The winding path of Life sure has an increasing number of potholes as you walk on. I remember how easy things were in the aforementioned competitions back at NITK. The board typically carried the names of a couple of firang songs passed down generations of literary veterans as topics, the favorite ones being Comfortably Numb, Stairway to Heaven, Candle in the Wind, Coming back to Life and the like. Now, this is not to hint at any sort of lack of imagination on the part of the event organizers.. indeed I met some of the greatest writers I know in that elite group. But who is to rebel against tradition. And as the baton was passed on to me eventually, I made sure I lived up to the standards just as well. In fact, I even extended the concept to include names of movies, sitcoms, soaps and my personal favorite- a jumbled version of ‘em all (Trust me.. to the unsuspecting eye, it really looks like a work of art). I guess When angels deserve to Scrub doesn’t sound very attractive right now, but I’m sure a little more thought and one can do better than that!
Which brings my wandering thoughts to the issue, or should I say, the Art of Plagiarism. I remember the first time I heard the word was during a JAM (Just-a-Minute.. an adrenaline-rush-inducing race of oral spamming) session in my first year at undergrad. It was supposedly one of the punishable offences in the game. And that is what it remained to me for the next four years until my ‘Orientation Week’ at IIMB where we were introduced to plagiarism as one of the oh-so-many ways of getting expelled from the institute. Not to mention the fat handbook we were given that elaborated on:
(a) The 1001 things that could be considered plagiarism
(b) A 2×2 for degree of acceptability of the Project Report as a function of amount of Referencing (high or low) on the horizontal axis vs number of Footnotes (high or pain-in-the-ass high) on the vertical axis. Sometimes I wonder what B-Schools would have taught or how they would even have survived but for Mr. Michael Porter and his monumental contribution, the 2×2.
For those still awake, the handout also contained another list of 10001 more ways of getting kicked out of the insti. Yours truly, of course, lost patience by the last line of the first para and decided to extrapolate (to a reasonable degree of accuracy, I’m sure) what lay ahead. Considering my experiences in that first week, possibilities off the top of my head would be coming late to class, borrowing a pen from a peer on running out of refill (for the very idea of not carrying one to class seemed laughable at the time), using font size 14 or 1.5 line spacing to cover space in project reports, and basically indulging in any activity that can potentially have roots in an intention of disturbing the decorum of the class such as ‘breathing loudly’ or any other such unimaginably gory crime. By the Grace of the Almighty, I have so far succeeded in not committing/not getting caught committing any of the above. Although as I was to discover the hard way later that term, oversleeping was a crucial offence that I had missed out on. More on that sometime later.. Wouldn’t want to drain my limited pool of creativity in one go.
My screen tells me I have already exceeded a page (Font size 12, Times New Roman, para spacing 1 line). Having successfully crossed the threshold of the average reader’s patience, I think I can safely publish the post without running any risk of criticism, even from the stray jobless readers. Only thing remaining now- to give a suitable footnote that captures the true spirit of this post!
“If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing.”