Thursday, April 29, 2010

How (wo)man maketh an engineer!

After enormous analysis, we found that that my final year project was more of a computer architecture based project and not quite DSP as we thought initially. But it being a po-ta-to, po-tah-to difference, let us not dwell on it further. My role in the project team , took a sudden upturn when the job of documentation fell on my head. Only then, I realised that I hated the word "Alignment' more than anything else in the English language.

After 6 rough drafts and hanging around the HOD's office for 5 hours, we were cradling our absolutely stunning thesis in our hands. I came back to my room drenched from the sweat that the 37 degrees outside blessed me with.

I switched on the fan , only to switch it off an instant later. Because it screeched like a mother of God Banshee. It is very hard to describe the vile sound, but it made the hair on the back of your neck stand electrified. It is the legendary sound that French would have used to polish people off, had guillotine not been invented.

At the moment the world looked bleaker than ever for the fan was the fountain of my happiness. It was with the fan, I strutted around and infuriated my fellow CITians in the boys hostel on how posh and luxurious our place is.

As ever, it was a work for stupendous man. I rolled up my non -existent sleeves and pulled up the chair on to the bed and climbed over the wobbly dangerous blade. My resourceful room-mate who sleeps under that particular fan pleaded me not to fiddle it, as the fear of the fan falling on her head would be a bigger torture than the absence of it.

I knew the solution was coconut oil, but I couldn't quite imagine where it had to go. I tested the fan trying to locate where the sound came from. There seemed to be a hairline crack in the place the blades were fixed, and I presumed the oil would drip down the interiors where I imagined some kind of ball bearing mechanism to be.

I poured a generous amount of "Parachute" carefully and switched on the the fan.

It felt like it was raining grime. A cocktail of cobwebs, grime and coconut oil splattered on me and my room mate who had just come out taking a shower after she had been targeted by the college crows. There was oil all over the walls. Last time I had seen such a mess was when my mother tried to make "seedai" at our home and all of those "seedai"s exploded on to the walls. The screeching was at its peak like fingernails on the blackboard.

What does one do while in a fix? Google. And bingo, there was a wiki page instructing us how to repair a screeching fan page. We pumped our hands gleefully in air, and looked at it.

This was those rare moments when you had to acknowledge Murphy more than anyone else in the world!

The page refused to load and stopped at the first instruction
"Switch off the fan and wait for blades to stop"

My room mate looked at me and said "See? I told you! You aren't supposed to fiddle with it!"

If Google fails a person, it is time to call the father. My father is an expert on "Coconut oil and its application", enough to publish paper, as for centuries, coconut oil has solved most of the problems in my family.

He asked me to unscrew the cup like portion carefully and look for a shiny rod, which he told me was a part of the ball bearing mechanism. I followed it, perched precariously on the chair. He then asked me to pour the eternal panacea over the rod.

Losing faith in the coconut oil, I wanted something with a higher Reynold's number. My eyes fell on the "Close up" tube lying on the table. I asked whether it would do the trick, my father was outraged that his offspring should come up with such dumb idea. He told me that the tooth paste would perhaps short circuit and make the fan burn or do something equally egregious. Now that pouring the oil was a bigger problem as I couldn't tilt the fan so much to pour it over. So I take up a spoon fit the edge in one of the groove and pour oil through the spoon which again became enormously messy.

I came down and with a bated breath, I switched on the fan.

There was a splatter of a bigger blob of slime this time. And before my heart sank, I realised that my powers of hearing had returned. There was quietude. The birds chirped; The lark was on its wing; The snail was on its thorn; And ALL was jolly well with the world again.

These are the times when one "chooses" to play engineer!

Off I go now to read for my "Parallel Recursive Convolution based on recursive formulations of block pseudo circulant matrices" viva tomorrow. And that folks, is the official end of Under Graduation!


Anonymous said...

LOL! :) Hilarious post!

RamNarayanS said...

That was fun. :-) :-) 2-3 hours aachcha, oiling the fanukku. WD-40 ellaam vaangi vekkaradhillaiyaa? :-) :-) (looks like coconut oil is your WD-40)

You have had some janma saabalyam 'choosing' to be an engineer and in the meantime gave some 'ennai kuliyal' to the room and those in it. :-D

Pora pohkka paaththa close-up pasteukku pudhu use ellaam kandu pidippeenga pola. :) (Reynolds number low => more viscous, illayaa?)

vivaல வையாம இருந்தாங்களா? (couldn't resist that mokkai) The project name itself sounds like someone abusing another.:-)

All izz well!!!

Uttara Ananthakrishnan said...

Er, what is WD-40? sounds like external hard drive :D

Now I suddenly have a doubt about Reynolds number. Or is it Stokes?!

Oh, viva was owe-some. If you have lived in the age of 2005-2010 engineering college, you will have come across the names " Kandasamy Lilavati Gunavati" as a Maths book :D

The Gunavati was our external examiner. We had a one and a half hour session.. Apparently she teaches advanced signal processing and looked for visual interpretations and physical significance of every thing, which is like AWESOME right up my alley. So I had to tell her in terms of a device all the math. Felt good.. She was quite impressed with our work, but said it should have been done by math people not us.

Shall write a post! Check out

I spent 6 hours, without looking at time, reading it.(Perhaps, this is the first time in history, I have spent reading so much of techie stuff so engrossed!) It was all visualisation! I mean it paints crystal clear picture..

Ashmur said...

Hey Uttara, that was an awesome post to signify the end of engg. My HOD keeps saying "An engineer must know something about everything and everything about something." This fan episode reminds me of that quote. That is not saying that most of us fail in the "knowing something about everything" part but how mundane our Engg. education system is. You struggled with the fan today; my friends and i struggled to light up a simple LED some time back. I had to call a lot of persons including the 2 geniuses in your EEE dept before we could sort it out.
Anyway, enjoyed reading your post a lot, like always. Wherever you go, whatever you do in future, do continue writing in this blog for its one of those places i regularly enjoy being in when i am online. All the very best to you and your career :) Hope to catch you some time :) BYE :)

Uttara Ananthakrishnan said...

@ Ashwin- thanks a lot! Glad you enjoy the blog :)

The Enigma said...

Lol...You got some really nice posts up here... Keep up the good work. Just wanted to say, I enjoy reading them :D

Haddock said...

Parachute to the rescue... . ..well almost.