Sunday, March 22, 2009


Fourth time lucky

Exactly a year ago, according to R's calendar, I posted after being third time unlucky. The post can be read here. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride were the operative words. Well, it's the bride that speaks now. We won Quizzotica and how. One of the best days of quizzing I've had. I guess the quizzing kitty is full now.

Sadly, this first also marked an end. And end to Rapu's and my days of quizzing together. Before someone points out the MMS, let me say that General Quizzing is quizzing for us. The others don't count. Although, the fact that we almost won MMS as well is heartening.

These 4 years of quizzing were amazing. A major reason behind why these 4 years overall were so precious. College quizzing, at least the serious part of it, has ended now, and I'm happy to have enjoyed it. A big thanks to everyone who made it what it was for me. The senti post might follow later. The biggest thanks, however, to the man, the legend, who was beside me throughout. I'm certain I could never have had a better quizzing mate. A toast seems to be in order. To one of the best quizzers I've met and an ever better friend. To Rapu. Cheers.

And I'm richer by 3500/3. That cheers me up too. Naman, I sincerely hope we get the money.

PS- Once again, congratulations to Dela and Prondi for winning TATA Crucible Chandigarh. For the uninitiated, it was the zonal round of a national business quiz.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


C for Catamite

Before I begin, a big thank you to everyone, who in the course of the past month, has wished me luck on the phone, through sms's, in person, or on this blog. It's wonderful to think, that even if for an infinitesimal second, a wish is made for one. So now that I've thanked you for your kindness, and you've thanked me for the brilliant title, let's get down to the GD/PI.

The GD: Topic was 'Ethics should be taught'. Usual kind of GD. Everyone speaking at the same time, and very few sensible things being actually said. Very predictably, both Ramalinga Raju and Maddoff were mentioned. Obama missed the bus here. The only sensible thing that I thought I had to say was that ethics are often subjective. People misappropraitng funds might be doing so believing themselves to be in the right- for their families' sake for instance.

The interview: 4 panelists this time (1,2,3,4). The fourth was the strong and silent type- didn't utter a word throughout. 1 was painfully verbose- I could never make out what I was asked.

Final year Meta? See metallurgy is specialized. Management is general. Won't there be dilution of skills? Creative destruction?
Me: Some gyaan on acquiring new skills, more job options etc. Talked about Meta not being that specialized. We're trained not just to be good metallurgists but to be good engineers, were the operative words.
1: No, but you have no work ex, you don't know anything about a job. You're talking about satisfaction. I'm looking for concrete answers... blah blah.
Me: Some nonsensical blah blah. I could never figure out what he wanted me to say.

2: Can you name some metallurgists from the industry?
Me: (Like an idiot) I don't think so sir.
2: What about the head of TISCO?
Me: (Like a bigger idiot) I know about TATA Steel. I don't know if it's the same as TISCO. Althought TISCO is TATA Iron and Steel Company so it should be the same (was told it was the same). The CEO of TATA Steel is B. Muthuraman. He's from IIT Madras. I never knew he was from Metallurgy, but yes, it makes sense for him to be.

3: See, you know that 2.5 lakh people apply to the IIMs. Only a couple of hundred make it to IIMC. So you have to be among the top 1%. You're not even in the top 10% in your batch (I'd mentioned my lamentable DR earlier), so how can you be amongst the top here?
Me: I've proved myself in CAT sir. I'm in the top 0.5% there.
3: Ok, so that cancels out your college performance. Otherwise?
Me: Sir, I've been a consistent academic performer. Cleared JEE and CAT on first attempt. Always done well in school. Not 96% perhaps, but you don't just want toppers, there are so few of them.
3: What are you top at then?
Me: Sir, the skills that are tested in CAT for instance- DI, Quant, Verbal...
3: No, no. I mean wholistic etc...
Me: You mean my strenghts sir. Rattled off.
3: So, can you say that you're among the top 1% most creative people in the world?
Me: In my opinion, yes sir. But my opinion counts for nought.
3: On what do you base your opinion?
Me: Mentioned the Mag. Was asked for more extra-curricular details. Mentioned quizzing and debating.

