My feelings about completing my engineering fifty years back in Delhi College of Engineering.

Our college was in old Delhi, in the locality named Kashmiri gate. The name was historically important because it was the northern gate of walled city of Delhi during Shahjehan’s rule in Mughal period. It was named Kashmiri Gate because it opened on the road which led to Kashmir.
The background was also important because during first war of independence there were cannons attacks on freedom fighters who were defending red fort. The indentations of cannon balls are still on Kashmiri Gate structure. There is also a list of freedom fighters who laid down their lives.
As for as I was concerned, it was not a thrilling idea to be studying in the crowded area, Kashmiri gate. Though our college campus was relatively open, a football ground in the middle and a tennis court on the side. There were four buildings on western and eastern side of the football ground, which housed Civil, Mechanical, Electrical and a Science section. The northern part housed an assembly hall, a canteen, Western and Eastern hostels and the main gate. The southern part housed a library and behind that various workshop like machine shop, foundry and tool room were situated.
The Heat Engines and Thermodynamics shops were on the western side behind Electrical department. There were various models of Cross tube boiler, Ruston diesel engine, Turbine there.
The western side near the tennis court, housed administrative block and the principal’s room.
Outside Principal’s room there was a beautiful garden which had plants of marigold, roses, tulips and chrysanthemums. The side gate near the garden opened on the main road. It was called Lothian Road, it was the arterial road which joined various important areas of Delhi like Income Tax Office, Delhi Gate, Darya Ganj, Jama Masjid, Red fort, Chandani Chowk, Kashmiri Gate and Inter State Bus Terminus.
Our college had one more block on the other side of Lothian Road, which housed Chemistry Laboratory.
In those days our college was under Delhi administration.
The area had two cinema halls at stone throw distances from our college named Ritz and Minerva.
Minerva theatre closed down long time back, Ritz has become a multiplex as it is very close to Kashmiri gate Metro Station and ISBT.
The college education serves different purposes for different people, for me it was a license
to freedom. I was a Day Scholar, and lived far away from the college, which easily was a one and half hours of walk, and bus rides each way to commute. Our college was open five days a week, yet the library was open on six days. I was not a regular library goer, yet it was an experience to get a glimpse of books on scores of subjects (main and orientation), which were taught in my five years course.
Sometimes it was necessary to either sit in the library or in one of friends’ hostel rooms, to complete sessional assignments, or prepare for the tests. Sessional had almost forty percent weightage in the final assessment. Tests were a frequent occurrence, which according to me tested our endurance limits.
I was not regular in classes, because my group was keener to see the latest films released or watching the uncensored films of international film festivals. Connaught Place, the most colourful place, the centre of fashion and the hep crowd was quite often our favourite choice, because one of my close friends lived in the outer circle of CP only. A seat in a phatphatia costed 25 paisa from KG to CP.
I got a shock of my life when I got zero in mathematics in one of the tests. The shocking part was that there was not a single student in the class with similar distinction, most of the students had scored either 10 out of 10 or the minimum marks were 8 out of 10. I was a national scholarship holder, and my name was in the merit list of Central Board of Education, Delhi, it was a matter of shame for me.
The shocks continued, during my civil engineering survey annual examination, in my nervousness I stepped on one leg of the tri pod stand, and the table fell on the grass ground. Another setback befell on me, when I got thoroughly confused in salt analysis during my annual chemistry practical examination. Though I expected compartment or failure, yet to my good luck I could complete my first year without any obstacle. Second year and third years were even more taxing, I performed badly in many subjects like Theory of Machines, Strength of Material, Hydraulics and Electrical Engineering. To my surprise I could clear second as well as third year also without any obstacles.
After third year we went on a college tour, which was a memorable event. I liked the tour in two train bogies, where around sixty of us travelled to different parts of India, like Chennai, Kolkata, Jamshedpur, Asansol.
Kolkata in 1969 was very different, Chowringhee Road, Howrah Bridge, Park Street, University, Eden Gardens were the delightful places.
In fourth year, our college introduced semester system, where the second semester was reserved for practical training. I went for my training to Escorts Motorcycle factory for four months.
In the first year I developed special interest in Humanities, when I read Lord Tennyson’s poem ‘Lotus Eaters’, Mary Shelly’s classic work, ‘Frankenstein.’ In those days I got introduced to many novelists and philosophers works.
I read ‘The Fountain Head’ and many more books by Ayn Rand, ‘David Copper field’, ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens, ‘Of Human Bondage’, ‘Moon and the six pence’ by Somerset Maugham.
In fourth year, I developed interest particularly in two subjects named Power Plant Practice and Automobile Engineering.
With experience my approach to examinations had undergone a modification, I had made up my mind to always attempt the theoretical questions first and mathematical questions later. The theoretical questions though were not high scoring, yet they could help in clearing the papers.
The pressure of examinations also got reduced with the introduction of the semester system, because at any particular time we had the load of only half the number of subjects.
My idea about doing something original for the project turned out to be a welcome move. I along with two partners in my group designed a refrigerator, in which the cooling was created by Peltier’s effect and not by Heat Pump. The project got us a lot of publicity through newspapers.
I cleared the degree course in mechanical engineering with a good first division.
Often, I had mixed feelings, sometimes good, other times bad, but finally I gather that it was a good education. It taught me to work hard, to be logical in my approach and to do what I really liked.

2 thoughts on “My feelings about completing my engineering fifty years back in Delhi College of Engineering.

  1. Ved Gulati says:

    Sunil, I will address him as Gera, as I called him during our days together in the college.
    The class had bunked the chemistry practicals. Dr Puri, the chemistry lecturer was ‘.investigating.’. He asked Gera about his absence. Gera gave an answer that Dr Puri did not trust. To which Gera said in a matter of fact manner, Sir, I don’t tell lies. His statement and the manner had a great impact on me. I kind of developed a silent respect for Gera that continues till today.
    My impression of Gera was a simple, hard working person who stayed in posh South Delhi. Little did I know of the frustration he carried within him. He was highly impressed by his elder sister. A few of the times he mentioned about her to me. I am glad that he has acknowledged his sister.
    As the time passed, he and Vijay Anand became friendly. Anand used to stay in CP. He has mentioned about his love for uncensored movies. By this time, I had become a little loner and used to wonder how rich and resourceful they were. Going through his blog, I realise he wasn’t that rich. Even friends carry wrong notions.
    One thing comes out that we were honest in our interactions then and that has continued till today.

    1. Sunil Gera says:

      Dear Vedvrat, I enjoyed reading your feedback. I would like to continue our interaction in the future.

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