The four of us squeezed into the last row as the lecture was about to begin. Shot of minimum required attendance, no wonder we were in the class trying to look decorous, rather than in the canteen, eating samosas.
We threw pitiful glances at the serious students who were discussing yesterday’s topics; and shared the latest gossip about our friends. As more students poured in, there were hellos, high fives, and hugs; and so much of chirping began that the participants had to scream to be heard. The teacher had to shout even louder to tell us that she had arrived.
We all giggled as teenagers that we were, and scrambled to our seats. The usual lecture of the class turned into a fish market started. We tried to hide the grinning. We, the irascible four, continued with our chitchat, making plans to visit some trendy joint. As only one of us had the “Kinee”, and there were four of us, we decided to walk to the Sector-11 market and, what else, just loiter around.
We took stock of our financial resources and realised there just wasn’t enough money with four of us put together to eat at any place other than the college canteen. Finally, we managed to hear the teacher admonish us, so we huddled, whispered, giggled and made fun of the fashion statements that did not pass our muster. One of us had brought some books, much to the relief of our teacher, who did not know we were reading fiction and Star Signs by Linda Goodman. We would hide it under our sole notebook to pretend we were taking notes.
Reset the time machine to a quarter of a century later. The class is absolute silent; the students meet each other quietly, smile, and take any seat found, keeping distance from each other. The noise, the boisterousness, the laughter of the young is missing. It is either a teacher’s best dream or a student’s worst nightmare. The parking lot is filled with cars and the dustbin overflowing with Pizza Hut, Domino’s and McDonald’s wrappings; a sign of the changed times. The smart class has a projector and a laptop computer; and I am assured the notes would be emailed to me and that I need not bring any notebook to the class. In case I missed a lecture, I could attend a webinar later. I am impressed by the expertise, efficiency and environmental activism of the paperless institution.
Here I am, a newcomer, trying to understand this new class. I look around to find not a soul to talk to. No one is paying attention. Everyone is engrossed in own task. My immediate neighbor has her face turned, eyes focussed on the job at hand. Every single student is busy, chatting, talking, messaging, texting and googling on the mobile.