I’ve been to the local church. It’s a small country church really, but as I examined it, I was surprised by the abundance of marble, the heavily gilded statues and the stained glass windows. It’s a Catholic church, hence the amount of decorations—now I quite get the Protestants.
As I stealthily slipped in with my camera, I half-expected to be kicked out for desecrating the property. Instead, I found there two surveyors with their equipment, going about their business. I don’t have a very clear idea what the business of surveyors is—maybe there’s a meridian or something running through the building?
In order to acknowledge the sanctity of the place, I was thinking about dipping my finger in the holy water at the entrance and crossing myself—that’s the standard ritual—but then I remembered that I’m a bloody Buddhist and also, there was no water.
I cultivate a deadpan face at all times because I maintain that showing emotion makes one open to abuse. Unfortunately, my deadpan skills cause some confusion when dealing with people who are less dead inside out than me. It’s especially difficult to get my humour across with my straight face—though my sense of humour, which is often somewhat less digestible, might be to blame.
My students are incredibly credulous. Something in their education is apparently amiss since they take everything at face value. The other day when I distributed their final tests, I advised them to write their name on the paper and their student number. I added that should they fail to include their student number, I would award penalty points. There was deathly silence in response. I had to explain the joke, which made it somewhat less charming.
During oral exams, I made a point of looking encouraging, though anything that was still alive inside me was being slaughtered at the moment by the assault of incredibly bad English I was forced to sit through. This considerate approach turned out to be poorly thought through, in keeping with the law that each good deed shall be punished accordingly.
Several days after the oral exam, I received an email from a student who wanted me to explain why she got such a poor grade when I “looked content”. I doubt that I ever look content, but I can’t say, and I certainly have no recollection of this particular student—I examined about forty candidates within two days, plus I’m consciously working on suppressing this traumatic experience. I wrote a polite response suggesting that next time the student might want to raise questions on the spot.
On a more cheerful note, I learned a lot of interesting details about the students during the oral exam. One student intimated that he was looking forward to feeling the virginity of the forest in Romania, where he was going for holiday. I didn’t pry for details. Another student explained that while he thought domestic animals were sometimes abused, he couldn’t envision a cow living on its own and enjoying its freedom somewhere in the woods. I couldn’t envision it either. I managed to keep a serious face, though with utmost effort.
I knew something was radically wrong the moment I woke up. I could feel nothing. More precisely, I could feel no pain. No headache, no pain in the back, no pricking in the shoulder (not even a hangover). Am I dead and is this hell? It’s a bit colder than I expected, dear Satan, would you mind turning the heat up? However, the cat is here too, so hell can’t be as bad as publicity suggests. (Also, I told you so, I tell my cat because I threatened that she wouldn’t go to cat heaven if she doesn’t stop chewing my flat deposit represented by the blinds.)
Maybe it’s not hell and maybe I turned zombie in the night. It wouldn’t be surprising, given that my building is situated next to a mortuary (and next to a hospital, which outsources to the mortuary). Then I recalled my yoga practice the previous day, which included the zombie pose (kneel down, stretch out the arms, let the hands hang down – undead face optional). Maybe I zened myself out during the practice and now I’m hallucinating. Or maybe I’m writing this in my sleep.