Thursday, March 23, 2006

Internal Conflicts

{A big thanks to Arnav, who woke me up in time for the IIMB interview, which otherwise I would have missed. And with it, missed an important lesson the interview taught).
I am finally over with all six of my interviews (five actually, I skipped I..isnt this a good line..I skipped I). Ideally, this should be a perfect time to relax. The mantra seems simple: sit back and wait for the results. Still a fortnight left till the R-day (Result Day). However, its easier said than done. These interviews have proved to be far more important to me than I thought they would. Especially the Bangalore one, in which the panellists quite explicitly told me that I wasnt meant for an MBA. And I kind of agreed. And they gave me a lot to think about, and I will be spending the next few days trying to analyse all that they said.
The IIMB interview started off again with a query on whether I was there earlier (I was, and the same panel member was there this time around as well). Then came the expected question about my GPA, which I think I handled pretty well. They also asked me about which business magazine I read, to which I honestly replied none. Then the question about passion (I had a strong sense of deja-vu) by the same professor who had asked it last year. And this time I was ready : writing, and NGO, which I also mentioned as my long time career-plans. And I also pretty much fit an MBA into those. Financial stability for pursuing a full-fledged writing career, and management training for running the NGO. Good, valid answers I think. And the person who had taken my interview last year seemed pretty much impressed with the transformation in me. Then the thunderbolt struck. For he then asked his colleague, a person with long, white beard (Seeing him reminded me of DNC, my course advisor for the first three years in IIT Delhi, who, after my first year, had advised me to run out of IIT Delhi and do something meaningful in life) if he wanted to assess me. And this is how he started. "You seem to be a bit confused about life, which is usual for your age. Is it true?" I said yes. Trying to be honest, they repeated continously. Then he started asking me arbit questions about Timbuktu and the source of the Nile, and I did not disappoint myself much there. He asked me about the battles of Panipat, and was quite surprised when I gave exactly the correct answers, and about where were the Ajanta-Ellora caves and the Chilka Lake. I knew it all. And then he asked me the location of the National Chemical Laboratory and the National Physical Laboratory, none of which I knew. Then came his most arbitary question "Where is Kocha Pody and why is it famous?" When I said I didnt know it, he said, "All I am trying to subtely tell you all along is that the kind of social general awareness that is needed for a management course is missing in you." And I was dumbfounded. What could I say? He went on to say, "You want to do noble things in life:writing and working with NGOs. These two things are directly opposite to what MBA preaches. If you follow an MBA now, you will lose passion for what you really want to do, and we as teachers dont want to do that. You have noble aspirations, join the London School of Journalism and follow your dream. Become Hari Kunzru, he is not an MBA. And he is earning money. Your heart does not call out for an MBA. You dont have to do an MBA just because your brother passed out from IIMA. (They actually repeated this line thrice the entire interview). Zubin has a different story. If you think that after a year or two, you still want an MBA, come back, otherwise follow your passion." And I believed him. My MBA dream lay in tatters, but I was happy by the time I got out. It was one of the best advises I had ever got from a teacher, up there with the "run away from IIT" advice (which, on hindsight, I should probably have followed). The complete advice then was this "IIT is not the place from you. You have cleared JEE, which means you have enough brains in you to earn money even if you get into politics. This place is not for people like you." How true words!
So well, by the time I came out of the IIMB interview, I was happy and sad. Happy because, for probably the first time in my life, I knew what I wanted to do. Sad because I was very sure that once more I had disappointed all those who wanted the best for me. And this is the internal conflict I am facing.
The main problem is that I am not a very good writer, which is something I want to follow whole-heartedly. On the other hand, I believe I have been god-gifted with a talent for numbers and am generally considered "bright", something that can really help me make a mark in Management. Without being too boastful, I think I do well in making a mark on people's lives as well, and all these attributes point to me having a successful career as an MBA graduate. In short, I think I can really be "successful" (as society defines successful) by doing an MBA course, something all my well-wishers want, and which will keep my parents and friends happy. On the other hand, it wont possibly keep me happy. I am not a very happy man, and like I was telling someone the other day, writing helps me put to rest all the frustrations I have. And these frustrations are not caused due to the job or anything else, but by the weight of people's expectations. I am trying so hard to meet them that I get frustrated at the end of it all. Or these bouts of frustrations are caused when I start expecting back from people, and those expectations are not met. Being a writer shall make me happy, and, being a person who does not neceesarily covet money, shall bring me fame. That is something which can help me in my plans for an NGO as well. It will be a lot more of hardwork being a writer than doing an MBA, but then things done with passion are that much easier to achieve. I have a living example in front of me, a man whom I have always looked up to him as being very brave and passionate. He did not take up a job and started taking dancing classes after his IITD degree. And today he has started climbing the ladder of success. To you, friend is dedicated this article, and my very slim hopes of becoming an author. I am not too sure if I can ever be that brave.
However, not being a good writer, I dont think I can be successful by following a writer career. And even though my parents dont depend on me for survival, I have some duties towards them, which by following a writing career, I will be neglecting. However, the original idea of going in for an MBA and then after going in for writing career, also seems to be impractical now, as the Professor was frank in saying. Knowing myself, I will agree. Working in an I Bank shall fuel in me a passion for more and more money, and I will lose this passion for writing. And neither will I be happy.
So then I face this internal conflict. Its probably a matter of counting chicken before they hatch, but do I do an MBA or not? There is a strong possibility of me not getting any call this year as well, but then, do I take CAT or GMAT next year? Or do I even continue with my job or do I start following my dream right away? Can somebody help me? If you can, please drop a comment. And please, try not to be anonymous.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

