Thursday, November 27, 2008

BOMBay !!!

Baddies, Bullets, Bomb Blasts...I just wish one of them gets Raj Thackeray...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Day As It Was : 16 November, 2008

0630 hours. “I just called…to say…I luuuuurrrrrrvvvvv you…”

0639 hours. “I just called…to say…I luuuuurrrrrrvvvvv you…”

0648 hours. Again. “I just called…to say…”

…I hate you, Stevie Wonder,” I grunt spitefully.

Ever averse to this repugnant process called “waking up”, I turn off the alarm. Without banging my fist on the wall for a change, I rub my eyes (babyish, eh? Bugger off!!!!!) and (try to)take a deep breath. There’s a frigging snarl-up in Noseshire. Vicks Inhaler is employed. I try to inhale the cool medicated air in vain. Comrade Cough has announced an all day bandh. I persevere, anyway, inhaling nothing through the nose but still exhaling through the mouth, thereby amused at my newly discovered ability to manufacture carbon dioxide from scratch. My eyes wander from the Hrithik poster on the wall near my bed to the Piggy Chops one on the wall to the farthest. The Telegraph whizzes by from under the door and heaves a sigh of relief on crashing into my bed. Feeling sorry for the newspaper, I pick it up.

“Fired Staffer kills Indian CEO in US”

Couldn’t ask for a more ironical front-page headline on the CAT day. What a motivation to crack the exam that guarantees CEOship in the not-so-far future!!

Yawning and scratching my hair in quick succession(so un-suave, eh? Hell yeah!!), I get off the bed.

Room Number 329.

I knock at the door.
I keep on banging the door.

Kuttey, uth!!
Bhai, 5 minute.
Nahi yaar, 7 baje gaye hain…*yawn*
Room aa jaiyo bhai…jaldi…

I kick the door one more time and come back to my room. Amit appears in ten minutes with his towel. I drop a capsule into water in the electric kettle. Using our towels to prevent their escape, we surrender ourselves to the heavenly medicated vapours. What a celestial feeling…to be able to breathe through the nose!!!

07xx hours.

I come back into my room in my towel after taking the bath - shivering like hell – and look for Dad’s watch that I had borrowed the day before, to see what time it was. I find it buried under reams of newspapers. It shows 0710!! By Jove, a real close shave! This had to happen on the CAT day! Had Madamoiselle Watch dumped me 3 hours down the line, I would have been rogered up big time. I borrow Nandy’s Sonata, dress up, pick my lucky mascots – that includes Times Life from some other room – and leave for breakfast.

There’s a spring in every step. The earphones pour sweet voices ranging from The Beatles to Bob Dylan to Shreya Ghoshal into my ears. Handshakes and “Fod Dena, bey” are the order of the day. Nervousness and anxiety find no room in my psyche buoyed by the unbelievable percentiles in the last 5 mock tests – all above 99.4. Lord had been extraordinarily generous in three of them : 99.89, 99.91 and 99.98!!!

0815 hours.

The auto-rickshaw’s right there at the hostel’s entrance. The driver seems familiar.

Suna aap logon ke Utkarsh(our college fest) mein Khayali(A The Great Indian Laughter Challenge Ifinalist) aya tha,” he enquires.
Haan, aya to tha.”
“Kaisa laga?”
“Pakau tha, bhaiya. Purane purane chhod raha tha.”
“Hum bhi top 8 mein reh chuke hain.

Hence the familiarity! The two of us chat a bit. He happens to be Abzaal Khan, whom I had seen a lot on the show’s fourth season, mimicking Lalu and making some amazing sounds, mostly using a nasal twang. Frankly, he wasn’t the best on the block. But he surely had, and obviously has, enough talent to earn a better livelihood. He shows an album of his photographs with Shatrughan Sinha, NS Siddhu and the fellow contestants during the trip. No one else is bothered. I feel bad at it but can’t help. They haven’t seen the show. I talk to him a bit on the way to the exam centre, where we leave the auto, asking him to be at a fixed point after the exam.

