Saturday, January 19, 2008

Viva woes

There is a lot we do not understand. Most of what we do not understand at one point of time gets clear at some other point of time but there still would remain sediments of disbelief or vague hints of the past lack of understanding post the (un)specified time of understanding. If you were wondering whether I started busying myself with Ludlum's philosophy, you probably have never stepped into an engine-erring workshop lab.

For newbies: Workshop (06WSL18) is a compulsory subject in the first year of any engineering course in Karnataka (and in IITs too, I think) with the exception of a certain autonomous college in Bangalore. The syllabus includes designing fitting models which extract physical labour in alarming quantities and welding models which demand a fumbling freshie risk his looks. The warsht that could happen was probably this particular subject carrying 75 marks for the semester exams which includes a 10 mark viva voce (rapid fire question-answer session with the examiner). Why workshop was made compulsory for all branches despite it having least application in our chosen career stream has bounced over every taker's head from time immemorial.

Circa 2008, January the 18th. We yawn our way to the college workshop at 8:15 am in half tucked hideous khaki uniforms and leather shoes, carrying a 4 Rupee hacksaw blade which serves the purpose of cutting steel (yes, solid steel!). The instructor stands smirking like he has been nominated the next Ivan the horrible (or is it Hagar the terrible?) with the sneaky HOD and the wispy Vice Principal (VP) whom I last remember seeing on the first day of college. After a cordial welcome of instruction shouting, we are made to take down the model supposed to be made - a quadrant of a circle which fits neatly into its hollow counterpart, both made from two steel pieces, for 30 marks; a welding joint for 10 marks and viva for 10 marks, all to be added to our internal assessment marks to total it to 75.

VP adds as an afterthought, 'Time limit ees 2 avars, that is exactly 120 minutes.'

Hue and cry greets this announcement.

Assuming his words could make things better, he states with a grin, 'See 2 avars more than yenaf if you have a good breakfast and come. You will get full 120 minutes for your work and nobody can take these 120 minutes from you'. His version of a certain 'Sattar Minute' speech that made waves last year.

Thus, we get to work; marking, punching, cutting (the thin blade wobbling dangerously, extracting a work of 317.55 joule/second from yours truly), filing and then welding. I choose to do away with the details because after all the effort, it looked like my strategy paid off and I got soopar looking models. ;) Just when I thought those marks were in the bag, I hear Hagar call, ' Roll numbar threeeeee. Viva'. I walk nervously to the external examiner, a man in mid-thirties in a crisp white shirt and sit down when asked.

Ex: Hmm. So roll number three. So what is your name?

Isn't that on the register next to the roll number, you near-sighted warp?

Me: Akshatha, Sir.

Ex: Hmm. So which branch?

Me: Electronics.

Ex: Hmm. Aap kidhar se aaya hai?

Was prepared for this, considering five out of three people take me for a Northie. Took a second to debate between continued amusement in inducing more broken Hindi or get down to business and finish early for my regular dose of caffeine in the canteen.

Me: From Bangalore sir.
Ex: Oh. Originally from where?

Me: Coastal Karnataka

Ex: Ees eet? So Akshatha, can you introduce yourself?

Me: Here's an alternative: Why don't you just scroll above and apply simple summation of finite series?
I am Akshatha, branch electronics, from Bangalore.

Ex: Goooood. So, can you identify this device? (points to a lethal looking tonged instrument)

Me: Loading..27%..89%. Image of Dad using it to unseal a cough syrup bottle.
Cutting plyers, sir.

Ex: *grins* Six yellowish white teeth on each jaw visible.
See ma, in engineering level, we expect certain amount of technicality from you. Of course, you are right but even a 3rd standard child can tell me that no?

Me: Sir, it is a snipe. Used in sheet metal work. It has two movable jaws attached to the handle and the jaws are shaped for pinpoint precision cutting. Usually made of hardened steel, grade 4. Specification given by size of jaws in mm. No operator skill is required. Even a third standard child can handle it. (Without pause. Mujhse panga lega?)

Ex: *looks impressed* Good good. But I just asked you name no?

Me: Grrr.

Ex: So, can you identify and yexplain about this device? (points to a divider from a school kid's geometry set)

Me: What technicality do you expect from this, human? Sir, that is a screw-turn marker. Precision measuring instrument which can be used to measure distance between two separated planes, draw parallel lines or locate the center of a circle. It is made of mild steel, has sharp edges and movable legs. Specified by maximum separation measurable in mm.

Ex: Full Hajara Choudhary manual tip of your tongue aa? *laughs* See ma, in engineering level, simplification is the key. Why so much technicality for such a simple device? It is a simple divider which children yooze.

Me: Fuming. Yes sir. But you said yexplain so.. (yes, with the sarcasm and my best smile)

Ex: Vokay vokay. *looks at VP* This is the interest we expect in the subject, sir. So Akshata, what ees yoovar ambition?

