Saturday, October 2, 2010

The truth behind 'group studies' sessions

I hope my son never discovers this scam called “group studies”. Of all the
excuses students have come up with to waste time, exchange gossip, discuss latest movie releases, trade tips on ‘how to attract the opposite sex’ (what we called studying “biology, chemistry and physics of opposite sex”), polish the poor host’s refrigerator, lech discreetly at a friend’s brother or sister etc, group studies is the most creative and legitimate excuse and it works best with parents too!
Many things happen during group studies. An auto driver friend of mine confessed to picking up his paan parag habit while group studying with a senior (in paan parag chewing, by the way). Another musician friend confessed to having met his wife in a similar way and fallen in love with her simply
because she could find the value of “nCr” using both binomial theorem and Pascal’s triangle method (what he now describes as ‘math-aftermath’). Another laments that the high pitched hyena laughter he laughed over a silly joke on the day before his 12th exam during group studies is still echoing on him. He got a princely 58 per cent in the boards. Yet another, by name Varadarajan, tags the whole practice as mere group therapy to “dissipate tension and not accumulate knowledge.” Perorating further on the subject, he says, “It may seem a good idea to set 10 heads to crack that one subject, but it is still one head that has to go and write that exam. It is Ram and not Ravan who wins the battle.” I fully appreciate his intensity on the subject. You see, this gentleman answered his tenth standard Hindi exam paper in English.
There is actually a standard pattern way in which “group studies” will proceed. If there are four chapters to be covered in six hours, more often than not, the first chapter will take up the first five hours and the remaining three just one! One would have barely begun on Bohr’s postulates: “Electrons orbit the nucleus. They are ….”, when a candidate would ask, “Machan, what is there to eat da?” That is all. The next hour will go in serving, spilling and munching on every available eatable in the house. “Electrons can only be in certain, permitted
orbits, hey what did Priya tell you near the lab yesterday?” Another 20 minutes on the Priya-Arun fallout. “The radii of the allowed orbits… saw that awesome lip-to-lip kissing scene between Kamal and Amala (through sari) in the new film Satya?!” Another hour spent on “chemistry, physics and biology” and one more hour on cooking up the clever chant “Bohr-bore-boar!”
I remember a group of us were studying chemistry and I was reading aloud. I was repeating the line “Copper is a good conductor of electricity” again and again and somewhere I mistakenly compounded the words and said “copper is a gunductor” and that was all — the whole group laughed and laughed the entire evening, called me “gunductor-gunductor” till I cried. I daresay they all joined me the next day.
But I must admit that group studies did support me immensely when I was doing my BA, a time when my parents were struggling to educate four children. Sticking to just paying the college fee, I relied on my generous friends to share most of their textbooks with me (my mom says she did exactly the same while she was in Music college). So while the usual joking and chatting went on, I had my corner and studied rather diligently. In return for the favour shown, I would share nuggets of my textbook knowledge in brief bullet points with them, which they claimed was their sole reason for passing. Yet, my years of experience with group studies still say that it is Ram with his one head who goes to write that exam.


  1. Good one:)
    Kindles nostalgia:)

  2. a graduation student and it feels as though you had a peek into our group study session at its peak:)
    never knew my friends and i were carrying forward a tradition existing since an time my mother criticizes my group i'll show her this article:D
    its been fun following your articles in the newspaper.thank you:)

  3. awww... brings back those good old college days!!! :-) thanks for the wonderful post :-)