But Life goes on

(I think I will regret writing this post later, when my mood becomes better. But I guess that is not going to be the case for a long, long time, and am ready to live in this natural self of mine rather than go and chase imaginary happiness).
I just realised I have been chasing imaginary happiness. I am a really avid thinker, and so I feel happy at the thought of chasing happiness, and become sad when I cant catch it.
Tomorrow is my last IIM interview, that of IIMB, and probably the most important. You might say A and C were the more important ones, but seeing my GPA, coupled with the fact that I have screwed up my C interview, I fancy B more than I otherwise would have. But tonight, I suddenly feel as if I have had a malaria attack. I mean, I have all the symptoms normally associated with one. My head is aching like hell, I feel cold in this hot weather, and my body temperature can burn this entire place down.
And, worst of the lot, I actually like falling sick, just before one of the most important tests of my career. Probably because it will give me a chance to explain as to how did I fail again in clearing the interviews. Not that anyone really cares about me clearing these exams, apart from my parents and my brother, but still people shall always be ready with questions about "how" and "why". And they will be very quick to express anguish over my non-performance, and about how much it has peeved them. While it actually wont affect them in any way, just like their success and failure shall not make any difference to my life. And this holds true for the best of friends I have.
Sad but true, because, contrary to popular perception, I am a very selfish person. I always want things to be done my way, and when things dont work out according to my plan, I become this grumbling person, as you see me now. My friends say they want me to be happy, but again they shall not do anything to make me happy. This is how friends go. You can always expect them to help you when you go upto them, but they shall never help you without you asking for their help.
I also realised today that I cannot ever be happy. I have a habit of ignoring things or relationships that come easily to me, and so I cant appreciate all the good things that I have. I can never appreciate the importance of being a Black Eye, of good friends, or of having such wonderful parents and brother. I am also too egoistic to fight for things that dont come easily to me. Sometimes, however, I do get that urge to fight for something, something I feel shall make me happy, but then I lose. Every single time. I have the irritating habit of crying about what I dont have rather than enjoying what I have. And that is something I just cant change. Also, I think I keep expecting a lot from people, which is again something I cannot change.
I have been lucky to have made some good friends in my lifetime, and being god-gifted with such relatives, but today I wish, I could break the bond with everyone of them. And go into a new world order, where noone would know me, expect anything out of me, and let me live my life the way I want to. Where I could skip tomorrow's interview and not be made to feel guilty about it later. Where I could just speak out my mind about everyone, and tell them how much pain has each of these relationships have given me. I am pretty much sure, I have pained them a lot more, but being the selfish person that I am, I dont care about that.
I just wish I could disappear tonight to some place unknown. And switch off my cell phone and shut off all emails, probably get a plastic surgery and change my name. But I also know I dont have the courage to do it all.
I have just wasted the past two hours of my sleep, trying not to breathe. And I havent succeeded in even that. So instead I started crying, for no reason at all. And along with it, I have been listening to the song "Zindagi Dene Waale Sun" by Talat Mahmood, the entire time. And if you are reading this before 8:00 A.M. (IST) on 22nd March, please call me up on my cell phone and wake me up. Again, I make the same mistake of expecting too much. Do you even care? Or do I even care about you caring?
The best thing about life is that nothing is too important for it. It goes on. This way or that.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Do I need to say anything more?

(Source : Simon & Garfunkel)
Does anyone need to say anything more? The best song of self-less love, if ever there is such a term.

