Turning a ‘B’ into a ‘D’: A Year Long Journey

|| December: 2013 While Passing through the lobby at Endeavor, Sarvayogam Center
I saw these banners on the glass panes of classrooms and cubicles. “Congratulations for securing a call from….”, they read. One for each well-known institute. The one titled “Congratulations for securing a call from IIFT” had some 50-60 names. One of the names was “Anish B”. It caught my attention for I too shared my name with the guy who had made it there. I told my friends in the batch, meaning very little of it, – “Boss, next year there’s going be a ‘D’ instead of ‘B’ with this same name in this list”. A few smiled, a few patted my back, for they thought I had said something aspirational while some too Gujarati for the fore-mentioned things just cheered -“Bhai bhai!!!!”

|| Then in December, hardly 2-3 months after joining the classes, I knew little about different entrance exams. I knew little about IIFT too. I didn’t know that out of 50000-60000 brains who appear for the exam only a 1300-1400 are short-listed as the ones who would be lucky to wipe their shit with currency notes once they pass out from the esteemed institute. Still, being a Gujarati at heart, I follow the principle of doing those things which are non-taxable – dreaming big being one of them.

|| July- August 2014
IIFT forms are out. Enthusiastically, just as expected from a DDU pass-out, I am one of the earliest people to fill up the form. Soon, in a few days, I received IIFT’s prospectus by post. I haven’t seen it, even today! My parents though, were very excited to check it out as it was the first prospectus from a B-School. As the show business goes, IIFT has a great prospectus and unlike most of the B-Schools, most of the details in it are true. My parents got charmed by the B-School in no time and lucidly came the statement – “How wonderful it would be if you made it here!”. I was “Yes!”. I made a point to suffix the affirmation with stats and figures of how many people appear for the exam, how many make it there, how tough DI section was in the exam and how I wasn’t sure if I could crack a tough exam like this. I could wrap their enthusiasm to an extent, unwillingly of course.

|| October – November 2014
The mocks were on in full swing! We had written quite a many FLTs and OMCs and I was almost numb to the disappointment that the scores in these brought to me. The first Mock IIFT on 3rd November was different though. I was not even halfway to the cut-off of the paper. Surprisingly, it affected me more than the usual FLTs and OMCs did… After the mock, when we went to McDonald’s for our breakfast, I was unusually upset. I did some ‘sentiyapa’ (sentimental + chutiyapa) too like: putting a WhatsApp status like “Delhi door hai”, sending a couple of messages “Humse na ho payega” to the people who were with me in this journey and the like… Things didn’t get any better till the fifth (last) mock. I did not clear the IIFT-call cut-off in ANY OF THE 5 MOCKS… I was never a stupid optimist. I knew if I hadn’t cleared the cutoff in mocks, I had little chance of doing it in the actual exam…

|| November 2014
It was 22nd November evening, a few hours after CAT. CAT as cheater as it had been always, had managed to stupefy me and made me think that I had done so well that I could manage a call from one of the IIMs (Yes, CAT can get you stupid to this extent!!! It is CAT after all). I was relaxed and in a good frame of mind. I watched a couple of Kapil Sharma videos on YouTube before I slept to get up on the IIFT Exam Day- 23rd November. The paper was a sheer marathon as usual. Quant-DI – my weakest sections more horrible than expected. RC section filthily lengthy – nothing that could work out in my favour. But thanks to CAT, it had made me believe that I had done well the day before and I could afford taking risks in IIFT and I could be my own self… I put in my blood and bones in the two hours in the IIFT paper. After I was done I tried calculating my score with the keys available online (all full of shit!) and hoping to get a number that would fall in range of the cut-off predictions (loose numbers keyed in people drunk on weekends). I was not making it anywhere. Theek hai, I knew I wasn’t that good. I chucked it immediately and got back to routine – calculating how many men could complete X work in how many days.

|| 18th December, 2014. Evening 4.45 PM
IIFT Shortlist is out. I knew I was not going to make it. Still I opened the website to check the names of friends I thought would make it. But, as unfailingly optimistic as we are as human beings, I opened the link to that PDF with my heart beating higher than usual. No sooner did the PDF load, than I hit Ctrl + F on my keyboard to type in my name to find it in the list. BAMMM!!!! I had made it!!!! I had my name!!!! I couldn’t believe it. So I found my IIFT admit card to check my application number with the one written beside my name and the list, and yeah it matched! I had made it! I had made it to the list of 1411 people who were short-listed. First call of the season from – Indian Institute of Foreign Trade….
|| Somewhere in December, 2014 end or first week of January, 2015
Finally, I saw something I had been waiting for subconsciously for a year now! We had a list with the same title “Congratulations for securing a call from IIFT” and YES one of the names in the list read – “Anish D”. The ‘B’ had been replaced with a ‘D’. I finally had a “I had told you so….” moment with my friends….

|| This moment
I don’t know if I am going to make it to the institute, I don’t know if I am going to convert this call to an admission, I may, I may not! But I will keep this picture with me with the rest of my life to show myself in the worst of the times that await me someday in the future that how I chased something I wanted and despite destiny repeatedly denying me, I took it, for it was MINE!!!!

21st name in the first column

To the people reading this post – the ones elder to me, I don’t want to prove anything and you’re not reading anything new. Pardon me if I have sounded cocky. To my juniors (in age) reading this – Guys, if I (who’s not great at academics – studious stuff) could make it here, you guys are much better. It’s time Delhi and Kolkata get some more Gujaratis there and it’s time Foreign Trade gets some Gujarati exposure.