CAT 2008...The D-day!!! The whole area is flooded by advertising banners of firms and products even remotely related to B-school preps. Hordes of guys and girls donning every single colour on earth are reminiscent of IIT-JEE and AIEEE days. The count of parents accompanying their wards has dwindled over the years and so has the nervous chit-chat. We check out our respective seats in the seat chart. It happens to be Room number 1, Seat 2 for me. Hilariously, Room number 47 has just the one candidate, Reg No. 6561358!!!

NITians bundle up in circles, discussing every possible thing except CAT. Some of the hot topics are:

Gender Imbalance (“Yaar ladkiyan bahot kam hain…”)
Biology (“Just check her out, boss!!!!”)
Astrology (“Main keh raha hun na, 180 questions hi aayenge”)
Sanitation (“Abey andar toilet to hoga na?”)
Health & Hygiene (“Suna Chhedi boss ka hangover nahi utra hai abhi tak. Raat zada chadaa liye hain kya?”)
Advertising (“Itne saare banners hain yaar. Koi “best of luck” to bhidega.”)
Loneliness (“Room number 47 ki tanhayee…”)
Education System (“Saala aaj shaam ko bhi class hai!!”)

1015 hours.

Question papers distributed. 40 questions in Section-III while Section I & II have 25. No prizes for guessing what would the XL-size section comprise. It has to be English Usage. CAT, over the years, has been making the paper more anti-engineers and pro-B.Sc(Eng Hons.)! But it has crossed the line this time. 44.44% weightage to Verbal Ability. That’s disgusting. Engineers aren’t to be blamed and thus penalized for their proficiency in the quantitative ability. Rules can’t be bent in the favour of the weak. But they have been. I keep my cool and take the test like any mock test I had been taking.

1315 hours.

The hustle-bustle and the cacophony of vehicles don’t bother me. Test was fine. Fine enough at least. I hear people giving mouthfuls to the paper setters for their in-the-face bias towards non-engineers in order to achieve a balanced atmosphere of academic disciplines on the campuses of the hallowed institutes. Academic background, and not merit, is the newfangled yardstick of selection. Crikey!

1400 hours.

Three oft-quoted magical words fill the campus.
Kaisa gaya bey

A response to the above is followed by either “Sahiiiieee bidu, party kab” or “Load nahi bey, bahot exam hai abhi”.

1900 hours.

Almost all the junta has checked out the probable answer key and so have I. I’m bummed.
Quants-67. LR/DI-42 Verbal-40 Overall-149!!! It’s unbelievable, to say the least. Quants cutoff would be cleared by leaps and bounds. DI would be a smooth sail, as well. The total is also, according to the experts on various websites, enough to guarantee 6 IIM calls, if not IIM-A, too.

But damn me! Incredibly silly errors in the English section. I would just manage to cling onto the safer side of the cut-off, if not fall from grace. I would’ve understood if it was DI. But English!!! I’m shattered, finding no peace in the hollow consolations by friends that everything would be fine and I’ll get through. I know the maximum I’ll get are 4 IIM calls, provided I clear the English cut-off. The top three IIMs would not even consider my overall score.

I call up Dad and tell him that I’ve disappointed him…yet again. He wants me to go to IIM-C more than I do. He, as expected, tells me its fine and that I should stay calm. He asks me to sleep over it today and think practically tomorrow. He’s great.

There’s still a glimmer of hope. The answer keys published by the IIMs have, in the past, differed from the keys by various coaching institutes, predominantly in English. “Vindication” of just two of my answers in the English section by the IIMs would catapult me into the 6-call-zone, or, who knows even fetch me the ultra-coveted BLACKIS tag. Plus, the predicted cutoffs may be way off.

Things may even get worse if the IIM keys and the actual cutoffs are even more unfavourable. But I’ve got nothing to lose. As the eleventh commandment goes : “If it aint IIM-C, it aint nothin’!!!”