Sex in engineering colleges is a mythical creature, like the unicorn, or black money. Despite the lack of evidence, you want to believe that it exists. While I was in Jadavpur University, I remember lying under trees and smiling to myself, thinking, it’s such a big campus, someone must be getting lucky somewhere. In fact, my four years in the Mechanical Engineering department at JU were all part of a master plan. Very early in life, I was told that I would have to be either an engineer or a doctor. No other options were provided. I was not entirely sure about this. For one thing, medicine seemed to involve large amounts of studying. We lived just across the road from a medical student. I used to watch him trudge home every night, exhausted. Then the light would go on in his room, and he would study. Conditions were clearly tough. Plus this was Calcutta, where all the doctors in government hospitals were being beaten up by the public on a regular basis. Reviewing the situation at the age of seventeen, I concluded that medicine was not the profession for me.
This left me with engineering. Here too, with the diligence that would later become typical of me, I collected evidence. One of my close friends was a year older, and had just joined IIT KGP. From what I gathered, IIT KGP had approximately ten thousand boys and six girls, who were extremely nervous. Statistically, the chances of sex seemed very close to zero. This means that every young man who enters IIT enters knowing that his case is hopeless. Who knows what kind of effect this has on the psychology of a person? In the case of my IIT friend, he grew progressively thinner, and his expression grew increasingly haunted. He was visibly wasting away. I did not want to be like him.
From what I gathered, IIT KGP had 10,000 boys and six extremely nervous girls. Statistically, the chances of having sex seemed very close to zero.
Consequently, I convinced my parents that there was a very good chance of my turning into a drug addict at IIT, which made Jadavpur a safer choice. They agreed, and I found myself on a campus where the arts faculty was just across a small lake. The arts faculty was full of girls. This meant that despite being an engineer, the ratios were slightly better for me, and I did not have to give up hope. When I think of those boys from IIT KGP, this is the main thing that I remember. The hopelessness.
Is this hopelessness still the norm in most engineering colleges? As per the three quick phone calls that I made to current engineering students, I have a feeling that it is. Two of them denied having any sex, but expressed cautious optimism. The third offered to hook me up. He is clearly a potential criminal, so we will ignore him. I was not fooled by the other two. Beneath their façade of hope, I could sense their belief that their only real chance for sex was jeevansaathi.com. It saddened me. This is no way for a society to treat its engineers. Engineers are vital. They fix things. We should be more concerned about their morale, and try to stop them from pursuing post-graduate studies in America, where most of them will tell girls that they are related to Raj from Big Bang Theory. Engineers should be cherished. Ideally by the opposite sex.
Until society changes for the better, all I can offer engineering students is a few words of solace. It’s true that you are not getting much sex, and you have every right to be upset. We of the post-independence generation are to blame. We have failed you. We should have built a country with more opportunities for the youth. But you must not lose heart. Remember, this is not a plot against you. Male students studying other subjects are equally deprived. You are all joined together in a grand union of deprivation, and you outnumber us. If you stand up as one, and demand your rights, who can deny you? All you need is organization, and the right leadership. It’s an idea whose time has come.
A shorter, edited version of this appears in print
Shovon Chowdhury’s new novel, Murder With Bengal Characteristics, has no sex in it, but the subject is discussed frequently.