My Students And Other Animals

The urban animal population seems to have an affinity to me, invading my home and even classrooms with little regard for my feelings. We’ve always had a dog at home, and briefly welcomed turtles, fishes and even birds – all adopted by my brother. But we’ve also played host to many uninvited animal visitors: lizards, (a must in every Indian household), spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, bees and all kinds of other vague unrecognisable insects and even an occasional rat or two. None of these are a big shock if you refuse to close windows, and have an abundance of plants surrounding your home. But when the animal kingdom starts invading your place of work (and you do not work in the countryside), it just doesn’t seem right.

A few years ago, I blogged about the menagerie invading my classrooms in Pune on my erstwhile blog, Geebaby, and was reminded of it a few weeks ago, when a big, fat and rather ugly lizard made its appearance in my class.

The Alliance française de Bangalore is home to many squirrels, that scurry around the garden and have nested in the false ceilings of our classrooms. I’m thus quite accustomed to seeing them run up and down the windows, and occasionally disturb students during exams with their antics. The open canteen draws a fair number of nasty crows as well, and we can safely assume that there must be all kinds of creepy crawlies and a fair number of rodents in the greenery that envelops the campus. So a lizard appearing in class wasn’t that much of an anomaly, except for its rather nasty appearance and of course the reaction of my female students who immediately moved their chairs away and spent the next few minutes staring at the offensive reptile with great mistrust.

What made the day truly eventful though, was the arrival of the cat and her subsequent behaviour.

The cat has actually been haunting the corridors of the Alliance française de Bangalore for over a month and having recently given birth to four kittens, has been the focus of much attention and pampering. And thus when its chief “pamperers” are missing, she sets out to seek attention. A few weeks ago, I was lost in reverie while waiting for the photocopying machine to do its job, and turned around to see her staring at me angrily, for having invaded what she has to come to think of as her corner. Not expecting any company, least of all an angry feline, I couldn’t prevent a scream of shocked fear from escaping my lips…a scream loud enough to alert the students in the corridor outside the staff room, but not unsettle Madame.

Last Sunday, she sauntered into my classroom and much to my chagrin, settled into one of the chairs. Discomfited, to say the least, we started a rather futile effort to coax it to leave the classroom and allow us to commence. But Madame had no intention of leaving the way she entered – from the door. She wanted to exit in style – through one of the windows, which of course were closed to accommodate the air con. Thus began the process of opening windows. We started with the one right behind her, but she chose to hop onto the next chair…and then onto the wall. After a few minutes of opening windows, she finally decided to leave us. We had barely closed the windows and ensured that the door was firmly shut, so she wouldn’t enter again, that my students noticed the lizard! And the chaos began again…

Fifteen minutes later, as my students settled into class, their attention finally directed to the intricacies of French grammar, I chuckled to myself, wondering what would happen, if I were to play host to other, more interesting specimens of the animal kingdom, like the crab who was the last guest to my classroom in Pune.

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