Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Strange Times

If you're in the process of transiting from one stage to another, then you probably know the feeling that one gets when there. There is a strangeness to it. The word 'strange' is itself very strange. It could mean so many things; for some people, strange is the easier way out of situations where one isn't too sure; one of the more common usages of the word is in lieu of 'weird'. You listen to people talk and more often than not, it's all about, 'This is weird,' or 'That is weird,' or 'He is weird,' and 'She is weird'. Everything is sometimes weird and so strange and weird become inseparable partners in the tortuous journey we call - You-know-what - and places of transit become an important part of that long, weird journey we call You-know-what. Have you ever finished off an exam and thought, 'Wait a minute, there's something left yet.' Then you go back to your room and keep thinking about it. You think and think, until you figure that the more you think about it, the more it's going to trouble you. And you don't want it to trouble you at all. In fact, you want to forget about it and let it go so swiftly that it'd even put Concordes to shame. But the point is, given the kind of pressure around an exam, you probably want to put the question at rest, but not without getting it over with it first. Sometimes you think about if you've written the question number right at the start of the question, on which, as most people are told in school, there is just as much onus as is on actually writing the answer correct. When it's worse, you think about if you left out a vital, or otherwise not-so-vital, point or two from your answer. It's mad. This shouldn't make you so much as a mite worried, and in the previous century it probably wouldn't have, but things have gotten so out of hand these days. What if you think your five looked more like a six in your answer sheet? But there are ways and means of getting over this slight mental agitation, the most effective of which is a so-called 'defense mechanism' called repression. Since a thought, or thoughts, come up and front in your head, in your 'conscious' mind, you push it into another part of your head called the 'unconscious', where it'll stay until it's ready to play peek-a-boo with you again, or until you forget it completely; but not quite, because it goes into the rest of your mind. Do you think a poor kid should have to deal with so much? Well, welcome to wherever you are. The best part of finishing off with exams is that once all of them are over and done with, in toto, you can safely rely on your 'unconscious' not to bring up any of that stuff again. It might do so unwittingly, once or even more, to get the better of you, but it doesn't mean any harm and it surely doesn't get too piqued about it. Once you're done with your exams, you can go into other 'drives', like a break-neck bout of reading books, or something else that you might have been prevented from hitherto. Once you're done with all your papers, you notice something even stranger, only this time it isn't psychic or internalized. It's the people around you. They get 'strange'. When you're in your exams, if you're the smart-type, people flock around you, putting aside earlier norms of keeping clear of your privacy, and try to get things sorted out about chapters or parts of chapters. They come and talk things out, ask questions (to verify if they or you know better and more) and fire a rapid round of things that are 'likely to come in the question paper'. Or else they just talk about how tense they're feeling or what they'd rather be doing then. Au contraire, if you're the slip-shod kind of guy, the one who wakes up to tomes of work yet unread round one-and-a-half hours before the exam, then the same people goad you into get your butt off the bed and start working. But once you're exams are over, they start acting-up. From over-drive they plummet into what I call 'limbo'. They start servicing other peoples' arses and leave yours alone. And that's good in a way. But this becomes a repetitive thing; I mean the servicing literally never stops. Some of them become taciturn and even mean sometimes, but you shouldn't get carried away with thinking that. It's best to let things be, lest you spoil the way things are meant to turn out and miss all the 'action'. But honestly, one ought to be more sparse with words in these times; the lesser spoken, the better conveyed, thus spake a famous Zen monk who never existed. But like in the books you read, about men and places, there are different ways of looking at each new thing. Bad vibes can both be good and bad; good because you're alerted to things you don't want to get into, and bad because they can very well piss you off if you're not careful! Thus also spake another monk who never existed. How does one get to the bottom of this bottomless pit, viz., the never-ending thought of going wonky with all Indian pressures around exams? I don't know. One way, certainly, is to know what's what and to stop pretending that it's any way else.

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