21 years in the bag and time never seemed more hot footed and hostile. Clock couldn’t move faster than now as I was trying to organize myself and tend to the immediate task of getting on with the selection process.
As the participants of my Group Discussion group (12 of them) start clicking their pens to start the jot-race, I was trying to get an eyeful of the conference room and maybe take a few deep breaths hoping they would calm me down. But the judge shoots his point straight away. “You all are aware India tried putting a man on the Moon” said he with a wry that seemed to have pissed a few people already. I was trying to recollect my last memory of having read something about an Indian astronomical adventure, when the judge added “discuss if India should go on with the initiative”. The so called initiator started making his point. And there were people ready to pounce as he spelled his last word. I was sitting dumb-founded. I could hear many versions, few being poverty, technology and science, transparency in the system, particularly a few ideas with substance while others tried hovering around the same point, “No, because India is corrupt enough to let its people die in poverty” . I had to be at the best of my ill-tuned voice( thanks to an animated outburst of joy the previous night seeing Manchester United make one of its trademark come-backs against Southampton), to make my point as I was more like a historian looking at why U.S put Neil on the Moon. Again, I was left with the next word unable to slip my tongue as people started pouring in. That was the last time I spoke.
After a discussion which witnessed many leaders, many moderators and many bulldozers (if you know what I mean ) but none willing to take the discussion to the next level, I was sitting with my mates, as sick as a parrot, having understood that my odds were severely tarnished after the GD. Then comes the coordinator with the shortlist for interviews as I start packing my bag and wait for the list to be announced only to leave the place with disappointment. As the names went by, the brief glimmer of hope I had for reasons unknown was getting dull. Suddenly “V Manoj Kumar” was what I could hear. “What the....... How come...But I didn’t speak enou......Is it reall......questions couldn’t wait. So couldn’t I and got a glimpse of the list. “This is your day” was what I kept telling myself. Interviews were to commence shortly.
No track of time here on...........
I was loitering through the empty corridors like a guard with no immediate purpose, I was thinking how I made through, and there were many people who did better. Then comes the first person to be interviewed and enters an air-conditioned room as the door slams shut, initiating a fresh chain of thought......What will these people ask? There have been no accounts of previous experience with this company from the seniors. Completely alien. So all I could do was waiting for the person who had gone in to come out and if kind enough, tell us what happened back there. He came. He answered patiently as we all threw a plethora of questions. There wasn’t more to ask. There wasn’t much to do. But there was just enough time to think how I wanted to do this one. I was thinking. I was revising. I was waiting. Though the wait was a century long, the moment one of the interviewers called out my name I felt my heart pound heavily. So heavily that a stethoscope measuring its rate would puncture an ear. I went in with skin oozing confidence but flesh drenched in dread. Again, the shameless hypocrisy of the 21st century that demands a man hide his insides only to put up a fake visual to the outer world. The next half hour, three people questioned me, lot of jargon and some humour from HR (either he wanted to lighten the proceedings or was just having a good day) and I was done.
In my room (1.00 a.m. ........)
I started browsing to keep myself stable and keep all the anxiety and agitation at bay. But how long? I was doing everything in my capability and resources to kill time, which, a few hours ago, was rocketing past me. Finally, I tried to catch some sleep. This was the funniest part as I comfortably lied to one of my mates that I was sleepy and will go to sleep soon after the interview. He gave me a muddled stare. I must have sounded Chinese. Those looks struck me in the eye as I found it absurdly difficult to close my eyes, even for a minute. I tried having a mid-night chat with my wingies as gradually the numbers were falling down and people falling asleep. Neither FIFA nor Jack Nicholson could get me going. Finally, having spent the most precious time of my day the most worthless way, I glanced at my watch only to know I was well behind what I expected. Science taught me there are 60 seconds in a minute. But being sleepless taught me there were 60 minutes in a second. That is when I discovered
“TIME CAN NEITHER BE CREATED NOR DESTROYED”
6.30 a.m. (Yes...........’a.m.’)
I was doing what a BITSian would probably consider unholy and insane. I was up early and brushing my teeth, much before the Chowki himself wakes up. (Now I get it! That precisely must be the reason why it was pouring that day.) Once again I tried finding someone to chat with hoping there was someone stupid enough to wake up so early or who has been awake the whole night. None. I figured out it was the best time to do some ‘YouTube’ing as the usage of bandwidth allocated would be minimum now. Again, trying to kill time. I started listening. Europe, Aerosmith, Backstreet Boys, Eiffel 65.......all the brands that came to my mind, particularly 'Dream On' by Aerosmith (sung by Steven Tyler). This particular song somehow could keep me busy for a while as I was humming it and probably ended up memorising its lyrics. I didn’t feel hungry or maybe I was abstemious following certain dogmatic practices that worked well for me. I was checking the placement portal for any updates. None again. I kept trying.
11.45 a.m. (Finally......at the place where it all took place......)
After an outstretched wait, lots of ‘Steven Tyler’ and aimless walks, the concerned official steps out and announces the final list of three people who made it through. Finally, “V Manoj Kumar” was what I could hear. Thanking the stars and patting myself, I completed the formalities and shared the news with my family. Planning how to break the news to my friends, I was walking towards my hostel, in their company’s shirt, on a wet road graced by water sprinkling from the fresh leaves, with my boots making an ‘office’ like sound. It was Steven Tyler again, louder, merrier and proud as the process ended and celebrations began.
#Placed in Coromandel International