22nd February dawned fair and bright.
“Shruti. Wake up, it’s 7:00.”
I crawled deeper into the covers and decided to give the umpteenth wake up call a miss. “Five minutes please.”
I am usually a person who can stay awake till 3 am and wake up as fresh as a daisy at 7:30, drink some coffee and dash to college. But, the Bangalore weather does things to me. Must be signs of impending old age, but the cold gets me to my bones, makes my skin dry out ala cold-cream-ads and makes my regularly wavy hair straight. Hmm, maybe there might be advantages to the dryness!
I was finally pulled out of my warm bed (loudly protesting, I might add) by a firm mother who pushed me into brush my teeth. After a seried of unfortunate incidents where I mistook my nose for my teeth, I finally did my ablutions and looked presentable for a GD/PI… technically.
Okay, Bangalore traffic is a bad thing, to paraphrase Martha Stewart. Really BAD. We got out of the house at 7:45 and reached IIM, Bangalore at Bannerghatta Road at aroud 8:35. (The return journey took my relative 2 hours!)
Once at the CCP building, the-guy-I-met-at-the-lobby (yes, a new character in the proceedings!) and I set out in search of the M block, getting lost en route and asking umpteen people.
Once at M block, this is what we saw.
Well, no, not literally, this was the scene some time LATER.
What happened before was:
Guy-I-Met-at-the-Lobby and I met a new candidate fondly to be remembered as Person-who-guessed-everyone’s-state. Oracle product, Venkat (The guy in the maroon tie and blue shirt), who ‘introducted’ himself to me and guy-I-met.., who turned out to be Elvis. No. Not the King. Immediately Venkat realised that he was a Mallu Christian. (Yay, telepathy). I sweetly enquired what I looked like after he saw Panel number VIII (All Mallus) file in. His face worked into a grimace as he guessed..”Bong!”
Yeah. He got that right. I am quite a Chatterjee.
One by one, my group started filing in. I hadn’t seen so many Mallus in a B-school, err.. I never had seen so many Mallus in a B-school.
There was Nikhil (with whom I shook hands and blurted out “Speed Nikhil?” and Sanoop who looked flabbergasted that I didn’t look as tall as my TIME ad passport size photo. Sanju and Anju, my department mates, Deepak, in the same boat as I (BLICK calls.. damn you A!) & Jinnoy, who would have been a classmate if I hadn’t been in CET. (Well, doesn’t that make sense now?)
Gayatri and I were spending quite a while giggling over the things we giggle over… GD/PI practice sessions. Yeah, I know. We NEED to get a life! In the middle, I took a picture.
At 10:00 sharp, a lady who vaguely reminded me of Glenn Close’s character in 101 Dalmations fairly bristled out.
She first called out Nikhil’s name. All of us looked at each other. He’d gone to Panel VII.
“Okay, so he’s not there. George Shruti Susan.”
Elvis plucked up enough courage to inform her after he had been called third to tell her that Nikhil was upstairs.
“Okay. Go call him… Parumpat.”
Sanoop detached himself from the mass and stood behind me in 4th place as everyone filed into the room to see a round table with 9 chairs laid out. We took our seats as Speed rushed in, true to his moniker. The King sedately walked into the third chair.
By now, everyone was settled in and staring at the two lovely attendants on our rollicking journey.
Miss Close looked at Santa’s Elf#1 and coughed. “Welcome to the GD/PI. Today we will be flying at an altitude that is going to make you VERY sick. The weather is good, but I know all of you’re feeling clammy. Fat good it will do you. Enjoy the ride. It’s nauseating.”
Tada. She declaimed the…
GD Topic: “You have hardly ever met a mathematician who is good at reasoning”
Wow. Interesting choice of subject. Couldn’t you do me a favour and hand me a gun. It might even turn out to be painless.
