As a college going student, how scared were you of your teaching staff ? Were you the prankster who put up a face like a wet puppy in front of your staff and then mimicked them the moment they turned their backs on you or were you the type who froze bug-eyed when they pointed in your direction, praying they were calling someone else? For me, it was a gradual progression over time from the latter to the former state. And boy, did it have it's moments.

This incident took place when I was in my first few months into medical school. I was still a bundle of nerves back then who trembled if I was asked a question related to a subject and studiously avoided any staff member's gaze in the classroom or in the hallways. Sadly, this silent introverted nature didn't extend to friends, especially when we were in a group. One such afternoon found us all waiting in a pack outside the classroom as the previous students had yet to leave. I don't remember the joke per se, but something had gotten us riled up and we were laughing and howling ourselves hoarse in the corridors. 


I'm not sure when it happened but somewhere between me impersonating a staff member and me laughing at my own awesome hilariousness, I realised that I was suddenly laughing alone. The guys in front of me were suddenly checking their notebooks, staring out the verandahs, wiping their spectacles... anything but laughing. Of course, my brilliant mind immediately took it for granted that they had missed the punchline and I started to repeat the joke all over again. I was midway through my staff impersonation when a voice behind me sternly called out - "Excuse me, Doctor?"

Do you ever have one of those moments when you see your life flash before your eyes and the final scene is you being strangled like a chicken? When your heart stops beating and you can actually hear it say - "I'm done here. I can't carry on with this moron." and a bulb finally lights up in your brain saying "Oh. That's why everyone didn't find the joke funny. I was actually saying it right all along."

Yes. You guessed it. The senior staff who I just happened to be impersonating and whose class was due next had joined us all in waiting in the corridor for the previous class to end. To make matters worse, in the likely event that he had missed the start of my impressions, I had just been replaying it for a few giggles. I turned around to find him staring expressionlessly at me. In a Karan Johar movie, the senior staff member would have burst out laughing and applauded me for my brilliant take of him. In real life, the lion just stares expressionlessly at the deer. 

After a few more moments of awkward silence, I blurted out the only thing that came into my mind. "Muh..muh.. mourning, sir." ( I assure you I said 'Good morning', but sadly, there are 99 other doctors who were within earshot who insist this is what I said. )
The professor's eyebrows frowned and he barked out angrily "Are you from dental ?" 
He was basically asking if I was from the medical batch or dental batch of freshers. Now, you must remember, I was staring at the senior staff member who I had just impersonated and he was pissed. Still, perhaps, I could have tried to be more calm and composed before answering.

"ARE YOU FROM DENTAL ?!!"
"Nuh..nuh..no sir. I am from mental."

His brow 'unfrowned' (for lack of a better description) itself and he stared at me for a few seconds. He finally opened his mouth to say something... but was cut short by the students from the classroom who chose to exit at that moment. Throughout the class, he kept staring at me while discussing origins and insertions of muscles while I tried unsuccessfully to hide my portly frame behind the skinny runt sitting in front of me. 

I never did get to find out what he wanted to say that day. Throughout the year, 'we' made a conscious effort to avoid each other. In his viva voce exams, I always put on my best smile walking in to try to dispel his concept of me... it never worked. Turns out I answered my vivas just as badly as I answered basic questions ( you know... stuff like 'Are you from dental?' )

Times have changed a lot since then. I eventually did go on to become a doctor,a specialist and even a teacher myself. I found the latter phase one of the most invigorating and pleasant phases with a wonderful bunch of students to impart my wisdom and pranks to. Watching them impersonate me always brings back the memory of the above anecdote though. 

So what was the moral of this story : Oh, isn't it obvious? When impersonating a senior staff, make sure they aren't around. And if you get caught, go mental, of course.

Author's note : This anecdote first appeared in my column 'An appletini a day...' in the May 2013 issue of Tamarind Rice. You can read the entire issue online below or subscribe here and get it delivered to your mail directly for free.

27 Comments

Alka Gurha said…
Ha ha. I am so bad at impersonating that I don't even try.
But you are neither dental nor mental. Is there a term form anesthesiologist?
This is so funny :) your entire episode reminded me of Bertie Wooster caught by his Aunt Agatha...
Desi Traveler said…
He he... I had a similar incident in my college with me...still gives me shivers... :)
Manjula said…
Ha ha ha!! I'm reading this while sitting in the college library. All the while, my giggles broke the silence in the room inviting curious stares (people probably wondering whether I am mental :P). I loved this piece! Made me smile, on an otherwise lousy day. :)
Anees said…
Dude... which Sir was it ?? How did i miss this ..... Damn !!!
Sreeram said…
Very funny!! I guess almost 99% of us could take out such an instance from our college days !! Loved it... :)
Unfortunately, I have the prankster gene and do decent enough impersonations.. which lands me into trouble many a time. From anaesthesiology, cant think of any term in particular which comes close to describing me :D
I really need a Jeeves in my life to keep my head above water !
Glad to see I aint the only one :D
Good to see that even after a decade, I'm still causing the same emotions within the library - giggles and people wondering whether others are nuts !
Next time you have a rotten day, head over to the 'laughter' category in Godyears sidebar.. will be something there from the last 9 years to cheer you up :D
Bibi Alabi road.. first year. Remember the corridors now ? And sir.. wasnt his name Sanyal?
Share your anecdotes.. if not here, then on your own site.. the world needs more fun and laughter rather than the gloomy crap we see in the news everyday ! :D
Purba said…
I couldn't help laughing, imagining your terror filled eyes - stuttering " No,I am mental".

Thank you for making my day :D
Its totally hilarious..! It reminded me of 'some incidents' from school days ! Thanks for sharing this !
:D As you can see, words are my forte... NOT !
Glad once more to know that there were others 'like me' around..
Dr.Riyaz said…
ha ha sanyal was a specimen ya...
Deepa said…
Hilarious! If and when we meet, you got to do some celebrity impersonations! :) Glad you aren't mental anymore :) Mental. LOL.
Cheers,
Deepa - 10 Reasons Why I Didn't Post
"aren't mental anymore".. seriously, am i cured ?! finally !! im free again.. i can join normal society again.. woohoo !!
Sumana said…
Am not able to stop laughing.. :D:D..
Thanks for the wonderful post :)
you're welcome :D
hahahaha.. you are so joky no :D.. the way you wrote it made the difference :) .. and I am still laughing :D
:p glad people are enjoying my misery :D
su said…
Haha this is excellent!
Anonymous said…
Haha this is excellent! And profs in med school tended to be stricter than usual. Especially First year ones!
oh yes.. there were some major terrors in my first year of mbbs!