As the Postnett Bhavan comes into view, one looks at the watch for a second time. Oh no! It’s late again! While rushing into the building, a quick decision has to be made: whether to wait for the lift or to take the stairs? Either of the two ways takes the same time to reach the 4th floor, the only difference being, the one who has taken the stairs will be slightly out of breath.
At the entrance, there is a never-ending hunt for a pen and finally the security person obliges in lending his own pen. We grab the Sierra Atlantic register and quickly scribble our names. Then we glance at our watch as well as the wall clock for putting down our entry-time. Whichever shows a time before 9:30 that one is entered into the register. You may ask, “What happens if both the watch and the clock show a time that is after 9:30?” the answer is very simple. We enter 9:30 or 9:25! Who likes to say that they are late!
After mumbling a “thanks for the pen!” to the security guard, we rush into the institute. We are not sure whether our batch-mates will be in the lab or in the classroom. While we enter the corridor that leads us to the classrooms, we hear the sound of laughter. So, we understand that the others are in the class. The instructor has not come yet. We heave a sigh of relief but that is short-lived. One of the pranksters in the class says, “Just now Syeda ma’am came. She asked the late-comers to come and meet her.” Oh! How can one believe this person! These people always try to fool others. One fine day when some thing really happens, everybody will think that it’s a joke and nobody will believe the truth.
The late-comers join the rest in cracking jokes and pulling each others legs. Suddenly the door opens. We assume that it must be our instructor, but no, it is the instructor of the adjacent class. “Don’t you know that there is class going on in the adjacent room?” he shouts. We keep mum until he leaves. Then slowly and steadily as the noise level increases, we produce mimic sounds of Hawkins and Prestige cookers to hush the class. All the sounds simply add to the noise. The sound that is most prominently heard is Shashank’s loud guffaws. When asked to reduce his volume, he says that he can’t help it!
Finally instructor enters the room. While he busies himself in booting the system and positioning the LCD projector, we settle down. The lecture is very interesting in beginning but as time progresses, the people start getting bored. Archana hasn’t had her breakfast yet again and she is damn hungry. Everyone keeps looking at their watches for every half a minute. Some of the batch members continue to pester their friends by giving missed calls or by sending stupid messages. During all this, Vanitha is probably the only person intently listening to the lesson. She even puts a number of questions for clarification.
When the break is declared at last, a dash is made to the canteen. If something is not present at the canteen platform, Karthik enthusiastically takes the initiative to remind (reprimand) the canteen staff! Most of them drink tea while Pradeepa is simply interested in the biscuits. Three or four helpings of them, is quite common for her. But the best part is of it that she shares it with everyone. If this continues, one fine day there will be a notice saying, “Biscuits not given to employees of Sierra Atlantic!”
Archana is teasing Karthik while I try to drink tea without spilling it. We all are rolling laughter listening to the experiences of Karthik’s so-called friend. Once in a while Sphurty keeps saying, “Entiiiiiiiiiii….?” with a questioning look on her face. It is very funny to watch the way Swetha keeps pulling Sphoorty’s legs and the way Sphoorty in turn ineffectively tries to hit back Swetha.
Madhavi is trying to keep her cell phone away from prying hands. If anyone enters the PIN wrongly thrice then the cell gets locked. This is the very reason why the others want her cell! Once her temper is aroused, she will call others not by names but by ----- (dashes). So better not irritate her. Especially Karthik has to be extremely careful, if he wants his ears to be safe and sound!
Soon one of batch mates tells us that our sir is waiting for us in the class room and we reluctantly leave the canteen. Post-break session seems to be going faster. While the lecture is going on, I turn around to find Swadeep clutching his stomach and struggling to control his laughter. One look at Shashank or Karthik tells me that it is one of their jokes again. I assume that Karthik was imitating Gayatri as usual. When I look at him, he says, “Be confident and ask doubts!”
Halfway through the session Archana gets a call. She asks me to bend and block her from the instructor’s view and then answers her phone. Immediately she starts coughing non-stop. She takes permission to go out and drink some water. As she takes her mobile along, everybody assumes that she bluffed the cough. At the same time, Sir also excuses himself to meet someone outside the class. He catches Archana talking over phone and Archana quietly comes into the class room. Her cough was real, but as she was caught over the phone, now she can’t even cough in front of our instructor. She tries her level best not to cough till it is time for lunch.
