Monday, June 28, 2010

The AH Chronicles continued

There is never an uneventful day at work. May and June are one of the busiest months of the year. Hundreds of wannabe IBA'ns throng the corridor and mill about the reception area before and after classes. Normally, SAT/GRE/GMAT classes are a respite from the cacophony outside. But this is also the time of the year when the rush increases for my classes too.

For some time, I had been noticing this girl who would quietly skulk into class and chat with one of the students. Let's just call her Flirty Woman. Class officially starts at 6, but if I happened to come in early I would see her talking to Boyfriend.

I thought she was just a friend of BF's, and was probably taking some other course at Anees Hussain. It wasn't as if she came in everyday, so I forgot about her for a while. Then a couple of days ago I saw her in class again. She looked demure enough, but her eyes darted about mischieviously- towards a certain individual in class, who happened to BF. She began started explaining stuff from the GRE book to BF, pointing at phrases and giggling. I scowled at her inwardly because I knew for a fact that BF was done with the entire GRE course, and needed no additional help.

That day, she seemed to be unusually high-spirited and kept on giggling and squealing in response to whatever BF was saying. After some time, all I could hear was *giggle* *giggle* silence *whisper* *giggle* *whispher*. Even if I had openly showed my displeasure, I bet she wouldn't have noticed. She was staring into BF's eyes with the grossest expression ever. With a big sappy smile. EW!

When I couldn't stand it anymore, I called Bilal over and asked him about her.

Bilal smirked. 'Oh, she used to be one of our students last year.'

I raised an eyebrow. 'So? What is she doing here now?'

Bilal shrugged. 'I don't know. She just asked our boss if she could sit and observe the class, and teach a student or two.'

I felt apalled. SAT/GRE/GMAT students are NOT people meant to be observed. Most of them are conscientious, ambitious, office going people or students who are here to study. I doubted that they would want to be guinea pigs for behavioural studies, conducted by the likes of FW.

I snorted. 'Hmph. Well, she is doing anything but that. This is not a flirt fest, you know.' And I proceeded to regale him with stories of FW's antics. 

For what insane reason had Sir allowed FW to come to class? I had no idea. But the dutiful teacher that I am, I spoke to him about it. It was decided that the next time she would come, someone at the reception would tell her that she wasn't allowed to sit in class since it was already so crowded.

I was early for the next class as well. Apart from one other kid, FW and BF were the only ones in class. I promptly informed the people at the reception, and one of them went up to her and conveyed the bad news. I watched her distraught expression and her mouth  form an O of horror and disappointment. She and BF spent an hour outside the class talking seriously, and BF didn't even attend class that day. Later, I heard that she had told the reception walay that she would pay the fee for coming to class. And apparently doing nothing. How khwaar could she be?

FW hasn't set foot into the class since then. We also got to know that she has had a crush on Bilal, since she insisted that he teach her individually. In all, I was solely responsible for ruining FW's dating routine and saving my friend from the clutches of the ultimate freakazoid. So not only am I a Bitchy Teacher, but I am an anti-Cupid.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Roti Pakana

A lame joke that I’ve been hearing since childhood goes like:

A teacher asked a girl ‘’What do you want to be when you grow up?’ The girl replies spontaneously ‘I want to become a dulhan (bride)’.

Sadly enough, this lame joke is a bitter reality. I come from a fairly conservative family; one, in which the concept of working women is almost unheard of. Women in my family are brainwashed into believing that their ultimate aim in life is to get married. That shadi is the penultimate deal- the pinnacle of their existence. Because of this, many females stay at home after getting their undergraduate degree, getting fatter by the day, waiting for the time when an ugly chartered accountant with big bucks will come for them in a white Land Cruiser. This is when they embark upon a journey comprising of endless roti-making. (Rotis are unleavened flatbread made out of flour).

I am ashamed to admit this, but I have never made a roti in my life. Yet, there are females who are rigorously trained in the art of roti making-from kneading the dough, to making a plump paira (round ball), rolling out the perfect circle of flour to tossing it onto the tava (griddle) with flair. However, this doesn’t bode well with my thoughts. Pakistani families expect to get their daughters married into a family that would at least be as well off as theirs, if not richer. Aren’t my in-laws expected to have servant like I do? Isn’t Mr. Perfect Chartered Accountant supposed to be rich enough?

