Earlier in this series: The Silicon Classification
Kids, when you are pursuing an engineering degree from the premier technology college in the country, life is not really a bed of roses; and mind you I am not alluding to academics. Think of it, you are just a normal nerd one day, just another happy good for nothing kid…and then you crack JEE…whoosh….suddenly people start seeing reflections of the next Einstein, Newton, Bose in you. You find yourself sucked into a web of expectations like a hapless insect, who found the silk too alluring. All of a sudden, your parents seem to suffer from selective amnesia, forget your name (which they themselves gave you) and start introducing you as, “IIT me hai…mera beta hai…” No name, no nonsense. The uncle next door who always hated you more than Lord Voldemort ever hated Harry, suddenly has a change of heart. Now, instead, his daughter starts hating you cuz he would always taunt her saying, “use dekho….tumhaari umar ka hai…IIT me admission ho gaya. Sharmaji bata rahe the 1 lakh ki scholarship bhi mili hai…..garv se phoole nahi samaa rahe the….aur ek tum ho donation dekar IP college me correspondence me admission karwaya hai. Main toh kehta hoon yeh padhaai likhaai ka dhong chhod kar ghar ke kaam-kaaj par dhyaan do….” As if, we the romantically challenged IITians needed girls to have more reasons to hate us.
But that is not all. The biggest problem is the people’s inability to differentiate between an engineer (and a computer engineer at that) and a mechanic. If the fan is not working and you can not repair it, well then what good is your engineering degree? Just theory. Rote-learning. Oh, the fuse has blown off. You don’t know how to put it back in place, but the guy next door (whose dad happens to be an electrician) knows. He is a practical man, a man of the world, who can solve his problems on his own. And while he proudly repairs the fuse, you can only look at him and wonder if the colour code of the wires is right (cuz that’s all you know). This problem is more aggravated by the simple fact that your dad (yes, I’ll skip the sobriquet superdad, just once here) did his majors in Mathematics. So, I had to face a lot of these conversations:
Dad: IIT me hai…mera beta hai.
Relative/ Neighbour/ Random guy on the road who happened to ask time (let’s call him X) :Good. Kis branch me hai?
Dad: Mathematics and Computing.
X: Mathematics??? Yeh kaisi engineering hai?? IIT kaunse wala??? aajkal har gali me engg. college khul gaye hain…bhole bhaale logo ko paagal banaate hain.
And my dad would give me the look as if the stranger had just told him that I was gay.
But, I think somewhere these people were right. Your superdad might have had the most extra-ordinary mathematical skills but when it came to practical life, he was often found wanting. I won’t say that I am colour-blind but my faculties are more or less limited to the three primary colours RGB, white and black. So, I find it extremely difficult to distinguish red from maroon and pink from magenta. And as regards the subtleties and nuances of mauve and fawn colours, the lesser said the better. As such, I always have to be very conscious while paying compliments to the girls in my life.
Me: You are looking very pretty today. This color really suits you.
She: Thank You. But that day also, I was wearing purple and you didn’t like it.
Me: Purple? Is that even a color?
She: What color do you think this is?
Me (realizing that I have got myself entangled in a chakravyuha from which there is no way out; sheepishly): Purple, right. I just got a little confused between purple and maroon.
She(almost giggling): Show me who is wearing maroon here in the restaurant?
Me (after looking around 360 degrees): I love you.
She (laughing): Why is there a cut on your left cheek? Don’t tell me you shaved again today.
Yes, kids. While your superdad knew all the principles and equations of force by heart, he never learned how much pressure one has to apply while shaving. There is not a millimeter on my face which I didn’t cut before I finally retired and started going to the barber. It’s not that I didn’t try. I tried everything, be it straight razor, double-edged razors, single edge, injector razors, cartridge razors or disposable razors; soap, cream, gel or foam; but my precision and accuracy was always enviable. What more should I say but that on the days when I shaved, my father would introduce me as, “College me hai….padhai chal rahi hai abhi.” No IIT, no son.