COEP Days

For TML….

Well, since I have spent a better part of the last one year at TATA Motors Limited, I think a post exclusive to it was long overdue. Kind of a record of the whole experience.. Of course, we do have a 110 page (yes, we wrote 110 pages; that’s why I haven’t been blogging !! :-P) colourful report, costing 400 bucks, to keep with us for as log as we’re alive..

Anyway, I think one of the best things about working at TML, especially in the Engineering Research Centre (ERC) was that…well, it looks good on the resume! I know that’s as selfish as it can get, but it’s also a fact. Firstly, for a mechanical engineering student, TATA Motors is one of the best companies you can get to do your project in, and secondly, Research is always an attractive word…makes people think you’re a rocket scientist! And of course, if you’re working on developing something called an “Active Bonnet”, which most people haven’t heard of before, it’s like sone pe suhaga! (No, I’m not explaining what an active bonnet is…google it if you want to know!)

Coz anytime your relatives and friends (especially juniors) ask you what your project is all about, you can start rambling about how an active bonnet is a growing field of research, because pedestrian safety is a big concern nowadays, especially in European countries! Of course, throwing in jargon like safety regulations, reversible hinges, retractor pretensioners, deformation space, head impact tests etc in good measure, helps a lot!

No, jokes apart, we were really lucky to have got such an amazing project. (Thanks to Gau’s dad and Gogate sir!) Actually developing and testing your own mechanism is something very few undergrads can boast of doing. (Yes, what we did was something no one in India has done before! Seriously!) Besides, the whole experience of working in a company like TML for 8 months helped put a lot of things into perspective. Like the fact that what we have learnt in the past 3 years is just a tiny crystal on top of the iceberg; and that some of our basics are horrible messed up! Plus, considering the bigger picture, it helped answer a lot of the what-do-I-want-to-do-in-the-future questions.. So it definitely was a learning experience!

And, we developed a lot of valuable skills along the way. For one, efficient photocopying! And how to work from 6 am to 7:30 pm for two days straight, something I hope we never have to do again! Most importantly, patience! And loads of it! Well, when you’re made to work with shopfloor people who take fifteen minutes to fit one hinge on a car bonnet, you are left with no choice but to be patient! Of course, eventually we ended up doing the fitting jobs on our own, which works out much better…and faster!

But one of the biggest advantages we had was that we had a fantastic oral exam! And anyone who’s given a project oral knows how difficult it is to get one of those! The thing was, our examiners, like most people, had never heard of an active bonnet, and so after our presentation, instead of asking us screwy questions on why we did what we did, they were asking us stuff like- “So does the bonnet work like a spring in this mechanism?” and “If you raise the bonnet by 80 mm, wouldn’t it hamper the driver’s vision?” 🙂

I should mention that it wasn’t all fun, one of the downsides was that we ended up working a lot harder than most of our friends and seniors. We could take a break only if we had a really good reason, and our project guide was an absolute perfectionist, which is good in the long run, but as students who are used to bunking lectures and doing nothing at BC, it was a little overwhelming at times!

Anyway, all of that is over now! We just have a couple of things left to wrap up the project completely. And there’s this amazing feeling of accomplishment whenever I see my 110 page, hard-bound report with my name embossed on it in gold. Of course, 160 students of my batch have a similar report, but mine is different coz it’s the biggest of them all, and coz we worked the most for it, without any stipend!

So all in all, it’s been good !! 🙂

It’s been a while !!

New look. New name. And I officially announce that I’m back to blogging…..

Well, to begin with, I thought of writing a customary post about the past one semester (something on the lines of this one…) but somehow I don’t feel like reliving the past 3 months! Not because they’ve been the most terrible ones I’ve ever had to go through, but at the same time, they have, in no way, turned out to be like I expected… So I am considering myself memory charmed for the past 3 months and moving on…

Cut to the present. And this is probably the most amazing time I have ever had in a long long time. Doing nothing is really a privilege these days. And I’ve also discovered that I’m an expert at doing that, without actually feeling an iota of guilt !! 😉

Some valuable revelations:

– Playing ‘Life’ and ‘Uno’ is fun….wonder why I never played it more often before !!

– You don’t always have to read big, fat books that are high on literary quotient. One hour of the good ol’ Tinkle comics helps one to clear one’s thoughts !! Really !

– Mushy movies can be enjoyed tremendously even when you don’t have ‘someone’ to watch them with you… And they don’t leave you feeling all sappy in the end… How can a person not love While You Were Sleeping….its BEAUTIFUL !!!!

– My cat has learnt some really new antics, which I wasn’t aware of, till now!

