FIRST-semester at the Gulag-ul-Adyar a.k.a. Eye-Eye-Tea-Em. Back in the age where dinosaurs roamed the forest **AND** the halls of the MSB and HSB and the forest wasn't trashed with rusting metal and concrete and paper and plastic like it is todin. Taramani was a muddy street with one shops selling trinkets and one Petromax light when it worked. Velachery was a fine mud street with a public pakistan that had never been washed, and the tea-shop with the Open-Air Seating served tea from that fine air, giving immunity to all who drank it. One feared to look out the barred back window of one's cell at night because one could hear tigers slurping.
Pissicks Practical Exam. The entire Pissicks Dept had a reputation that has scarred me for life, horribly borne out by my later experience even on PeeAref.
The official teacher was an entity (RB), who came in dressed like Sir CV Raman. Chilling, if one read novels about axe murderers who went around dressed like Einstein on the theory that this made them as smart. Person with extreme chips on both shoulders, and deadly aim with the chalk bit, which had struck me between the eyes many times in the 1PM class in the Pissicks Gulag Auditorium.
FIRST item in the test was some green goo in a tall Burette, that one had to "tie-trate" whatever into a tiny dish. I TOUCHED the stop-cock, and it came away in my hand: the green goo spilled all over the desk. RB came rushing over, a face like that of an Axe Murderer on Friday the 13th Part IV seeing a promising victim.
Then started the real action. Dr. "SUssex" (so named because his peecheedee was from Sussex and he let everyone know that, because it was the last time he had done any work, came rushing towards my station. He had absolutely no business there - RB was already cleaning up the mess after telling me to clear away and stand to a side.
Still rings in my ears.GIVE HIM A ZERO! GIVE HIM A ZERO!!!
And then it got a whole lot worse: The Most Feared Prof. SN Himself, with Al Qaeda beard and Russian Peecheedee, who used to come in with a Hawaiian shirt with buttons half open (maybe fallen off) on his hairy chest, and reputation to match, came strolling over in his menacing Tyrannosaurus Rex gait, chuckling in Tamil:
Ennada? Don't know how to operate a simple Burette?
RB moved away like a Brontosaurus seeing a T-Rex. Sussex stood by with an evil grin of anticipation: Maybe SN would cuff the ears of the brat. Maybe throw him down from the 3rd floor lab?
He went to touch the burette, by now re-installed and re-filled with green goo.
Terror of mpending cataclysm overpowered my existing terror. I warned him in my shaky voice:
Sssiirr.... tthte sssstttttopppccccockkk isss looooosssse....
SN ignored me breezily as befits a T-Rex ignoring an ant. Touched the stopcock. The Laws of Physics, thank Alla*, came to the rescue, and the stopcock came off in SN's hand. Green Goo spilled all over the desk.
I would have laughed if I were not so sure that the Axe Murder was about to happen.
When I found out why SN was a Professor, and Sussex was an Asst Prof and RB, old and disgruntled, was still a Lecturer.
My eyes were probably closed, I assumed he was referring to me.TAKE THIS PIECE OF GARBAGE AWAY!
AND GIVE THIS STUDENT A PROPER PIECE OF EQUIPMENT! AND DON'T YOU DARE REDUCE HIS GRADE! IT IS YOUR JOB TO KEEP LAB EQUIPMENT PROPERLY WORKING BEFORE EXAMINATIONS!
Didn't seem wise to ask if I would get extra time, because I didn't see that that would help at all, given my state of panic.
RB's face was nearly as red as his "Gopi" and the lipstick I am sure he wore. Sussex slinked away at high speed like a hyena in the presence of a lion.
Moral of the story: students are usually in a panic at Practical Exams. You have to ask WHY there needs to be a Practical Exam at all, if there is honest grading and assessment through the semester, with students encouraged to actually master the skills, rather than cheat on the weekly lab and Record-writing.
Of course all this was Karma. In Pre-Degree classes, it was my assigned military mission to have the English textbook open and ask bright questions from time to time, to distract the Enemy while we (my second-from-last-row Team) scrambled to copy the Physics Lab Record needed for the lab period following the class. Which worked fine until one day the teacher accidentally turned 2 pages at once in his book, so when I asked my question, with my predictive algorithm guiding where he SHOULD have reached, he said:"Huh?" because he had entirely skipped that section and had never seen it.
So why did we "cheat" on those labs? Because we were 16, but more to the point, there was no sense that we were TRUSTED not to cheat. "Everyone did it". Those who studied were treated worse than those who did not, and we grew up cynical.