Wednesday, May 04, 2005

B.E. positive

My exams are over. My undergraduate courses are complete. If I pass these two papers I've written, I'll be Arvind Chandrasekhar, B.E. Four years, 60 courses and about 1110 bus journeys to get two letters after my name. Cool.

People tend to be very disparaging about an engineering education. "What's the big deal?" says a student of literature. "Herd mentality, I say. Herd mentality," proclaims a professor of commerce with a sorrowful shake of his head. "Far too many engineers. B.E. has no value at all!" puts forth a maami at a vegetable market.

Crap. An engineering education has given me far more than I ever expected. Read on. Please.

What has been the purpose of my college education, as charted out by good old Anna University? To make me a responsible citizen, an ethical human being and a qualified technical engineer who can contribute to the growth and development of my society and the human race at large. WRe nwlsmg;s shdslk hgn dslfg. I'm sorry, I couldn't see what I was typing through my tears of laughter. (I'm sure my co-Anna U mates will be rolling on the floor, clutching their sides and beating on the ground, laughing hysterically.)

OK, seriously, what have I learnt? Have the past four years been of any use? I say a clear, resounding (turn up your speaker volume), unambiguous, unmistakable, running-out-of-applicable-adjectives YES! I am now trained to pursue not just a career in a technical field, but any of the following...

1. Xerox operator
A wise Chinese philosopher once said, "To stroke an elephant's forehead, you must first stroke its trunk." His son later said, "My dad was right." That, however, is of no relevance here. A wise Japanese Xtreme skateboarding champion once said, "Watching is learning." Having closely watched more papers being photocopied than girls doing anything (hard to believe, but true!) over the last four years, I am a master of the xerox game. All I need is a machine and confusing Anna U textbook guidelines, and the money will pour in... Clever marketing (All paper types xeroxed! Give one paper, get two!) and pricing (28 paise per side. 25 if you bring your own paper.) will make me a millionaire. I hope to learn all these things at IIMA.

2. Professional athlete/biker
So I've watched the photocopying process. Why was I there in the first place, you ask? Well, taking a photocopy of portions you didn't know existed until the very last minute (read the day before the exam) is a well documented aspect of B.E. lore. Running, cycling, biking or driving in the sweltering heat or pouring rain, battling heavy winds and suicidal/homicidal auto drivers and pedestrians, on all types of roads (tarred roads, mud roads, no roads) has elevated my skill levels to that of a pro. Factor in running about for ODs and no-due certificates (Aside: What certificate would be issued by the Coca Cola company? No Dew!) and I'm Maurice Green and Haile Gebreselassie rolled in one.

3. Bus driver
Again, watching is learning. And what have I learnt? That the primary qualification to drive buses for an engineering college is that you have to be above 55, hard of hearing and must have a rich vocabulary of abusive words to hurl at errant students, bewildered pedestrians and the omnipresent auto drivers. Pension funds be damned, I'm gonna work in my old age. Vroom!

4. Secret agent
What's so secret about a secret agent? I can't tell you! (Bowing, drinking in the applause and reveling in the shower of roses) A large part of a secret agent's job (apart from blowing things up and bedding every alternate women he comes across) is to do things while ensuring that he's not being watched. Skulking around and all that. Shadowing, even. He/ she may also have to send coded messages back to base, investigate, eavesdrop, read private letters, and try to get as much info as possible from limited resources. B.E. to the rescue! Sneaking around the campus, hoping one won't be caught by a righteous and unbending prof. Charting plans to get out of class unnoticed. Sending Secret Messages and Stuff (SMS) in the middle of class. Passing chits. Using ones ocular skills to the utmost during 'test'ing times. And, of course, slyly pumping the lecturer for the test questions. Last heard, MI6 is recruiting people from my college.

5. Adventure sports dude
The experience gained out of repeatedly climbing long flights of stairs for the silliest of reasons is unbelievable. I still don't believe it. One can't find better hiking in the Himalayas. Also, trekking across the burning sands under an unforgiving sun to get to the bus stop is ideal training for anyone intending to embark on a trans-Saharan journey. For those who get their thrills from near-death experiences, try footboard travel on buses plying on National Highway 4. The wind in your hair, sand in your eyes, grit in your mouth and Yama tapping your shoulder... Your walk on the wild and adventurous side of life begins at an engineering college.

6. Negotiator
Squeezing just one mark more out of a sadistic examiner. Convincing the forbidding class counselor to grant one just another coupla days of OD. Trying to get out of having to pay a fine of a thousand bucks at the library. Inducing the office staff to get off their backsides and actually do some constructive work. Again, pumping lecturers for questions... all this makes one such an awesome negotiator and tactician, you'll have terrorists eating out of your hand.

7. Torture machine tester
Having sat through what seems like gazillions of classes over the course of the last four years, I can confidently say this - Nothing gets worse than it. Chinese torture? I laugh at it. Breaking my knuckles? Pooh! Tying me up and tickling me with a peacock feather? Huh, child's play to resist it... It's no laughing matter (unless one is laughing at Chinese torture) that I've survived so many hours of boring classes and sickening tests. An engineering education hardens you from within. Recent studies show that during the recent India-Pak matches, those running about on the streets pulling their hair out in large tufts and babbling wildly as a result of listening to Kris Srikkanth's Hindi (Kar lo duniya mutthi mein hai!) were almost exclusively non-engineers. The clever B.E. chaps, fortified by education, met the linguistic and aural abuse face-on, and did not succumb. A later report by a commission headed by a retired High Court judge claims this was because their advanced technical training helped them find and press the 'mute' button on the remote. More news on this is expected shortly.

Please don't mob me, presspersons. I have time for just one more question. Yes, you in the green bowtie and fluorescent pink pants.

Press chap: AC, what is the one thing you think you have learnt the most from the entire experience?

Well, the most important thing I have learnt in the last four years has to be the value and beauty of friendship. (Come on people, all together now... AWWWWW!). I've met some awesome people... sniff... Had some great times, super fun, lots of memories. Read this very nice piece by Vetri, my classmate.

I'm looking forward to the future... it looks bright coz the sun's behind me.


Anonymous said...

".....than girls doing anything'....WHAT DO U MEAN? GIRLS DO NO WORK ?....and yes a choice of engineering education is a good example of herd behaviour

AC said...

Ahhh... going back and reading it, I realise it's open to misinterpretation... What I meant was this: The fact that I've spent more time watching photocopying activity than watching girls might seem unbelieveable to some.

Sorry about that! :)

Vel said...