11th March, 4:00pm
There are reasons why flights don’t land at the Bangalore HAL airport. One reason could be that a Deccan Airways ATR is sitting smack in the middle of the runway. And I have to write IIM-C’s Aptitude Test for Mathematics on 12th March at IIM-B.
Fortunately, I was already in Bangalore!
24 hours ago, Trivandrum
Mom: “I don’t know why we have to go to Bangalore two days early.”
Me: “Uhuh. Humour me, please, Mom! This is important. It could even affect my performance, you know!”
Mom: “Bags me window seat.”
Me: (whining) “That’s unfair! You took it last time we came and that was because of turbulence and all, you made that an excuse! NOOOO, I want the window seat! Mommmyy!”
Mom: (backing off) “Sheesh, have it your way, kid!”
Present, somewhere in Bangalore’s famous malls
Mom: “Flights are being delayed or cancelled!”
Me: “Bahahaha. Now buy me a Sony flat-screen television.”
Mom: “Would you settle for a cold coffee?”
12th March, 10:30 am, IIM-Bangalore
“Where’s PGP Exam Hall-1? Where’s PGP Exam Hall-1? Where’s PGP Exam Hall-1? “, Muttering to myself, I walked along the long corridors of IIM-Bangalore.
Along the way, we accumulated more people I knew (From previous PIs, PagalGuy or just my random-grin-a-little-we’re-both-in-this-together style.), till quite a few of us were gathered around the hall wondering what kind of Maths we were going to be asked.
We didn’t have long to wait. At 10:45, we were ushered in to sit in some funny looking wooden chairs that moved when you leaned backwards. With their usual rather blunt way of putting forward things, I was still George Shruti Susan, with a number of 12, and found myself right in front, grinning nervously at the Professor who was pacing to and fro. After sometime, I caught the eye of the only lady professor there and both of us grinned the “Aren’t we special women in this room, so how does it feel to be on your side?” conspiratorial smile. Hmm, that really felt good!
The test was good, went well enough. No comments! I then wended my way back to the K block and my room to finish my new favourite book: The Great Indian Novel. Like VV (Ved Vyas) says….
This is my story of the India I know, with its biases, selections, omissions, distortions, all mine. But you cannot derive your cosmogony from a single birth, Ganapathi. Every Indian must forever carry with him, in his head and heart, his own history of India.
We met up in Lakshmi’s room and checked out some pictures they took for different occasions. Who says IIM students have no fun? I agree with them too ;). Of course, I am kidding!
We also walked around the campus taking some really pretty pictures. Here are some of my favourites!
I remember getting a comment on the blog a long time ago, that effectively said “So many pictures of the world around you. SHAME on you. Where are you in them?” Well, that’s me. This is the outside of a lecture hall, I am not sure which one, P block, I think.My favourite picture, just because of the shadows and the sunlight. It looked gorgeous. This is actually the PGP Exam Hall-1. I found out the shortcuts AFTER I had my ATM.
At the end of all this, I also updated my Career Goals (Huh! WHAT goals?) in the form. I love the IIM-C form. Unlike Indore, they had only 4 pages and 2 questions and unlike Lucknow, they had enough space for the two questions they asked, instead of 2 very cramped lines. Also, unlike Bangalore, I didn’t have to go and beg every teacher I knew for recommendation letters. Yeah, as far as the forms go, Calcutta and Kozhikode were the best. At least, they didn’t want to know if I had any history of mental illness. You see, that’s a very subjective question!
13th March, 5 am
I woke up on my own. That’s a change from the usual yelling I need before I can wake up. But, seriously, the B campus can get extremely cold. Take my advice, barefoot is not really an option!
By seven, I was seriously fidgeting. If you know the kind of person I am, that’s majorly hyperactive. There was a lot of whistling going on, (“SHRUTI, girls don’t whistle!”, “But, mom, the block is almost empty!”), a lot of pacing and even a lot of staring into the vast distance interpersed with more fidgeting. So… we had breakfast.
By 8:30, I was done, so I pulled out my phi-yulls, mentally laughing at the guy I had met in the IIM-I interview who’d showed up for the PI with a school-bag FULL of certificates. At least mine were docketed and arranged properly. By the way, that guy is worth one whole blog post, I wish I had more time to talk to him. I can still remember the murderous looks being thrown his way, to which he was completely oblivious.
