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Expert Suggestions on Preparation for Computer Based CAT-09

"Confessions of a Distraught Soul"

- by Piyush Gupta*             

The first thing that hits me as I enter the hallowed portals is that someone made a mistake. Me? Simple, middling, ordinary, almost banal - these are the kind of adjectives that describe me. Are you sure that there is no mistake? Is it really me who's going into one of them IIMs? You bet it is. Someone found something good about me. Something good enough to get me into the big league. Who's complaining? And yes, while we are at it, will that someone please tell me what was it that he liked? I have been trying to figure that out for the past 22 years without much success.

So I have arrived. Or have I? The batch is huge. Almost everyone is an engineer. I am supposed to be one myself, the operating word being supposed. Lots of people have worked before. Someone is a national level tennis player. Someone has directed plays for All India Radio. Someone is a Siddharth Basu in the making. Someone can read 1200 words per minute. And the list goes on. I try hard to come up with a USP of my own, and well� err� umm� ok, we will discuss that some other day. For now there are other more pressing things on my mind.

How does it feel to be back in school, after you are 22 year old, that is? Attendance, homework, holiday homework (yes, I am serious), class preparation, strict rules and the usual paraphernalia. Why did they miss out on a dress I wonder? They tell me this is good place to study. And? Well, that is pretty much all there is. Time is at a premium I am told. I am skeptical. I have led an indolent life all through - plagiarizing, copying, xeroxing. These were my mottoes at college. And I believe I will be able to continue doing that. Soon I realized what does fool's paradise means. Ever realized what it feels like to be socked right in the middle of your face? Because my dream came crashing down sooner than I could ever imagine. Engineering college now seemed like one long vacation, the teachers almost benevolent, the system out to dole out as much sloth as possible to all and sundry. Nostalgia grips you and you suddenly realize undiscovered benefits of your alma mater.

The classes start. It's quite a change. You realize to your dismay that the seats are fixed. No more can you have the luxury of enjoying Zaphod Beeblebrox and be happily oblivious of the teacher trying in vain to explain esoteric theories and concepts. Proxies go flying out of the window. And then they say we encourage teamwork. Is this how you encourage teamwork? They expect you to attend each and every class on your own. How can someone be so cruel? Whatever happened to altruism? The course contents start bombarding you left, right and center. Have you ever seen a player good at cricket, soccer, tennis, athletics, billiards and jai alai all at once? That is exactly what we are supposed to do. Know every subject that finds a mention in the Encyclopedia Britannica and more. And then there is accounting. The scourge of most, Lucifer in disguise, the most horrendous of third-degree torture methods this side of Auschwitz. You beg, grovel and plead with folded hands, but the thing just stubbornly refuses to lend itself to any sort of understanding whatsoever. The book appears to be a grotesque manifestation of Marquis de Sade himself and seems to smile in an extremely nasty and distasteful way every time you try and struggle with the concepts. You realize that you need at least three brains and at least one of them genealogically derived from Einstein himself if you need to make any sense out of the muddle called accounting. With so many accountants (read Einsteins) in one place, no wonder Andersen went bust.

With almost superhuman effort, you find your feet in the place. In fact, for some time, you even start enjoying yourself. Then the project deadlines start rearing their ugly heads up. You search frenetically for material to somehow make your report reach that critical mass when it doesn't just look like a hurriedly scribbled note. That's when you realize that the wheel was not the most important thing that man ever made, Google is. You cannot thank Larry Page and Sergey Brin profusely enough. You manage to beat the deadlines to the post too. You can afford a smile; you have beaten the system yet again. And then it happens. Just when you thought you had the measure of things, pop out the exams, like a jack-in-the-box. What the hell? It hasn't even been five weeks since you went there, friends back home ask in contrived sympathy. Yeah, that's the way things work here, you tell them and almost hear them chuckling in delight. The policy makers here believe only red-hot heat turns raw iron into high quality steel. Only I was happy being raw iron all my life. You are left with no choice but to endure yet another round of unmitigated torture. Sleep becomes something you would happily give your right arm for. You try to cram all that you can in that brain of yours, there is not much of it anyway.

And then you are introduced to yet another devious ploy the place has gift wrapped for you. Relative Grading, or RG as it is known in B-school parlance. The concept seems to have been devised for the sole purpose of spawning a whole new generation of Brutuses. Everyone seems to be in a mad scramble for that elusive half a mark, which would fetch him one grade higher than his next-door neighbour. Friendships are under the highest amount of stress during exam time, ready to buckle under unrelenting RG pressure. Fortunately for people like me, who aspire to bring up the rear end of the academic roster, such concerns are only hypothetical, all my friends will always remain that way.

Finally, exams too pass. And you find you are still alive and well yes, kicking. That's when you realize this place also doubles up as the Indian version of Alcatraz. You need a thousand permissions and a whole gamut of plausible and non-plausible reasons if you want a little break for a quick visit to that someone special back home. The bureaucratic wrangles are such that they would put a hard-boiled government department to shame. You are forced to abandon your plan and boom goes that movie at PVR. You get down to some soul-searching and come to the conclusion that you were Jack-the-Ripper in your earlier incarnation, and someone somewhere has decided that it is time for divine retribution.

All said and done, you live to see another day. You are a born fighter. They try their best, but you just don't give up. You are determined not to call it quits. You continue to somehow hang on for dear life. Your parents might as well have named you Yo-Yo, it-don't-matter-how-many-times-they-send-me-down, I-am-coming-back. So till the next time, and you can be sure that there is going to be a next time, keep the faith and asta la vista!

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