[Story] My Son will be an Engineer

My Son will be an Engineer

So you could not get into Civil or Mechanical branches?” the man asked.

I stared at the man for a long moment, barely able to control my temper. This was getting too much for me. Why on Earth would I ever want to “get into” Civil or Mechanical Engineering? I have loved computers ever since I was introduced to them!

Okay, so a little background story. It was Chhat Puja day. Traffic was very congested, and as we had classes till 4.30 pm, by the time we had arrived at the bus stand, all the buses had gone. Some of us friends decided to walk to Jalukbari to board buses. I had actually hoped to get a trekker (for the uninitiated, it is kind of a share-taxi), but had to board a bus as I could not find a single trekker. So I got into this bus, where some of my friends were already seated, and I took the seat beside them. Beside me sat a middle-aged man, probably in his 50’s. This is where my story begins.

The man asked me, “Girijananda? Girijananda Engineering College? (sic)”

I replied, “No. Gauhati University.

– “What course? What course?

– “Engineering. B.Tech.

– “What course?” he repeated.

– “B.Tech. Engineering.

– “Engineering? At Gauhati University?

I paused for a while. Many people aren’t aware that Gauhati University has an engineering course, and when we say that we are pursuing engineering at Gauhati University located at Jalukbari, they often mistake it for Assam Engineering College, also located at Jalukbari (though accessible via a different route). It is not their fault though; GU very rarely publicizes its courses, and as it is a new division (opened in 2009), it is not very widely known.

– “Yes. Gauhati University.” I replied.

– “Is it the same as any other engineering?” he asked.

Whoa! What does he mean?

– “Yes.

– “Like IIT?

– “Yes.

– “IIT?” The man had a very irritating habit of repeating questions.

– “Yes!

– “AEC?

– “YES!!

– “You can go for further studies after studying here?

– “Of course yes!

– “You can do M.Tech?

– “Yes!!” Damn!

– “Ph.D?

– “Yes!” At this point I was wondering whether it would be a good idea to stick a sign stating “Yes! I can!” on  my face.

Silence. I was relieved. At least the guy understood things, and would now leave me in peace. Or so I thought.

– “What subject are you studying?” Here he goes again.

– “Computer Science.

– “What subject?” Repeat.

– “Computer Science!!

– “Is there a Civil Branch there?

– “No.

– “Mechanical?

– “No. There are Computer Science, IT, Electronics and Biotechnology branches.

– “So no Civil or Mechanical?

– “No.

– “But these are the most preferred subjects!

I was aghast! “Preferred subjects”? What “preferred subjects”??

– “What do you mean by preferred subjects?

My friend chipped in from the other side. “In IITs, Computer Science is the preferred subject.

Now there! Easy!

I responded, both to the man and my friend, “There is no concept of a preferred subject, not in the context you are stating.

– “But most people —” he began, but I cut him short.

– “If you seek to study a subject only because it offers more jobs, then I’m sorry, your concept is totally wrong. Job is not the only criterion why you want to learn a subject. If you don’t have interest in a subject, why study?

– “You could not get into Civil or Mechanical branches?

– “But why would I? I have always loved computers and I like studying it. Why would I go into other branches?

Silence.

At this point, I began to wonder whether many parents all over the country feel the same: that getting into a “preferred branch” at a top engineering college guarantees their son/daughter a better life; whether they actually want to study that subject is not the concern. A “preferred branch” is a branch which gives more jobs. Wonder whether they think like “My son will be an engineer. Don’t care what engineer. But an engineer.” Which is why, probably many unwilling students are forced into engineering against their will, or are simply taught that “An Engineering degree is the Holy Grail of one’s life.”What happens later, well, nobody cares.

Well, now, I was curious as to what professional circle the man belonged to. I assumed he was not that educated, as an educated person wouldn’t have talked the way he did.

– “May I ask what do you do for a living? What is your profession?

– “Me?

– “Yes you.

– “I am a doctor. I have a chamber at Kamakhya Gate.

Oh boy! A highly-educated person thinking that way? Disgusting!

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Prasun Paul

Works at IBM, blogger, presently serving Creativica as an author.

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