I made my way into the K-block and asked them cheerfully “Hey, so IIM-C, right?”
One wannabe muttered “This is MDI, IIM-C is in M block.” No doubt, he must have mentally haved added to himself, “Clueless female. At least get your bearings right. Haha. Let’s see the IIM-C folks toast you.”
Hmm, maybe I have an overactive imagination! 😉 I am often accused of it alright.
Finally, I found the block (ditto as IIM-L) and found my panel number (2). I went upstairs and flashed my best “Hey-so-whaddya-say” grin and got some seriously tired responses.
On an aside, I am amazed at the kind of welcomes I get usually as Shrutz. Yours truly being the rather smile-at-strangers-talk-them-to-death sort, when bored, usually starts talking to the other guinea pigs within 10 minutes of the long interminable wait. Of course, it also helps to be one of very few girls, so people don’t mind talking!
“Hey, I am —–“
“Nice to meet you. I am Shruti!”
The reply ranges from “Oh, you are Shrutz from PagalGuy?” to “DAMN, Shrutz, you better shut your mouth during the GD! We’ll be keeping a close watch on you.”
Okay, that’s just dratted unfair. Do you people KNOW how hard it is for me to open my mouth in any GD? I feel like I have been struck dumb most of the time! “Damn, there go my points. Bye bye. Now, I got to think of some OTHER points!”
Meanwhile, people were discussing about West Bengal and different states. Suddenly,
“So, Arundhati Roy is a famous Bengali, right?”
The air suddenly grew chilly. I turned to the offending *shudder* GIRL.
“Oh come ON. She’s a MALLU! What do you MEAN by Bengali?”
She cowered under my err.. steely gaze. “Eh, the surname Roy?”
“Excuse me. She’s a Mallu christian, from Kottayam. Her mother runs a school there.” I was very near pulling my hair and yelling “MALLU PRIDE!”
It’s another fact that I spent most of my time laughing at The God of Small Things. Sample: Young Man. On a Caravan. Boom Boom. I mean WTH? Are we brain dead here? For Pete’s sake.Okay, maybe she was slightly better than Midnight’s Children, but STILL! I don’t think I learn from past mistakes, though. I have The English Patient and The Everest Hotel right now, and have to finish them. I am not entirely sure what’s up with Booker Prize Winners, India and entirely obscure stories. Or maybe, I am not sufficiently literary enough to appreciate nursery rhymes or subjective mythology in a novel. Maybe, I ought to stick to the known devils rather than the unknown angels. Maybe, I ought to keep my opinions to myself….
Suddenly, another question, “So, who’s the CM of Kerala? Some Oommen Chandy?”
The pronounciation was atrocious and I burst out laughing. The rest of the time was spent talking about UTs and states and politics in general.
Out came a very tall, slightly pink and hairless man,the Alumnus. He started calling us in. George (etc) came last in. Oh just great. First day, first GD, last PI, my worst nightmare. The ten of us were shepherded into the room and seated around (again a nightmare) a rectangular table. And I was at one end. Just GREAT!
GD topic: Man is an island.
It was announced by a short professor with a very good accent. Looked like a Bong to me (Later investigations proved that I was very stupid to assume things like that ;)) The third professor was seated in one corner with a notepad he was scribbling in.
By and far, the most chaotic GD I have been in. I couldn’t put a word in edgewise till 3 minutes into the whole process, I raised my voice a bit and went ahead, over the points of three others. Suddenly there was pin drop silence, which was weird. I stated my point and again sat back while the mayhem continued.
Then again, “Islands are sometimes built from destruction, like volcanoes and earthquakes.” I was again talking to 9 very silent boys, which I felt was rather amusing. I began to have fun, interrupting the heated debates at one or two points, saying anything that came into my head and then letting the guys take over the point and thrash it out. The points weren’t too bad, but overall not a very satisfying GD.
We were then asked to talk for a minute, extempore. I am very good as BSing on the spot. 🙂 So, that was okay!
Mood after GD: What the HECK?
Once, we got out, we were told Panel #3 had “No man is an island”, which is a line from a poem. Google tells me the poem is “Meditations XVII”, by John Donne.
