Sunday, May 4, 2008

being civil is no good!

circa - somewhere in the early 90s. like any above-average i.q son of a middle class man in chennai, i too had to choose between two career paths. a- becoming a doctor, b- engineering. biology was a subject i hated, so it was hobson's choice. with time it metamorphosed into an ambition.

circa 1996. i flunked jee, and the gates to the mecca of engineering were closed for me. in spite of good scores in the 12th exam, I could not get a 'free-seat'* in any of the top engineering colleges in tamil nadu. reason - i was an academic outcast of the tamilnadu education system on two counts. first : the cbse tag, second : i belong to section of population whose ancestors misinterpreted the vedic varna system.

I was left with the ambition and zero admits!

nowhere to go, and the thought of burdening appa's monthly middle-class budget with the expenses of a 'payment seat'** was playing on my mind. i was now desperately trying to figure out options in other states and union territories.

i stumbled upon the entrance exam conducted by P.E.C (pondicherry engineering college). did pretty well in the entrance test. but, quota had another quota to play in my life. this time it was pondicherry resident quota.

in the words of the the admission committee, "congrats! you have a very good score. we can give you only civil as you are a non-resident of pondy."

though i did not desire to be civil-ised***, this chance appeared as the last hay of hope tying me to my ambition. i decided to go for it.

after the decision was made, i was back in chennai with a wee-bit of sense of achievement and loads of happiness.

as part of the prep work to leave for the new world, i went to mount road to shop with my uncle. enroute to a shop near tarapore towers, we ran into a friend of uncle, o.-something. from his looks uncle's friend o (u.f.o) looked educated.

after initial exchange of pleasantries, the two friends got into a banter.

suddenly my uncle decided to do some peela (show-off) by introducing his to-be-engineer marumaan (nephew).

uncle started, "hey! meet karthik."

u.f.o to me, "hello karthik!".

I smiled back.

"you know what! karthik is going for engineering. he has chosen p.e.c. ", declared my uncle.

"chosen? ", i said loudly to myself. i was continuing my smile though.

"oh! pondicherry engineering-a", cried out the excited u.f.o. "super-ba! congrats", he continued. his face lit up like a thousand watts tube. the customary question followed, "what branch?".

"civil!", i said.

the answer pulled the plug on the tube. u.f.o's face shrunk, and he retorted in a derogatory tone, "...seeee-villll-aa...". He made 'civil' sound like the longest word in english.

my smile dried up. as i was groping for an answer, i was hoping that the man-hole behind him would pop out its corporation lid, and consume the anti-civil fellow.

as no such miracle happened, u.f.o continued, "couldn't you at the least get an instrumentation or mechanical seat?"

i do not remember the rest of the conversation. but to this day i have not forgotten the shrunken face, the tone and the pronunciation that was used to echo my branch name!

*free seat - a misnomer to denote an engineering seat that comes at a non-exorbitant amount.

**payment seat- a term used in tamil nadu education system where a seat is acquired by an individual in self-financing engineering college by paying a lump-sum. a little portion goes to the government exchequer, and the rest to the college. this is not the end-all of the fees that the individual pays to the college. the college is given multiple degrees of freedom to demand for more fees, with sky being the limit. i always felt such colleges should be called 'student-financing', and not 'self-financing'.

*** this was not an era where the equation [ engineer = software engineer ] held good. where ? can be computer, electronics, electrical, mechanical, civil, nothing, something, anything, balderdash.


catcharun said...

wow..amazing stuff da, current..i would like to see more in this tone. loved the sarcasm and the manhole

passer by said...

96, sounds ancient..loved it..

on a lighter note you should have told him..whoever made the human body was also a civil engineer; who else runs a sanitary line through recreational area :)

shyam said...

too much....really njoid the tone and amazing seeevilllaaa.. :)..actually wonderful description..literally the scene was infront of my eyes....keep it coming..wud luv to see lots...wats circa..btw ?

Badhri said...

You would have been a good Evil-minded Civil Engineer were thinking like one ..when your mind was racing through the fascinating man-hole that would swallow your foes.

Durai said...

really good one. enjoyed the read. seevillaa.. :-)

current said...

thanks for your comments.

@shyam - circa denotes approximate date usually in the past.

Fark said...

top stuff!

Ahhh nostalgia and fear and a good dose of comedy drilled in there! Beads of perspiration on my forehead and what not , thinking of those days! hehe

Few thoughts in retrospect:

1. Why on GOD's GREEN/BROWN/BLUE earth did i NOT opt for a different field - like arts and design! Argh!!!

2. Why did i NOT ask that uncle in response what HE did in life!

Fido said...

Nice one .. Flew back a few years in imagination to that day.. when quota played in many people's life (including me) ...and left me stranded with the question (Dote 'ah' illai note 'ah')...
After saturating the government affiliated institution it has gone is search of new markets ( IIT, IIM, also called emerging markets for it)...
Wish someone somewhere has a Thota for thsi Quota...

Hahahaha said...

super. u brought the whole scene into my eyes. especially when saying "..seeevilllaaa..".

still this is the same case now also.

Senthil Krishna said...

super. u brought the whole scene into my eyes. especially when saying "..seeevilllaaa..".

still this is the same case now also.

Srini said...

Like the blog. Keep writing.

If every one is aspiring to get a job in computers, is there a point to have various branches in engineering? Atleast they can shrink non-computer branches by 50% (for those who are fasinated with that branch) and add those seats in computers. Any one agrees to this in concept?

current said...

right now there is a heavy demand for software engineers. increasing the number of computer seats in colleges makes sense as a short term solution and benefit.

but one must not forget that the demand is from services and outsourcing industry. this demand is volatile.

stress must be made on making indigenous discoveries and inventions. this should be in computers and other engineering fields.

Inigo Fernando said...

hee hee hee
good one
i enjoyed pulling the plug part:-)

Fun with Boredom said...

I am dyin to get in tuch wit u, readin dis blog f urs...
i want ur e-mail ID for sure
pls add me in ur gtalk,
tho am 7 yrs ur junior, ur history repeated itself in my form
DAV CBSE - scrwd JEE - crescent(tho' had PEC, n not seeeviill); no free n payment in my era, pay ment had jus gt scrapped n free fees = erstwhile payment; ambitions intact -> CAT MBA @ SP Jain, mumbai -> recession 2009 passout, managed to get a job in campus n here nw I am bloggin
this post is about my JEE, engg experience :) lookin fwd fr ur comments :)