– Its fun to stay up till 3 at night… Especially if you’re chatting with old school friends after months…

– Eating platefuls of bhajis and drinking tea on Sinhagad after a (hard?!) climb is a different feeling in itself…

– Same goes for getting wet in the first pre-monsoon showers!

– I haven’t listened to genuine ghost stories crammed up in a car at 8:00 pm, on the drive back from Sinhagad….ever !! Thanks Pari…

– I can effortlessly talk absolute gibberish with Akshay for on hour on the phone, and actually feel good about it in the end… 😛

– I rock at teaching… I could teach my sister Gravitation in one hour flat, and actually enjoy it much more than I did during my 12th !!

– Doing 30 lunges with 5 kg weights IS an accomplishment !! 😛

I guess this is what Gau means when she talks about ‘ayushyatlya chotya chotya goshtit ananda ghene’ (Translating specially for Anup, that means- taking pleasures in the smaller things in life…)

Now frankly speaking, I’m not very much of a ‘living-for-the-moment’ kinda person. Never have really understood the meaning of this philosophy. How can a person not think about what happens next?! But now I know that there’s a different kind of happiness in just setting yourself free at times.. 🙂

And Month Six…

A low-down on the months that were:

– Semester 1 of T.Y.B.Tech has ended successfully !!

– For the first time ever, I got through a whole semester without submitting a single bunksheet, and having more than 70% attendance !! And this IS a big deal !! 😉

– PIET is back to COEP !! Hurray !! Actually it’s PIET’s COEP now….but whatever…

– Finally zeroed down on Finite Element Method (FEM) as an elective. Decision was based more on elimination of other elective options. Added attraction to chose FEM was that it has computer programming… Hoping it doesn’t turn out to be a let down….

– Submissions got done on time, and we survived the ordeal…through numerous purple glitter pens, Lexi black refills and night-maraoing !! The thrill and satisfaction of holding our first, 93 page, entirely hand written TOM journal was unbeatable !! So much so, that Gau, Gaya and I have a brilliant snap of us holding it, right before final submission, like it were our graduation certificate !! 🙂 The list of disaster management skills we’d learnt at COEP just got bigger !!

– Survived through the five orals too !! Right from discussing ergonomic considerations involved in designing a chair to suffering a near blank-out before ICE orals to bearing Shewatkar’s atrocities…I’ve done it all !!

– Mini project was the coolest !! My dear uncle and Productivity Aids Pvt. Ltd came to the rescue, and voila! We had a leakage testing fixture used in AC units of cars adorning our ME journal. Thanks Mamu !!

– Somehow Barron’s didn’t seem so bad anymore !! That’s the best thing about having a passion for languages! The incomparable thrill of learning new words supersedes the mammoth task of learning 5000 of them !! About the actual GRE….don’t really want to get into it !! Got a 1410, which is ‘pretty good’, ‘sufficient for mechanical’, and even ‘awesome’, according to people !! The funniest thing about being the first one to give GRE in the new year is that news of your score spreads around the whole campus as if it’s the latest alleged link-up to hit Bollywood !! 😉 Even I was amazed at the number of people who knew that I was done with THE GRE in the 21 hours before I stepped into college next day !! But yeah…the good thing about being done with it is that life is finally back to normal…GRE is no more a reason not to do Fervor, Firodiya, Gathering, Zest etc etc…. But nonetheless, I had fun studying for it….

And finally….I’m back to blogging !! Can’t imagine what kept me away from it for six months….not that nothing exciting happened, just that nothing was exciting enough !! 🙂 And I had the GRE….so………. 😉

Month One…

[Disclaimer: Its been nearly a month since I wrote my last blogpost. The long period away from blogging and the numerous activities that have taken place in the past one month, have resulted in a post that a tad too long than its meant to be. Niri…and others…I beg for forgiveness…I can’t help it !!]

The past one month has been nothing less than a rollercoaster ride !! Most importantly, the Third Year of Mechanical Engineering at COEP has finally begun, and boy…its been way more shocking than I expected it to be !! Of course, I had heard from loads of my brilliant senior friends about how ‘true’ engineering begins at Third Year level und so weite…but that it would begin right from the first day of T.Y.B.Tech (Maaz !!) was a real shocker !!

Shock No 1: For the first time, probably in the history of COEP, lectures began right from the ‘theoretical’ first day of college. In the sense, it is an understood fact for years now, that when the COEP notice board says: ‘College re-opens on 4th July’, no one is supposed to even step into the classroom before 20th July, at the earliest. But lo and behold…we enter college on 4th and news spreads that Mech I has a lecture in Room 11 !! What the hell ??!! What’s wrong with people ??!!

