HOW TO ANSWER A 16 MARK QUESTION
WARNING I: You are not going to heed any of the warnings below this one.
WARNING II: This article contains material unsuitable for minors. If you happen to be under 18, or over 18 and a prude, you probably shouldn’t read any further.
WARNING III: If you happen to work for Anna University, you definitely shouldn’t read any further. Get back to work, you lifeless bureaucrat!
SMUG DECLARATION: Ha! Told you you wouldn’t listen!
It’s exam season here in Tamil Nadu. Yes, that time of the semester when textbook vendors finally get to feed their children two square meals a day. At least, that’s how it used to be. These days, with students (and the question paper setters) downloading textbooks off the internet, proprietors of establishments such as Book Depot, Indian Book House, Phase Bookstore, and Sanskrti Jnyaan Yojana (Formerly known as NCERT Book Bank) have had to wise up and are now selling textbooks directly to waste paper marts, where they are paid for by the kilo.
“The books go there anyway at the end of every semester.” says Loganathan, 45, owner of Circuits Connected! “We’re just cutting out the middleman.”
“And how is that working out for you?” I ask, watching him load heavy stacks of books one after another into a red Maruti Omni bearing -in neon pink- the words ‘Fahrenheit 451 Paper Mart – Words Make Us Hot!’
“Well…” He struggles, trying to get a particularly large stack off the floor “At least now I don’t have to watch Splitsvilla through the window in my neighbour’s 3-bedroom flat.” He gives up and sits cross-legged on the floor, dabbing at his forehead with a handkerchief. “He owns a xerox shop, that dog.”
But I digress.
As I said before, it’s exam season for all lads and lasses over 17 who have been unfortunate enough to end up having to complete a B.E./B. Tech in one of the thousand or so colleges across the state which are affiliated to Anna University, or, as it is affectionately known among its students, That Greedy Son of a Bitch. Indeed, few know that the people representing Anna University at a secret conclave of Indian capitalists in Chandigarh earlier this year were the subject of hearty congratulations from the rest of the attendees for their ‘outrageously successful use of the Liang-Barsky Scheme to help fulfill their dream of raking in the moolah’.
At this point, the general flow of diabolical laughter was interrupted by an Anna University representative wishing to know what exactly the Liang-Barsky Scheme was.
The CEO of Club Mahendra deigned to explain:
- Promise to a group of people, if they perform a certain task (usually, solve a simple puzzle), a certain reward (usually money, or a free trip to Sri Lanka).
- Allow them to perform said task.
- When the task has been performed and the reward claimed, lead the claimant(s) into an air-conditioned room, serve them tea and biscuits, and explain politely how they are eligible for the reward if and only if they would be so kind to register for membership to Club Mahendra, and oh, pay Rs. 35,000 only.
“Oh, that!” the representative chuckled “We call it Re-evaluation of Answer Scripts.”
But enough about Anna University, let us talk about the Affiliated Colleges, one of which -namely, Sairaam College of Engineering (or, as it is known in Germany, The Third Reich.)- was in the news recently for cancelling a Design of Machine Elements exam in protest of a 2-mark question asking students to define the male and female parts of a joint and distinguish between the two.
“We will not stand for crass double entendres in question papers!” said Mrs. Neha Lani, Sairaam spokeswoman “We firmly believe that our students will become responsible and cultured citizens of India if and only if we teach them to deny the existence of the opposite sex.”
“What about sex, in general?” a reporter wanted to know.
“A popular misconception.” she smirked and leaned back into her chair “Sex is a delusion that is prevalent among those who eat non-vegetarian food, the consumption of which we have forbidden in our campus.”
The college released, earlier today, a circular detailing other items, behaviours and practices that were forbidden in their campus. An excerpt from the circular follows:
…and hence, it is only prudent that students found breaking the following rules should be sent to the Campus Counsellor for at least a week of extremely intense and violent therapy, in order to inculcate within them ideas, habits, and a worldview that is in accordance with that of our founders.
- No student shall possess any portable telecommunication device(s) such as cellular phones, pagers, PDAs, tablets or laptops in the campus.
- Every female student shall draw an imaginary sphere of radius 8.5 meters with her center of mass as the center and declare said space to be a ‘male-free zone’. Every male student shall do likewise, and declare his space to be a ‘female-free zone’. Students found violating this rule shall be given an amount of punishment that is in proportion with the volume of intersection of the two imaginary spheres, as calculated from the perpendicular distance between the feet of the male and female found violating this rule at the instant of time they were caught. For mathematical details, please refer to Section VIII, titled ‘The Science of Torture’
- To prevent verbal communication between students of the opposite gender (and even the same or similar gender) we encourage our students to come to college after having their tongues cut off. Those who can’t afford to have this procedure done at home can make use of our internationally acclaimed in-campus facilities.
- No student shall use the numerals 1, 3, 6, 8, or 9 within the campus. These numerals are considered lewd and against Indian Culture. Instructors shall design homework problems in a manner that doesn’t involve the aforementioned numbers. For similar reasons, official college policy regarding irrational numbers, complex roots, and infinity is to deny their existence.
- Students/Faculty belonging to the Department of Mechanical Engineering are instructed not to use the words ‘piston’, ‘cylinder’, ‘coupling’, or ‘shaft’ in any context as these words have extremely suggestive connotations. In order to reduce any impetus department personnel may have to use these words, we have ordered special textbooks prepared by Sairaam Publications Co. which have replaced the aforementioned words with others of a more scientific and less suggestive nature, such as ‘mutinius maximus’, ‘receptaculum’, ‘commixtium’, and ‘verpa’. The purchase of these textbooks is mandatory, and they should be returned to the administration at the end of every semester. For the purpose of completeness, we provide below a sentence from Sairaam’s Elements of Design:
“At the beginning of the power stroke the mutinius maximus withdraws forcefully from the receptaculum due to the combustion of the gases housed within. It must be borne in mind that the variable loads experienced by the commixtia of various verpae found in the engine assembly reach their peak value during this stroke, and that the design must..”
Anyway, my point is that it’s exam season here in Tamil Nadu: Books are being opened, quickly rifled through and closed again in frustration, pencils are being sharpened feverishly, small lorries carrying thousands of question papers and answer scripts are flying across the state, students all over the state are offering animal sacrifices to their mini-drafters and having existential crises, and there is only ONE question in everybody’s minds:
Is Jon Snow alive?
In conclusion, allow me to say that if you still haven’t understood how to answer a 16 mark question, you should read this article again.
CLAIMER: This article was written with the purest of intentions -that of bringing a smile onto my own face as I heartily congratulate myself for being so funny- and was not intended to be offensive to anyone at all. If, however, you have managed to somehow take offence at something in this article, I apologize profusely, from the bottom of my heart, and humbly encourage you to encase your righteous indignation in glass and give it to me so that I can worship it every day in repentance of my sins.
DISCLAIMER: All people, places, events and organizations mentioned in this article are fictitious and any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental. Yes, even Tamil Nadu, which happens to be a mass delusion. In fact, this article doesn’t even exist and is a product of your imagination. You should probably visit a doctor now.