Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, February 15, 2007

By Tareq

The other day while passing the Gulshan Shooting Complex I got caught in this mind-boggling traffic. Now the normal reasons behind traffic jams in Dhaka are piles of bricks and sand at the roadside causing bottlenecks and/or two drivers holding up traffic screaming their heads off at each other over a chip at the rear bumper.

This one was different and unique. There was this huge line of examinees that had stretched out into the road, causing a road block. Looking into the sorry faces of the candidates all the nightmarish memories of my own exams (not too long ago) came flooding back, so much so, that I took to writing this article.

Ah...freedom. The feeling that spreads over you after the exams. Finally free from the tension, the depression, the apprehension, and the examinations. Examinations, one of the greatest evils being practiced on this earth; they are worse than wars (actually no, but close, really close. So close in fact that you'd need years of training to notice the subtle difference). This feeling of freedom and relief spreading over is indescribable, now I know how the Liberation fighters felt after winning.

The examinations were an experience really, the kind that leave a sour taste in your mouth. Ever since I got my Statement of Entry I knew doom was eminent. Nothing could alleviate that feeling of total depression. Nothing.

The thing that's even worse is that you get to meet up with people from the past; like that kid from grade six who kept teasing you about the shoes that your mom forced you to wear and that guy from grade eight who embarrassed you in front of all those girls. And then you get to see that girl you had a crush on back in grade five all the way back in K.S.A. In short, you get to see all the people you never want to see again, people who make your mind wander away from the thing on hand (your exam), especially that girl.

Then there was the oh-so-intelligent-and-mighter-than-thou Edexcel and British Council people, who make you wait in the blistering parking lot of a shopping mall. How in the world are you supposed to psyche your self up for exam there, especially when there's a cool Honda Rebel parked a few feet away from you. Hey, where'd all the examinees go? They're already in?!? What time is it?

Then there are the invigilators. They do unimaginable things like standing beside your table while you write and cause you to totally mess up your, until then, organized answer sheet. Hey, what gives? Go walk around the hall like you're supposed to, or at least find some other bloke who isn't afraid of the red pen in your hand. Also they scrutinize your passport and Statement of Entry and your photo for so long; they almost make you think that you're an imposter! Talk about paranoia…

What's even worse is the timetable. What kind of a genius came up with the idea that a dude can give his Physics and his Human Biology Paper 1 all in one day? And then there are the venues, how are you supposed to finish your exam at 2 in the Bashundhara Residential Area Convention Centre and then make your merry way across the city to the British Council to give another exam at four thirty? There are things called traffic jams that are in love with the city's streets and can always be found together, no matter how much you try to avoid the couple. There are evil minds at work here. Really evil minds.

Remember when the times were easy, when you didn't have to worry about filling in a blank question paper in front of you or the fact that instead of working out your chemistry paper you're thinking about the cute girl sitting beside you. See the biggest things working against you are the cute members of the opposite sex that always seem to sit beside you and muddle your mind up. I hate it when that happens (and thanks to my sorry luck, it always happens).

The biggest problem is that they won't let you go to the bathroom until the first hour is over. Tell that to the bladder. For people like me it's a problem since the organ always perks up after reading the first question. Then when you ask to go the bathroom the invigilator just nods and forgets all about you for the next five unbearable minutes. It's a conspiracy I tell you.

There were times when I really wish that cocky over-enthusiastic students were executed in public. These dudes do nothing but totally ram your nerves down the drain by rattling about all the chapters that they think are important and how confident they are about their preparation. By the time you're entering the exam hall you're cowering in fear. Then these same idiots boost up your blood pressure after the exam by rattling about the answers they wrote (which always significantly dwarf yours). By the time you make it home you're positive that you're gonna get that beautiful letter called 'u'.

That's enough bitching for one day. For all you sorry blokes who are still toiling it out there in the (supposedly until you know better) Grand Halls, Shooting Complexes, Convention Centers and British Councils, don't lose hope. You're the future of this country (and all you people are going to do in the future is to raise the emigration rate).



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