Friday, 31 October 2014

The Origin of Coffee Gas

When I was a student I used to feel like puking whenever some teachers and elders used to say, “Students life is a golden life.”  There is nothing golden about it when we were student -the morning studies, the prayers, the assembly, the cleanings and preparing for the countless exams were so boring.
But when we look back now, it was indeed so golden; even the incident like bullying and getting bullied remains etched in the corners of our mind that it becomes hard to forget. (But I was never a bully despite having a body of a Rambo when I really stress hard..haha)
It was the first class on the first day of the Paro High School that we were taken to the chemistry lab for a practical. The chemistry teacher, who looked so cute with lots of hair on the chin and no hair on the temple, started the experiment by putting sugar in test tube and started to burn it on the Bunsen burner. At same time he was asking a question in a typical Karellian accent.

 “What is the gas produced? Aeh?”
The class was silent.  The question was repeated again with some elaboration and hint.
 “What is the gas produced? While burning sugar? Can u see a colourless, odourless gas coming out?”  (How the hell can we see a colourless  gas, thought I)
Regarding the odour there seems to be a smell like that of coffee oozing and filling the whole class. (Try burning sugar and you will get that odour). I prompted a friend next to me to say coffee gas. He burst into smile and did not say it loud. The teacher was eyeing us and I had no choice than to say the answer aloud myself. So I said.
 “COFFEE GAS sir”
The whole class burst into laughter except one and that happened to be the chemistry teacher. The neatly covered bald temple seems to redden and I regretted for trying to crack a joke a little too soon, without knowing the temperament of a teacher. All the scolding that came after that fell into a silent class and into the deafened ear mine due to embarrassment and fear. I can see pity in the eyes of some of my classmates because they had a feeling that I was a simple student from some remote part of the country posted there.
“Water vapour sir”
Someone said from some corner of the class and that diverted the attention of the teacher from me.
“Yes, water vapour. Good. When you burn the sugar, water vapour is produced.” The teacher said.
Until this day, no requirement arose for me to produce water vapour from burning sugar. But that experiment did give me a name, thanks to couple of my friends who christened me right after that incident – coffee gas. The very thing that I wanted to forget became unforgettable like getting tattooed in the form of a nick name. It is a unique name and I accepted it, after it followed me in Sherubtse College too because so many students from Paro High School got qualified to join there.
Even now when people say “Who Sonam Wangchuk?” I explain it in one word – Coffee.
Reconciliation with the teacher was easy. I studied hard and stood second in chemistry; second, even after putting a hell lot of effort because chemistry was never my favorite subject. However after that the teacher seems to have forgotten the incident and liked me like any other students and even more, because I never uttered or tried to answer a question for just prank sake thereafter.