The incident dates back to 1974. After scoring a good position in the university in pre-engineering examination, now called 10 + 2, I decided to join Thapar Institute of Engineering & Technology, Patiala as it was considered to be a prestigious institute. In view of my score in pre-engineering examination, I was allowed to choose a branch of my choice. There used to be only three branches of engineering at that time: Civil, Electrical & Mechanical. I opted for Electrical Engineering branch.
First year of the four year course was common for all branches. There was a subject, Electronics, Instrumentation & Design, called EID in short and taught by renowned Prof. Sahni. I paid special attention to this subject as it was going to be my true profession from second year onwards.
On completion of first year of engineering, the students were sent to their allocated engineering branches. I was shocked to find my name in Civil Engineering category. I felt that injustice had been done to me. I decided to meet the Director of the Institute. He was considered to be a terror and students avoided falling in front of him. I mustered enough courage and went to see him.
My grievance looked genuine to the Director. He ordered for re-checking of my record. It was revealed that initially electrical engineering was allotted to me but was later changed to civil engineering on intervention of my guardians. I felt confused. My parents would never do that without my consent. How could it happen then?
Further investigation revealed that a close friend of my father, who himself was a civil engineer, wanted me to be in the same profession. He had a good reputation and contacts in Thapar Institute and had got the branch changed without anyone’s knowledge! Nothing could be done now. I had to join the Civil Engineering branch only. With a heavy heart, I did that.
As the studies progressed, the vastness of this engineering discipline unfolded before me. It was the most ancient branch of engineering. All the monuments, the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids, the Qutab Minar, the Lal Quila, the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum and countless others belonged to it. Then there were bridges, flyovers, clover-leafs, tunnels, sky scrapers, dams, canals, hydro-electric projects and countless other structures. I fell in love with civil engineering. Getting under the skin of the structures and reaching their DNA became my obsession.
Today, 40 years later, as I look back and review my long journey in this profession, images of tall chimneys, cooling towers, residential projects, pre cast components and many structures zoom before me. Then follow my books, my columns, features and articles in the periodicals, filling me with deep satisfaction of contribution to the profession and people in my style. As the journey continues, my heart thanks the person who had inducted me into this beautiful profession, called civil engineering.