Shady Hues

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Escape to Victory!

Till high school, I used to be a fairly good student. I scored 85% in my X boards. Then, I was sent to Delhi from Solan (a small town in H.P.) for IIT coaching, coz i was identified as a 'bright prospect'. But, I had always wanted to be a cricketer. So, with renewed vigour, I completely gave up studying, and turned to cricket. I wasn't a bad player, but then, I wasn't exceptional either. It was more of a rebellion against authority.

Anyhow, my scores dipped, and I barely scraped through Class XI. I didn't improve much in Class XII. Another issue I faced was that I felt I was being discriminated against by the majority ethnic community. I flunked my pre-boards. The school called my parents, who were horrified to know that their supposedly brilliant son was flunking. My folks had to plead with the authorities to let me sit for the XII boards. Anyway, I somehow managed a 67%.

I studied a bit for Engg. entrance exams, and cleared a few. Then, I got admission to PEC, Chandigarh. Again, I wasn't quite convinced with studying Civil Engineering. Consequently, I flunked an exam each in my first two sems. In the third, I was out of action for 6 months, with a near-fatal road accident. But, to quote Charles Dickens, 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.' That accident changed my outlook towards life. I learnt many lessions, and I guess I matured in those 6 months. After that, I worked heart and soul to get life back on track. Eventually, I scored 61.9% in engineering.

By then, I had been written off as a bright star who had lost his glow, by family and friends. So, I decided to shift base, and move to a different city, away from everyone. That's when I took up a job at IBM's BPO in Gurgaon. I appeared for CAT '02, without any preparation. To my surprise, I got 97.5 percentile, and a call from UBS, Chandigarh. (That was the only place I had applied to.) However, I was not confident enough, and messed up the GD and interview. I was devastated, but went back to my job. After a few months of good performance, I was promoted as a trainer. Next year, I filled up the CAT form again, but chickened out of appearing for the paper. I spent another couple of years in my job - got another couple of promotions, and lots of accolades. But somehow, all my past failures haunted me.

I switched jobs, and came to Genpact in 2005. Once again, I settled into a reasonably comfortable life. It needed a jolt to break me out from my world of computer games and books. Being a Liverpool fan, I tuned in to the Champions League final between Liverpool and AC Milan. Liverpool were trailing 3-0 in the first half, and I was seething with rage! They went in at half-time like losers, who'd given up. But after 15 minutes, I was surprised to see Gerrard charging out of the tunnel, followed by his team. And lo, after 15 minutes, I was jumping with joy. Liverpool - 3 goals in 10 minutes!! Eventually, they won. I didn't rjoice, dance, or whoop with delight. I took my bike, went to a peaceful place nearby, and cried like I'd never done before.

In those 90 minutes, I had found vindication. I saw myself in the team that came back when everyone, including ardent fans like me, had written them off. I realized that all was not lost, till I decided. I went back, with renewed vigour. I decided to give my fullest to my job. For anoher year, I drove myself hard. I was quickly recognized as an efficient and good worker. Still, I couldn't bring myself to exorcise the demon of CAT. Then, life changed...

Late in 2006, a girl at office, who lived en route to my house, asked me for a lift. She and I had a small conversation. I dropped her home, and forgot about the incident. A few days later, the 'lift' became a routine affair. And before I knew it, I was deep in love with her, and vice-versa.

After listening to the story of my life, she would bring up the subject of an MBA, and I would nervously change the topic. Then, she also talked about getting an MBA and joining a coaching institute. So, on a weekend, I took her to IMS, TIME, CL etc. We discussed the options, and concluded that TIME sounded best. We went back next week to sign up. That's when she dropped the bombshell. It wasn't her who was signing up, it was ME!! I was reluctant, being more keen on a part-time MBA, but she asked me to give it just one shot.

Despite my reluctance, I had to join up. And I took the first mock they gave. Score 99.xx. I regained a bit of self-belief and vowed to give it 110%.

I had enrolled for classes in Jan '07 at TIME, and began studying hard. Days became weeks, weeks became months. I found that when the mock tests began, I would always score in the region of 95-96, but never beyond. It began to frustrate me. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't score above 96. The faculty were extremely supportive and counselled me regularly. Two of the teachers, Mr. banerjee, and Mr. Pankaj, always had positive things to say. They sat with me, to understand my issues, and advised me at every step. Tanveer Sir (writetotanveer), who was part of the faculty, was especially encouraging and inspiring. He was the one who introduced me to this wonderful world of PagalGuy.

Still, by September, I only had one 98+ score to my name. And if you plotted my scores, you'd get pretty much a straight line. Essentially, I felt like I'd just be knocking at the IIMs' doors but not getting in. Meanwhile, things were also getting tough on the personal front. The girl, who'd been by my side through all those times, moved on with life. Life had once again, come full circle. I lost interest in everything. Appeared for one of the mocks, and walked out after only 45 minutes. The result showed me 79 percentile. , when I scored 98+. I was at my wits' end. In extreme frustration, I walked out of a (2 hour) mock test after just 50 odd minutes. However, to my surprise, I found that I had scored 79 percentile in that test. I remembered the day a team in red had refused to die out, and come back to beat all odds.

I began preparing with renewed vigour, and decided to give one final thrust, always keeping the Reds in mind. Come D-day, I felt I was ready. Tanveer Sir met me at my center and told me, "Mr. Singla, dimaag thanda rakhna. Ho jaayega." And well, if not spectacularly, I think I have done reasonably well for myself with a total of 7 calls from top-league institutes.

Today, that team in Red is almost on the verge of another historic victory. Today, I'm on the verge of getting into a b-school. I don't really care if the Reds win or not. They tried hard, and gave their best, so they'll always be heroes to me, even if they hadn't won. I will always worship them, and go back to that famous day in 2005, whenever I need them to motivate me.

So, I'd say, forget about winning or losing, make sure you give it all! Just don't quit, ever! No one says it's easy, but then it isn't impossible either, right? Go for it, and get there!