….No man is an island, entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main…
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved with mankind,
And therefore, never send to know,
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
Oh well, two famous lines in a single poem, and I didn’t know the poem or the poet. Whither goest thou, Shrutz? 😦
Around me, Panel#2 started going from 45 minute interviews to 10 minutes, as time passed, till I was the only person left (and 2 more from Panel#3) At around 1 pm, when I am sure their tummies were rumbling ;), I was called in. Panelist #1 came out and held the door open (second time I was given the royal treatment!) and I went in and wished everyone…
“Good afternoon, Shruti.” said Panelist#2.
I nearly winced, but flashed a big smile at him (he was the alumnus). I sat down and look around with what I hoped was a very interested look on my face. P1 decided he had enough of my smile already! 😀
“So, Shruti. Did your gender give you an advantage for the GD?”
Since I had been enjoying the experience thus far, I decided to be honest. “I actually found that it did, sir.”
“And why is that?”
“Well, sir, initially, I had a hard time being heard over everyone’s voices because all the guys were quite loud. But the moment I was heard, they gave me their entire attention.”
He smiled a delibrate smile, “So, Did they always listen to you?”
“In fact, yes sir.”
“So, you’re telling me they didn’t always listen to each other?”
Oh crap. The honesty thing isn’t exactly working out, is it? I gave him a huge smile and told him, “Frankly, no sir.”
“So, did YOU listen to them?”
An emphatic “Yessir!”
“So, when you were asked to talk for one minute after the GD, why didn’t you summarise?”
I schooled my features to look slightly puzzled, “Well, sir, you didn’t ask me to?”
“Yeah, we didn’t ask for a summary.”
I continued, “But, I did use other people’s points in my speech!”
He decided to change tacks, “What is the one quality most successful managers have?”
I was frankly blindsided by the sudden change in subject and groped around going all the way from organisational abilities to leadership skills till I came to one skill I could say I had in some measure, “Well, sir, they ought to be able to gauge an argument or a problem from many viewpoints, understand the strengths and weaknesses.” I went on till finally I finished weakly, “Well, what I mean is, he should have good analytical abilities?”
He looked at me, a little bemused. “Does it work everywhere?If you are asked to promote a product, how will that help?”
“Sir, is this advertising, brand promotion?”
“Whatever you would like.”
“Well, sir, if the brand you need to promote is a recognised one, you need to understand what the public perception of that brand is, what they think is the strength and the weakness, if it’s a new brand you need to build on it. Hide the flaws.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Sir, may I cite an example?”
I racked my brains and came upon the Indian Textile Industry, God alone knows why! “Sir, the Indian textile was perceived to make inferior quality cotton cloth, this wasn’t true, but the perception persisted. This is the difference between the inherent weakness in a product as opposed to the actual weakness. Through proper promotion, that misconception has been cleared up.” Yes, quite a load of BS…
“Okay. If the product were a soap?…”
“Well, sir, some competitors exploit properties in products, which are inherent, but can be perceived as weaknesses. They’d say ‘That soap causes drying of your skin, ours doesn’t’. That would be a way, yes?”
He looked at me as if to say “Is that enough BSing for one day, young lady?”
Panelist3 consulted his notepad and enunciated in a thick Bong accent, “You gave some points in the GD (WHAT?), so how do you say a manager shouldn’t be an island?“
“Sir, I recognised that the line was from a poem, I don’t know which poem or who the poet is, which said “No man is an island entire unto itself.” The moment a manager makes decisions in isolation, without consulting others or proper knowledge, his decisions might prove to be wrong.”
He flipped through my form, “What is APPLIED about your branch? (Applied Electronics & Instrumentation)”
(“Sir, that’s an old question”) “Sir, we have two branches in my department, one is Telecommunication, our Instrumentation degree needed to be differentiated, so it’s just another name for two branches.”
“Where do you APPLY electronics?”
(“Why are you stuck on the name?”) “Well, in our project, we’re applying what we learnt into the field of VLSI design.”
Panelist#2 interjected, “VLSI goes over my head, can you explain in layman’s terms.”
I slowed down and looked at him with an incredulous look on my face, “Sir, I will try. We’re trying to design….”
