This may be about algae or Namitha

Algae. I can bet my loan amount that you have come across this word before. I can also bet my unpaid loan amount that you cannot explain now what it is. Neither can I. So that is why I looked into the dictionary when my daughter wanted to prepare a ‘project’ on it.A ‘project’ work, you will know if you have a young school-going son or daughter, is the work that teachers give for the already tired parents to feel even more exhausted while the children get around to enjoy Pogo or Cartoon Network lounging on the settee.

The ‘project work’ has as much connection with education as T Rajendhar has with subtle acting. In fact, I suspect teachers don’t even bother to look up the projects when they are submitted.

They ask them to be submitted only because they can then give the topic for the next assignment, which can be about a humble insect (whose name should be both unpronounceable and unspellable) or about the mighty details about the generation of computers before they were invented or on the living conditions in outer Mongolia or waterways in Eastern Timbuktu.

One school of thought has it that topics for projects are chosen on their incomprehensibility and improbability. Adherents to another school of thought have it that it depends on what mood a teacher is in. If the master were in a particularly scornful frame of mind, the project work would be on the sociological context of those who lived during the Harappan culture.  A teacher on a humorous and easy occasion will make you to prepare a chart on Chinese martial arts.

Teachers, I strongly feel, invented the idea of ‘project’ by way of nuanced but strong revenge on parents. But if you ever had to mind a few of the brats together, you will also agree that no vengeful action is strong enough.

Anyway, back to algae. The dictionary helpfully explained them to be ‘primitive chlorophyll-containing mainly aquatic eukaryotic organisms lacking true stems and roots and leaves’. This is the problem with dictionaries: You reach for them when you don’t know the meaning of a word, and they in turn will throw back at you several words which you can never ever hope to comprehend.  Now to go with algae, I had to find the meaning of ‘primitive’ and ‘eukaryotic’ and also figure out what this ‘lacking true stem’ meant and what contains chlorophyll. First I set out hopefully for eukaryotic. The dictionary again was unambiguous: ‘Having cells with ‘good’ or membrane-bound nuclei’. This was proving to be like those unending links of MLM chain leading to nowhere actually.

Figuring out that there was no way on this earth that the dictionary was going to help me find the meanings, I tried the ultimate vehicle for confusion: Google. The moment I typed algae, it threw up 13,400,000 references (in .08 seconds).  If I had to go through each one of those web pages, the ‘project’ could logically be ready when my daughter sets out to receive her college degree.  So for convenience sake, I clicked on the first available link page. And this is what it said. ‘Algae are photosynthetic organisms that occur in most habitats. Algae vary from small and single-celled to complex multicellular species, such as the Giant kelps that grow to 65 meters in length. Algae have conventionally been regarded as simple plants within the study of botany. All are Eukaryota, though Chromophyta have Bacterial characteristics and some authorities consider them all to be Protists, however this view is now considered to be outdated.’

I am more than sure that you skipped a few lines from the above quote. I certainly did. I just cut and pasted it here, and for all I care the last few lines may be talking of Namitha rather than algae. With computers all knowledge is just ‘ctrl a + ctrl c + ctrl v’. But nobody notices as everyone merely ctrl a+ctrl c+ctrl v ideas.

Actually this gives me an idea: Why don’t I affix the photo of Namitha for the project work on algae? The teacher wouldn’t notice it. The daughter wouldn’t read it. The only problem is that if somebody ever googles for Namitha, he may get a link to algae, which considering the way she acts is not such a bad thing.

(Yet another of my column written for my publication some months ago)