When you're weary
Feeling small
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all

I'm on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you

I'll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on Silver Girl,
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way

See how they shine
If you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Two more interviews,RCA, Degree and quitting.

Two more interviews have passed since the last mail, and while they havent been half as exciting as the first one, I am pretty happy with the way those two interviews have turned out to be. The two interviews were K on the 6th and A today, and I think I have done pretty well in both of them. The only downslide though being that in both these interviews, there was one guy in the panel who had interviewed me before. And I had done badly in my interviews the past year. But I guess they must have had noticed the changes in me as well. I was much more confident, and happy this time around. And that I might make up for that disappointing performance this year. A lot depends on luck as well, but I am much more confident of making it this time around. Aided by the rather superstitious fact that I make it everywhere my brother goes on my second attempt. This happened in RIMC, then IITD, and now I just hope I make it a hatrick by going to IIMA. Touchwood !!!
Among the other events that have transpired during this week long period have been that Kara has won the RCA. It has been like a dream come true, and the only sad part is that it happened after I had passed out of the hostel. However, surprisingly, this feat hasnt brought me as much joy as I thought it would. I guess priorities change with time, and at this particular time, I have two other priorities far greater than Kara getting the RCA. Kara has managed to bag the best hostel trophy also this time around, and I plan to go to the BHM night function, just to finally see the tallest mountain ranges, standing up to its name.
Among other things, I have also been lucky enough to pass out of the institute, after having finally got my provisional degree. It now seems that the last strand of my long (probably too long for my own liking) relationship with IIT Delhi have been cut. And the sad thing is, I dont feel any nostalgia, which is kind of strange. I am probably helped by the fact that I am in Delhi, which assures that I come back to IIT atleast every weekend (I actually am a lot more frequent visitor). Probably moving to some other place (Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta hopefully) shall make me feel nostalgic about this place IIT.
It has been a pretty busy week, what with there being interviews, and parties. And I have finally decided to quit. Drinking that is. I realised finally, that alcohol makes me act stupid at times, and so I am ready to give it up. Especially because I am now very wary of doing stupid things while drunk, which can spoil all my relationships. And now I finally know what it takes to keep up a good relationship.
Like they asked me at the IIMA interview, I am happy, happier than I have been in a long long time. And I hope it stays that way. I know the reason of my happiness, and I hope the reason stays as well. Touchwood again!!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The IIML interview story

