Monday, November 6, 2006

The Three Kinds of Learners

Life is a learning experience; it teaches us of its vagaries in numerous ways and prepares us to face ups and downs as they come. There are essentially 3 types of learners*:
1.The Fishukawas: These are the front row students of the course; they are smart, seldom make mistakes and are quick learners. They believe in the adage: Prevention is better than cure and hence always ensure quality control. (Source: Total Quality Management )
2.The Bishukawas: As the name suggests (I don't know how though) these are the back benchers. They don't care about anything; they are there to have fun and give the life and its lessons all the shit they are worth. They make all the mistakes but refuse to learn. They take everything in their stride.
3.The Mishukawas: Clearly, the middle benchers. Thoroughly confused, life is like a quandary for them. They get hit all the time but never get to know how. Their most frequent question is usually "Why did this have to happen to me?" They try with all their might but never get anywhere and for some strange reason others find their confused demeanor funny and at times cute and their friends are Prof Murphy and his ghost.

*The names have been deliberately chosen from the Japanese language to make it easy for readers to remember and relate to.

This masterpiece of writing here is dedicated to the third kind of learners, The Mishukawas(I will address them with the abbreviation XXX although I understand that it is difficult for the reader to understand how I arrived at that. However, the reader is ensured that a lot of mathematical calculations have gone into that). To understand XXXs, it is imperative that we are acquainted with Prof.Murphy and his law. Murphy's law states that "Things will go wrong if they have to and in a way so as to do maximum damage". XXXs have a strange affinity to this law and its consequences and in this little piece of work here, I will narrate an incident which will make my point clear.

To start with, I must inform you that I myself belong to the XXX category and this is my little story.

I have had this knack missing out on at least one question or a part of it in every other exam I take. It has been happening very frequently with me of late. It has often happened that I miscalculated time or misread it and ended up missing a question or two. It left me dejected and I felt like a loser but I guess when you have had enough of adversities, even Gods are shaken up and they themselves resolve to help you out. I had no idea that Gods had woken up for me today. It started like any other exam day, only that I had this firm determination in my heart to take the question paper by its horns and pin it down in time, and I could feel a strange 'force' hell bent upon helping me out. I wore a winner's smile as I entered the exam room. I wanted to shout –"Get aside morons, the star has arrived!"

The exam paper was a bit lengthy, but I was prepared for the bouncers. I was ready today….! I started writing at a pace which would have turned Mr Schumacker and his companions pink (Let's assume the color of jealousy is pink). Excellence in time management was on my mind, and 'the force' was also there to help. I knew I couldn't go wrong. I cut down long answers short, I wrote in bullets, I used acronyms and abbreviations (as profound as XXX), drew figures without scale and rarely bothered to correct grammatical errors. This was a race and I had to win, people who would care to decorate would find themselves out of it. “Morons!”, I thought again and smiled as I answered each question.

I knew that I wasn't answering well in terms of the content, but then nobody who had to complete the exam in the given time could and so I rode on. However, I did have my anxious moments. Just as I saw my watch show that only two minutes remained, I realized that I had missed out on one question. I could see the walls of my fort crumbling…. I couldn't have given it up then. I looked up to the heavens and asked for some extra 'force' and got back to work. It amazed me to see my pen move with such finesse. I was a master warrior and my pen was my sword (at this moment I formulated an adage –"A pen is mightier than a sword" and I have a feeling that it will get famous someday). So, as the clock ticked towards the end of the allotted time, I started getting up from my seat almost pretending that I was about to submit my answer sheet. I was scribbling rapidly on the sheet to complete my answer before the answer sheet could be taken away by the invigilator. For those who have been in similar situations would agree that it's a weird position you get into under such circumstances. You get 'half' up from your seat and pretend to be ready to hand over the sheet and yet continue to write in a desperate attempt to finish. I was in that situation.

However, my hand ached but I just wrote those final words. Words which read victory for me... I got up (completely this time) and handed over the sheet to the invigilator and dashed out of the room to proclaim my victory. In the corridor though, there was not a Kaswahaza (that's an animal from my nightmares and I have a feeling it's Japanese too) to greet me. And then I remembered the last bit of Murphy's law, the elusive bit... it said-" Nothing in the world is right, so if everything seems right, there is something wrong" it echoed to me from the heavens and I almost turned brown( lets assume it's the color of fear and shock), peeped back into the class and asked a classmate why nobody else was moving out and his words shattered me; he spoke in crisp Spanish ( I understand Spanish well)- "Paper 2 ghante ka hai bhai!" There was lightening and then it rained. Only over me though. Heavens were crying; I had done the impossible only that it wasn't required!

But then I walked out feeling self actualized. I had seen another one of life's vagaries and was a stronger and more learned man though a bit more confused.

I met a few friends and told them my sad story; they sympathized by laughing only for 15 minutes over it and promising to tell my story to only a few more people.

So that's how XXXs are. There is more to them though and as a responsible member of this category, I shall write more on them later.

The Blah Man

PS: I got to know of this person who managed to give a new angle to the famous BCG matrix by replacing the category-"Dogs" with "Donkeys". I don't know which category he would belong to, but I guess he feels like a brother to me!