her what had happened.

'UN got bad marks in an hourly,' Equally Nerdy friend gestured empatically.

I didn't bat an eyelash. 'So?'

'She's afraid that she'll get kicked out of IBA,' the friend elaborated, probably expecting me to make an equally miserable face and commiserate with UN. Which was so not happening.

'How much did she get?' I asked, not really interested now that I knew that she hadn't been struck by lightening or had had a meteorite crash into her home.

'Eighteen,' the friend hung her head sadly.

I moved away before I laughed myself to death. Hiccupped myself to death, to be more accurate.

Hourlies are out of 20. T-W-E-N-T-Y. Maybe I should've spelled it out for UN.

Right now, Uber Nerd has one of the highest GPAs in our batch and has made it to the Dean's list.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Frustrating Aunty

If you're playing poker, deftly winning one hand after another, there will soon be a time when luck will desert you and you will start losing badly. If you've been getting a superbly high GPA in your previous semesters, there may soon come a time when it plummets to shockingly low levels (sound effect: nerds gasping in horror). When Headband retired to God knows what forsaken corner of the world, I heaved a sigh of relief. I expected things to go smoothly for a while, but like all good things come to an end, so did this interval of peace.

Yesterday, Bilal and I were teaching the students as usual when Frustrating Aunty walked in. I hardly looked up, but she made a beeline towards him and started explaining something in an embarassed manner. Minutes later, Bilal scooted over to where I was busy mulling over fake compounds and modifiers.

'She's an old student of ours....has studied for four months and STILL hasn't given the GRE," Bilal rolled his eyes.

I just shrugged and made my way over to the table where she was sitting. Not that I was bothered- not giving the GRE as planned wasn't really a crime.

Plain looking, clad in a black abaya, she looked like a serious student. After introducing myself, I casually asked her why she hadn't given the GRE last time.

She looked at me attentively and heaved a sigh of despondence. 'Miss, ab kya bataon (yes, it is freaky when a woman ten years older than you calls you Miss), I was teaching  at that time, and I wasn't able to devote as much time to prep. But now I've left the job, I colleague of mine has taken over, and here I am. Oh and I just have till October 7 to give the paper,' she beamed happily.

I gave her a faltering smile, all the while thinking er, there's no need to get so happy about that. Freaky over-enthusiastic lady.

 'That's hardly three weeks from now,' I frowned. ' You need to be done with Math and English by then.'

The ridiculously huge smile on FA's face wobbled. Just a teeny weeny bit.

'But I remember all the words,' she perked up. 'I just completed a test right now, and I got 18 out of 20 right!'

Apparently Frustrating Aunties think that knowing the meanings of eighteen words out of twenty merits them a Nobel Prize. For Synonym Guessing.

If only over-enthusiastic aunty had given me something to be enthusiastic about in return. But my hopes were soon to be dashed. Like a body flung over the side of a cliff, battered into a gazillion bloody pieces.

Frustrating Aunty began reading a Reading Comprehension passage. Ten minutes elapsed. My pencil impatiently beat a staccato on the wooden table. Ultimately, we started on the questions.

'Read the question, and then revert back to that particular section of the passage,' I suggested, as she skimmed through the whole of it with a panicked expression.

Eons passed. I looked at the walls. I looked at the ceiling. I looked at the seconds hand merrily ticking away in the wall clock. I scowled at Bilal shooting me sympathetic glances over his shoulder.

Just when I was about to die from extreme boredom, FA motioned me over. Exhaling sharply, I hunched over her book and asked 'Yes?'

She looked at me as if the question she was about to ask me posed one of the most riddling dilemmas known to mankind. 'Should I read the question before I read the concerned paragraph or vice versa?'

I looked upwards, hoping something would come down and smite me there and then. A piece of yellowed plaster hung precariously from the ceiling, but decided to stay put. No such luck.

'Erm, you can't know what paragraph the question is referring to unless you read the latter first, right?'

FA stared at me with big, black, beady eyes and then averted her gaze back to the book.

Two minutes later, she beckoned to me. 'I don't know the answer to the first question.'

I rephrased the question for her. 'It says "From paragraph 1, what can you deduce about bla bla bla....?' I hinted. 
FA stared back at me blankly. Apparently FA's don't deserve hints.

'That's it,' I pointed to a line in the text that had been copied word for word as one of the answer choices. FA nodded contentedly and began poring over the passage again.

Five minutes later, she lifted her head. 'Miss, I don't know what the answer to the second question is.'

I hated the way she kept on calling me 'miss' in that wheedling tone of hers. By then, her voice was wreaking havoc on my nerves.

'Ok, let's go over the comprehension again,' I suggested before she could get another one of her whiny 'miss's in.

FA began reading the passage. Haltingly, with the utmost concentration.

Within two minutes, I wasn't sure whether she was reciting the text in Greek or French or Gobbledygook.

I decided to spare my ears, as well as those of all the other students in the room, and read the passage aloud myself.