Pradeepa has got an orange with her. She insists that she hasn’t flicked it from the canteen. But there is no proof for that! While the instructor teaches, she is busy peeling and eating orange. She is feeling so drowsy that even when she squeezes the orange peel into her eyes, she can’t keep it open, not even for a second!
It’s lunch-time. We are thinking whether to eat at CMC or outside. Swadeep and Shashank want to eat out, while the others forcibly pull them into the canteen. They reluctantly sign the register at the counter and take their plates. The food is not that good and they find every chance to point this out. They blame us for having to eat such rotten stuff. Shailaja gets a call from Sai, her fiancé and the others scream so loudly that she can hardly hear what Sai’s saying. Everyone wants her wedding to be on Saturday or Sunday, but she keeps telling that only the punditji can decide on the date.
Swetha has her plate full of papads but still she takes one more from Sphurty. Shailaja needs some water but pours it on the table rather than in her glass! Gayatri asks the people who are not interested in having dessert to give their share to her. It is surprising that in spite of having so many helpings of the dessert, she does not put on any weight.
Someone orders for fruit salad. Names of so many fruits are mentioned for a single plate of salad that the person at the juice stall has a tough time understanding what is to be cut, whether to put salt or sugar and the list of doubts goes on. Orders for juice is also made with different instructions like no sugar, no ice… finally we hope that the guy does not forget to put fruit in the fruit juice!
After lunch there is rush for the mouth-freshener. Initially after the sugar-coated saunf got exhausted, we would have to be content with the ordinary saunf. But now we found out that the canteen staff refills the container after our favourite mouth-freshener gets exhausted. So we have it to our heart’s content!
As we get up and move out of the canteen, the canteen fellow calls us and points us to the empty tumbler and a bowl. Oh God! When will Karthik remember that it is self-service! He always needs an assistant to put his disposable tumblers in the trash and to put his saucers and cups near the sink.
Right after lunch, we are asked to practice in the lab. We spend the time chatting away. Some guys are busy talking over phone while others are busily sending messages. There are some others who surf the net. Once in a while our sir comes. During that time we pretend to work. We get into the mood of work only when it’s time for tea-break! The more engrossed ones stay back in the lab where as we go to the canteen.
Someone decides to play a prank on Pradeepa, but as long as her best friend Gayatri is around, they cannot do anything as Gayatri never ditches her best friend. Swetha is busy chatting with her friend Swetha. Pradeepa is savouring her favourite Monaco biscuits. Shashank is commenting on Pradeepa’s reaction to any Hindi joke.
Meanwhile someone has lost something: either their mobile or specs. And none of us are sure whether it’s a prank or it’s the truth. We can’t even believe the person who claims to have lost his/her thing as that person himself/herself may be trying to fool us. Finally the lost item is found in one way or the other. The fun continues till we leave the canteen. We are now made to listen to a theory session.
Though none of the members are interested in listening to anything, we still calmly sit through the session. His monotonous voice sounds more like a lullaby. Already one or two of the listeners are fighting to keep their eyes open. Meanwhile Karthik asks us to see Pradeepa. “Why?” we enquire. He replies, “Pradeepa is looking very fresh. She has just got up from sleep!” The instructor also observes this and concentrates totally on the first row of students. Madhavi asks a number of questions that make us more impatient, for, everyone is waiting for him to finish as soon as possible so that we can go home. But to our bad luck we are supposed to sit and practice whatever we have learnt during the day.
We drag ourselves to the lab. We have hardly sat there for a couple of minutes when the first batch gets ready to leave. We are also tempted but the load of pending work seems heavier than ever. We sigh and continue with our work.
As the clock strikes six we all rush out of the institute. Somebody presses the lift button while the others take turns in filling the register. We see that the ones who’ve left behind have entered 6:30, a time when they assumed the others would leave. We fight back to urge to change their exit time to 5:30. So, the wrong time is entered not only during entry but also during exit!
Finally the lift door opens. The lift, instead of taking us down, takes us till the top floor and then on the way down stops at each and every floor. Finally when we reach the ground floor, we wish good-byes and part for the day.