‘Good’ girls are always associated with domesticity. Why? Am I not good enough if I work in an office and am not at home to make rotis for the midday meal? Am I bad if my saas (mother-in-law) does not get the satisfaction of bossing me around in the kitchen? Is it really that awful that my children might believe my rotis to be inedible, even though I look after them and bring them up to the best of my abilities?

When I was doing A level Economics, I learned that our GDP is grossly understated since domestic work done by housewives is not included. Apparently, housework done by wives should be paid for. Should I learn to make rotis so that my susraal (in-laws) has the smug satisfaction of saving up on maasi (maid) expenses? If that’s really the case, then Mr. Chartered Accountant is more than welcome to marry a maasi who makes perfect rotis.
I don’t mean to say that one shouldn’t learn how to make rotis at all. But I want to be known as someone who is much more than a roti pakanay wali (roti maker)- an individual who is capable of much, much more, and is actually getting a chance to prove it. Roti pakana is an achievement in itself, but isn't having a career an achievement too?

I use roti pakana (making rotis) as a euphemism for having no ambition. A girl who truly doesn’t want a career is more than welcome to become a roti maker. But those who study in the best institutes of the country and end up becoming just that are wasting their talent and the country’s resources. At least guys who would’ve enrolled in their places would’ve contributed more to their family’s well-being and to society in general.

When I was younger, and Indian television was all the rage, me and my siblings used to watch the Asian Sky Shop segment with great fascination. One thing that enthralled me was the roti maker- a circular, steel-based electronic machine, very much like a sandwich maker. I used to watch the ad with awe that showed a perfectly round roti swelling up and lifting the top of the roti maker in a matter of minutes. When I get married, that roti maker is bound to be my most prized possession. And that’s what I triumphantly announce whenever anyone brings up the topic at home.
(Google Images)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Headband Part II

I have to admit something- I hate holidays. Yes, I know, I'm very weird. It's hardly been a week into vacations, and I'm already bored out of my mind. I absolutely abhor the idea of sleeping late, waking up late, watching movies endlessly- that numbs my brain- and staying at home. I can't watch TV for hours at a stretch. It irritates me. I like going out and hanging out with my friends, but I can't do it everyday and all the time. It is especially at times like these that Anees Hussain provides a welcome respite from the day to day monotony.

Bilal and I are now sure that Headband is absolutely scared of me. When he finally decided to show up for the last class, he cautiously took Bilal aside and started whispering into his ear. In the spirit of the Bitchy Teacher that I am now, I cocked my ears and desperately tried to eavesdrop while pretending to go over Sentence Correction with one of the students. But much to my dismay, my ears don't work like Extendable Ears. Remember Harry Potter? Even ears like Mr. Potato's from Toy Story would have done.

Detachable eyes would've been useful too.

Anyway, I was going back into the class from the reception area when I bumped into Headband, just as he was leaving. Thankfully, the wretched headband had been left at home that day. Instead, an inverted cap adorned his grizzly head. I mentally rolled my eyes at the grey dome surrounded by the mass of bramble-like curls. Fashion disaster much? So wannabe rap singer.

 'You're leaving already?' I snarled, also trying to insinuate that I knew what he had been talking to Bilal about.

He shifted about uneasily. 'Erm, yes. I just wanted to say that I've just had a talk with Bilal, and I've told him that I don't want to spend too much time studying English.' Then he looked up and probably envisioned me as a riled up dragon, with steam wafting out of my nostrils. So he added hurriedly 'Actually I'm applying to an Engineering college, and they want a high score in Math.'

All you morons who will probably join my class one day- let me tell you that all standardized aptitude tests- including the SAT, GRE and GMAT- have a cumulative score incorporating both verbal and math. CUE-MEW-LAY-TIVE. Do you hear me? So if you join Anees Hussain in future and say something so ridiculous to my face, I will throw you out of the window. And I am a very strong girl, so take me seriously.

