Back when I was in College, I was always short on money. My parents only gave me so much pocket money, and the Snooker place charged by the hour, so I constantly needed more money. Being in College is a little bit like being a compulsive gambler – You always need more money. And so, I hatched several Get-Rick-Quick schemes while in College to get around my chronic poverty
My first major scheme to have any success was re-selling books. I found this shop in Avenue Road that would buy back used Engineering Text books from students, and sell them to the new students for a cheaper price. They would pay only 60 paise to the rupee when buying the book back. But if the Rupee is coming from someone else, the whole 60 paise is profit!
I went and told my dad that I was very interested in learning new things, and wanted money to buy books to expand my ‘horizons of knowledge’. He was suspicious at first, but thought that I’ve turned over a new leaf, and gave me the money. I took the money and bought the books, came home and showed them to my dad. He was impressed that I was finally starting to take this whole education thing seriously. The next day, I went to this shop and sold the books. Profit!!!! Muhahaha….
But this scheme didn’t last long. My Dad started getting suspicious when he noticed that he saw the books only once, and never with me studying them.
My second get rich quick scheme involved ‘Student Assistantships’. Basically the College would pay senior students to help out the Juniors in the Programming Labs. This meant I’d have to actually work, but the money was good. How hard could it be?
Giving out free help, especially to junior college students, is like giving them ‘unlimited popcorn’ coupons at the College Fest – They’ll hang around all day just to get the free popcorn. These juniors asked me so many questions that it drove me crazy!
Junior #1: “…Should I call my variable ‘i’ or ‘j’ ?”
Me (patiently): “Anything, it doesn’t matter!”
Junior #1: “But which one is better?”
Me: “Look. I said whatever you want! Pick ‘j'”
Junior #1: “But I like ‘i’ better”
Junior #2: “..Excuse me, but the Computer says ‘Printer Not Found’. What should I do?”
Me: “THEN SAY SORRY TO THE COMPUTER AND SHOW IT WHERE THE PRINTER IS!”
Junior #2 (talking to the comp): “Hey Mr. Computer, the printer is to the left. My left, that is.” (turns towards me): “…which is the computer’s left hand? Is it like a mirror where it’s inverted or is it like a real person where it’s correct?”
I had to give up this thing because I was scared my Blood Pressure would increase.
My third scheme was by far the most successful – “Programming Contests”. Most Colleges in Bangalore had annual “College Fests” where they’d inevitably also have “Programming Contests”. These things had plenty of scope for lateral thinking – i.e., cheating. My partner in crime for this was this guy, lets call him ‘Udwal’. He was this fast-talking, supremely-confident dude who was an accomplished black-belt in Jargonese. When our programs were up for evaluation during these contests, Udwal and I would shoot out jargon-filled analysis that would convince the judges that we had used cutting edge technologies like ‘Data Mining’ and ‘Machine Learning’ to come up with our programs. This was a good idea, because no one really knows what ‘Data Mining’ and ‘Machine Learning’ is, but are convinced that they exist. This was, by far, the most profitable scheme in my college years.