And that, my friend, was just the begining…

Shock No 2: Dale enters class. I mean, OK we need to attend lectures on the first day of college after a billiant two month vacation, but DALE ??!! Could it get worse than this? And of course, as expected…he went on to lecture us on how we are at a very crucial stage in our lives where everything we do will have a direct impact on our placements, and consequently our careers. And of course, how we should stop acting like ‘Pariksharthi‘ or ‘Exam -Givers’ (Doesn’t he LOVE that word ??!!) and learn more, to bettter our knowledge. And how in the true sense, placements don’t really determine our careers, because it’s only when we face such setbacks, that we learn to dream beyond our limitations and earn a better life. And how the Indian parents determine that their child should become an engineer and earn a salary of 20 grand, right from the time he enters this big bad world (Khara mhantla tar, ‘pair’ents chi hi attitude ach chukichi aahe !!) Christ !! Attending lectures on the first day of college was bad enough, now we have to bear up with the same ol’ ghisa-pita, das bar doharaya hua lecture, which I now know better than the working of a 4-stroke petrol engine !!

Shock No 3: We have electives to take next semester. Options are: Finite Element Method, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning, Analysis and Synthesis of Mechanisms, Tribology, Non-Conventional Energy Resources. Do we understand anything of anything? NO. So how do we decide what elective to take? DON’T KNOW. Present status: After a not-exactly-fruitful talk with Dale (!!), we have zeroed down on FEM and RAC as options. Still waiting for Mangesh to arrive in Pune…some expert guidance is necessary !! Seniors..HELP !!

Shock No 4: NO PRINTED JOURNALS THIS TIME !! This was, by far, the worst shock ever. That implies sitting up late nights writing gibberish on one side ruled papers. That implies more work. That implies havoc !! Why introduce printed journals in ‘autonomous COEP’ (Damn the B.Tech !!) when you’re gonna get bored of typing them for us, in 2 years ??!! Right now, one ICE and MD assignment and one 35-page (and 42 with my handwriting) Carburetors submission later, the grave reality has dawned upon us…its tougher than it seems. Ok the true COEP-ians sat up one night and wrote the whole journal out, but we just can’t do that ! We have weekly submissions, which are graded the next week, and so we need to do them WELL !! Enter purple sparkle pen, 5 hours of sleep before the BIG day (and 20 minutes, if you’re Gaya), GT, good handwriting, and if you’re Akshay then colouring your diagrams to get a 10/10…the works. Anyway we are getting the hang of it soon enough…..after all, we have no choice now !!

Shock No 5: Five practicals !! Isn’t there a ‘standardised limit’ for the extent to which a department can screw its students ??!!

Shock No 6: Chowgule tells us that we have a mini-project in MP, where we have to design a jig/fixture for some component which has to be given to us by a company. And the 2-D drawing of the component is to be submitted in a week. Hang on…..WHAT is a jig and fixture ??

Anyway, College done, we began our first GRE Dilip Oak class that evening at 7. Day 1, greeted by Mr. Atul Londhe.

Shock No 7: GRE has tough words !! Ok, so I never expected it to be a cakewalk, but words like vexillology, discombobulated, ameliorate are…..Martian ??!! In D.O.’s words, ‘words that we’ve never heard before, and will never hear again once GRE is done !!’

Shock No 8: AWM is weird !! Its not the stupid kind of writing, like we do while posting on blogs. Here we need to understand, analyse and present in logical order, with fast typing, good language and correct grammar. When has so much thought-process gone into writing an essay ??

Shock No 9: I’ve forgotten Math. Day 1 of Analytical, and Gauri and I couldn’t solve a Sets problem. Dammit ! That’s 9th grade syllabus !! I came home and asked my sister to give me her school textbooks. One hour of revision, and things were back on track..

Anyways, the initials shocks had done their job…we were terrified about the days to come !!