Fortunately for Headband, there were no windows around. 'I believe they want a high overall score as well,' I rejoined smoothly. 'Do you think you don't need to do ANY English? Your vocabulary is awful, to say the least. And you hardly remember the words you study anyway.' I secretly rejoice in telling Headband this every time, so I enunciated it as well as I could.

He blushed furiously and looked more uncomfortable, probably wishing Bilal could've been there to save him from my wrath. Little did he know that Bilal would have looked on and secretly regaled in whatever I would have to say to him. Anyway, before I could go all ninja on him, he proposed that we do English on Saturdays only so that he could do Math on the other two days.

I shrugged. 'Fine with me, but this class is for Math AND English. So you will have to complete the English course, and I'll make sure that you do.' I bit back a 'muhahaha' which would have been dramatically lame, but Headband cringed as if I'd actually said it and scurried away like a terrified rat.

Bilal thinks Headband might have read my blog. Haha. Even if he has, he has no idea what's in store for him. Muhahaha *Mojo Jojo style*

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Bitchy Teacher

*The title of this blog post has been inspired from one of my favourite blogs, The Bitchy Waiter, which you can access here.*

 As most of you already know, I teach English for SAT/GRE/GMAT at Anees Hussain. When I started teaching, my boss Sir Irfan told me that I'd have to be particularly strict with students and make sure they mug up vocabulary lists.  'Students were scared of Saqib (the guy who used to teach before me) and memorized word lists completely. You're not that type, so make sure that they do,' he emphasized.

After about a millisecond or so of feeling proud that I wasn't the ultimate Vocabulary Terrorizer of all times,  I started feeling outrageously indignant. Type? I SO can scare people. If scary is what Sir wants, scary is what he'll get, I promised myself.

The first time I actually had a chance to prove my mettle was when this new kid enrolled for class. Correction: weirdo. Dark curly hair, and a HEADBAND. It honestly looked like a band of scrap metal amidst a tangle of barbed wire. On top of it all, he wore bermudas to every class. I don't really have a thing against bermudas, but I do have a thing against hairy legs. So ew. I half feel like putting up a notice inside the class or reception area that says 'NO SHORTS/BERMUDAS ALLOWED. IF YOU FEEL THAT GIRLS WILL BE ATTRACTED TO YOUR HAIRY LEGS, YOU ARE SADLY MISTAKEN.'
Anyway, I swallowed and tried to overcome my initial disgust as days passed and Bilal continued to teach Headband Math. When the time came to get him started with the English section, I braced myself and approached him. 'Hey, how many words have you done?'

'Words?' HB questioned me as if I was the moron.

'Yes, vocab,' I muttered. What else would I be referring to, you retard? Are you here to practice for a musical or dance recital or something?

'I haven't done any,' he announced triumphantly.

I got so totally mad. Like really really mad.

'I can't learn all those words. I can't remember them,' he elaborated sheepishly.

'Err, you do know that your vocabulary is awful, right? And that you were supposed to learn the words no matter what? JUST LEARN THE FIRST FIFTY AND COME NEXT TIME!' I barked. 'We won't teach you anything new if you don't.'

By the next class, I had more than warmed up in Bitchy Mode. 'I've just read through the words,' he mumbled, drawling in his weird pseudo-American accent. 'Whatever man, just do it.' I snarled, tossing him a wordlist test of twenty questions.

Headband probably took more than an hour trying to recall the meanings of a measly twenty words. Once I saw him peeking into his notebook. 'No cheating, you!' I hollered over the table I was sitting at. After that he didn't dare even look up.

I was so pleased with myself that as I was listing the contents of the GRE course for two new students, I stopped at Vocabulary and said 'This, you guys HAVE to memorize before every class. Otherwise you'll be treated just like Headband.' (Of course, I actually used Headband's real name).

Poor (SO NOT!) Headband had to deal with the smirks and queer glances of twenty students plus Bilal for the rest of the class.

I really feel like telling Sir Irfan how bitchy I managed to be with a student. Strangely enough, Headband hasn't shown up for the last two classes. Gulp.