This past weekend, I spent in San Francisco, California, where several people I know from Mumbai, now live and work for the fancy shmancy tech companies there. I was visiting my best friend (a techie) in the city and she took me to meet several other people who I know from back home. So Friday night, we spent at a friend’s apartment, drinking and talking utter rubbish. Let me mention that everyone in the room was an Indian engineer, except for me. At one point, realizing I was outnumbered and wanting to fit into the group…..I blurted out “Hey, I’m an engineer too….a Tissue Engineer!”
Bad idea to have said that. Following that remark, the half drunk people in the room began asking me questions like “Personally, do you think I should invest in Charmin or Generic?”. Other questions regarding my own personal hygiene were also posed…..but I will refrain from mentioning those on this portal.
Now I know that these guys in all their inebriation were for the most part pulling my leg with the whole ‘Tissue Engineering’ thing, but I couldn’t help notice that none of them really cared for what ‘Tissue Engineering’ really was. I so badly wanted to explain to them “….Cells make tissues, tissues make organs, organs make organ systems, organ systems make the organism…and you my friend are the organism. Sometimes you badly damage a tissue….that’s where I come in!! I study tissue regeneration.”
But alas, the obnoxious drunk engineers kept interrupting and jeering at the lone biologist in the room. At the time, I was quite drunk myself, so no offense was taken, infact I was roaring with laughter at the stupid questions being thrown at me. It was only later that I realized and became flabbergasted at the apparently alarming number of Indian engineers who know so little about the human body and physiology. There was a reason biology was mandatory for us while growing up, but it seems most of that knowledge was brushed under the rug, once these folks sought specializations in tech fields.
Here is another little episode demonstrative of the dearth of knowledge about basic human anatomy among my beloved engineering friends. I was at dinner with a few people (from diverse academic backgrounds). My friend was the only engineer (electrical) at the table. Somehow the conversation steered to ‘quick ways of making money’. My dear friend said “Apu, why don’t you donate one of your ovaries? That should give you about $20,000 dollars.” The entire table became hysterical after hearing what she had just said.
[Please note- You may not donate an ovary. An ovary is not a kidney. Yes you can donate eggs which mature within the ovary, but science has not progressed so far that a woman may donate her ovary, her uterus or any other reproductive organ, without undergoing debilitating, life shattering hormonal changes.]
Hence, Ladies and Gentlemen, to further avoid such ‘palm-slap to the forehead’ moments when I am in the company of my engineer friends, I propose to include basic Human Anatomy 101 as a mandatory training exercise for every new-hire in a tech company.