Monday, May 30, 2011

Mechie Cabbie

This happened in a cab I hired to go to the airport for my trip to India. Within first few minutes of interaction with the cab driver I understood that he is a mechanical engineer having 9 years of experience in Ford. (Every person in US has some experience in Ford!!). He asked me about myself and realized I am from his area of interest.. powertrains!

Now my amazing cab journey started with he saying whether he can ask me some questions to judge my knowledge! Yes those were his words! J I was surprised.. replied assertively. What is a HEGO (oxygen) sensor.. his first question. Well, now by questions I felt he would ask some generic questions and not directly the technical details of the operation of an oxygen sensor. My ME 569 days flashed in front of me and I started “storytelling”. Now he interrupted me asking me to answer in exact words.. short and to the point. Aw! Before I completed my explanation, he himself started describing how exactly the switching takes place in the sensor and its other technical details.

How does a crankshaft sensor work, what does it measure? What is engine coolant temperature sensor? How does it control the engine idling operation? Then a couple of solid works and proE questions were followed…… and today this Ann Arbor to Airport journey looked endless! Then he spoke about himself, how he used to interview students like me and what are the current trends in the industry. He spoke about the importance of experience and gave me couple of words of wisdom as he realized that I will be soon making a transition from academic life to industry. He made me appreciate that the real learning starts when one gets into the industry, when one has to learn by himself to keep up with the pace, when there is no set syllabi or pre determined annual examinations to judge you, still there is a need to perform for continuous assessment from peers and bosses and a need to absorb knowledge at twice or thrice the rate of academia to keep up with the competition.

The airport arrived. He did not ask for a tip, neither took any. He urged to remain in touch and waved me saying .. “My friend.. once you step in the industry world, in whichever department you go, make sure to show your extremely accurate engineering knowledge. Your success will depend on how good an (technical) engineer you are!”

Friday, May 20, 2011

The People of America!

It was a great experience to travel more than 8000 miles in 15 days covering the entire east coast and southern America. Starting from Chicago the adventure included NYC, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Rhodes Island, Niagara, 1000 Island (1840 to be precise!), Virginia, Tennessee and then Florida! During these days I got a chance to interact with all kinds of people, from different backgrounds, different ethnicities and different cultures.

Although America looks the same everywhere with freeways going either N-S or E-W, fast food restaurants wherever you see, smiling people greeting “hello, how are you doing!” just to acknowledge your presence, STOP signs everywhere, Jogging people at odd times of the day or dancing on the rhythm of the music plugged into their ears…. There are different shades to them if one looks closer!

Unlike people in and around 42nd Street 7th Avenue NYC (Times Square) who are “upscale” neatly dressed with suit and tie and polished shoes, rushing to their office places in the morning time or sitting on some 83rd floor in a glass cabin with a mac in front of them and a personal secretary (lady) on their right… the countryside men and completely laid back… Chillaxed!! :P Its simple.. nothing as Grandeur or glittering as you will see on the east coast or silicon valley.

By countryside I mean the people I observed in Virginia, Tennessee provinces. These are the people who tame horses, pigs and cattle, wear hats and 6 pocket jeans, have acres and acres of farm lands and probably a gun. I will call them close to cowboys! These people seem to be more attached to the family. Wherever I went I observed entire family.. a married couple, the in laws and the children.. together (living happily).

Great people with great hospitality! I happened to visit one of their shows (The Dixie Stampede Dining Show) where they portrayed their “cattle skills”, narrated the development

of the race around Tennessee State and enacted the war that took place between the North and South Tennessee. The show was jaw dropping and to add to the flavor the dinner was mind-blowing. We were served one FULL roasted hen!! Along with vegetable soup, boiled corn, slice of pork, a potato and then desert… with NO silverware!! Great experience to eat a full roasted chicken with hands! J The show concluded with countryside music and people dancing happily.

Chinatown is one more shade. Not only people, but everything is in Chinese.. shop names, billboards, prices everything. Its a totally different world when one enters the Chinatown. The buildings have stairs on the outside..The lodges are disgusting with common toilets, there is garbage on the streets.. and also the following sign can be seen in Chinatown NYC.

Florida was all together a different story. Orlando is full of children, tourists.. Thanks Walt! I hardly saw any “Americans” as I descended to south. The Orlando-Miami journey gave a flavor of our good old ST bus (rest is now self explanatory! which includes the driver, passengers, bus, lay over restaurants etc…!). Miami is full of people either from Cuba or Mexico.. I don’t know how to differentiate.. but my point is.. Here I met natives who can’t speak English. Inner parts of Miami had more old people busy in their diurnal activities.. Similar kind of people like you can see when you travel from Panjim to Vasco in the morning. Miami reminded me of Goa except the tourists.. tourists are more “bold” here!! :P

That was my journey.. Next is the west coast… which is one more different flavor of the America… the “Desi America”!!