Anchorwoman Decibella Chatterjee walks into a classroom, with Camraj the cameraman trailing. Decibella looks around, then looks at Camraj questioningly. He checks a piece of paper in his hand, then nodds at her. Several students seated on chairs arranged in a classroom configuration.
Decibella: Cammie, are you sure this is the place?
Camraj: Yeah, I’m sure. Classroom 103-5. This is it all right. Just settle down and wait for the teacher.
Decibella: How come the teacher is late?
Camraj: Must be a woman [DC glares at him] er, I mean, must be the traffic.
Young woman enters, looks around, walks up to a teacher’s desk/podium, sets down her books, faces the students. Then notices Decibella and Camraj.
Teacher: Oh, you must be the TV people the Front Office told me to watch out for.
Decibella: What do you mean, watch out for?
Camraj: Bella, I think she means, watch for.
Teacher: No, they meant watch out. I don’t have time to waste, so just stay out of my way.
Camraj: Don’t worry, you just teach your class, and I’ll film the whole thing, so our viewers can see how you prepare these students to do business with Americans.
Teacher: All right, then! [Faces the students] Good evening!
Student 1: What’s happenin’ ?
Student 2: Howzit goin’ ?
Student 3: How you doin’ ?
Teacher: [Louder] Good evening! [Students stare back blankly.] One of the first things you should have learnt was to greet the teacher, and one another, properly, like educated people. [All the students stand up and say, in unison, “Goo divning”.] Don’t forget, this is a class on English for Speakers of Other Languages…
Student 1: No, it aint.
Teacher: You mean, “No, it isn’t”.
Student 2: Right on, Sister!
Teacher: I am not your sister, and thank God for small mercies. What class do you think it is?
Student 1: Englis for ..
Student 2:- Ispeakers of..
Student 3: Indian Langauges!
Teacher: Why a special class for speakers of Indian languages?
Student 2: Indian languages diphicult…English simple
Student 1: Indian have trouble learning simple Englis
Student 3: Einstein could not balance checkbook. Addition and subtraction were too simple. He had no problem with higher mathematics.
Teacher: Enough of this nonsense! Now [looking at Student 1], let us first introduce ourselves. I am Miss Sethi, your teacher.
Student 1: Where our teacher, Mrs. Gupta, is?
Teacher: Your former teacher, Mrs. Gupta, was transferred to another school. I am your new teacher.
Student 1: Say what?
Student 2: Say why?
Student 3: I say!
Teacher: Now, tell me who you are. [Points to Student 2] You go first.
Student 1: Why her? I wanna go first?
Teacher: Because I said so. You don’t want to flunk this course, do you? [Students shake their heads]
Student 2: I am Gearbox Kaur.
Teacher: Funny, it sounded like you said “Gearbox”. I have had Indian students before and I am familiar with some Indian names. Guess you said Gurbux…
Gearbox: No, I said “Gearbox”. My father named all his kids after automobile parts.
Teacher: How unusual! Tell me more about your dad.
Gearbox: Pappaji was President of USA…
Teacher: What? Which one? Was it JFK? I knew he was promiscuous…
Gearbox: No, no, not that USA. Pappaji was president of United Sikh Association in Patiala, India. He wrote “Product of USA” on auto parts and sold them at a higher price.
Teacher: Bless my soul! And why do you want to improve your English?
Gearbox: I have travel agency, Safar With Us. All my customers are Indian. I want Amrikan customers also. So I want learn Angrezi.
Teacher: Commendable. Well, [Turning to Student 1] and who are you?
Student 1: I am Asok Patel. I have a donut shop but I want to get a motel.
Teacher: I see. [Looking at Student 3] And you?
Student 3: My name is C.R. Shubramaniam. Chivas Regal Shubramaniam.
Teacher: Sounds like you’ve had some Chivas Regal. [Sniffs the air] Smells like it too.
C.R.: I had Shingapore Shling for lunch.
Asok: I had Kingphiser Beer.
Gearbox: I drink champ-agni and cog-nak only.
Teacher: Okay, now that we have that settled, let us do some work. Did Mrs. Gupta give you some work last week?
Gearbox: She gave ass ointment.
Teacher: What? Ass…Oh, I see, she gave you an assignment. What was it?
Asok: She tell us “Learn phamous Amrikan writing and restitute in class”.
Teacher: Oh, she asked you to learn a famous American document and recite it in class? So – what have you learnt?
Asok: Deceleration of Indian Pandas.
Teacher: Decelaration…[Walks over and looks at the paper in his hands] You mean, the Declaration of Independence! Go on, let us hear it.
Asok: [Stands up and reads with a serious expression] We hold these truths to be shelf-avoidant..
Asok: Right….All men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creditor with certain unallowable rights…
Teacher: Endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…
Gearbox: Why only men? What about women?
C.R.: Not all women are created equal…[looks at Gearbox, then at the Teacher] Some are actually pleasant to look at.
Gearbox: Shut up! What about “endowed” ?
Asok: [Speaks up because C.R. is standing with his ears covered, in a “Hear no evil” gesture] Some women are endowed; other women not so endowed…
Gearbox: Shut up! [Glares at them both] Some men are far ahead [indicates a pot belly], some are way behind [indicates a fat derriere].
Asok: You are talking about C.R.’s behind?
C.R.: Careful! You might be guilty of harassment.
Gearbox: No, I can’t be. I can only be guilty of his-assment.
Teacher: That is enough! Ay-sock, continue.
Asok: that among these are Life, Liberty and the profit of Happiness. [Looks up from the paper at the Teacher] They made mistake! It should be “Happiness of profit”!
Teacher: No, actually it is the pursuit of Happiness. Enough of this, let us hear from you, C.R. What are you going to recite?
C.R.: The Probable to the Constipation.
Teacher: Excuse me? [Walks over to him, looks at his paper, shakes her head] Looks like you have chosen the Preamble to the Constitution. OK, let us hear it.
C.R.: [Clears his throat, assumes a dramatic pose] We the people of the United States, in order to form a more prefect onion,
Teacher: a more perfect union
C.R.: establish just ice,
C.R.: insure the mystic train quality,
Teacher: insure domestic tranquility
C.R.: provide for the cannon defense, promote the general’s warfare
Teacher: provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare
C.R.: and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posteriors,
Teacher: posterity! I have heard enough! [Turns to Gearbox] I hope you have something better to offer us.
Gearbox: I do. I have Gaithersburg Address.
Teacher: [With resignation] OK, recite the Gettysburg Address.
Gearbox: Four more and seven-eleven hours ago…
Teacher: Four score and seven years ago
Gearbox: our fathers brought forth on this continent, …Wait…What about the mothers?
Teacher: They didn’t talk about the mothers in those days…just about the fathers.
Gearbox: How stupid! a new nation, conceived in Liberty – See, how can they conceive with only fathers and no mothers?
Teacher: Just recite, will you?
Gearbox: and dictated to the proposition that all men are created equal…I don’t like this.
Teacher: dedicated..Oh, what’s the use? I should just flunk all of you and forget about this class.
Asok: Then we will be back next semester.
Gearbox: Better to pass us…
C.R.: … so we go away to another class.
Teacher: What? [After a moment’s reflection] Guess you have a point. OK, y’all pass this class. Don’t come back next week, you hear?
Decibella: You bet we won’t even think about it! Camraj, lets wrap up.