3: So, do you think IIT should be at R? Do you like the place?
Me: Yes sir. It's in its own little world. University town etc.
3: Outside of campus?
Me: Very calm sir. Scenic beauty. Depends of perception of course. Hardly any academic distractions?
3: No what do you think? Good or bad?
Me: (Like a further idiot) Bad sir. No cinema theatre. Not too many colleges outside so fewer events to take part in. Placements get screwed. (Translated to- I don't care if there are no academic distractions- the lack of a cinema hall irks me. Is my DR that surprising to you?)

There were some questions on placements in general. And reagarding the spelling of my name. Otherwise, that was it. 8-10 minutes. Short, and very confusing.

And that, dear readers, is it. Regarding the title, after 90 of the most miserable minutes of my life, I daresay I'm feeling like one.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


A for Abracadabra

The most important thing that happened before this interview was that for the first time, I knotted my own tie. And what a knot too. The king of knotters would have been tongue-tied at its symmetry and perfection. And on that knot, er note, the details:

The Essay: The topic was "India's space progaramme is misguided ambition". 10 minutes to write. Some 29 lines to fill. I wrote about how any space programmes is always fuelled by want rather than need, metioned poverty and illiteracy as being pressing issues, slipped in Dan Brown and Deception Point and concluded with national pride. Sadly, 2 or 3 lines were left unfilled.

The interview: 2 gentlemen again- one with a moustache (M) and one without (NM). Yours truly walked in.

M: What all do you read? (I'd mentioned reading and writing as interests in my interview form)
Me: You mean novels, sir? (a nod). I generally read fiction. And a lot of it. Practically all genres. I love comedy so I read a lot of Wodehouse. I read thrillers by Dan Brown, Jeffery Archer, good storytellers like Sidney Sheldon, I've read some Frederick Forsyth. I liked Agatha Christie a lot when I was younger. I love fantasy- Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. I read practically anything I can get my hands on.
M: Which Dan Brown novels have you read?
Me: He's written 4. I've read all of them- (named them).
M: What was the controversy surrounding the Da Vinci Code?
Me: (Talked about its attacking the tenets of Christianity leading to the ban by Catholic countries. Also about the plagiarism issue. Mentioned Holy Blood Holy Grail.)
M: Who's your favourite Wodehousian character? Why?
Me: Bertie Wooster and Psmith. Explained why.
M: What do you like about Wodehouse?
Me: Talked about his genius and his way with words. How he can make you split with laughter. Then on his depiction of the English nobillity and upper classes that no other author has managed.

M: What do you write about?
Me: Mentioned my blog. He asked me how I judged myself. Talked about that.
M: What was your last post on?
Me: The L interview sir. Some questions on how the interview was. I said I was satisfied as I answered the questions to the best of my ability.
M: Do you consider content more important or form of writing?
Me: Content, sir. Both as a writer and as a speaker.

M: Do you read newspapers? Which ones?
Me: HT and I subscribe to India Today. On being asked why HT: I've been reading it ever since I can remember. Started with the sports page and then went on to the rest of the newspaper. Familiar with the columnists.
M: Apart from IPL and the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers, what has been happening in sports?
Me: Champion's league round of 16. First leg over, second leg on 9th and 10th. Davis Cup against Chinese Taipei results. Some women's asia-oceania triumph in tennis.
M: There's also the Women's world cup.
Me: Yes, sir. Mentioned Mithali Raj and some Australlian allrounder of Indian origin who's considered a great player.
M: What about international affairs?
Me: Mentioned the BDR mutiny, attack on Sri Lankan players and Pakistani response, LTTE, some embezzlement going on in Taiwan, Obama removing incentives for companies outsourcing.

NM: Why did you do an internship in Genpact after 2nd year? Seems strange for a metallurgist. You could have left knowledge of finance to whenever you did an MBA?
Me: Gyaan on not wanting to do a project as I did not want to go for higher studies in metallurgy.
NM: Why didn't you go to a DoMS prof?
Me: The idea never struck me sir.

