My friend Shammu scratched his lower jaw. He did this whenever he was about to say something profound. So he scratched his jaw, looked thoughtful, paused for a moment and said something I'll never forget " machi! dont you think the horny'ness increases during exams". I considered what he said, thought for a moment, paused and said "wha...et". He said "seriously machi! I feel an increase in sexual desire during exam season, study holidays. I am more horny". I wanted to say it was impossible for him to be more horny than what he already was, but the topic in hand was more interesting. I asked him "tell me more". He said "I picture myself doing xyz, abc, mnop (all classmates/batchmates/actresses). I cant help it. I do it again and again. But dont tell this to anybody". Ofcourse I told it to everybody. He was right next to me when I repeated him verbatim (with more masala).
Exams make people behave funnily. And it is true, I have heard it from more than 2 people that the erotic fantasies increased multi-fold during exam season. Right now some readers are smiling and thinking "yea it does". Do people have idiosyncrasies during exams, which they dont have otherwise? This got me thinking of how I personally mutated during exam season. Back in the good old days of undergrad engineering, do you remember how crazy you were the day before the University exams? Remember the syllabus book next to you? You have the list of topics on the syllabus, photocopies of different colleges' "notes" next to you, the Rs.25 Question Bank, a sorry excuse for a text book. These are your tools. The objective: ALL PASS. Somehow you have to transfer the stuff in front of you into some temorary storage area in your brain and go and vomit everything in the answer paper.
1.5 days between one exam and the next. Never in the history of my life has 1.5 days been used till the last darn second. If the chapter was 30 pages long in the notes, I'd calculate 1 hour for 15 pages and hope I'll finish it in 2 hours. But thats never the case, is it? You spend 4 hours on 25 pages and postpone the next 5 pages for the morning. Things never go according to plan the 1.5 days before the exam. I never knew why? But it just never did.
Its the other things apart from studying that makes the study *holiday* a symphony by itself. I used to say "I'll start studying at 5:30". See its never 5:32 (like Wonder Baloon) or 5:40 or something like that. Its gotta be a round number like 5:00, 5:30, 6:00. This is when I want to start studying. Its always "let me watch 5 minutes of the program and then start studying". then there are the breaks that I take. A break after 1 hour. sometimes between chapters, sub-chapters. Even pages. The break is a cup of water, a quick surf through the TV remote or a visit to the loo. Sometimes all three - when I am rewarding myself for completing a chapter.
But are we thinking something else apart from studying. What running in the background? I don't remember being extra-horny during exams (b4 the smart-ass comment comes - yes! it is possible for me to be more horny). But I remember lost in my own world of xerox, pee, stare at TV, walk around the imaginary square in the drawing room mosaic and then go back to studying. I had this nasty habit of studying in bed. "paduthuttu padicha padippu paduthidum" (poor translation: if you lie in bed and study, your education will start to sleep) kind of proverbs from my dad did not deter me. He wanted me to read aloud and study. I am not sure if such crazy things were still in vogue in the 20th/21st century Sometimes I remember the afternoons the day b4 exams, I am seriously cramming, there is not a sound on the entire apartment building. My grandma'/mom is cutting vegetables in the 'aruvamanai', and gentle flute sound from my neighbor seeps through the walls. That would crack me up. Boy! did I want to throw away the books, go out play cricket or watch a movie then. The impulse at that time to play cricket was more than any other time. So I know how Shammu must've felt.
When you talk about exam habits you have to talk about phone calls. There are ofcourse the phone calls. Who can forget the phone calls? 1 billion phone calls are made during those 25 days. Phone calls during exams is part of the syllabus. Phone calls are done to clarify doubts, for psychological counselling, peace of mind, checking status. Logic Ramani was my counsellor/mentor/navigational-north star. I'd call him up every hour just to stop getting freaked out. He'd always answer in a calm voice and drive away my parnoia. He had this incredible patience, which never ceased to amaze me. Sometimes I'd go and commit a crime which he'd disapprove. Like when I'd talk to this guy from salem, whom I used to call just to talk to a person who is worse than me. I'd see new lows in standards and feel good :-). Consequently I'll drop a few chapters from my agenda. Logic ramani would then scold me and set new targets, which I obviously hated. And this happened more times than anyone can imagine.
I am a morning person. I don't know about you guys, but I can't read after 9:00 PM. Not that I am like Goundamani from Chinna Thambi (there are many who'd agree with this description) but the desire to sleep far exceeds the reluctance to get up early. So when L.Ramani studies till 2:00 AM, I'd get up at 2:00 AM and typically will have to contend with 20% of unit 4 and full of unit 5 (typically there are 5 units for every course). There is always that relief when you enter unit 5 isn't there? You know you are almost there. You know that if you finish before you get on the suburban Broad Guage train to Tambaram, you can always revise stuff before you get to the 'zoo'.
I never crammed till exam start time. I was glad to get rid of the books/the subject and get into the hall 20-30 minutes before start time. I'd be thinking "I am getting rid of this subject in 3 hours". Idea mini (another bossom buddy) had his own weird habits. He would be reading unit 4 on the train. His face would look constipated. He'd respond to all questions in mono syllables. He'd say 'wha' 'ha' and 'dei'. Thats pretty much it. He'd start unit 5 sitting on the 'bodhi' tree in college 30 minutes before the exam. I am sure if somebody talked to him then he'd probably start making funny noises instead of the monosyllables. Colorking/Nadhiya-Lover (college first, class first, school first) finished off his exam preparation the previous evening and never touched the book afterwards. People like him aren't being made anymore. Brahma lost the prototype. JB would come in his kinetic honda 9PM the night before the exam and ask "machi syllabus enna? notes xerox adikalama". He'd ask this like he was asking what the time was. You tell a N.Bomb was on the verge of being dropped in Madras and he'd say "dei..free'ya vidraa.. ok tell me..what dress was she wearing today?". He'd sit through the night reading and come to the exam without sleeping. Shammu on the other hand finished 5th unit 20 minutes *after* the exam started. He'd walk-in late and prepare to catch-up in 2.5 hrs. Talk about the opportunity cost of being horny.
Oh! and another habit - I never looked at the question paper till I finished drawing the margins on the answer sheet. During XIIth board exams, as soon as the Q.Papers were distributed, people in my class opened it with a collective swoosh, while I was still rapidly drawing margins. Speaking of horny, I have this other idiosyncrasy of pushing the shirt up my shoulder every one-billionth of a second. So much so that my shirt would resemble a sleveless shirt in 2 hours. Once I was tapped on the shoulders by a professor who shared a name with "ithu thaanda police" director/hero. "Shirt kizha podappa. ladies irukaanga'la".