Fortunately for us, the Gods decided we were getting too hard a deal. Second week onwards, things were more relaxed !! The off-lectures, off-practicals made their way for the usual timepass. CCD-going, Softy-eating on F.C.Road, Dumb-C playing on BC, Dare-giving to Omkar to tell fat-belly girl on BC that she’s wearing disgusting clothes (which he didn’t do ultimately !!), gandao-ing Akshay, Gaya getting new cell (finally !!)…all of that rubbish !! A beautiful Wednesday morning, an off MD practical and two over-enthusiastic friends for company (Read: Gau and Gaya) resulted in we watching Dus at E-square, 9:30 am show, first row 40 bucks seats !! And the enthusiasm prevailed even after the movie, so we topped it up with two chocolate mousses and a spicy chana chaat !! Rains played havoc in everyone else’s lives, but for us, it was heaven-sent. COEP closed for 4 days !! BC waters had reached an all-time high…the sight was phenomenal !! (Photo below) Can you imagine BC being closed for students, because of perilious levels of Mula waters ??!! Election season arrived soon enough. Again the campaigning, distributing panel members’ lists, strategising, serious meetings with Pranjal after D.O….and more lectures to bunk !! 🙂 The mini-project problem was solved by a visit to my uncle’s jig and fixture factory with Gau and Gaya. Was an awesome experience. Finally got to see real jigs and fixtures. Now we’re armed with two components, given by my uncle, for which we have to design a fixture. Interesting work…

BC- 2

GRE class was awesome fun !! Our Verbal Prof., Mr. Mukul Hinge knows everything of everything !! From Coppernicus to Desert Rose by Sting. (Did anyone know, by the way, that when Sting sings Desert Rose, he is refering to his dream sweetheart, who, like a rose in the desert, is an illusion ?!) And he has to begin every sentence with ‘Okay Engineers….’ and end it with a ‘…., Right ?’ Londhe is good too. And of course we have Vicky’s wife, Mrs. Chitnis, teaching us too !! 😉

All in all….finally life is back to normal again !! :-):-)

50% Engineer ??!!

Ok…so its that time of the year again !! End semester exams done, a rather disappointing end to an absolutely fun-filled 4th semester. It doesn’t take too long for the realization to dawn on me, that I’m nearly half through engineering now. Everyone I meet (read: the innumerable relatives, who’re ever enthusiastic to drop in those usually unasked for ‘valuable’ views !!) keep reminding me of the fact that I can now call myself a ‘50% Engineer !! (Ok…the results aren’t out yet, but I’m definitely not getting a Year Down !)

Been brooding over the whole ‘50% Engineer’ phenomenon for the past 3 days since exams, and here’s a low-down on the semesters that were:

First semester: Naïve, vulnerable me, all excited and geared up for the new world…after all it was COEP Mech yaar ! Got a whole new cool gang of 14 people- timepassed like crazy. Discovered how much fun bunking lectures and not going home, or giving proxy can be !! Not done much except give the now-routine T1, T2 and ESE.

To quickly chronicle the events- A fun Freshers party with great food, first outing with Gau, Gaya and Rads on tub four- amazing time, Pardeshi’s gay histronics, Mrs. Ekhande’s new-age physics fundas, dreadful time with Electrical !! But loved Workshop and had a marvellous time with Joshi sir in Elements of Mech Engg. !!

Getting to know seniors- the baaps, the geniuses, the GODS, the influencial ones, the inspirations and the ones to be steered clear of…

The only prominent activity was the cultural audition, where I got selected (hurray !!), found a place in the COEP Firodiya 2004 team. Now that was something to look forward to !!

Second semester: The whole of the vacations went in Firodiya practice, the late nights, the music, the freedom, the creative satisfaction, the thrill of being on stage, the COEP maaz, ‘new friends’, ultimate bliss..

6th February- Show done, enter Zest (thanks to Gau) and Fervor (thanks to Sonia)

Celebrated Valentine’s Day- COEP ishtyle !! Full Kalla….:-)

Turned 19 in style with a brilliant surprise party (Thanks Mom !!)

Gau and I passed the swim test, ambitious beginnings on the clinkered pair..

Next in the pipeline- Gathering (participated for ‘friends’ sake)

Of course, exams figured somewhere on the agenda !!

In a nutshell- 4 events, 4 bunksheets (that was the new buzz word !!), a whole new life..

Highlight: Post exam stay over at Soumya’s place- romping around town at 1 in the night, drive to Singhagad with new friends, baring my soul to near strangers…rather enriching time !

On the dark side (which I realized later) – made some wrong decisions, trusted wrong people, took uncalculated risks, lived life, probably a little too much on the edge !!

Was the COEP maaz getting on to me a tad too fast ??!!

Lesson learnt: Never take life for granted, Time and tide wait for no man !

Third semester: Begins with new resolutions, new goals, new aspirations…

New department, new class, new friends, new professors…

Elections in August- campaigning, voting, publicity gimmicks, strutting around with funny badges pinned all over, putting up banners…fun !

Getting chosen Joint Secretary, MESA- Thanks to my F.E. work !

MESA Inauguration- first taste of what being ‘politically correct’ is all about !!

