the ENGINEER

“Class X in some costly school, simultaneously Sharma institute, then Ramiah, IIT and after going through all this trouble, they throw all this away for an MBA and heavy money…Why do you need such exquisite education if u’r primary motive is money, there are several other ways to do that”…her eyes glared as she spoke in a distinct, morose tone…she really meant it. I’ve known her since like the last ice age, kind of, but never have I seen her so commanding yet flummoxed. I knew, she was going through the phase where she had to decide, a phase that every one of us ‘engineers’ goes through. But this decision is very easy for some of us…

I ask – “So IIM?” they say –“ob ra”(I got the spaces right this time :D) and some say – “GRE is just a backup, I have always aimed for IIM so CAT is the main challenge”, they say with confidence. Me- “that is utter bullshit; a technical course as a backup for a management degree? It is one thing to be undecided and a completely different thing to think of the listener as a fool – The last time I checked I wasn’t crazy…so I bet you are”, but the facebook conscious me in me screams… “Buddy, I never forced you to make any friends but I beg you don’t buy me new enemies”, hence my silence continues.

So why is she so stressed about that decision? Why isn’t it ‘ob’ for her? The struggle behind making this decision worried me more than her decision itself. I decided to probe it. She felt responsible for what she learnt and what she made of that learning. I was never much of an engineering guy anyways; C got to me very early in my endeavour. Even then I must admit, when Madhu spoke of things, things that sounded very empirical the engineer in me was excited.

“Girls have a bigger problem”, she said “After the age of 21, they are considered as some toxic material that has to be cleaned up as soon as possible, if not they are thought to be hazardous to the common man’s home”. I said “C’mon, you have to look at the family situation also” (take my advice, when a girl is emotional, never…I mean NEVER hurt her sentiments). “Don’t talk as if you know, do you know what kind of torture a girl goes through? Education, aspirations, future plans, ambitions, love, fear…finally after everything you are treated as if all this education and all these years they’ve cared for u is only for this one thing called marriage! ” and a pause…a long silence…Can’t argue with that. I heard a senior of mine was recently married, immediately after graduation, may she be at peace :|.

A few days back I got a call from Madhu .Discussions swayed and there were some words that I’d never forget – “I want to serve my society; I want to use my education, my experience, my cognition to work for the underprivileged. Have you ever seen the eyes of those young kids on the streets, Kalyan? It’s not that they don’t want books or clothes or such things. It’s just that they can’t get them! We must do everything within our capabilities to make them better!” And I asked…No CAT, no GRE? “I don’t say that, one must pursue his passion, not the money behind it”  “What if the passion is money? I interfered. “It is ephemeral, it won’t stay long. Everyone one needs to use his education, the gifts that have been passed onto him to do good, to himself and the society. I am an engineer Kalyan, you know what an engineer is? He is a person who uses scientific knowledge to solve practical problems.  I’m graduating from probably the best engineering university in the country and I’m proud of it. I don’t want to throw away all of this away and do something else…I want to be an engineer…I want to use my skills to help the people” The network died out and left me in deep thought. We haven’t spoken in a while now, thanks to my ‘busy’ psenti sem. And she faces the task of choosing her future in a few weeks from now. She is from a financially moderate family. A girl, one of her kind…torn between family and interests rather ambitions of her self. Her life, her aims, her ambitions all are set to take a new turn in the next few weeks. Whatever she does, I’m confident that attitude she sports will take her to the right places. She is a true engineer, a very few I’ve known and come to respect!

Though I’m really excited to know what she will do, I’m equally worried. Not for her, but for us – engineers, where are we heading to? What are we seeking? And what will become of us? We were the lucky lot of the nation, and have turned it upside down for our irrational want of comforts and pleasures. Games, movies, series, crap and bullshit…4 years done. Now what? the mere thought sends chills down my spine. Time to wake up and set things right. Let’s be what we were meant to be. Let’s live upto the tag which we worked so hard for.  A certain Steve Jobs once said “the people who actually change the world are those who are crazy enough to say that they can”. We can! Coz we are ENGINEERS!

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5 thoughts on “the ENGINEER

  1. intruding and thought provoking indeed…
    but i think the idea of seeing skills acquired in one field of study as non transferable into another field as rather naive…

    from around 300 b.c to around 1900 a.d. (time when the industrialization really started dominating all other sectors) most of the great names you read never stuck to a single field(i wouldn’t ridicule them for that)….they at will transferred their acquired skills ubiquitously….

    guess the specialist attitude in us engineers kills us for seeing anything apart from M.Tech as the most appropriate option..

    i do think there is a reason why people from engineering background tend to excel in other fields too, while it is difficult for a students from aesthetically richer background to readily do so ( i am statistically correct here )…probity on these lines could be far more revealing and perhaps could make the choice relatively simpler and reveling………………..

    1. Hi ssh,
      Firstly I thank you for taking your time to write this comment. It was a good one. With ur comment I could probably clarify a few ideas which might have been mystified otherwise.
      Secondly, as you mentioned – skills acquired in one field are indeed employable in other fields – I do know what DaVincci was capable of. But the point I intended to drive home was DaVincci dint do it for money.He did it because he loved it. I see many people thoughtlessly throwing away their interests and their previous education for some seemingly greener pastures. What does a guy with a pharmacy backrground have to do with IBM? I know im speaking only of a few sect of people, but my worry is this sect is growing at an appalling rate. It would be foolish of me to remind you of the number of engineers who try to break into the civil services looking for better “career opportunities”. You do know it. And statistically, these guys are doing better than the ones who might have been well equipped – both morally and technically to be a better civil servant. All I’m saying, rather asking of my fellow mates is to be true to themselves, whatever they choose to become and also to look at the society as they grow. 🙂

      1. fair enough…..
        i may be wrong as this is not my strong area but I do think that people do this because of herd mentality….like did u ever feel the adjacent line in the parking ticket lot moving faster than urs…you feel like jumping…the pasture on the other side of the bank always seems more greener than the one we stand on….hypermetropia perhaps

        no arguments against following your heart thou…

  2. hey kalyan…very relevant and interesting post! Since u quoted Steve Jobs, I’d like to add wat he said, which inspired me very deeply- “don’t be misled by dogmas. Don’t let the voice of society drown out ur inner voice..listen to ur heart and intuition..they somehow already know what you want to be. And until you find that passion of urs, keep looking; don’t settle”. (Mayb not exactly this, bt this is the essence).
    The root cause of all this confusion in every 21-yr-old is because of the norms that society imposes on us. An MBA is venerable, but an M.A is not. Why? because MBA is the way to money (that is supposed to bring happiness). But, ironically, people have unhappy lives even while earning big bucks. The reason- its not their passion, they did it because their friends are doing it.

    Also, education is being increasingly treated as a commodity. You study in order to acquire relevant skills. For ex, most of us believe that getting a good package is the ultimate justification of 4-yr-long engineering degree. And if don’t end up with one, its the end of life. OMG! our education system is so abysmal that it produces engineers, but not people with self-confidence, conviction and courage.

    I deeply appreciate your friend and to a lot of extent, her views resonate with mine. What she spoke about girls is very true. All that talk about feminism comes to a naught, because our families themselves refuse to change. Modernity doesn’t come from the clothes we wear or the languages we talk, but from the way we think- in a progressively and broadminded way. And definitely, I’m not violating any of India’s so-called great cultures and customs. India, definitely has a long way to go- first, reforming its thought-process about its girls and careers; reforming its education system.

    And only then, I can say, India has finally arrived.
    This is the bigger picture of the dilemmas you have highlighted.
    Hope my comment doesn’t seem like a blog post in itself!

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