Friday, April 22, 2011

All I wanted to speak about CAT - Part 1 - The Flashback

Note: This is a post meant from's famous "All I wanted to speak about CAT" thread. People preparing for CAT, and in need of motivation, inspiration etc can read through the entire thread. Brilliant stories. Captivating read. 

Link: All I wanted to speak about CAT

Part 2 of this post can be read here.
Part 3 of this post can be read here.

When I think of where to start this "story", my mind keeps wandering. But most of the time, it keeps returning to 8th Standard, at PSBBSSS KK Nagar, my school. That was probably the time when I discovered I was pretty good at Maths. I was this typical "extremely-studious" kid, with well-oiled and combed down hair, perfectly ironed and tucked in uniform; for whom, the most important thing in life was to complete the homework for the day, read through 'The Hindu' and 'The Sportstar' and devour novels and quiz books. It was in 8th standard that I found out my 'passion' for Maths. I used to attend these tuition classes for Maths back then, in this very popular class held by Srimathy Ma'am and I used to love doing the pages and pages of homework that was given. Added to the extreme sincerity that I was known for back then, I even used to indulge in this kiddish saddism of complaining to her, about other students who hadn't completed the homework. 

I went on to score 3 centums out of 4 that year; and missed out on the 4th by 1 mark because of a small confusion in the "Angle in the same segment" property in circles. In hindsight, that probably was the biggest mistake of my life. Not missing the 4th centum, but scoring 3 centums in the first place. It took expectations from me, to great heights and my parents had started dreaming about a seat for me in one of the IITs, to emulate my cousin brother who did his Bio-Tech in IIT Madras and then went on to Cornell University. 

Life went on smoothly till Standard 10, until when I continued my 100s spree in Maths (I actually got 100s in all my exams in Maths other than the Midterm exam where I got 91. I still remember vividly my ego in 9th standard when my maths teacher put me down saying I had solved a question wrong when I knew for a fact that it was right, given that she had never stated I couldn't use that particular method to solve the problem). I got a 100 in my board exam as well, and by then my parents had decided that IIT was going to be child's play for me. I wouldn't blame them entirely as I had a very wrong notion about commerce as well, and biology was like 'allergy'. (Even this is an understatement). 

The Start of the Problems
In 11th standard, as I attended classes during the vacations, I slowly started understanding that I simply wasn't made for this at all. I remember one of my teachers saying in class: 
"Just because you score 100 in your board exams, it doesn't mean that you are meant for IIT. I can show you 100s for people who have done the same and ended up nowhere in life". Though the quote was meant for no one in particular, the situation meant that I took it to be for me. Post that I had a confidence breakdown. Things started worsening as the 3 hour IIT classes seemed like a torture movie to me and Physics became something that I despised. Chemistry was no lesser. Maths was pretty much fine even then. School studies took a bad hit, due to lack of time due to attending  IIT classes and getting a peer group in love with football. Football and quizzing became my first loves then, and IIT classes used to be spent by discussing the tactics of the last match, or the upcoming matches and the usual rival clashes. 

Things went from bad to worse when I failed my Physics exam in 12th (probably THE lowest point of my life so far) by a quarter mark. My confidence took a huge hit. This simply wasn't helped by the Chicken Pox that I had during the vacations which led to me missing the major part of Differentiation and Integration. Maths, my favourite subject, also started taking a hit and from the days of 100s, I sunk to the 50s. 

As Vinod, my best friend back then put it .. "Century in the Half Yearly in 10th. Half Century in the Half Yearly of 12th". I knew that IIT was beyond my grasp and slowly it was becoming the same case with AIEEE, but I just couldn't bare to tell that to my parents as they had pinned a lot of hopes on me. This led to a phase when both my parents stopped talking to me for nearly a month. I finally managed to pass in physics with a 35/70 in my Pre-Boards. I simply worked my ass of to scrape a decent mark in the 12th Boards. 

The post board frenzy led to my AIEEE "preparation" taking a hit. Life was at the lowest possible low, as the AIEEE and board results came out and I was left clinging to the last straws of hope with an AIR of 43312. 

The long wait till the AIEEE counselling was tense, and somehow I managed a seat in NIT Bhopal in Civil Engg; because of the 'State Quota' that used to be prevalent those days. As I read and re-read the letter of allotment, memories came flashing back. Memories of the now age-old academic glories and of the off-late multiple setbacks came flooding back into my mind. Who had even dreamed of a seat in a NIT when I had filled up my choices during the counselling process? It was the last day of the counselling, had no other options left for college admissions and had actually filled in 50 choices in my AIEEE form-1. Heights of desperation which startled even the guy who printed out the form for me. (Ab tak kisi ne 3 page ka form nahi bara!!). I hadn’t even given the choices much thought, but I had this faint memory of Civil Engg at MANIT being my 13th choice. 13 is unlucky, they say. But probably that is for lucky souls. This had been the best piece of luck I had seen in a tempestuous 3 months. 

I still remember vividly the tears of sadness from me, my parents after my AIEEE and Board results. That, was the motivation behind my journey towards CAT. My father used to remind me at ever possible turn, how I had 'fooled' and 'failed' him and shattered his hopes and dreams. It was that pain that lead me to work towards something that I could perhaps use to overshadow this failure in my life. 

And then, I struck upon CAT. The mother of all Entrance Exam, probably. And thus began my journey.

Go to Part 2 


Dp :-) said...

Hey srinivas.. Congrats! This is divyapriya, your schoolmate. Hope you remember! Jus happened to land onto your post; and wow! There's just so much I'm able to relate to, considering the amazing psbb days. Wish you a colorful future! :-)

amanpreet said...

I am absolutely amazed at how vividly you've described such distant memories. Hats off :)

TBO said...

"I still remember vividly the tears of sadness from me, my parents after my AIEEE and Board results. That, was the

motivation behind my journey towards CAT. My father used to remind me at ever possible turn, how I had 'fooled' and

'failed' him and shattered his hopes and dreams. It was that pain that lead me to work towards something that I

could perhaps use to overshadow this failure in my life"....Hey man i dont know you but i read a lot into your blog

and was especially intrigued by this paragraph..Your father felt "Cheated" coz his sons academic's

really sad man. I am lucky enough to have a mom and dad that support me no matter what i score in an exam. Learning

has always been an onus to me, and although i might not have been the class topper or an "IIM-Material", i am really

glad i didn't let my schooling interfere with my education. I am in no way demeaning your "achievement" dude.. you

hav obviously put in a lot of effort into getting into a "premier" institute in the country. I am just wondering

why the IIM's command that level of respect in our society in the first educational institute will always

be respected by the impact it has on the society and how it will lead to it's citizens upliftment, but in my View

(again, no disrespect meant) other than the fat pay packages the media glorifies so often and the increasing number

of CAT aspirants, i don't really get how IIMs have helped in our nation building process..Are 90 pc of the poeple

there just hoping to get by two years so that they land a 20-40 lacks job? I f your answer is yes, then sadly IIMs

will never be my "dream " institute, nor should it be anyone else's.....I would much rather be Harish Hande rather than an investment banker in singapore making a dubai based oil

company richer...Do think about it.. Again leave your ego out of this i am not saying this for a "You are wrong i am

right " debate...Sadly people dont seem to think this way and the mad CATrace goes on and on year after year..Rather

amusing for it makes rich fodder for the blog i myself am working on.

Also read about your college project about water purification which i believed had true potential and an acual use

to your 20 odd years of education. Please do not give it up and pursue it rather than get type cast by filling Excel

sheets and making bloated ppts (which is what IIM passouts in my previous organizaation used to do)..