{This is a kind of story that should actually go into the PagalGuy forum. But neither am I a PG member, nor do I wish to become one. Moreover, this wasn't an actual interview in any regard. I was not going for the interview in the first place, because without a degree, it seemed a total waste. Please note that I am not interested in going to IIML ever, and view the below conversations in that light.}
GD topic : bureaucracy mantains status quo, long after the time, the quo has lost its status. There were 9 of us, and while everyone looked blank in the beginning, the GD turned out to be a pretty good one in the end, and everyone seemed pretty happy at the end of Round 1.
Interview: Main Characters : V (for Victim, me), P1 (Prosecutor 1, a North Indian, smart, friendly looking fellow), P2 (Prosecutor 2, a South Indian, with a horrible accent and a totally disinterested look).
Scene : IIFT, Room F-5, Panel -IV.
P1 comes out.
P1 : Zobin Joy.
V: Yes, Sir
P1 :Come in
(Both go in. P2 is waiting inside. P1 takes the application from P2, and sits on the chair).
P1: You have a nice smiling face.
V: Thank you, sir (Sits down).
P1: So did you have tea?
V: Yes, Sir.
P1: Which Brand of tea?
V (hearing it as which departmen): Electrical Engineering
P1: No no I asked which brand of tea?
V: ohh Sir..sorry..I didnt notice Sir.
P1 (reading the form): So, I see, you are interested in music.
V (bewildered, because he HASNT mentioned music anywhere): Yes Sir, I listen to music but I dont play any instrument.
P1 : So, you are from Delhi itself?
V: No, Sir, I belong to Dharamshala, HImachal Pradesh.
P1: Ohh..Then you know Mcleodgunj.
V: I stay in Mcleodgunj sir.
P1: U stay in Mcleodgunj?
V: No sir, not McleodGunj, but 15 kilometres downhill (Author's note: The correct answer is 20 kilometers, but who cares?).
P1: Dalai Lama.
V: Yes sir, I know the Dalai Lama. I have met him many times.
P1: Who is the next Dalai Lama?
(At this point, V takes centrestage. Explains about the Tibetian traditions, talks veer to the Panchen Lama and the Karmapa Lama, at the end of which V looks happy and confident, P1 looks enlightened and P2 is sleeping).
P1: So tell me your interests?
V: Sir, listening to music, reading, writing and quizzing
P1: What?
V: Sir, quizzing
P1: Ohh..quizzing? Okay...(Picks up a plastic water bottle). Tell me five non-conventional uses of this water bottle in one minute (Adjusts the minute in his mobile stop watch).
V: (Author's note : Please note that V is a male, that too from an engineering background. So the first thing that came to his mind, was the same as it comes to any male mind on hearing the same question. It is something I cant publish down here, and so, V definitely could not speak it out. And it took him 40 seconds to take that option from his mind. After which all he could come up with was ) umphhhh..
P1: See, for example, it can be used as a paper weight.
V: Yes Sir. (Mumbles two more uses, and is about to mumble a third, when P1 interrupts) 10 seconds left.
V(his mind again wavering to the first thing that came to his mind) umphh..
P1 : 5 seconds. (After five seconds) Time up. You could only tell me two uses, and then you say you do quizzing?
V: Sorry Sir.
P1: Okay you work in SPSS?
V: Yes Sir.
P1: Tell me the full form for SPSS?
V: Software for Packaging Statistical Systems (It is actually Statistical Packaging for Software Systems).
P1: If you dont know, just say dont know (This is the defining moment of the interview).
V: Yes Sir.
P1: Tell me one thing you can do in SPSS which you cannot do in Excel?
V: Sir, SPSS is faster, better..blah blah
P1 (interrupting): Tell me one thing you CANNOT do in Excel.
V (thinking hard..taking a lot of time): crosstab.
P1 (interrupting): Heard about labelling.
V: Yes Sir. (Then starts the second conversation about labelling, at the end of which V is confused and sad. P1 looks victorious, and P2 wakes up).
P2 (Picking up the form): So what happened to you in IIT? Why is your GPA so low?
V: Sir, to be very honest, I made a mistake; and by the time I realised it, it was too late.
P1 : Show me your certificates.
(V nervously shows the certificates, which dont have the degree in them. However, unknown to V, there is a transcript of a friend in the folder as well. P1 looks at it, but probably doesnt notice the name. Or if he does, doesnt show it. V gets goosebumps seeing the transcript coming out of nowhere, and it shows).
P2: SO you are from electrical Engineering Department?
V: Yes Sir.
P2: So you know about Power Sector?
V: Not much sir.
P2: So tell me about what reforms are taking place in Power Sector.
V: Sir, liberalisation.
P2: What else?
V: Dont know Sir.
P1: There was a big headlines in the newspaper regarding some power reforms in Delhi. What was it?
V: The Nuclear deal?
P1 (laughing): No. Dont you know?
V: I dont know Sir.
P1: Which companies supply power to Delhi.
V: Sir, Reliance and BSES.
P1: Which arm of Reliance provides power?
V: Sir, Reliance energy ofcourse.
P1: Are Reliance and BSES connected?
V: No, sir they are totally different competing companies providing power in different areas of Delhi.
P2: ohh..I see. Do u know about CRWC?
V: I dont know Sir.
P2: Who regulates power distribution in India?
V: Sir, the Indian Government.
P2: No, but they have set an autonomous body for the same. Which one?
V: Sir, I dont know.
P1: Okay tell me, which autoomous body is set up for regulating Telecommunications?
P1: No, its a service provider. A regulating body?
V: BSNL? No sir, I dont know
P1: Tell me one company producing power machinery in India.
P2: It is a foreing company. Tell me an INdian company.
V: Kirloskar.
P2:Okay, good. What does it make?
V: Heavy machines sir.
P2: Some PSU in the field?
V: Dont know sir.
P2: Okay tell me , do you know about budget?
V: Not much Sir.
P2 (exasparated): Tell me what do you read in business papers?
V: Sir, to be very honest, I dont read business papers.
P2 (losing cool): Tell me why do you want to do an MBA?
V (smiling) : Sir, because I want to open my own company in the consulting sector, that
P2 (interrupting): So you think you can do that without some business inputs?
V : No sir, I am just starting. Hopefully I will improve.
P1: Okay Zubin. You may leave now.
V: Thank you Sir.
P1: By the way, whats your percentile.
V (smiling):99.94 Sir.
P1: All calls?
V: Yes Sir.
Thank You Sir.
{And thus V came out. The curtains fall upon any chances of making it to IIML this year around).