NM: What did you do in your intern at L&T? What is the role of Temperature in boilers? I can see the role of pressure but why temperature?
Me: Sir, efficiency is a function of difference of temperatures. We want higher efficiency so we want materials that can perform at such temperatures...
NM: No no. Water boils at 100 degrees. Why go above that? (When I mentioned superheated steam) Superheated steam ok. 200 degrees. Why such high temperatures?
Me: The higher the Temperature, more the energy given to steam. So it will lose more energy which will be used to do the work.
NM: Does Pressure depend on temperature in a boiler?
Me: Yes sir. On increasing the temperature, the number of collisions will increase leading to an increase in pressure.
NM: Ok. Why this Tungsten material? A new material, huh? Ok isn't it expensive? How can I know I'll get enough returns?
Me: Now we're moving towards supercritical boilers. More efficiency. So we need materials that can perform at higher temperatures. This material can perform at 50 degrees higher T.
NM: Why W?
Me: Meta meta
NM: Why not more W?
Me: Said it would decrease strength. Wrong answer. It actually decreases ductility.
NM: Where exactly in the boiler do we use this material?
Me: In superheater and reheater tubes and pipes. We don't want them to burst so we want enhanced strength.
NM: How do we know how much alloying?
Me: We know the range. Then we conduct experiments to see properties at different compositions.

NM: What is the difference between an alloy and a composite?
Me: An alloy is homogenous...
NM: Whoa, I'm a layman. I don't know this homogenous. Explain properly.
Me: I'll give you an analogy. Suppose you colour a piece of paper red. Then you take some yellow paint. If you paint the whole thing yellow now, you'll get an orange shade which is same everywhere. That is alloy. If you just use the entire paint and put dots everywhere, that is composite.
NM: No but concrete is a composite and it is same everywhere.
Me: No sir. You're talking at a macrolevel. As you go deeper and deeper into the concrete, you'll see that it has different properties as different places.

NM: Ok, you live in UP? Always lived in UP, as in are you a UP-ite?
Me: No sir. I'm a Bihari. I lived in Patna till 2001 then moved to Delhi when my father got transferred.

M: Ok, that's it. Take a toffee.
Me: Taking an alpenlibe. Thank you sir.

And so ended this one. 4 down 1 to go.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


L for Lollobrigida

The break after the first two bouts has ended and it’s interview season once more. The only thing of note, and of considerable note that has happened is that ‘We are the Champions’ in more ways than one. Man U won the Carling Cup. Rapu, Good Girl and I won the inter-dept quiz at last. Trophy-less, true, but richer by 3k. In the dying minutes of the quiz, Good Girl showed that she was, metaphorically, the Man, and we short-circuited the Electrical boys (Bad luck, guys. But you were really good. You’ll probably win next year). Anyway, that’s another story.

So I was back at home sweet home and this time the interview centre was in the neighbourhood sweet neighbourhood. Got their in time, discovered an acquaintance and with that, let the story begin:

The GD and Essay: “You should not expect old heads on young shoulders” was the topic. 20 minutes each for writing and then discussing. Very well-mannered discussion. Hardly any interruptions. Everyone got to speak and air his views lots of times. Big smiles all around. From Obama to Advani, Dhoni to Sachin, Bill Gates to Ratan Tata, almost everyone was discussed. Bhai Paramanand was conspicuous by his absence.

The interview: During the aforementioned GD, yours truly was the first person on the panel. Hence, yours truly was also the first to be interviewed. And before you start reading, a word of caution, the interview bore a strict resemblance to Amaron Batteries. It lasted long, really long.

2 professors- P1 and P2. P1 had hair, P2 didn’t have too much of it.

P1: Tell me about yourself…

Me: Mentioned college, some activities, Noida, Patna etc

P1: Metallurgical Engineer, right? What is the scope of your branch?

Me: Meta meta

P1: In an economy, would you want a Materials Engineer or a manager?

Me: I would want a healthy mix of both. You need one for engineering and technical applications and the other to commercialize what the first does and to make efficient use of resources. In fact, I would say that I would want a healthy mix of not just these but doctors, lawyers, economists etc.

P1: Give some examples of semi-conductors.

Me: Si, Ge, Ga

P1: Is diamond one?

