It was on 15th July 2020 that I vacated NIT Trichy. I had spent the quarantine till then in hostel itself and it was time to say adios. I was constantly taking pictures of everything in sight-the clock tower, the mess, the cloth line, the washing stone (creepy right?)…as if that would somehow slow time down. A fire truck was arranged to shuttle me from the entrance of the hostel to campus gate due to Covid protocol. I was seated in the reverse direction in the back seat so that I could literally see the campus going away from me. I know it sounds melodramatic but, after having finally come to call it home, parting wasn’t so easy. More than the good or the bad times, the place had now become a part of me.
I went to my childhood friend’s place in the same city itself as I couldn’t get an e-Pass back to Mumbai then. It was in this place that, after leaving my safe abode at college, I was finally confronted with the question- ‘What next?’ . I had a job offer, but it was delayed indefinitely and I didn’t know when they would call me. During the unlimited free time I had got while I was at hostel, I considered every possible career option. UPSC, GRE,CAT,GATE-Basically every other exam that your average 21 year old Indian gives after doing 4 years of engineering. I used to read extensively about the experiences of the people who had cracked these competitive exams in Quora. And would then fantasize a foolproof blueprint of acing each of these exams. The reality could not have been farther from the truth. I had simply rode on the engineering wave like so many others before me, with no idea on what was my goal in life.
Cut back to my friend’s house, I saw that akka preparing with full dedication for her upcoming MD examination. The urgent need of deciding what to do in life increased. I decided I would write CAT this year as a practice, then next year I would write it with full sincerity. I had nothing to lose anyway. I was absolutely free with no other academic or job commitment.
On 27th July 2020, I was finally able to get an e-Pass. Would have got it much earlier if my parents had been willing to let me travel for 18 hours continuously. But no, apparently it was not ‘advisable’ for me to travel like that. I came to Mumbai and home quarantined myself. After 7 days of Netflix and Amazon Prime, I was starting to get agitated again. I told my parents about writing CAT this year and joined TIME Powai in online mode for preparation.
Initially I prepared just by brute force. Studying random topics and taking unlimited breaks on will. I did not believe that I would crack CAT this year. However as the D-Day approached I became more positive and focused. By this time, my company had also announced that December 1st would be the joining date. I had half a mind that I would go on November 29 and write CAT, and depending on how I wrote I would decide whether to join. But I also understood that it was in no way a practical idea. I had to give at least a 2 weeks’ notice if I would not be joining. And on November 14th, I did just that.
The decision was a tough one. One that I still regret sometimes. But by that time, I wanted to give the CAT preparation my all. I did not want to walk into the CAT exam knowing I had a Plan B (P.S. At that time,TVF had not released ‘Aspirants’ :P). And then the interview offers came.
On 12th Feb,I had my IIM C interview.It was the first interview I gave out of all the B-schools that I applied for. I vividly remember running and buying a blazer one day before the interview and changing the orientation of table to ensure proper lighting. Yes,I belong to the Zoom Batch of MBA entrants. I was asked which topics I liked in Maths and I answered coordinate geometry. I was given a function and was asked to draw its graph, which I was able to. Looking back , I thank my stars that I did not say something like statistics. As later I was to discover that it was none other than Prof.Rahul Mukherjee who had taken my interview.
But there is also a tad bit of Imposter syndrome feeling, when I realize I was interviewed by the sweetest professor in this place. It still hasn’t sunk in that I am part of IIM C (to say “Joka” still doesn’t come readily to my lips).
Maybe once I come to campus and see the beauty of the lakes (and with luck Monty) , the surreal feeling now might ease down,and I would be able to live the Joka way of life.
It’s that time of the year again. Looks like we have come almost full circle.