Round-off Error Comedy

It was 630AM on a cold wintry day. Well, until you experience anything else (perhaps like the cold wintry 4 deg Celsius days of Noida), even Chennai’s December mornings are cold and wintry. My dad had dropped me off at a decrepit rundown school on Venkat Narayana Road. This was the venue where I endured IIT Maths Coaching torture for 2 years, every weekend.

There was deathly silence. It was test day. One of those tests that left your brain sponge dry after the event. But there was entertainment close by always. There was this jolly chap named Krishna (name changed for obvious reasons). This fellow was attending the classes because his parents were forcing him to. Well, there were several of the guys in that category, but this guy unashamedly accepted it, spoke about it, and planned on how to get himself kicked out by the professor. Now you see, where the entertainment part rolls in.

The professor matched every appearance of how an eccentric IIT Coaching professor should be. Hair unkempt, loose fitting clothes, beard, and several such idiosyncrasies, that you come to expect out of folks in this learned profession.

Now, back to this fine Saturday morning. The professor sighed and wheezed up the stairs, with his question paper set. In his typical manner, he asked the rhetorical question of how prepared all of us were, and of course started the villainous exercise of distributing the papers.  After giving out the question papers, he again gave the toothy grin and asked if any of us had questions. I had one, but I dared not asked this one — why was the paper in Greek, instead of English. I saw very few English alphabets in it).

Our fine friend Krishna raised his hand high proudly, and asked – “Sir, if I score 49.5 on 50 in this paper, would you round the score up to 50?”

The class roared in laughter, but the dear professor was not amused.

—- Fast forward to one week later —-

Same scene as above. Same tension, if not more, since the professor typically gives out the graded scripts fairly quickly. And true to this name, the professor did wheeze up the stairs, with the..graded..answer..scripts.

He came and smiled his toothy smile as usual. He was searching for someone. Why ? Who was he searching for?

And he said – “Where is Krishna ? Ah ! There he is.”

He sighed and said with a wicked smile – “You have gotten 0.5/50. Should I put it as zero or round it up to 1?”

The class roared in laughter. And then was silenced quite quickly thereafter, when we got our papers. Krishna got kicked out after the first year. He was on top of the world. Some of us continued on to the second year. A few of us got into the IITs. No, not me. You kidding? But hey, those were the years.