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How the Swine Flew

This was just too good to be true. An entire week passing off without the sound of another del-ro-by-del-eks and del-whys . No Loop equations or the equally indigestible node equations. A hundred score less frantic hits on the already fragile Fx100MS. Boy, this was a win-win-win situation - the scheming Durgamba owner being the unlikely victor in this propitious bargain. All that needed to be done was a little sneeze and a couple of coughs from that large repertoire. Had they not come in handy during that awkward moment with her parents in the lift, or during that unbelievably lucky day during DSP endsems, when Squeak questioned me on FIR-filters and all I could muster was a sudden bout of coughing sprinkled with random utterances of 'band-pass' and 'frequencies'? Surely, my performance this time would be worthy of a Swine flu infection suspicion. If Paranoia Pandu ORDERED a week's leave for an innocuous sneeze at the ice-cold laboratory, surely the planned bouts would get me out of this sultry and unpainted building for a fortnight. At least. Ever since H1N1 displaced H1B visas from the most searched H1* phrase on Google, poor Pandu had adopted all-the-more cautious measures to maintain hygiene. He wasn't prepared to go without his wife's freshly cooked meals for a week once again. The little family had it's first encounter with the porcine nemesis a fortnight earlier. A dozen visits to the deathly dispensary and a couple of frantic nightouts at his little daughter's smouldering forehead was enough for Pandu to learn to spot the tiniest of infection from around his neighbours. Now that everything was back to being the way it was, there was going to be little patience for handshakes and public transport. If he had his way, the institute would be shut off for an indefinite period till everyone had a certified clean blood test. Alas, it wasn't to be. Gone or to come were the days when newly tenured staff could control the reds and the greens of the institute calendar. But he could at least control the air around his throne. That 1968, rickety, wooden chair from which hundereds of M.G.Say problems were dictated, scores of tricalites berated and many a English word mutilated. No one could take away the right for clean air from where he towered over the hopeless sophomores. Even the virus' father won't come here, he told the interested first-bencher in his recently picked up, heavily accented Hindi. That simple brain of Pandu, drummed with Maxwell equations since 16 and pounded with Network analysis since 18 could not fathom there being liars taking advantage of his paranoia, like your beloved protagonist.

So it was going to be a sneeze and a couple of coughs - nothing fancy. So, I played it out. Aichoo.. and almost naturally, the duo followed. I looked up. PP was busy admitting two club minions make 'important announcements' about some Spanish dance workshop at the sports complex. Damn, that was one performance wasted. Anyway, I made a note of the workshop and mused over a date for the date. The characteristics of a good insulator ensued and I waited for the next opportunity to act out. It came sooner than I thought and I cleared my throat for an encore, when PP was distracted again! This time it was the GB-Mathas chance to stop and question the need to know the thickness of the insulator, when she still didn't know the heat characteristic of the substance. U-oh, this only looked easier than it actually was.
I was the holder of a record number of DOTA upsets and more than 100 games of AOE ended with a well-established city with a Wonder plundered to the ground. In short, I wasn't the one to give up. So, I prepared for the run-up once more. I picked the pace up, and just when I was at the bowling crease, ready to spit out an Akhthar, when that mechanised nut on the ground floor inferred it was the right time to hit that sweet note of brass - the bell went off. It seemed like the two decade prayer for that melodious trrring was being answered today in strident providence as a wicked Murphy smiled. Damn, it was not to be in this period. Anyway, the 100-mile stunner could be bowled during lab! The lab would have been a much easier place to catch Pandu's attention, given 20 heads engrossed in profound MATLAB coding and 20 others in mind-numbing Minesweeper. The screens would then swap appearances as PP would leave his chair to inspect his young scholars hard at work, and assume his place in the opposite side. He would then get back to his old seat and peruse the latest issue of Bijli-Bharath. The circus would continue throughout the torturous 3 hours, in punctual rotations. It would be during one of these little trips that I would make him aware of a crouching virus, ready to strike him at the drop of a faintest sneeze. Yes, that would be perfected.

Throughtout my half-burnt lunch, I prayed for a chance to be on the bay-aisle for the afternoon. In that divine afternoon nap, I dreamed of fully cooked chapathis and Stuffed Brinjals and frangrant clothes. Of torrents and of streaming speeds. Of 11am breakfasts and 4pm lunches and....'beep beep' the shrill DON ringtone on my 1100 screamed Transformers and Induction Machines Lab! A quick wash at the now squalid bathroom and 2 whiffs of Axe-Chocolate later, I was entering the hellishly cold laboratory. With an aisle seat captured with no real competition, I pretended to ponder over the problem Pandu had set for the 40, already muddled brains 2 weeks back. It had beaten even GB-Thayi to it and it seemed worth a shot. A shot at Mid-Sem exclusion and attendance relaxation were at stake for that elusive solution. As I eased myself on the cushions of the chair and half-dreamt of the sweet smell of Bengaluru, a revolution was happening at my MATLAB command window. Never before had Power engineering seemed so rosy. Never before had a solution been so explicitly clear. The nimble strikes at the keyboard produced unusally elegant code and before I knew it, the solution was staring at my face. PP went on with his Bijli-Bharath. A moment later, he started his pendulum-like walk to the opposite end. This was it, I would tell him the solution, have no midsem and also have an extra hour of sleep every morning with no attendance woes. It worked better than a fortnight of trepidation at Bengaluru. As I cleared my throat to call out the solution to PP, I discovered there was a little something stuck in my throat. As I maniacally coughed to get rid of it, the mucous in my nose had had enough of the devilish AC and I sneezed. PP heard this one alright. No bizaare event would come to my rescue now. Murphy just smiled on. As I struggled to recuperate and continue with my answer, Pandu had his verdict delivered behind a mask of embroidered handkerchief that I was to take a week off and return only with a certified blood test. An assignment on Current Ammeters was supposed to keep me busy at Bangalore. "Yes, and don't forget the midsems that start the Monday after that."

Surely, O'Henry didn't require a divine afflatus to pen The Cop and the Anthem.


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