Guest lectures are the quintessential ingredients of any great technical event. Arranging for an expert to give a talk on a particular subject is a tough job no doubt. Making the students(read as 'audience') sit throughout the talk is an even tougher task. Of all events the lecture event shows an exponential decrease in student strength, much to the chagrin of the teachers. The students, quite naturally, feel that anything that comes up in the talk is next to Greek n Latin.
One such example was the technical event of our department. Two experts were invited for guest lectures. One from a reputed science college(institute) in Banglore and the other from an organization which boasts of being the world leader in electrical products. Both of them were expected to come by the same train from Banglore and so they did. I was to receive them at somwhere around 5 in the morning (the day when the event was set to kick off)which meant it was a complete nightout for me. Not difficult for a nocturnal like me !
The train was half an hour behind schedule and since I didnt have the slightest inkling of how their faces looked like, I held placards of "NIT welcomes mr X and Mr y to Trichy", hoping to find them. It happened! They found me! I introduced myself and lead them, ploughing through the crowd to the entrance where our car was waiting.
After that I dont remember much apart from the fact that there was an absolute shower of technical knowledge from both sides. It was clearly evident from their talk that they were meeting each other for the first time.
People who are really into "tech or research" inside a campus are real charcaters to watch out for. Inside the car:
Mr X: "So, Mr y, how is that your organization grows by leaps and bounds?"
Mr y: (A short pause) " Hmm, its 'coz we have built up a pool of ours. Good labs spending, (points to me) students , emphasis on research work and more. Then blah blah...
I discovered just form 5 min of talk that Mr X was the most animating type and Mr y was Mr Reticent. Mr X was very spontaneous and instinctive while Mr y almost took a lifetime to ponder over questions thrown at him by X. To be frank Y did not exactly appeal to me as the person who would go on to give a refreshing guest talk. Nevertheless, both had a sound knowledge of their respective fields.
X specialized in nanomaterial while Y dealed extensively in mechanical metallurgy.
Mr X: 'Sir do you know Mr Z?"
Mr Y: (A big long pause which prompted me to think that the guy had reached saturation point). Suddenely there was a reply. " Mr Z? Certainly rings a bell in my mind . Isnt he the one who deals in fatigue mechanics.
Mr X:(overjoyed that atleast there is something common which they can talk about) Yes he is the one. (doles out scoops of praises for Z). "He also works on amorphous systems, the effect of crack propogation on the texturing properties of crytals.
amorphous substances,cyclotronic behaviour , crack behavious in semiconductors, Ti alloys , use of polymers in nano came up.
As luck would have it , we reached college and drove straight to the guest house.
Next, just an hour before the event began, I had the privilege of having breakfast with the 2 gentlemen. This time it was a complete non-technical session , maybe because the gentlemen had enough of each other.
mr Y: (for a change he was questioning) Trichy is an unusual location for a college? Why is the college situated here ? what may be the signifance?
Myself: ( It was a such a dumb question I thought, as if I wanted them to build a college on this barren peace of land far away from civilization. But the need of the hour was to give fundaas.)
' Sir , its because there are quite a few hardcore tech industries in this area. We have BHEL nearby and blah blah.. (mentioned the names of a few more NIT's and explained to him that many of them were in the most weirdest places on earth)" Also explained to him about the impact of the industrial growth in the area on the lives of the ppl in and around Trichy.
Both seemed satisfied.
mrX: (not wanting to be left behind): "there are so many temples around ? but many of the capitals of kings who ruled south india are almost non-existent unlike the rulers of north india?
myself: (A feeling of "uh oh! screwed" but kept the smile on and blabbered endlessely):
"Sir in those days, south ndian kings had a penchant for building temple-cities and not big cities. This made it convenient for them to tour the whole city in very short time. (gave some fundaas on north indian rulers. somehow Shivaji came into the talk. I pumped more and more of history and rulers.)
They were enjoying the convo. Breakfast ended.
We walked our way to the lecture hall. Some more amusing questions and some more mindless fundas but reinforced by apprpriate facts. A prof intercepted us on the way. We reached the hall just in time for the start of the tech event.
And true to nature, I slept thru most of the guest talks.
luv n Regards