Saturday, 3 May 2014

The JEE!

Dedicated to: My future Children!

Of all the villains I am going to warn my kids about, the first and foremost of them would be the JEE.

I have lots of plans for them. I want them to start playing chess at 5. Learn tennis. Play a lot outdoors. Never touch a gadget till 20. Tour a lot. Develop passions. Study with passion. But then, work towards their passion. Be happy.
Without subscribing to the post-modern false concepts of a careless abandon towards studies, it makes more sense to me to give them various choices of career paths and let them choose, rather than the extremes of brainwashing and devil-may-care.

*********

8 pm, May 24th, 2009. Day before the announcement of IIT-JEE 2009 results.

Yesterday at this time was fun. I was just coming out of all the praise I got after my BITSAT exam on 22nd. Lots of calls. Uncles right away suggesting me to take admission at BITS-Pilani. But then here again I am, as nervous as ever. Tomorrow is the big day, the final judgement of my last two years!
I came from my college at 5 or something.I don't miss that, ever. In fact, I have gone to Paravyoma till the day before I left for Chennai. Surprising because I have not visited my school even once after graduating. Well, I loved my teachers, Period.
Alok sir said I might get around AIR-700. Aditya and Anmol had performed almost on the same level and might crack around AIR-300. What if they perform better than expected and nature balances it out as me?! Maybe I will have to do long-term. Maybe I will crack the paper next year. Maybe this year isn't for me. Maybe I should just shut up and go to bed!

7.30am, May 25th, 2009.
Dondaparthy 48A bus-stop.


The final moments(!) are just an hour away. In a couple of hours my future is going to be decided. Yesterday was so much fun, results weren't going to be announced then, peaceful life. But time has flown, yesterday has become today. Unfortunately.
I took the bus and reached my college in Muralinagar.

9 am.

Results are supposed to be out by now. But they are not. Probably a bad connection.
Some of the students seem so care-free. Some of them are trying to beat the stress by patronizing others. Some of us are trying to calm the hell down.
Bam! The AIR-1's name is out. So is 2,3 and 26. None of them is mine, thank god! What is this name, Gopi Shivkanth, anyway?!
Heart is beating faster. Mind isn't working clearly. What is happening in the world? I think it's going to get mashed in a few minutes. Time is slowing down at the rate of... Oh, damn it!
Alok sir went again to the internet cafe to check the results.
"Results are out," Alok sir says. I don't understand what that phrase means. Does he mean that the paper was leaked out and they cancelled the test? Ah, the refuge of hope!
Anmol got 504. Aditya, 484. Ok, probably I won't get a rank this time. They will easily get Mechanical Engineering in Chennai. I'll take that any day!
"The internet is a big mess right now. I'm trying to get yours too." Of course.
I cannot take this anymore. Maybe I should go off to Himalayas. Sleep there peacefully in a tent. Oh, what about all the avalanches there? Maybe the Western ghats, then. They say Kerala is a beautiful place. Stop it.
Alok sir comes the third time. He says my rank is out too. What does he mean by that, again?
1315.
My heart skipped three beats. First one when I heard it. Second when, well I can't remember, although it was just a couple of moments ago.
I am fighting my tears. I didn't expect a 1000+ ever in the back of my mind. What would my family think of me now? What about my relatives? Did I just let down everyone who has had a hope on me? Maybe, but I cannot think about it all now. The bubble was burst, and there ain't gonna be no fixing it.
Alok sir says, "It's ok, you got a decent one." I think he knows I am depressed.
I take 48A back home. I am lost in depressing thoughts. Have my family already known it? Have they already planned ridicules on me? I do not know. But first I have to give money to the conductor. He's asking for it.
I enter home.
Biggest surprise of my life. "Congrats!" shouted everyone.
"For what?," I throw my bag (Why I took it to the college is a long-forgotten dream) and slide down the reclining chair. This is my favourite chair. "Well, this is going to be the favorite chair of a loser," I think.
Now I am feeling drowsy, with all the pressure gone in a few minutes.
"Let me sleep for a few hours," I say to the air around me. It was clear that everyone heard.
I wake up. I get on my bicycle and am going to Ravishankar's house, although the main reason is to go to Harish's house.
Results of people all around me are now making me rethink. I think I haven't done all badly. 1315 is a decent rank. Neither of them qualified. Ravi is not down. Harish is forlorn.
I reach my home and sleep more. And wake up, only to sleep more.
More depression awaits me.

                                                                   **********

Many parents came to me later on with their sons for some 'counselling.' In one case I blatantly told to the mother that she's putting her kid through more pressure than he can handle. She thought I was stupid for saying that. She said that too.

The stress of the JEE (or similar 'competitive' exams), although it didn't take on me at other times than the D-day, thanks to my college, is something where the kids are helpless. Parents who were with us in the worst times of our life as solace, suddenly become the unforgiving antagonists of the story. Relatives are their side-kicks. You feel like you have to fight the whole world all by yourself.
I sincerely pledge not to make my children go through such cut-throat competition without their will. I sincerely urge my friends and family not to make them go through with this. Please let them pursue what they like to do, as long as you see they are at something productive. Please don't be over-awed by possible glorification from the relatives. Live, and let live!

