An Idiot’s Guide to Engineering

(NOTE: This is my HT column, dated 10th Jan 2010. I’ve posted it here because the HT website doesn’t seem to have a permalink for this particular piece, and it bothers me if I miss out on the opportunity to demand your attention.)


Before I begin, I must offer due credit to Chetan Bhagat, or else he may just do something drastic, like write another book.

Now before you Bhagat fans send me angry e-mails replete with words such as ‘elitist’, ‘ignorant’ and ‘biased’ – all of which you will misspell – let me just clarify that I’m an Idiot. By ‘Idiot’, I mean I’m a qualified telecom engineer who saw no point in being a frustrated slave in the tech world, and instead, chose to be a frustrated slave in the media.

I’ve come across many questions raked up by the media after the release of 3 Idiots – pertinent questions such as “Does the film trivialise higher education?”, “Does it encourage ragging?” and most importantly, “Who is Shahid Kapur sleeping with?” (Is it Chetan Bhagat?)

No, seriously, many, including journalists, seem to be concerned about Chopra and Co. performing ‘mutravisarjan’ on our education system. But honestly, journos don’t really care about students. They’re busy with more vital tasks, such as inviting Shobhaa De to their studios and then trying to guess her age.

Therefore, I’ve taken it upon myself to answer some common questions about engineering. Let’s start:

Q.) What does it take to become an engineer?

A.) Alcohol. Lots of it.

Q.) Do engineering colleges actually drive kids to suicide?

A.) Yes. In fact, I wanted to shoot myself when I realised that I had less facial hair than the girls in my college.

Q.) Where did you study engineering?

A.) In local trains, on the way to the exam centre.

Q.) What is the one word that defines Mumbai University?

A.) That would have to be ‘Nostalgia.’ This is because a good chunk of the first year is spent in learning skills such as carpentry, welding and sheet-metal work, as a tribute to the glorious era when engineers actually had to do manual labour, as opposed to now, when manual labour involves craning one’s neck above the cubicle to check out that hottie in HR.

Q.) On another note, MNCs have said that many engineers lack basic communication skills…

A.) False. It’s just that engineers converse in geek-speak, which most managers are unable to comprehend because their brains are too busy concocting jargon such as ‘incentivizing’, ‘dynamic synergising’ and the most offensive of all, ‘Let’s touch base.’

Q.) What do you mean by geek-speak?

A.) Well, an engineer may say something like, “Check out the Gaussian curves on that babe!”

Q.) Yuck. Moving on, the portrayal of professors in ‘3 Idiots’ as ignorant and pedantic was hugely exaggerated, right?

A.) I know of a professor who insisted that ‘forty’ was spelt ‘fourty’. He argued with my friend DURING an exam, ordering him to rewrite his roll number (which was Forty Thousand-something) with a ‘Fourty’, or else he wouldn’t accept his answer sheet. So yes, you were saying…?

Q.) Never mind. Have you ever peed on a professor’s door, as shown in the movie ‘3 Idiots’?

A.) Are you talking about that incident ages ago, when a hypothetical group of drunken guys sneaked into a hypothetical college at 2 a.m, and hypothetically peed on a certain door? I know nothing about that.

Q.) Oh come on. Tell us the truth.

A.) As the erudite Vidhu Vinod Chopra once said, “Just SHUTAAAPPP!!!”


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