Taking up the job of revamping the music room- first hand experience in Gymkhana politics, quotations, faxes, money matters, persuasion, the government style of functioning, delays, maska-giri…the works !!

Fervor 2005 work begins with sponsorships- read: visit with Sonia to TATA Motors (and lunch at the executive canteen, thanks to Cheri and Manisha Singh !!)

Mercedes Benz- awesome time !! Great company, great technology, great employees… getting people to shell out 50 grand for an event couldn’t get easier !! Of course, a part of the package deal was- a lecture series by two of the nicest men I’ve met- Mr. Chandavarkar and Mr. Mandpe, and approval to get the new Mercedes Biofuel car to COEP….yippee !!

Highlight: The Diwali ‘high’ (if you get my drift..)- a brilliant time with Soumya, arguably one of the craziest but best times of my life !!

Another highlight– industrial visit to a sugar factory, special for ‘special’ reasons !!

Again on the flip side– disagreements with friends, a few people ka parda- faash, a sour end to a few relationships, a fiasco with the Maths department for being caught giving proxy (Result- we haven’t given proxy in a single lecture ever since !! Unbelievable, but true !!)

Lesson learnt: Learn to say NO to people, Never trust people too soon, Speaking your mind is not always such a good idea !!

Fourth semester: Visit to the IIT, Bombay Techfest, and needless to say, the trip was fantabulous !! Inspired the engineer in all of us. Added attractions- the local train journeys, Hiranandani, Vertigo @ Café Mocha (smack !), travelling by the last local at 1:32 am !! An absolutely marvelous weekend !

Uniforms made compulsory on Mondays and Thursdays- thanks to Dr. Sathe (that SSB !!)

No Firodiya, so immersed myself headlong into Fervor. Sponsorships, printing permission letters (Sick !!), endless discussion sessions with Ohol and Kajale Sir, minor ego clashes, lack of communication between team members….don’t really want to get into all that…but in general, not a very fruitful period. Add to that…the trauma of compering a flop valedictory function !! All’s not well that doesn’t end well !!

Lesson learnt: A joint secretary’s job at FERVOR is limited to drafting and printing permission letters, never put your finger in too many pies !

Zest was opening up new avenues, something exciting and never-done-before, but alas…the Regatta incident changed the face of the whole scheme of things..

Highlight– winning the Personality contest at the Gathering- I now am Miss COEP/PIET !!

Another Highlight– Gau, Gaya and I decided to participate in the VIT Techfest Model Making competition- we were finally doing something technical !! Two sleepless nights and late night brainstorming sessions with Gau’s genius dad’s genius friend and the baaps of COEP (read: Addy, Pushkar and Mangesh) later, we had a beauty of a bridge made of ice-cream sticks, cardboard, straws of two different thicknesses and cross-sectional areas (!!) and a whole spool of black thread !! The joy, the exhilaration of creating something with your own hands…priceless (not to add the exposure the whole experience gave us !!) And of course, our bridge was a runaway hit at the competition. And had it not been for the wrongly interpreted rules by a certain Mister Mittal of VIT, we’d have been proud first-attempt winners at a techfest !!

Highlight of Highlights: Brand new, flashy, 25 grand Magnum (read: videsi..imported man !!) drum kit arrives at COEP- An extremely satisfactory end to four months of toiling !!

All in all, managed to garner up bunksheets for three out of the three and a half month long semesters we have (legalized fun !!), hardly attended lectures, bonded better with old friends, made really treasured new ones !!

So..very frankly speaking, the past 2 years have hardly been straight out of the life of an engineering student !! Probably they should be giving us an Event Management and Disaster Management degree instead of the B.Tech we’re getting !! Loads of ups and downs, loads of disappointments, lots of fun and masti, lots of growing up and too many lessons learnt and the learning continues…!!

What the future holds for me- I don’t know, and I don’t even want to know !! All I know is, at this phase in my life- I’m blessed with truly wonderful people, and cherished bitter-sweet experiences that’ll remain an integral part of me, at every point of my life.

As for Engineering- we have all that sorted too !! Come June, and we friends will be off to the Mercedes School of Mechatronics for a month long training course (Thanks to Kadlaskar uncle and Gaya !)

Anyway, as I get ready to enter T.Y.B.Tech, I am reminded of what a senior friend once told us- Students undergo a major transformation as engineers, in their third year !! I can only say….AMEN !!

(P.S.- Gau and Gaya- have I missed out on anything else that we’ve been upto in the past 2 years? Do let me know if you remember anything !! And looking forward to another 2 years of chill marne with u guys !! :-):-))