stories, Uncategorized

I won’t be an engineer now.

A lad just cleared 10th board exams in India.  Probably around 16 years old, he didn’t have any concrete visions or ambitions till then.

In he walks the living room, ready to have his breakfast, when his dad ask him this question:

“Son, now you will enter 11th class.  It’s time to decide your career.  What do you want to become, a doctor or an engineer?”

He had no idea how big this question was.  What the cost would have been.  He simply nodded and said, “I don’t like blood and cutting open things (dissection) so I would go for engineer.”

That’s it.  Fate was sealed.

Stage 1:  The IIT miscarriage.

After that day, he got into a coaching institute who promised rank in JEE.  He was told he would have to study regularly and a lot.  He started studying 12 hours a day.  All day, every day, every night, he just studied.

This went on for 2 years.  Finally, after giving his 12th board exams, he gave the JEE.  Needless to say, he didn’t even get into EML (Extended Merit List).

Devastated, he pledged not to give up.  Oh that stupid foolish guy!

Went to Kota, Rajasthan, the pilgrimage of JEE students.  Started living alone as a paying guest.  Studied day in and day out.

Result:  Same.  Fail.

But got a decent rank in AIEEE (another exam to get into government colleges of engineering).

Stage 2:  The COM-SCI disaster

Now rose the question, which college and branch to choose?  Answer was simple back then:  see for references in the neighborhood, or relations.  Depend on word of mouth.

Long story short, he chose computer science and engineering because

  • his cousin brother took the same in a decent NIT (National Institutes of Technology) and endorsed it.
  • all said bahut scope hai (there’s a lot of scope in this)
  • it was chosen by most brilliant rankers.  (cutoff)

And he packed his bags, travelling 1500 kilometers from his home, joined the NIT for computer science engineering.

Stage 3:  The coding disaster

There’s a funny thing about college life:  it goes on beautifully, no matter how bad your grades fall.  He got in, got good grades initially, till real coding and computer stuff started as courses.  His grades fell, his morals too.  He tried learning but all that seemed so lost to him, like they just wouldn’t stay inside his head.

He tried for 4 years of engineering.  He failed for 4 years.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t the fail in grades, he just failed engineering.  He always was able to get passing grades.  He graduated with average grade points, an average on-campus job.

Stage 4:  The MNC graveyard

He joined the corporation.  Multi billion enterprise, multi nation enterprise, biggest in this, largest in that, 50 years in this and that…..

Here, what he failed to realize was that the tables had turned.  Now if he doesn’t get a code right, he won’t get a scolding from his professor, but from an unknown team lead guy in front of all the employees.  Here it would reflect on his salary, which was surprisingly less… very less.

He began his life.  Twin sharing accommodation, driving around second hand vehicles, eating at street vendors and 20 INR per plate messes.  He was living a lie.  He wasn’t happy.  He wasn’t excited.

He kept on.  First spent time understanding work, then when he couldn’t, he tried managing work with team mates and all.  This went on for quite a while, more than 2 years actually.  But how long could it last?

It ended.  Project change.  New project, expectations were higher than before for him.  He began failing interviews inside the company portals.  He was failing interviews outside too, to a few organizations he applied to.

Finally, he got onto one project.  He had to travel almost 50 kms to the new office everyday, as he couldn’t shift base.  Everyday, 50 kms, in city traffic, for doing something he detested now.

Stage 4:  The revelation

This was indeed a long and disturbing past.  He didn’t share it with anyone.  He just reached that point where he could see clearly.

You see, when there is rock bottom, then fifty feet of crap, and then you, you surprisingly see a more clearer picture.  It is, I can only guess, this time where the person had given up totally on his present life, but not on himself.  So he sees beyond the routine, which is much more difficult to some.

This April 1, he would file his papers for termination from his company.  He told me this without a trace of fear or doubt in his eyes.  I had never seen him that sure while on the job!

He said, “Sometimes we do big mistakes.  And then since they are so big, we then accept them as our fates and spend time covering them.  It’s important to break free from them, I realize now.

I won’t be an engineer now.”


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