“So, what are you applying in it?”
“The VLSI design and circuit design techniques we learnt in 3rd year and simulation tools we learnt in second year!”
Again a change of subject, “What is FM?”
“What is AM?”
“What is the difference?”
“Sir, modulation of the signal over the modulatin wave.”
“What is the difference between radios of old and now?”
“Sir, nowadays, we use solid-state devices, diodes, transistors in the radios, in older days they used pentodes, tetrodes, triodes…”
Panelist#2 helped me out “Tubes”
“Yessir, vaccum tubes!”
Panelist#3 persisted “You’re from Kerala, right? Why don’t I get FM from Trivandrum here?”
(“Sir, you aren’t missing anything GREAT.”) “Sir, the frequency of FM is such that there is very low range for FM.”
Panelist#2 was curious “Why’s there low range?”
I floundered completely. This was taught in ONE paper in third semester and I had forgotten. “Uhm, the SNR ratio becomes too low.” (“Damn, I am NOT a communications engineer!”) “The antenna height is not conducive to long distance transmission.”
“Why is it that I can get Delhi here, but not Trivandrum?”
I looked confused, “Oh, you mean Aakashvaani, that’s AM, Trivandrum is on FM. AM has greater range.”
“Sir, the frequency!”
“Is it directly proportional?”
I was almost speechless, “Sir, I don’t think so.”
“No, there’s something about reflection”
(“Oh! CRAP”) I said wearily, “FM is a ground wave, AM is a sky wave.”
I was startled by his enthusiastic response! (“Uhm, it was just a right answer, but thanks!”)
Panelist#2 still didn’t have enough of me displaying my technical knowledge. “Last question, what is the difference between fixed line and mobile communication?”
(“Again, may I tell you I am NOT a freaking communications engineer, regardless..”) “Uhm, sir the mode of propagation, fixed telephone lines versus antennas.”
“Why is it called cellular communication?“
(“Aise bolna chahiye tha nah!”) And I proceeded to explain about antennas governing cells and frequency handing over. He seemed particularly happy that I knew it. Frankly, it was less of what I had learnt in college (because we hadn’t) and more of reading about Smart Antennas that helped me there. You never know where reading will help you.
Panelist#1 finally spoke up, “What is the limit of transistor sizing?”
I literally beamed at him, “Sir, transistor sizes keep going down, 200 nm is the standard size now. We’re doing our project in 130, 90 and 32 nm. Sizes can’t go a lot below that because of VLSI fabrication and design techniques which limit the size!”
“So, What are the alternatives to transistors?”
“Sir, scientists are looking at carbon nano-tubes, single atom transistors where the spin of the electrons govern the states and some kind of atomic latch, whose name I am not sure of. I heard of it during a seminar” (“TOO much information, Shrutz! Shut up NOW”) I closed my mouth.
“What are they made of?”
“I am not too sure, sir” I said slowly.
“Okay, you have talked about exploiting the weaknesses of products. You can exploit the weaknesses of customers as well. How would you, as a manager, exploit the weaknesses of customers in trying to sell Kerala as a tourist destination?”
“Sir, Indians as a whole are thrifty. They like value for money, cheap things. Kerala offers everything: beaches, hill stations, backwater etc with immense value for money. Added to which, we have concepts like Ayurveda and medical tourism catching on. We can sell Kerala like that.”
“There is a school of thought that says people should focus on tourists who pay more, foreigners. What do you say?” “Foreign arrivals in India are low as such,not just to Kerala. Added to which, Indian businessmen don’t travel much to Kerala for business reasons. This leaves domestic tourists who are mainly families to whom the price matters. That’s where the price factor comes in.”
“So, you are suggesting best of two worlds?”
“Yes sir, I would say a two-pronged approach” (“Hah!”)
Panelist#3 had his say again, “You are from Kerala. Which district are your parents from in Kerala?”
(“Why can’t he believe it when I say I AM from Kerala?”) “Sir, They’re from Pathanamthitta, but we’ve been in Trivandrum mostly.”
They thanked me, I smiled again and left.
This PI went well, smiles all around and lasted around 15 minutes. Wasn’t too long, but was one of my better interviews, along with Indore.
The last PI up, is Bangalore, on 4th April
Till then, adios!