Wednesday, April 23, 2008

BUREAUCRACY IS BLISS...

...IF YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE RED TAPE.
I have been appointed the Chief Conductor of the University of Mumbai's M.Com Part-I and Part-II examinations that are being held at our college from 15th to 24th April this year.
Sounds daunting? Or so I thought. I've been a lowly supervisor in exams before, which entails 2/3/4 hours of sitting in a classroom full of scribbling, shifting, sometimes-copying students, all demanding extra sheets/water/answers to how-to-fill-up-the-first-page, ma'am. No sooner than I sit down to open my page-marked book, do I have to get up again to attend to another student demanding yet another sheet of paper.
All that has changed now. As the top drawer of the bureau(cracy), I have an efficient Senior Supervisor, a 'pro-active' (how different is that from just 'active'?) Understudy Senior Supervisor, a whole team of hard-working Junior Supervisors and numerous peons at my disposal, who do all the hard work.
All I do is come fifteen minutes before the exam starts, sign the brown envelopes containing the question papers which are unsealed and opened in my presence (High and Mighty, eh?), and take a lordly tour of the classrooms when the exam actually starts. And, of course, I have to stay till the end, when the answer-scripts are counted, coded, masked with black-adhesive-lined-paper (this sounds like a spy-thriller!) and finally tied into bundles with brown paper and sealed with red lac. I love watching this final, ancient, tamper-proofing ritual. The fans are switched off, the red lac stick (I must get one for my kids) is burnt in the candle-flame and the dripping lac is applied onto the joints and folds of the brown-thread tied around the bundles, and then it is stamped firmly with a brass lock. Transports me straight back to the maharaja-eras!
If you've read Upamanyu Chatterjee's English, August, then you'll know that officers in the Indian Administrative Service have all the time in their hands to get doped/shagged/bored out of their minds. But I have spent my bureaucratic-windfall-of-time sitting in the library, surfing the net, blogging (and reading blogs) to my heart's content. From a weekend-blogger I have become a weekday-surfer. Three hours of unmitigated pleasure. Ah, the perks of bureaucracy!
When the warning bell goes ten minutes before the end of the exams, I close the comp, gather my things and saunter down to the exam room to, what else, sign official papers and lord over the final proceedings!
Today, the much-feared "Squad" (appointed to curb cheating and to ensure that everything's in order) came for a visit, and we were kept on our toes for an hour, visting rooms, displaying records, faking smiles. Now they have gone and I am back on my bum, writing this post.

P.S : My short-lived bliss ends tomorrow, along with the exams. After that, it's back to being a clock-challenged mom and midnight-blogger. I should have taken my mom's advice and sat for the IAS (Indian Administrative Service) - exams. A few months of slogging...rewarded by a lifetime of blogging!

7 comments:

thesparklingthoughts.... said...

good morning, you really enjoying the new post as chef?

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

A few months of slogging rewarded by a lifetime of blogging. Hmm. If you're referring to MY life as a bowl of cherries, I really am in with the pits.

J.A.P.

Mina Jade said...

Nice blog and the bookshelf is a wonderful idea!

Random me said...

Now I want your job! I normally manage to log onto the blog for a bit in work... but only when the boss isn't looking!!!

The Scatterbrain said...

I've always wondered at the effectiveness of red lac. It can be easily opened and all you need to do to reseal it is light another candle and melt another stub of red lac! But it's an interesting ritual all the same!

I remember my first job where teachers had to 'invigilate' annual (summer)exams at the school. 3 hours of torture!Thats how i felt about it!Especially in april -one of the hottest months of the calender!

I'm glad school where i work at present doesn't believe in torturing the kids and teachers with exams until they reach the tenth grade!

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Mina Jade said...

"I'm glad school where i work at present doesn't believe in torturing the kids and teachers with exams until they reach the tenth grade!" - unfortunately most schools are unlike yours. Grades first and knowledge does not matter. I am a supporter of liveable, liberal schools.