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.'