Given 10 minutes, we were supposed to write on the topic. I wrote something about how abstract concepts and beauty don’t mix and how maths was the Lingua Pura,”Cogito Ergo Sum” and all rubbish of that sort.
I was reasonably satisfied with my effort and after 8 minutes, dotted my final i and dashed my final t and sat back in my seat for the two minutes observing the others do likewise.
After which, we were given the permission to start.
Sanoop started off, “Friends, when I see the topic in front of us, I am reminded of models.”
HUH? WHAT? COME AGAIN?
“… I am a software engineer” (Good for you!:D) “We have the travelling salesman model.”
All of us looked flabbergasted and chalked down the start to some new-fangled model developed by some reasoning mathematician somewhere. People were itching to interrupt and finally someone did… And we were off!
In the middle of the GD, I suddenly realised one C H Dodgson was good for a dramatic example and I talked about how his book Alice in Wonderland was an example of creativity.
Sanoop smoothly agreed “Alice in Wonderland makes me remember a wonderful story.”
Everyone pricked their ears attentively.
“Alice’s grandma said. “1.2.3. What comes next?” Said Alice, “I don’t know”..”
That was a bit of a damp squib but Nikhil wasn’t to be deterred! “And could you explain that please?”
Sanoop gallantly went forward, “That’s easy. Alice needed to learn counting.”
Death silence while people grinned.
Jinnoy took over and talked about Mr. Manmohan Singh for some god forsaken reason!
15 minutes later, we were done. The Lady and the Tramp ushered us out.
We bonded over biscuits, tea and Alice in Wonderland. We were spending a large part of our time scaring poor Parumpat with dire warnings of how they’d ask him about the Jabberwocky. Sanoop had turned a pretty shade of puce by then.
For evidence, these are the Mallus@IIMB in one stage of the PI process…
After 10 minutes of general hyperness, where Elvis’s nose was recorded for posterity, Scapegoat#1, Nikhil was called in. We waved him in with suitable noises of encouragement. Imagine cheerleaders saying “Rah rah Nikhil is our main man.” Yeah. It wasn’t that at all.
20 minutes later, he came out looking disgusted and tired. He motioned me in, while the others clustered around him. I went in after a delay, whereupon the Lady had started to the door.
Went near the door, got in and she asked me to “Close the door, Susan”. I closed it as softly as I could and walked slowly to the hot seat.
(SM and SK be the panelists. Yeah I found out their names!)
SM: “So, do you like to be called Susan or Shruti?”
Me: “Shruti, ma’am.”
I was a little surprised and took my seat.
SM: “Okay, you seem to have distinctions in both 11th and 12th. Why didn’t you write IIT?”
Me: “Ma’am, I didn’t. My parents needed me.”
SM: “Is your college good?”
Me: (DUH) “Yes, ma’am.”
SM: “So, tell me something about your college and why you selected it?”
Me: “Ma’am CET was started in 1939 by Mr.Mathewman…” Some trivia followed.
SM: “So, what is its ranking?”
Me: “It’s the best college in the state after NIT-Calicut.”
SM: “Why did you choose it?”
Me: (Because they wanted me and I was up for a break) I added some gyaan about the college
SM: “What about industry interaction?”
Me: *Talk about the department and talks being organised*
SM: “What made you choose your college?”
Me: *same points*
SM: “How do you define the placements being good? Where are you placed?”
Me: “Infosys and IBM Hardware.”
SM: “Have you decided where to go? Are both IT firms?”
Me: “No, ma’am Infy is IT-based, IBM is not.” *more random talk*
SM: “Okay, so did you have any more choice in your acads”
Me: “Yes, ma’am I chose to do engineering of what I had.”
*li’l silence* BIG MISTAKE #1!
SM: “Go on.”
Me: “I got through the CMC Vellore exam. Decided to forego the PI.”
SM: (looking surprised at what she clearly considered my stupidity and leaning back in chair) “Why did you write the test?”
Me: “I was inspired in part by Dr. Ida Scudder.” (Please pick on that!?)
