Friday, February 26, 2010

Verse or Worse?

On relocating to Mumbai in 2007, i got this job that’s quite interesting in its own way though the salary isn’t great. It involves editing, writing articles, book reviews and synopsis. This means i can browse, and sometimes even read books at work. I also get a chance to interview some personalities and travel once in a while.

But of late, i find myself often looking back with nostalgia at my teaching days in Bangalore. My old students have all graduated, some are in good jobs, some married, and some doing their higher studies. But in my mind, they remain those young students—sometimes irritating and sometimes amusing. Here’s a sample of a mixture of both.

While doing 18th Century Poetry (Alexander Pope) with the Literature students, i gave them a slightly crazy assignment to drive home the points we studied. I told them to compose a verse in Iambic Pentameter Couplets. They claimed to have understood what we did in class, but when they submitted their assignments it was disappointing.

So the next day, in order to challenge them, i put up the following verse on the board:

Teacher’s Woe

I tell my students “Heroic couplets write”
But come unheroic lines by oversight;
Forgetting even what’s an Iambic foot,
Like aimless arrows in the dark they shoot.
Whereas I tell them “Please Satire pen,
Your subject may be college life or men,”
They wander far and wide in dreamlands wild
Away quite off the mark and get me riled.

Why do these folks ignore what they are told?
Is it because their hearts are hard and cold?
But no, that can’t be so; they’re sweet and kind,
And yes, the reason is not hard to find;
It’s just because they find it hard to keep
Awake in class, for poetry makes them sleep.

They were quite surprised and asked, “When did you write it?”

“Last night, while cooking” i said.

It was my turn to be surprised at their next so out of the point question: “What were you cooking, Ma’am?”

26 comments:

Insightfulbystander said...

taht was awesome...!!

mesjay said...

@Insightful, awsome how? It's supposed to be funny :)

ku2 said...

hehehe, reminds me of my very days as a student.. when a teacher would go on and on and we'd just stare stupidly and think of the most inane things, like, hmmm..his paunch is becoming bigger.. great poem though :)

ku2 said...

eh... leave out the "very" up there

Insightfulbystander said...

awesomely well written in the hilarious way, when u read it u think the poetry is the highlight of the article.. but then the last line just adds a whole new dimension!

and plz dont call me insightfuL! thats just a blogger name

Calliopia said...

mesjay, dashing off a few quick lines of poetry is easy for you poetic types but not so for the rest of us. I appreciate good poetry when I come across it but I can't actually write any for nuts. My mind just goes into blank mode and shuts down when I think ok let me sit down and write some poetry because I just wasn't blessed with poetic genes! About students in general, they are crazy, aren't they?!! But sometimes when I meet old students who tell me they've married with 2/3 kids, or have a job and seem to be mature adults and good solid citizens, I feel so blessed for having had the privilege of moulding their minds at some point. Awesome feeling.

mesjay said...

@Ku2,that really is teacher's woe [lol]. She's teaching her heart out and the students' minds are wandering in the wrong direction :(

@Johny, thanks for reading with patience to get the crux. And isn't the bloggername for using?:)

@Calliopia, to each her gift. You have talents that give folks like us the green eye. And working with students, like you say, is a truly blessed privilege despite its trials.

samda said...

My first lecture at Serchhip Night College [night in 1975] was as elequent as I could make it. But after a few days I got the feed back. No one understood a single word of what I said, what with my strange look and accent. To make things worse I could not see the bewilderment on the faces of the students as the light was just an orange glow.

mesjay said...

@May be you were too eloquent :)One of my old colleagues confessed she was so inspired during her Poetry class and went soaring, but had to come down when she saw the students' puzzled faces.

mnowluck said...

Hehe.. nice.. me read the lines you have wrote while cooking in awe.. Khawi a trang nge Sap trawng I zir bik ?

mesjay said...

@Mnowluck, cooking time or housework time can become mental activity time,right? I learned English from where i guess you did to--school, college etc, hehe!

Calliopia said...

Haha samda, you reminded me of this new instructor we had when I was "learning computors" a few years ago. He was the aggressively asking questions type and my classmates were all much younger kids so when he was about bordering frustration asking why nobody was answering any of his questions, I piped up and said we were just not used to his Southern accent and couldn't understand what he was saying. I did actually but I didn't much appreciate his calling me Ma'am (another much younger, also non-Mizo instructor simply called me Miss Poonte, as in Aha, Miss Poonte is struggling with the mouse!) and Mr Accent/Aggressive never came back to our class.

Insightfulbystander said...

insightful sounds kinda proud ..

i was wondering if u said that becoz u didnt recognise who i was..

mesjay said...

@Calliopia, accents can be such a bugbear no? In B'lore college some of the students couldn't get me it seems. "I speak neutral English," i protested. "But these students are used to hearing only South Indian English," i was told. But we eventually overcame the problem and we had a rocking time!

@Insightfulbystander, your identity wasn't hid from me, haha!

ruolngulworld said...

wow! if only i'd had teachers like you (and J) during my time....

Zaia said...

Sawi tur hre lovin ka ang phuau mai! :D Ka chhiar neuh neuh a, i rapthlak ka ti zawk!! lolzz.. I thiam over.

mesjay said...

@Ruolngulworld, too bad you missed J's and my classes. Who knows, you might have followed a different line! [lolz].

@Zaia, i ti zahthlak e a! Hengte chu 'inspiration' tel lem lova chher mai2 alom. Nang i thiam zawk daih.

Jerusha said...

haha this reminds me of this one time in school in the midst of a Chawngtinleri lesson a 'passionate' teacher passed around a picture of Buannel, wanting us to see the beauty of the mountains etc etc but unfortunately the picture had a man posing right in the middle. And me and my friend asked him who the man was when he asked us if we had any questions and he got so mad! haha

keimah said...

Ha ha haa!! Good one!

mesjay said...

@Jerusha, all my sympahies to your teacher. It must have been so frustrating [lolz]

@Keimah, students are funny, aren't they?

DayDreamBeliever said...

wow! your classes must have been interesting! I'm sad to say Prosody is something that I never quite got the hang of :(

mesjay said...

@Daydreambeliever, i too thought my classes interesting, but some felt sleepy during class--occupational hazard! :(

During my degree days, verse scanning carrying 40 marks was a compulsory question in Poetry paper of Honours. But it was never taught in class. So i self-taught it from a second hand book bought from the pavement and got quite fascinated in the process, though i've forgotten most of the Prosody terminology i learnt by heart.

Gauri Gharpure said...

what a great, witty poem in such neat rhyme..extremely funny and i really wish i had a teacher like you.. not tht i did not have grt teachers, but poetry tailormade for students while cooking.. wowww...

and what were you cooking???

mesjay said...

@Gauri, thanks for the compliment. Actually, having a rather crazy teacher could have been hard on the students!

You too? Sorry, i don't remember what i was cooking--must have been some sabji and rice. And i don't remember how dinner turned out either [lolz].

Gauri Gharpure said...

:) i am sure it must have been nice, good poetry goes with good food.

mesjay said...

@Gauri, haha! You probably know--may be that's how you produce all those lovely poems.