Ooh, by the way, Merry JEE-results day!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Placement

Dedicated to: My sister first, and my sister next!
                                                 
                                                               **************************


Ten days it's almost been, and I couldn't see any job offer on the horizon.
Nerves got the better of me. It's been almost 5 years since I tasted any tangible success (the last being on the JEE-2009 results day), and since then life has been going only downhill. I felt afraid it would culminate in a disaster in the form of placement season.
This year (well, that year), only a handful of core companies showed up so far, the notable ones being Eaton, Bosch and Reliance, apart from FMCGs.
Eaton - history screwed me up in the form of CGPA. Well, a narrow miss.
Bosch - Thought I'd done the written test well, but karma screwed me up.
Reliance - More karma.
                                                              *****************************
On the fourth day, I attended, reluctantly though, the Futures First's interview(s). Stress interviews they are supposed to be, so I prepared myself for the challenge.
It was a series of three interviews. The first one went fairly easy with who I'd like to call 'the smooth guy.'
Those who qualified the first round were sent to the second ( I have to mention this because some interviewers count on a cumulated performance.) This dude was a tough nut. Within seconds I realised that this guy isn't going to buy my attractively-packaged-garbage so easily. I need some convincing and confidence to do. He asked me a few puzzles, and even though I wasn't able to answer a significant portion of them, I kept my cool and projected my confidence fairly well. Only that I went a tad farther, and tried to reverse-stress the guy by correcting his questions.
I was interviewed for the third time, though. It was 3 O' clock in the evening. The final interview was on, and he kept repeating the same questions that the HR-2 asked. Enough, I said to myself. "I am hungry, I haven't had lunch or breakfast today, Sir," I said to them.
The final nail was sent into the coffin.

                                                 *********************************************

On the ninth evening, though, It was announced suddenly that Mercedes, which was earlier open only for the M.Techs, was opened to Dual degrees as well. My branch counselor specifically called me (and only a few other guys) to apply for it immediately, and that rest could be taken care of later.
With only little hope did I send in my resume, with only little hope did I attend their Presentation, with only little hope did I attempt their written test.
With only little hope did I check the shortlists the next morning. And unsure enough, my name was there.
With more of 'little hope,' I attended the group discussion session. The last time I attended a GD was my first time, and It was a disaster. I had to make amends this time. Except that this is a do-or-die situation.
The topic for the discussion was a fairly easy one, and in spite of my lack of confidence and high-pitch voice, I managed to blend in pretty well. I was confident of my performance in the GD round. But karma hasn't been my friend so far.
With great apprehension, I checked the shortlists for the final interview, and heck, I made it to the final round!
It was only 11a.m, and the interviews weren't for another couple of hours.
Couple of hours became quadruple of hours, and still there was no sign of my being interviewed any soon. As always, there was lot of pre-interview chat. "What kind of questions are being asked?" "Are they stressing you?" "How did you do?," and stuff.
                                                           
                                                                    *************

4p.m

The student coordinator sent me in to give the interview.
I entered the room.
As soon as I entered, HR-2 guy started to shoot me with questions.
Before answering them, I respectfully interrupted,"May I have a seat, Sir?"
"No, you are supposed to give the interview standing."
I tried to give my broadest smile possible, limited only by my only-so-much-elastic lips.
"Have a seat, pleasure to meet you!".

The HR-1 guy came from behind and tried a wise-crack at me, "Since when are they allowing Tenth class students to attend IITs?"
Trusting my innate spontaneity, dubious as its existence and laudability is, I replied immediately, "After they complete their intermediate, Sir!"
HR-1 looked appalled, but HR-2 seemed to like it. He broke into a wide laugh, and complimented me.
"Thank you, Sir," I said, pinning my hopes on the coordination between HR-1 and HR-2.
I knew at that moment that I scored a few brownie points.
HR-2 and HR-3 went on to interview me on technical stuff, and strong I am in Fluid Mechanics and the like, I answered them with fair ease.
I came out of the room after a firm handshake with HR-1,2 and 3.
                                                                        **************

I knew I impressed them, but who knows what my karma has in the store for me?! Lots of questions hovered and circled in my head in the immediate half-hour, and I could do nothing but to watch them mess with my mind. The final results were awaited, and HR-1 requested everyone to assemble in the corridor so that he could do the needful.
We all semi-circled around the three guys, and in spite of all the advice on the ephemerality of the first-job-pleasure, we pinned our hopes of future in the little piece of paper the HR-1 was carrying. What if the HR-1 was pissed at my comment and their coordination backfired, only to see myself eliminated?
As soon as HR-1 came out, I occupied his immediate left and started having a peek at the list of names he was carrying.
1.Vivek Bharadwaj
2.Arshad M Siddique
3.Chandrasekhar Sirimala
4.Anoop Jogdand
5.XXX XXXX

His fingers covered the fifth name. I was only more sure that my karma had finally forgiven me!
As he was announcing the names, he requested the selected guys to be awarded the Mercedes-Benz cap.
After announcing the first two names, I could finally see the fifth name, and it was mine!
"And the fifth guy is...," he looked around and then at me with a weird smile on his face I wouldn't be able to figure out the meaning of hadn't I already known!
Even before announcing the fifth name, I went around him and stood in-front of HR-2 who was giving us the caps.
"Oh, so you already knew huh?," asked with a smile HR-1.
"Yes, sir, I was peeping into the sheet!," said I, much to the laughter of all the candidates and the HRs. I got the Mercedes-Benz cap, after all!
"Congratulations!"
                                                                   **********************

I came out of the venue, and as I was walking on the main road, too many thoughts were running in my mind.
But then the first one, as if instinctively. I picked up the phone. Not to call my Dad. Not to call my Mom. But to call my sister.
She burst out immediately.
What would it have been for me if not for her support and kind assurance! Consistent and cooperative for almost a month since!

Infi number of calls followed, and at the end of the day, only one thing remained.
Sweet dreams!
                                                                   ***********************

Everyone faces this situation for the first time in their lives at some point or the other. Some of my friends made it to Deutsche bank and ITC. Day one. Slot one. So It should not be a big deal, technically. But screw rationalism!
"He's so excited about just XXX, I made it into XXXX," is the most foolish statement one could hear!
Happiness lies only in satisfaction inside, and not by what others perceive you as!