Summer, STEM and Sprees

We met LN via Nextdoor. She is a student at Cal Poly, spendings summer with her Mom, doing odd jobs through the week to help pay for her college. LN got an admit to the Civil Engineering program and found it to be a very dry subject, and was not happy to be in a program dominated by men. So she switched to Psych. She is hard working, smart, warm, and fun loving. She helped me fold laundry, iron my (grrr) linen shirts, and did some chopping for the week. Tara loved having her around, and I was glad to find some help, finally! If only for the next few weeks, after which LN goes back to school.

I could not help but learn all I could about LN. And I was impressed by her tenacity. And depressed by our society. LN’s case is not unique. Civil Engineering, although much in line with STEM, is a dry subject. And someone as lively as LN is right to consider it a misfit for her goals. But then we take these numbers, and get upset about the drop out rates for women in STEM. Well, I am not here to argue the numbers or the rationale. I am proud of LN to pursue what she thinks does justice to her interest and her personality.

A few years ago when I was in Delhi I called my favorite professor, and my thesis advisor in college. When he learnt about what I do now, he was slightly disappointed in me. He remembered that I was good at Microprocessors. A subject I loved because of the his style of teaching. He even recollected that while a lot of folks in my class did badly in LIC (Linear Integrated Circuits), I scored a distinction. [ I don’t know why he remembered all my scores. But it warmed my heart speaking to him.] He confirmed, “but Khullar, you went to the US to do a MS in DSP, why did you get into this business stuff?”. I had to address his disappointment so I gave it a shot. “But Sir, I always loved people more than machines. You know that. So I chose people over machines. And though I don’t build micro processors, that education is still relevant. It gives me a solid foundation.” But I know he was not convinced. So I laughed and reminded him about how much I hated DSP. He knew it. I always blamed the Professor who never took any interest in making the class engaging.

NKC believed in me. At a time when even I did not believe in myself. It mattered to me that I had let him down. That day even I was disappointed in myself. Thankfully the despondence did not last long.

I am glad LN quit civil engineering before it was too late. I hope she enjoys Psych. And that she comes back and helps me next summer. And I hope I will stop wearing linen shirts by then. grrr!

This weekend was a cooking spree. We finally (super late) took out the grill on Saturday and enjoyed some chicken and veggie skewers for dinner. Saturday evening I prepped for lunch with work friends. It was so nice to meet everyone’s families and enjoy a happy meal together on Sunday, without worrying about the next meeting, the next QBR, or the next escalation. It is always fun meeting everyone’s spouses and kids too. Although I was meeting some of them for the first time, I felt like I always knew what they’d be like, based on the stories I’d heard.

Being the younger ones’ in the group, Agam and I got some interesting early insights into the Bay area public and private schools. We have been doing some research but the contrasting stories we heard today definitely got me a little worried. In the end I’d just like a diverse, loving and encouraging environment for Tara. Too much to ask for. I know. But I need to start my school research soon. I don’t care about public or private.

I loved my cooking spree. Made dal makhani after a very long time. Not disappointing. I refuse to fry the paneer in my palak paneer, and so it got mushy. But the taste was ok. I did enjoy the mutton a lot. It was little on the dry side, but the curry came together nicely. A few side salads, and some bread pudding. Agam surprised me with this pic. He knows how much I love to put together meals like today’s. πŸ˜€ Well he also gets to enjoy the leftovers πŸ˜‰

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