SM: (resolutely ignoring my opening) “But you wasted time and energy?”
IT WAS MY TIME AND ENERGY FOR GOD’S SAKE!
Me: *tried explaining*
SM: (waving it off) “List the pros and cons of an MBBS degree.”
Me: “I believe I am a bit too empathetic.” *some more BS*
SM: “Tell me about yourself.”
Me: “Ma’am, I study…”
SM: (not looking convinced) “No, no…Why an MBA now? Why not a Tech job?”
Me: *lists out reasons*
SM: (not looking convinced at ALL) “How do you say a B-school is good?”
By now, I was seriously getting tired of the third degree. I was being grilled and not allowed to finish my answers fully and frankly, pasting a smile on for so long was bugging! Regardless, on the smile stayed!
SM: “How do you rate a B-school?”
Me: “On the same criteria as an engineering college.Placements, Infra, faculty, students…”
SM: “How can you rate placements?”
Deja-vu all over again.
Me: “Ask the seniors, and check out after 3 more years how they fared at their first job.”
SM: “Where do you see yourself 2 years from now?”
Me: “Having completed my MBA and working in the industry for 3 years, and then at business.”
SM: “Any dream companies?”
Me: “No, ma’am. But..” I started on an anecdote.
SM: “So you don’t know what you will do?”
Me: “Ma’am I hope to find out during the MBA.”
SM: “Oh, so the MBA is a career counselling program?”
Me: (tired of all this!) “No, ma’am!” *some more BS*
SM: “Okay, so what companies come to IIM-L?”
WHAT THE HECK?
Me: (evading the question) “The usual ones.”
Me: “I talked to a senior and she was placed in Dabur.”
SM: “Where can you get the placement data from?”
A blank look followed the response.
SM: “The website?”
Me: “Yes, ma’am. But I didn’t check the stats.”
The hitherto silent Good Cop decided to come into the PI.
SK: “So, what is the intake of IIM-L?”
Me: “250, I think.”
SM: “What courses do we offer?”
Me: “Courses on Finances, Operations, HR… Some colleges give it on Systems too”
Me: “IIM-C, for eg, has the PGDCM for systems.”
SM: “Do we have any specialisations?”
Me: (Forgot about PGP-ABM) “No, ma’am. But you can major in any one thing or just take a general management degree.”
SM: “There was recently a controversy involving IIM-B. Do you think it’s good for IIMs to open shop outside?”
Me: *starts off and get cut in middle*
SM: “Do the IIMs offer a degree?”
Me: “No, ma’am. It’s a PG Diploma in management.”
Me: *explains about the funda*
SK comes back from his tryst with the outside world.
SK: “So, if you had to prepare a questionnaire about placements, what would you do?”
Me: *divide it into quanti vs subjective.. questions etc etc*
SK: “Would it be subjective or number based?”
Me: “Depends on the size of the sample.”
SK: “What does random mean?”
Me: (IIMB’s calls) “Well, sir…. “*BS*
SK: “Mathematical expression please?”
Me: “Probability not known.”
I beat abour the bush some more…
Me: “Sigh, Sir, I don’t know.”
SK: “IF I said it was..” *long explanation*
Me: “I believe so, sir.”
SK: “You BELIEVE so, You mean it’s not?”
Me: “It is, sir.”
SK: “What is conditional probability?”
SK: “Is is independent or mutually exclusive?”
Me: “Not independent. Mutually exclusive.. hmm no”
SK: “Draw it.”
I draw it on a notepad with notations.
SK: “Is this mutually exclusive?”
Me: (Truly tired of all this) “Yes, sir.” (Big Mistake#1394)
SM: “Thank you Shruti.”
I walked out with as much dignity as I could muster.
SM: “Call Elvis in.”
Me: “Yes, ma’am.”
Once out, I commenced hitting my head.
That, my friend, is how NOT to conduct your IIML PI!