Thursday, July 06, 2006

What Happened to Michelle?

Yesterday I had to cancel my class because I had to make a visit to Islamabad, five hours away by car. I talked to my director and the director of the English department and they assured me that someone would let the class know what had happened and that they could go home early. I teach the second two hours of a four-hour intensive course. Anyway, they had their tea break and nobody bothered to tell them I was outta town so they all sat in the room waiting and wondering what happened to me and why I wasn't in the class. Finally they found out from my supervisor that I was in Islamabad and they went home early.
Today when I found out about what had happened in the class I decided to make it into a creative activity. We were due to practice phrases of agreement and disagreement as well as phrases expressing doubt. I asked each of the five groups to come up with a story to answer the question, "What happened to Michelle?" (Remember Heather sounds like the boys' name Haider so I don't use it here). Then each group would share their stories and the other groups would have to agree or disagree using the target phrases. It proved to be quite an amusing activity!
Group 1 - Most Plausible
"Michelle is usual punctual so when she had not arrived by five minutes after 11 we were quite concerned. We were sure something had happened to her because we knew she would never skip the class. She cares too much about us. We finally found out from Mr. Tahir that she had gone to Islamabad, and we thought that maybe she was going back to the U.S. We thought she had gone to the American Embassy in case of some emergency at home. We knew she wouldn't leave us, because Americans are very committed to their work. We were sure that she would come back."
Group 2 - Most Traumatic
(I had showed them my multi-purpose tool, including a small blunt knife, a few days earlier in response to a question about knife vocabulary. I joked that it was my defence weapon against sketchy men on buses)
"Michelle didn't arrive for class yesterday and we were so much worried. What happened is that the day before she was taking a rickshaw. We know Michelle is very afraid of rickshaw accidents. She was wearing pink and white, and she was looking absolutely divine. The rickshaw driver was fascinated by her beauty and he decided to kidnap her. As he was trying to take her away, Michelle figured out what his intention was and took out her knife. She took her fiance's advice and stabbed the driver right in the heart. The driver was no more. When she returned to the institute she was too tired from her fight to take the class."

Funny Response - "I don't think she has the guts to kill anyone."
Me - "Yeah I'm not sure if I do either."

Group #3 - Most Ridiculous
"It was wicked hot and Michelle had trouble sleeping the night before. When she woke up, she realized that due to the heat she had pimples all over her face. She looked in her mirror and saw the pimples. She was upset and decided she could not go to teach class with this complexion. She went straight to the parlour to have her face fixed. It took two hours, and by the time she was looking beautiful enough for class, we had already left."

Response - "I don't think Michelle is that beauty conscious."
Me - "Yeah I agree with that."

Group #4 - Most Hilarious (this one is of course the boys)
"Michelle's cousin was interested to propose to her. He thought that she was so beautiful that he must marry her. He came all the way to Pakistan, but unfortunately he went to the wrong city. He landed in Islamabad and not Lahore. This man was, Tom Cruise. Michelle found out he was waiting for her in the capital and asked Mr. Tahir to go to him. Now we have a drama to show what happened."

(all actors are the boys with Kamran playing Michelle much to everyone's amusement)
Mr. Tahir - Michelle how are you?Michelle - I'm good. I have a favor to ask you.
Mr. Tahir - No problem, just ask me and we'll see what we can do.
Michelle - You see I have to go to Islamabad. One of my friends is waiting for me there.
Mr. Tahir - Well, who will take your class? I don't know if this is a good idea.
Michelle - Oh please let me go. I really need to meet with this friend.
Mr. Tahir - Ok, you can go.
Michelle - Thanks so much. Bye Bye. (Waving girlishly)

(In Islamabad Tom Cruise paces anxiously in Jinnah Gardens, a popular meeting places for couples)
Tom Cruise - (pacing and talking on the cell phone)
Michelle - (walking into garden) Hello. I am here. How are you?
Tom Cruise - Where have you been? I have been waiting for you for so long.
Michelle - I had to come from Lahore. You know it's five hours away.
Tom Cruise - Nevermind. You are so beautiful. I want to ask you to marry me...
("Tom" goes to kiss "Michelle" who is really another guy)

Both guys laugh in embarrasment. "That's it. We're done." All the girls are cracking up. I'm wondering how old my students are again. Hmm middle school? My response,
Me: "Do you guys know it's illegal to marry your cousin in America?" The class is surprised. "Why?" "Because the more you marry in the same family the higher risk you have of your children having birth defects. People don't think of their cousins in a romantic way in the US. "
The class is shocked. I think 50% or more of them will marry their cousins.
Me: "Do you guys think this scenario is possible?"
Boys: "Well, it's plausible."
Girls: "No. I don't agree. Michelle's not that kind of girl."
"Me too, that's impossible."
"Yeah there's no way."
Another amusing day in LIP....

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