A day when the engineers let the children in them take over…

A cool breeze blew across our faces as we passed the rice fields on the outskirts of Chennai. Our destination: a sugar factory.

On getting there, the first thing we noticed was the huge cranes that were lifting sugarcanes and dropping them into the crushing device. It made us feel like Lilliputians.

The engineer in us took in all the technical details of the processes involved in producing sugar — the crushing of sugarcane, filtering of sugar syrup, cooling, evaporation, crystallisation and the reuse of waste as a source of energy.

There were enormous fans near reactors to keep the temperatures low, wires everywhere, sound of machines working in sync, huge tanks scaling several feet, digital display of per day output, feed rates, per hour output and all the thermodynamic details we only saw in books.

There was another side to the day though. The refined sugar came out after the entire process and that’s when the engineer ceased existing and the child in us emerged. With child-like enthusiasm we took a fistful of the sample that was so generously offered to us and scooped it into our mouths with utter delight. Eating it made us nostalgic about our childhood days when we would eat raw sugar. And the child in us once awakened decided to stay a little longer. Few of us headed to the playground afterwards. We swung as high as we could on the swings, went around in merry-go-round till we were dizzy and went up and down in the see-saw. For a day we forgot our stress, threw caution to the wind and just played like children…

The writer is a III year student of Biotechnology at Rajalakshmi Engineering College

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