I'm pretty sure class had never been that long before. FA interrupted me at regular intervals to ask me the meaning of every word in the comprehension. For someone who had memorized the entire word list, she was surely coming across as an enigma.

Bilal looked annoyed by the end of class. 'She can't solve even a single Math question!' He hissed exasperatedly. 'She's forgotten everything!'

I sighed, rubbing the heels of my palm against my forehead to get rid of the Frustrating Aunty headache. 'Tell me about it. She doesn't know how to pronounce "archaeological".'

Bilal wasn't surprised even a little bit. 'Tumhay pata hai inhon nae kya kia hai?' (Do you know what her qualifications are?)


'A Masters in Economics. She used to teach MA Economics in KU.'

I snorted. 'She needs to go back to sixth grade and study Junior English first.'

We cracked up. I winced. My headache hurt. I'll get back at you for this, Frustrating Aunty, I thought ruefully.

Luckily for me, Mr. Extra Super Nerd (who substitutes for me) will be handling FA for the next three weeks while I'm on break. Muhahahaha.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ramazan Mayhem

My internship has finally come to an end. Six weeks of 8 am-ing to 7 pm-ing are over! And so it's back to sleepless nights and teaching at the prep center once again.

It was with an odd mixture of trepidation and relief that I surveyed the reception area once more. For one thing, I'd really missed coming here. Sure, I'd been coming on Saturdays, but that had hardly felt like the usual routine. And what with Ramazan coming by, classes have become really dull. The students are awfully quiet, and I keep on looking at the clock, waiting for the hours to tick by. However, I must say that it feels lovely to come to work where your boss will chat you up for ten minutes, inquiring about your internship and cursing your bitchy ex-boss. And I need not state that I don't miss spending time stalking bitchy peons and intimidating them just so that I can get coffee.

It was just another regular coffee-less afternoon (because of Ramazan) when I ducked out of class to get some handouts. I trudged past a group of sullen looking kids. The Head Receptionist was talking to this guy with a very grim expression on his face, while two other girls looked on resignedly. Maybe they're getting told off for disrupting class, I thought sympathetically.

About ten minutes later, I walked into the reception area and stopped short. The boy was arguing with the HR, face flushed. One of the two girls was whimpering, and kept on repeating 'I won't go home, I won't go home!' Now that really piqued my curiosity. And so once the trio was out of earshot, I made my way to the HR and asked him about it.

The HR grinned a smile full of yellow teeth. 'Jee?'

I lowered my voice conspiratorially, keeping an eye on the weepy maiden and the freaky adolescent. 'What happened? Why's she crying?'

The HR's smile waned. 'Miss ab kya bataen. These kids are up to their khel kood. Even in class, tch tch.'

The dumb retard that I am, I had to wince and repeat 'Khel kood?'

The HR grimaced and said 'Aapas mein khel kood'. (They were playing games amongst themselves).

I stared at him and only one syllable came out of my mouth. 'Oh.'

I kept on racking my brains thinking what the hell two girls and a guy were doing in a dark classroom after class. All sorts of cheap thoughts flitted across my mind, each one more repugnant than the other. But for the life of me I couldn't figure it out- the guy and the Weepy Maiden were making out, but what was the other girl doing in the room with them?! I surveyed the guy. Ok looking, average teenager with raging hormones. WM was kinda pretty- or probably was, it was hard to tell with all the smudged eyeliner around her red-rimmed eyes. The other girl was a plain looking one wearing a hijab. I mulled over all the possibilities over and over. I could understand why the gawky kid would be making out with WM, but the other one too, at the same time? EW.

Rather than prove my stupidity further, I made my best 'oh-I-understand' face and shut up. HR exhaled and continued, glad that I had finally caught his drift.

'I caught them in class, and I told them I'd be calling up their parents. The guy just balled up his fists and stood mutinously, while WM threw a tantrum and kept on saying that she couldn't go home, her parents would kill her. So I told them "Why do you guys do such things then? And that too in Ramazan. Tch tch." Then they all started crying (how gay on the guy's part, I thought), so I let them go with a warning.'

He shoved a piece of paper towards me. Apparently he had tried to extract an apology from the guy. This is all that the scrap of paper read:

'I am sorry for talking to my friends in class.'

Signed by all three.

I snorted. What had the HR expected, that they'd write 'we apologize for making out at the prep center, and that too just because we got caught'?

Weird desperate kids. Rather stupid desperate kids. Not that it was any of my business whether they were making out or not (that too in Ramazan! Courtesy: the HR), but why do that in a public place? A prep center classroom of all places.

Later when I recounted the story to my sister, she turned to me impatiently and said exasperatedly 'Maryam! How stupid could you be?! Of course the girl in the hijab was on the lookout for any people passing by!'

I don't know how my sister always knows things like these, and I never do.

I huffed. 'Whatever. Needless to say, she did a terrible job.'