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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Culture #4: My Lens on the World

Now as most of you understand only too well, you can take the person out of Engineering, but you can’t take the Engineering out of the person. No matter how much I try to disguise it with a grounding in development theory or attempts at literary prose, there is a certain critical and technical mindset that underlies everything I observe and report. Trust be told, it long proceeded my University schooling, so I can’t really blame that.

Cases in point:

1) I see a woman at a construction site, moving bricks from a pile in the front to inside by stacking 5 at a time on her head. My first thought was, “that’s impressive that she can do that.” My second, however, quickly followed, was, “why doesn’t she just get a wheelbarrow?”

2) I pass a shanty area of rough thatched huts haphazardly propped up against a series of buildings. I sadly note the tragic juxtaposition of the destitute urban poor against the more affluent, a common site even back home in parts of Vancouver. My second thought is, “where do they get the palm thatch in the middle of town here? Is it imported?”

3) My rick comes up to a public bus, tilted crazily to one side as a host of commuters hold precariously to the outside. The inside is already packed to the gills. It is such a bizarre and quintessential Indian sight, at once a sign of gross overcrowding and of the cheerful crush and adaptability of life that is India. My next thought is to wonder what the tilt does ot the shocks and whether it would make sense to simply build the buses to drive tilted that way permanently.

4) I see concrete building going up all over the place. And while the walls are being put up, each floor is braced with a forest of wooden poles. I appreciate the uniqueness of the image, but then I wonder, they are building the walls with bricks, which do not appear to be load bearing, or build with enough care to be trusted in such a role. But then, if the outer walls are not load bearing (the inner concrete columns should do that I would expect), what are the poles for? Or conversely, if they are holding the ceiling now, what is holding it once they are removed and people move in?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There were those three guys, a priest, a doctor and an engineer, and they were playing golf. But the group before them was extremely slow and at each hole they waited hours.

Finally the priest asked around, why was that other group was so slow? He was told that they were very courageous firemen who saved the golf course a couple of years ago from a terrible fire, in which they all lost their sight.

As a proof of appreciation they were given the right to play on the course whenever they wanted. They like that a lot, but being blind they are just not too good at hitting the ball, let alone finding it after it's hit.

The priest said, "Oh my this is terrible. Tonight I'll say a little prayer for these courageous souls." The doctor heard that and said "Don't worry. I'll send them to a friend of mine, he's an ophtalmologist and he works wonders." The engineer said "Wait. Why can't they just play at night?"

- Bruce (one of my favourite jokes)