Epilogue: I converted IIFT Kolkata on 29th June, 2015

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I’ll be back…

This traces way back to Aug 2012.

In a conversation with Manish Sir and PC Sir at Endeavour.

“Beta, tumhare so far tests mein marks acche hai, book reviews likhte ho, editorials likhte ho, fir bhi kyun CAT preparations discontinue karna chahte ho?” (It was just 2 months since I had joined…)

“Sir, cope up nahi ho pa raha DDIT ke saath. Every month a sessional aur mere extra curricular affairs se time nahi mil paa raha. I will come back next year.”, I said with hopes.

“Seriously? Next year placements aa jayenge. Aur DDIT mein to TCS, Infosys wagera aati hai. Tu pakka placement mein baith ke job le lega.”, he said

“Sir, trust me. Main waapis aaunga!”, I said with shivering voice and a scantily wet eyes.

/* September 2013 */

Orientation Lecture of I23 Batch at Endeavour: “Sir, I am Anish Desai. I was in H07 last year. I couldn’t continue to due my schedule. Hence, I took a batch transfer. I told you I’ll be back and here I am.”

“Okay! Nice. So have placements begun in your college?”, he asked, a little intrigued.

“Yes Sir. TCS just recruited 59 people from our college. I didn’t sit for placement and I am not going to sit for other companies as well.”

“Commitment is good. Respect!”, he said with a smile.

/* Mid May 2014 */ (Introspection and discourse with my innerself)

I saw FB posts of my friends placed at various good companies who had just got their joining letters. Some going West, some in South. Some posting their pics in formals, some at their work desk. I felt nice.

Whenever people would ask me about my placement, I would just say “I didn’t sit for placements.” Every time I replied this, a sceptical me asked “Had I sat for placements, would I have made it?” – a question that reverberated within the ventricle of my heart almost every night and I slept unanswered to my conscience.

/* June 2014 */ (Endeavour Mock Placement Drill)

On a random Sunday in June, PC Sir addressed a seminar on Resume Building, GD and PI. That noon, I told myself, “Boss, if I make it here, I would no longer have to dodge WHAT IF question that haunts me every night.”

/*Sat – 21st June */ -> Aptitude Test and Group Discussion.

As usual, I barely managed to reach on time for the aptitude test. I hate “How many men will take how many days to shit out this much” type of tests – one of the reasons for not sitting for Tech placements. I reluctantly appeared for the test, almost sure of not making it to the Group Discussion. To my surprise, I did! Nice! 800+ people appeared for APTI, approx 400 moved to Group Discussion.

12 People in a group for Group Discussion. All 12 had tips from PC Sir’s seminar that we attended previous Sunday. A tough moderator as well. He seemed more serious than the most serious girl in my class (people in CE 2014 C Division know whom I am referring to). Moreover, the guy just next to me had taken PC Sir’s light advice too seriously. Dude draws an oval table on his paper, makes twelve dots around it and even before GD starts he starts marking a cross on the dots! (He crossed the one representing me too! Pretty encouraging) I initiated the GD unopposed (I was so surprised by not being pounced at simultaneously by others that I spoke introducing address at Vajpayee’s speed). Luck had favoured me as we had a topic from the political arena, that too on BJP! “Boss, faavi gaya”,I thought. But then, since BJP is Modi and Modi is BJP today, whole GD was driven off track. Tried hard to save it, but then people who knew less about internal matters and organizational structure of BJP thought it would be best to kill the GD and let the whole ship sink. I thought it did!

GD results were out, 12 out of 60 (and a total of 76 out of 400 who appeared for GD) were selected and I was elated contributing to the 4th multiple of 3.

/* Sunday – 22nd June */ Personal Interview.

Experienced a Personal Interview in front of a panel for the first time in life.

My interview started without a “Tell us about yourself” question. I was devastated as this question was the best opportunity to guide the interview in your comfortable zones. A series of questions about WordPress, its updates, SEO, Google’s updates, etc. constituted the first phase of the interview. Tech had been my forte and working for 5 years with all these jazz  had sort of fortified me to answer any questions.

The second phase had questions on Media, Politics and Journalism- the three things I had mentioned as my hobbies. I was more than overjoyed to take questions on these. I talked about Rajdeep, Arnab, Shekhar Gupta – famous EICs whom I follow quite closely. I also had an opportunity to curse shit  like TOI, Hindustan Times what people call newspapers! I gave highly opinionated replies garnered by facts and incidents dated accurately. What more do you need to take the interviewers by an awe? 😉

After a 20 minute interview, Technical and Non-Tech combined I got a really good feedback which pointed at some flaws in my answers as well. I was again unsure if I would make it.

/* Monday, 23rd June 10.30 PM */

A friend informs me “You got selected!”

When I read this sentence on my phone, I lost a part of myself. One that bothered me with a WHAT IF question every night. I now know, if I can GET SELECTED in a process comprising an Aptitude Test with a reasonably good difficulty level, a group discussion with a strict moderator and a Personal Interview taken by a distinguished panel, then I would have definitely made it for any damn company had I sat for placement the previous year!

I am in my senses, I am not overconfident. I know it was just a PLAY. The real battle begins in October – November 2014 and there’s still a lot to work on to make it to a good B-School. And I shall! God forbid if I don’t, Main Waapis Aaunga!

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