A packed classroom. Around 80 students. Some standing on the back of the class. The sociology professor walks in. Opens a book. In a slightly raised teacher-like voice, he starts talking about sociology, Max Weber, Karl Marx, and Émile Durkheim. Students listen to the professor in awe. In pin drop silence. Some of them take note. The professor pauses for a second. “You students are getting it, yes?” Heads nod. He flips the page. Resumes talking about society and social class. Checks his watch. “Alright, that’s it for today.”
This is what usually happened in the classroom when I was studying B.A. in Tri Chandra College.
Another class. Another classroom. The english professor strolls in. With a thick book, “Literature” written on the cover. “Okay, today I’m going to talk about Shakespeare and his dramas.” Everyone gets excited. He starts talking about Shakespeare’s life and how he wrote all those epic dramas. His accent is unusual. Heavy Nepali peppered with British accent here and there. The professor sort of moves into a trance. He looks like he’s hung out with Shakespeare and had tea together. The students believe he has. Students listen to this professor in awe as well. In pin drop silence. Some of them take note. The professor pauses for a second. “You are getting these stuff, yes?” Heads nod. He flips the page. Resumes talking about how important Shakespeare’s legacy is. Checks his watch. “To stop or not to stop the class, is the question. Let’s stop here today.”
Every new class would be a slightly distorted version of the earlier class. There would be no discussion. No assignment. Just teaching and listening. And a 3 hour exam at the end of the year. Yes, we had a yearly session, not a semester. I remember only these about the classes in Tri Chandra. A few figments of the whole experience. I don’t remember anything else. I don’t remember learning anything else.
I had to pass the exams. And, we all had a magical key. Nima’s Guess Papers – a collection book of all the previous questions with answers and explanations. It was magical because it worked for almost all the students. Year in and year out. The question papers looked the same. The answers looked the same. All we had to do was start cramming up a week before the exam, and then spill everything out on the exam paper. The more we spilled, the better score we got.
Four years without knowing any professors or lecturers. Four years without learning anything. Four years of cramming up Nima and spilling out on exams.