Me: Law will sound out of track and might lead to more questions, making me late for coffee. Think..something big and complicated.
Research in satellite ranging and nano technology, sir.

Ex: Oho. What is that?

Me: Erm..adopting electronics for research in satellite ranging and nano technology. (source: Elementary Explanation Guide for External Examiners).

Ex: Ees eet? All the best. *takes register* Roll number three..three..three. *scribbles what looks like a nine* You may go.

Yay! Thanked him and fled. And it was only after I reached the canteen that I received this SMS forward:

'Trying to convince your examiner in viva is like fighting with a pig in mud. After a while, you realize that you are getting dirty and the pig is enjoying it'.


abhijit said...

lol..some great work there to get a 9 on 10.. wish it was dat easy fr us too. ur gifted with superb language skills. write a book, gal.

purplestorm said...



I can almost imagine the scene...

purplestorm said...

And yeah, I forgot people mistake you for a northie... guess I saw that in tuitions last year!


Anonymous said...

supremely funny :D. waiting for it next sem...


Anonymous said...

piggy comparison suuuuuuuuper.

nakul again ;)

Akshata said...

Thanku thanku. :) But apparently, I will get kicked if the third sem viva is answered like this. :|

@ Thej:

Talk about being mistaken for a northie! It is a source of hilary for the entire class when I induce broken Hindi. ;)

prakash said...

lol,,,i'd say the examiner was playing around too much, but ur answers precise to the full stop in a manual i guess...
p.s. thanks for commenting in my blog i had a change to view ur great blog!

Arjun Bharadwaj said...

Excellent!! Haha :) Excellent!!(In a Mandarkish voice :P)

Seriously, you may give Jug Suraiya, a run for his money :)

honeydew-jia said...





People mistake you for a northie? :D

Awesome post, Aksie! Sounds worse that Sanskrit orals. :P

P.s: Hindi nahi aati??? :o

Akshata said...

Yeah. A lot of people mistake me for a northie. Have no idea. Hindi aati hai, achchi khaasi. Been with hindi speaking people most my life. :) That's what he asked me though. 'Kidhar se aaya hai?' :D

Akshata said...

@ prakash:

There's the hitch. I have no manual.No one studies for workshop. :p All I had to do was to make up stuff that sounded convincing enough. :D

And I doubt if any manual gives details about dividers and compasses. :p

Karry said...

Ah, sweet sister, the things you come up with! Was a brilliant refresher, at 1 AM in the night, I'll give you that.

As for getting booted in 3rd sem for answering like that..well, I still answer the same way. But then, that's just me. :P

Brilliant satire. :)

Akshata said...

Like sister, like brother. :p

Thankee. :)

Monsieur said...

Mademoiselle! You are not a Northie, you are French! Never forget your roots! :D

purplestorm said...

I remember you telling the math Sir that you were from Bombay!


prakash said...

yea no one studies,,,thats why i was surprised,,, and if we have examiners asking about dividers and compasses,,then i guessed manuals will have them too...

Siddharth said...

Good one northie :P. Well narrated. Typical external examiner you got.

For my 6th sem project, I'd implemented a database project for a supermarket/mall. The examiner was from Tumkur. When I told him about supermarkets and malls, he was like "What doo yoo meen by ye soopermarrrket? Can you tell me yif there are maaals in Bangalore? What do you get there? Everything aa? Even kaDlekai aa?"

This happened in 2003/04 and its 2008 now. Looks like things are going to remain the same for a long time to come. :)

Akhil said...

The flow of events is very tastefully presented. I had a distasteful viva experience too (a month back, I suppose), but I dont think I can present it with such fluidity. Kudos! :D

Akhil said...

PS: I was kind of freaked by the hand (palm), though. :P

Akshata said...

The palm is ze 'and of glory. ;)

And thanks. :)

Akhil said...

oh, I see. Hand of glory, h'm. Glory be freaking! :P

My pleasure.

Roshan said...

I had this same question "why should I do workshop if its not going help me program good applications?"

I being a so called engineer now feel its to understand "dignity of labour" .
Thats it. Its probably the feeling part, where if I design a steam line sitting in my cooled cubicle, its also important to understand "that someone in the field is actually doing it the hard way"

Ashte, again, my theory. Gee

Anonymous said...

haha. bowling piece! will let u cover an nit workshop viva some day, miss. ;-)

mine went the other extreme way raped! :-(


Merin Mandanna said...

'No operator skill is required. Even a third standard child can handle it.'

Thats the Aksie i knew back in Mounts!! :D Brilliant piece.And you couldn't have found a better way to conclude it! :D

nanda said...

damnnn phunny i say! :D

anu walker said...

hahaha... though its lyk been years after u've bloggd bout this!!! this precisely reminds me of aamir khan in 3 idiots!! the machine defn scene.. was it a peek a boo from your blog???!?!?! :) :) :) :) :P :P

akkuuu... seriously..

jus put a smile when i read thru... :))))

Anonymous said...

Hilarious. It tingled our funny bones-Karan B