This is the personal blog of Ritwik Agrawal. I was a student of mathematics at Hindu College (University of Delhi), an activist with the United Students group and a co-founder of the popular cricket games site PlanetCricket.net - the largest site of its kind in the world. I now blog at http://www.ritwikagrawal.com


Thursday, May 24, 2007

A telephonic encounter with an Old Springdalian

"So, what is it like studying math at Delhi University?". This was the question, in essence, except that this wasn't the question at all. Except that there was no question. There was only wonderment. The Old Springdalian put it as such - "Hey. I am interning at HT. Was wondering whether you can tell me something about the math course?" Turns out that they are doing a regular feature on DU colleges and courses in that otherwise admirable paper. "Turns out" is consistent with the way the information was conveyed to me by the Old Springdalian, except that I already knew this, myself being a diligent reader of the said newspaper.

As is usual with me, the conversation began disastrously. The Old Springdalian introduced herself [by name, how else?], and embarassingly, I asked her exactly who she was, because I know more than one person who bears the name in question. Shockingly enough, my question was also not a genuine query, since I'd guessed almost instantenously [by the voice, how else?] exactly who it was on the line. This realization, which made itself apparent very quickly to my brain, was however not transmitted to my vocal chords in time, with the aforementioned embarassing results. I failed to mention above that the whole episode was scarcely embarassing to me, but more so to the Old Springdalian.

I'll take up the dreaded 'i' word in another post. Here I will discuss a bit more about our conversation. The Old Springdalian is one of the most articulate people I know, who hardly ever gets ruffled or lets situations get the better of her. Mysteriously, today the usual assurance seemed to be in short supply. Although it was her brief to interrogate me about my course, she seemed to be waiting for me to start talking nineteen to a dozen about the pros and cons of working to attain a degree in mathematics. I expect people feel giddy with excitement at the thought of talking to a journalist.

Yes, it just dawned upon me that the Old Springdalian is now officially a member of the Press, which makes her reticence with questions all the more baffling. When she explained the purpose of her call to me, I felt a momentary stab of an ill-defined panic that she will soon start grilling me in excruciating detail about maths honours, as a journalist must do, even if they are just a trainee [oh sorry, an INTERN] and handling something as inconsequential as college admissions. Until I established otherwise rather late in the call, I thought that the Old Springdalian had not quite prepared for this particular interview, which seemed to suggest that she is not taking her job seriously. But, lo and behold, she had a particular format to work with. She had to ring up and quiz unsuspecting friends and acquaintances about:
1. course contents
2. career options
3. get a quote from a teacher
4. get a quote from a student
5. misconceptions that people might have about this course

She tried to get me to talk about each of the above points, and its really none of her fault that I wasn't upto scratch. Don't get me wrong, I CAN talk about my course, but I prefer such discussion to be in the form of answers to direct questions. You see, while I can talk about maths, I don't particularly savour the experience. She asked me whether she should talk to someone else pursuing mathematics, and promised to ring again tommorow for a quote. Well, I wait not for a call that will definitely not come. Thank god!

I am wrestling with my conscience over one minor matter - should I SMS her the number of one of my eccentric friends [well, somehow all my friends are eccentric] who can talk in greater detail about maths honours, or should I just leave her to her devices and and let her find someone not in the least connected to me and my friends? I think the latter, no point in rubbing in your own stupidity.