Thursday, September 14, 2006

Famous Last Words

My father has a whole storehouse of maxims, which he draws from when he needs to either nag me (the natural duty of every parent) or commiserate when life hands me its lemons. When I was a teenager, the most common refrain was "MTV will rot your mind" - ok, so that's not a maxim exactly, but it should be - its every parent's national anthem. Another one (related when I am in need of sympathy) is "the man who has nuts has no teeth; the man who has teeth has no nuts". Its a proverb and really needs so explanation, does it?

But the most distasteful for me, a late sleeper, is - "no one who ever achieved anything woke up later than 7 O' Clock". Ok, so this also is not exactly a maxim - but in our household, it has been given the status of one.

You should now have a fair sense of my father, no sergeant by any stretch of the imagination but something far worse - the product of a South Indian boarding school. Which is why he believes in waking up at 6 am...or that when you ask JNU to mail you your transcripts, they will actually be mailed.

Although the serpentine path to registering and de-registering from JNU have taught me better, I nevertheless expected that my final transcripts would have at least been put in an envelope by now, four months after we took our final MA exams. It turns out that I must be more like my father than I realized - the transcripts appear to not even have been printed yet!

This news comes right after I had a dream (I kid you not) where I was back in the offices of my department, getting ready to (alternately) cajole and chastise the impassive bureaucrats to get moving on my papers. In my dream, I was trying to look as assertive and reasonable as possible, while standing in front of the stocky little paper-pusher we all came to hate. I was just about to begin my speech about wanting to speed up the process for handing out our degree (which usually only follows 2 years after the course is completed) when Mr. Grumpy smiled a rare and ominous smile, chuckling as he jeered - "2 years? Don't you know it takes 5 years now!?" - at which point, I woke up screaming, covered in sweat. Ok, not exactly. I did wake up at that point though (at 10 am).

And considering that we have a case of unprinted transcripts on our hands...or rather, not in our hands, the 5-year plan doesn't seem all that unlikely.


Which brings me to a public art project hosted by JNU last year. One of the art projects was all about people...their hopes, their dreams...their inner beauty... Yes, I thought it was cheesy too. But it gave me and my cynical friends many opportunities to snicker at the people who were interviewed and photographed for the project, one of our primary targets being - you guessed it - Mr. Grumpy himself. A photograph of his square, cruel face was mounted up on a tree, with a few lines expressing his fundamental beliefs printed below. Here is the gist of what he said:
"When I wake up in the morning, I always have the same thought - how can I best serve the people in my community? I always try to be kind and good to everyone."

Right, service with a smile, eh? Or beauty with a purpose? If I didn't know any better, I'd think Mr. Grumpy was practicing for the question-round of 'Mr. JNU' (yes, there is an actual Mr. JNU competition and one of our classmates had won the title in 1999).

But the question that remains is - what time does Mr. Grumpy wake up? I wonder where my father would start with him.

2 comments:

Jezebel said...

Reading the words of the Diplomat's Daughter is like receiving prashad! I really hope that when they finally print out our diplomas they're not on that self-destructive paper they used for our acceptance (i mean 'acceptance with conditions of registration') letters.

That blown up photo with Mr. Grumpy smiling like a philanthropist was priceless.

The Diplomat's Daughter said...

Oh Jezebel...I do what I can! Its more a question of 'if' rather than 'when' (regarding the dilpomas...the suspense is killing me.