“What penance have I done” in Copy Raagam

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When I was 13 (and it wasn’t a Friday) flunking exams and playing a rather difficult instrument whose foremost exponent is N Ravikiran, were the same thing. GOttu Vaadhyam.

Some guys , on the other hand, had mastered the art of hiding the “Bit”, a miniscule piece of crumpled paper, that could, theoretically at least, hold the entirety of human knowledge. Pant and shirt pockets were for the amateurs, the ones who usually got caught. Pros used the inside of their socks and used toilet breaks to look up answers in them. But for class tests, a “bit” was way too inconvenient. These generally required the “co-operation” of the studious types who had managed to train their minds to be efficient gastric chambers for undigested knowledge that could be vomited on demand during tests and exams.

But not all the studious types were co-operative. Some used text books (on non-test related subjects, obviously) to hide answer papers while they were writing them. Some used their shoulders as an additional shield from the prying eyes of the copiers. The more fanatic of the lot actually constructed 360 degree blocking mechanisms using text books in all directions. They build a small text-book castle, complete with moats, and crocodiles swimming in them.

Throught my student life in school and college, I was, what one would term as moderately Copy-negative, a person who provided slightly more than he copied. But it’s very intriguing why we still consider rote-knowledge so very important, that we decide entire careers based on the velocity of the digestive process in reverse gear.

Is it because we (Ok. Hindus) have an oral tradition going back thousands of years? A complete mistrust of the written word that still hasn’t entirely gone away?

Is it because Microsoft has a subtle ad campaign to promote the human equivalent of installing Windows Vista on a computer with the processing power of a scientific calculator? To prevent students from being smart, lightweight and nimble by installing the metaphorical equivalent of Linux in their heads?

Or is it because the software industry is paying big money to CBSE, all the state boards, text book manufacturers and engineering colleges to keep it this way? Because if kids could use Wikipedia during exams and solve problems collaboratively using instant messaging during tests, who knows how creative they will become in real life? If students used Google on their mobile phones and live-fact-checked their engineering college professors during their lectures, imagine how inconvenient that would become. And (shudder) if they all become real engineers and real artists, who the hell is going to write all that “Hello, World”-level complex code that powers the Indian software revolution?

ps: The title of the post is derived from a translation of Papanasam Sivan’s Enna Thavam Seidhane. Thanks to Bikerdude for pointing out the error in the translation

ps 2: I request all Copy-positive folks out there to contribute successful bit-methods, tips and tricks

12 responses to ““What penance have I done” in Copy Raagam”

  1. Bikerdude Avatar

    Saar- Enna thavam seidhanai = what “penance” did you do πŸ™‚
    Ashok: Thanks sir. Corrected
    I have one more: Copy-chaining. Last girl in last bench flutters eyes at male lecturer while keeping text book open on her lap under the table. Copies peacefully, starting off a chain of copiers copying from each other. Last person on aisle bench writes in fat fat letters to assist person across aisle to see better.

    Final answer (first person in first bench) will read: The an of common channel multiplexing fourier it are the hinraglska. Followed by box diagram with random resistors and capacitors, and intricate shading in the hope that examiner will give marks for artwork.

  2. Marc Avatar

    Don’t forget punching answers into calculators and then showing that to friends. (Better visibility.)

  3. 10yearslate Avatar

    Whatever happened to the Bihar style of copying?

    This involves planting a chaaku tip first into the desk and copying openly with impunity from a variety of sources.

    Better still two chaakus-one to plant in the desk and the other to hold to the neck of studious young Chaturvedi as you get him to answer your paper first.

  4. Priyank Avatar


  5. Srinivasa Avatar

    Nice write-up.

    Just a suggestion – next time you quote a classical song, please give the url of the audio thereof, so the Philistines (any Madras resident below 40) can listen and get acculturated. For example, http://www.musicindiaonline.com/music/carnatic_vocal/s/ragam.65/

    Sowmya is not necessarily my favorite πŸ™‚

    Re Gottuvadhyam which is fretless (per the pop up that you had provided), it stands to reason that gottuvadhyam should be recognized as the ultimate Hindu stringed instrument and therefore be immediately recognized by the BJP.

    That immediately makes the veena a thulukkan vadhyam as everyone knows that fixed frets are a thulukkan innovation. Do you realize then that most things in high TamBrahm culture such as badhusha, jilebi, javvadu pottu, sojji, bajji and now, per this new insight, veenai, are all thulukkan contribution.

    I therefore declare that there are two subsects of TamBrahms viz., Iyer’s, Iyengar’s and Abdul Karim’s. I also demand that Grand Sweets should immediately open a branch in the Zambazar area of Triplicane.

    Please make this a subject of one of your future posts.

  6. Srinivasa Avatar

    > I therefore declare that there are two subsects
    > of TamBrahms

    I meant three subsects

  7. krishashok Avatar

    Brilliant πŸ™‚ I must point you to Arunk’s blog though. Well under 40 and what depth! It was such a breath of fresh air to read his exposition on Naattakurinji raagam.

  8. Arunk Avatar

    Ahem – Well under 40? I am just not “well over 40”. But thanks for the mention.

    I remember in my high-school duing a lab exam involving volumetric analysis – i think. Its been too long that I am not even sure if i got the term right. No one turned in the answer until the known bright student did. Then within exactly 2 minutes magically the entire class was done and out of the lab. A quickly concocted, ad-hoc randomizer was employed to make minute adjustments to the answer. The adjustments were minute enough that we got full/near-to-full marks, but large enough and random enough that the lecturer/teacher did not suspect that we used kApi as the chemical fluid.

  9. 10yearslate Avatar

    KA, Re Naattaikurinji, the song ‘Naattai Kurinji enbaar, engaLadhu Naattai Kurinji enbaar’ should appeal to your punning self, combining as it does the Naattaikurinji raagam and the sahityam itself.

    Translation: Our country (naadu/ naattai) is called the Kurinji ( a flower-English?).

    The TNS version has his signature ‘gambheera nadai’.

  10. satts Avatar

    One exam mate i had in college was caught with 24 chits on his person, collars and secret pant pockets included.

    On being caught he went into a melodramatic monologue on how his family depended on his passing college, that would put shivaji ganeshan to shame

  11. mahendrap Avatar

    I like the way you are able to envision fundamental level changes in practices that are age-old, and come up with such though-provoking and mouth-watering hypothetical possibilities!

  12. Mani Avatar

    Came here very late and this caught my eye. Reynolds Pen (white and blue thingy) was a god sent tool along with the “Reduction xerox”. I would miniature photocopy model papers and guides and stick them to the refill in the pen. During exam pick them out with the well know trick of wrist-flicking the refill because it is not writing

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