It was a normal, boring day. I was sitting in the cramped ICWA library, struggling with my Saxena-Vashisht and VS Datey. My exams were around the corner. I had this unexplainable pride in my ability to concentrate on the sub-sections and case laws of the most arcane tax laws and quote them in my exam papers. That I don’t even remember the basic definition of excise duty today is indicative of how ‘useful’ those sessions were. But I digress.
That day, my Arjuna-like concentration was disturbed. It was not my fault. Any guy would have been distracted. She was that beautiful. She caught me staring at her. Or at least I thought she did. I quickly looked away. Back to Mr. Datey’s explanation on applicability of excise duty. CENVAT and MODVAT to be done after this. “Concentrate, concentrate, you need to crack this” I told myself. Or rather, the inner voice angel did.
And then, despite myself, I looked up again. Into big black beautiful eyes. Sitting across the table. “Of all the 3 seats available, she had to sit here?” the angel asked. “Maybe, this is your lucky day!” suggested the devil (in case you hadn’t read this, I have these conflicting voices going on in my head, most of the time, but especially in situations like this). “Concentrate, concentrate!” the angel repeated.
“Excise levy cannot be imposed on imported goods or goods manufactured in
. This is also true if goods are imported in SKD or CKD condition and they are only assembled in India, as no new product emerges - Walchand Nagar Industries v. CCE - 1995 (79) ELT 485 (CEGAT - 3 member bench order)”, my eyes were merely glossing over the words, nothing registering in my mind. Nepal
“You should at least say hi. Make small talk. What’s a few minutes when you have hours of studying this crap to do?” the devil was a convincing salesman. “Yeah, ask her if she has read CENVAT rules” the angel was no less convincing when it came to reading up on Excise duty. “Duh, CENVAT rules! Can’t you think of anything better?” the devil sniggered.
I needed to stop this cacophony of voices inside. I got up, went to the water filter, wiped the film of dust off the inner side of the tumbler, and slowly filled it up. All the while, my eyes never left her. “Pervert!” the angel barked. Glug, glug, glug, refill, glug, glug, glug. “Ok, we say hi, if she responds, we take it forward, else we go back to the book”, the devil made a pact. Apparently, he is an experienced hand at that.
I walked back. Breathe in. Deep. Deeper. Ok, here we go.
I open my mouth. Nothing. Not the first time it has happenned. Won’t be the last time too. The tongue freezes. The brain decides to go along. Damn. Never mind, get back to the book.
And while taking that 'one last glance', I noticed something that hadn’t caught my eye till then (not surprising, considering that there was tough competition around as far as catching the eye went). A book with a bright reddish-pink cover, with “Vedic Mathematics” written in bold on it. “Ooh, a figure with a thing for figures!” the devil could hardly contain himself. “Hmm, sounds interesting. Check it out at the Fountain book sellers” said the angel. “Vedic Mathematics? What for? To calculate how many cow dung cakes to put in the homams that you don’t do?” the devil retorted, with his usual display of bad sarcasm.
But, check it out I did. Bought it too. For a hundred precious bucks. All the money I had in my pocket. Skipped lunch, went home and devoured the book instead.
Went back to the library every day of the week. She was nowhere to be seen. At least I was making good progress with Mr. Datey. However queer that sounds.
And then she turned up one day. The book was still in her hands. “This is your best chance. Make some remark about the book. Much better than those CENVAT rules anyday” the devil pushed.
“Hi, er, interesting book that, nahi?” I was surprised that I managed to say something coherent.
“This? I don’t know. My brother was preparing for CAT. He said he wanted it, so I picked it up for him. Personally, I hate Maths”, she said.
“Hate this stupid costing as well. I am here, only because my father forced me to take up this course. Said I am wasting my time doing only B.Com and loafing around. I am going to flunk this exam just to get back at him!” she continued.
Before I could say something appropriately sympathetic, a guy in a flashy tee with a picture of a fist-and-one-strategic-finger-raised appeared... “hey babes, wanna go for some coffee?”
And off they went, hand in hand, looking very much in love.
Sigh. Breathe in. Deep. Deeper.
And back to Mr. Datey.
And, to surprising fourth standard kids in family get-togethers with my ability to say “74 square? Hmm... 5476” in less than a minute. I stopped doing that only when even they started give me the “eww, the geek” look.