As all my stories begin, this incident too happened in the early part of 1990’s. VP singh had just started the roller coster which actually buried him alive, Narasimha Rao had got the steering but Gears were held by somebody else – I mean the reforms had just begun.
Education was something India prided herself way back even in Indira Gandhian days. We had a few Iranian students studying in our college. The first pangs of globalization were felt by raising rents around the colleges these folks landed.
I have had the dubious disctinction of teaching computer jargon to unsuspecting students for a few years – earlier on in my pre-retairement era.
The training organization that fed me month on month, had announced a new course on Unix – which was the new kid on the block. Also Microsoft due to its expensive Operating system pricing, our poor univercities lacked user friendly Windows and went for Unix. So here we had 2 bright African guys who joined an equally alien training institute for learning Unix so that atleast they could do something sitting in front of the computer.
Diwakar – our faculty who spoke unix, drank unix, slept unix but smoked charminar cigerattes nonstop did the honours in broken English – that was theory class.
We had some trainee lab incharges who spoke any thing from Hindi to broken kannada – sometimes English too! On rotation basis one of the senior faculty would remain outside classes to assist the receptionist in councelling ( yes – you heard it right!) and I was just outside contemplating what to do next sunday.
The receptionist gave the assignment sheets for the first 8 sessions to both the guys. They went into the lab. Vishwanath who felt he was more of Amitabh than himself dutiefully created user accounts for them – 2 names I just cant recollect.
Vishwanath used to come outside the lab, which was bang in front of the reception and gossip about all kinds of things – some leg pulling included. Just 5 minutes into their sessions, these 2 Aftican guys just tapped on the glass partition panel to catch the attention of dear vishwanath.
In went vishwanath, he nodded, smiled and clicked on the keyboard – both the guys face lit up, vishwanath resumed his talk with receptionist.
The above sequence repeated 2 more times much to vishwanaths irritation as he could not talk without getting inturrupted. He just went in the 3rd time.
He came out of the lab, went straight out downstairs – I didnt understand his behaviour and went behind him to check out what was happening.
There near the staircase, I found him laughing alone – fits of laughter. The minute he saw my puzzled face he said, “those 2 jokers are too much mohan“.
I belonged to a category of people who believed that customer is the king. Its due to him we are existent and our next morsel of food is because of customer however irrational he may be. Vishwanath holding his stomach explained his reasoning.
“These guys are just practicing the excercise sheet given. The first problem is to check the logout command and so after that excercise, each time they are unable to proceed further it seems!! I have used all my brains to explain them not to do from beginning and each time these guys are doing the same thing and asking me for help”
Understanding the situation, I just walked in and introduced myself. I told them in slow and broken english to do from 2nd lesson onwards and stood behind them to ensure they did not logout again!
Even today we can not forget this login-logout process. Truely language at times becomes a great barrier!