Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Of Cats and Bells

We Indians don't have much to brag about, rather than our large brains, our educated young BPO worthy population and the difficulty levels of our national level examinations. Now AIEEE, IIT-JEE, IAS, CAT and the others on that list, revel in the fact that so many young people who should be playing and laughing and enjoying life, spend weeks and months of sleepless nights for a 2-3 hour performance, which is a stress test rather than a gauge of intellgence. The more lives ruined the higher the status of the exam. Now leaving that little debate for later, I would like to recount my experience at CAT.

Just like my performances at AIEEE, JEE and BITSAT, I didn't really prepare for it. Why? Because I am a full fledged Board topper! I don't like competitive exams. CAT just happenned in a moment of insecurity when placements had just begun. But it was a well taken decision in hindsight. I even signed up for Career Launcher's mock tests, gave two of them, never sitting for over an hour (its a 2.5 hour paper btw)

My test centre was at Jaipur, the exam was on the 16th of November. So me and Dhall, went by bus on 15th afternoon, and stayed at Baidy's place. I reached the centre at 9 am(we had to reach by 9.45 and the paper starts at 10.30) Almost an hour to take it all in.

When you reach the centre, its more like an exhibition of local (international) B-Schools-than a national level examination centre-most of whose hoardings have spelling errors, some even misspelt business!!! :) I wonder if they teach advertising, because if they can't do it properly for themselves... only God knows what they can teach. I wasn't so sure until now, but laptops have become really really cheap, all B-schools offer them for free :) and of course they talk of having 100% placements, with a picture of a pretty made-up girl in a call centre next to it. Brilliant!! People who do get duped into such institutes of higher learning deserve such jobs.

Then of course there are the coaching institutes. The only reason I can think of, for their weird names, is that there are now way too many such institutes and in an attempt to be unique they end up being hilarious. I made sure I had memorabilia of each, anyways I wasn't going to 'bell the CAT' I might as well make the most of the money spent. :)

I'll relate my entrance. They will by and large have the main gate locked so that people enter through a narrow passage, and they can catch you attention. First will be a couple of young fellows, with bright blue T-shirts, hired by TIME to shake your hands and wish you luck. Did they give brochures, NO, there were others for that. These guys just smiled and shook, what an amazing job, don't you agree. I won't even mention the guys from Proton, Neutron, Electron, Taxila, CATzilla and others giving brochures.

After this comes a stretch wherein there will be guys... in suits this time, wishing you luck again and tying black bands on your wrist. At first I took back my hand, thinking she was tying me a rakhi. Then I looked, and smiled as she 'banded' me. This was from Proton. The band had stuff written on it 'Aaj ka din mera hai' 'Main kar dikhaoonga/dikhoongi' 'CAT phod aayenge hum' 'Jeet lenge hum', aur agar yeh nahin kar paye to Proton mein admission le lenge hum, paise barbad karenge hum, but saala MBA karke rahenge hum!!

Just when you think you've had enough, you see the market of Indians writing CAT, and you feel apologetic for all the curses you've unknowingly flung at local B-Schools and ubiquitous, funny-named coaching centres. You see, when there are people aged above 20, with thick soda glassed spectacles , sitting with their parents, with the mother reciting some auspicious schlokas, with the father pating the guys, others openly flirting and whistling at anything that moves, some who, forget English... can't even speak Hindi for Godsake, some whose last minute preparations mean memorizing tables and meanings of words, smokers and drinkers all coming together to write one of the world's most competitive tests, it all starts to make sense. If it weren't for these coaching places, where would these people be. They would all be engaged in anti-social activities, not that they're not doing it now, but at least they attend classes and do they're anti-socialitities for lesser time. Forget micro-finance, food business and IT startups, open up coaching Institutes. Market is great, people are dumb, parents will spend no doubt, and success is irrelevant. Just make an impressive ad and put it on major dailies, have air-conditioned, spacious, and wi-fi connected classrooms and nothing can stop. And of course, don't forget the laptops.

The paper started and ended. I guess you have enough people to talk about how it was, so I'm not going to waste precious blogospace talking about it. After the paer again it was a great scene. I as usual had to do something silly. I usually drink a lot of water when I get up in the morning, this morning was the same. Just that I didn't go to the loo. Then of course, nature called.. midway into the test and very loudly too. But no harm done, didn't really affect my chances. :)

After the paper, everybody ran out. There was this one girl, who loudly announced, 'Yaar, kal raat night-out maara, and aaj paper mein so gayee' , another guy on the phone, doubtlessly talking to his coachng instructor, 'Sir saare ke saare questions attempt kiye and I am very confident, bas idhar udhar thode guess maare'... and more hilarious stuff.

All in all, it was a great decision, and for those who haven't tried to bell the CAT, do try, if you can't bell at least you'll have fun seeing others try!

About Me

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I am Arjun P. Kamath, and I am a nice guy to know.