Me: No, sir

P1: Why not? It has the same structure as Si? Can it be used as a storage device?

Me: I’m only conjecturing, sir. But I think not. Some random funda on why not.

P1: What is the melting point of Si? Why should we know it?

Me: I don’t know sir. But we should know it because during fabrication we have to melt Si. Also when we dope it, we want resultant material to be homogenous so doping is in liquid state.

P1: How do you find out the strength of materials? What does it depend on?

Me: Stress, strain, structure, grain size… meta meta

P1: Metals have been around for ages? What is your contribution as a metallurgist?

Me: We improve on them. Develop better alloys and composites. Mentioned what I did(?) at L&T as I was studying better materials for application in boiler industries.

P1: Why do modern laptops get heated up so quickly?

Me: I didn’t know. Was encouraged to guess. Guessed wrongly. Was told correct answer. Humbly apologized. Was told it was ok.

P1: What do you consider you most significant accomplishment?

Me: JEE on first attempt. It was my dream, got into IITR etc etc.

Now enter P2.

P2: Where’s your scorecard? (I got it out) How are you in Maths?

Me: I’m pretty good sir. Never had a problem.

P2: No because your grades aren’t too good. You’ve got Cs (I had 6 in my first 2 sems)

Me: Sir I didn’t do too well in my first 2 maths courses. But in my third semester I had 2 maths courses and I got an A and a B+ in them. So, I’ve always been good in maths. Cleared JEE and CAT also. Plus, I like maths, so it’s really not an issue. (Here, like an idiot, I forgot to mention Maths Olympiad)

P2: Ok, because in IIML, if you make it, you’ll need maths.

Me: I’m sure I’ll cope with it sir.

P2: yMBA?

Me: Blah blah.

P2: Ok, so you do an MBA. Then HLL, Marketing head, selling Lux soap. How doest that tell for a metallurgist from an IIT?

Me: Gyaan.

P2: What is the probability that you’ll get into IIML? What will you require from us to answer that?

Me: I thought he was asking for my opinion. Talked about weightage given to everything. How my interview was. Luckily I also said I’ll need to know how many you called an how many you plan to take. He’d asked this question as a maths problem.

P2: What is probability?

Me: Oh, you mean favoured events upon total possible events?

P2: Yes, so how does weightage and all come into it?

Me: Sir, if I knew all that, I could give a better result for favoured events as it would help me eliminate certain cases.

P2: How would probability change if I said 50% seats were reserved for girls?

Me: Explained with example.

P2: Ok. Which are your dream companies?

Me: It’s too early to say that now sir.

P2: So you don’t decide the destination before the journey?

Me: Depends on context sir. During JEE, I decided I wanted to get into IIT and then went about preparing. Now I’m keeping an open mind while doing a management course. I know I want to get into a good well-respected company, but I can’t say which field or sector.

P2: 3 Indian companies you admire?

Me: TATA, Reliance, Future Group. Talked about how they’re diversified and doing well.

P2: So you think a diversified company is a good one?

Me: Gyaan on how both specialization and diversification are good.

P2: In a way, you are also diversifying? Is this sort of risk-management?

Me: You could say I’m diversifying, yes. But I don’t see this as a risk. I consider it a well thought out decision.

P2: What are your hobbies?

Me: I read a lot. I’m fond of quizzing and debating. I follow most sports, specially football. I also like playing computer games.

P2: You like tennis?

Me: Yes, sir. I even play tennis for my hostel (didn’t think it prudent to mention that I’d played one match against the mighty Yashu-with-the-big-serve and lost so badly that I’d won just 3 points in the entire match.)

P2: Your father is a bank officer? Can you tell me why banks have reduced their home-loans interest?

Me: Some gyaan on encouraging consumerism. Boosting up the economy. People were not willing to invest in Real Estate and companies were doing badly.

P2: What about the Repo rate and reverse Repo rate?

Me: Sir, I know Repo rate is the rate at which RBI lends to other banks but otherwise I don’t have too much idea. However, I can learn fast.

P2: That’s ok. No I just wondered, since your father is banker, do you talk about all this?

Me: No, sir. We generally talk about cricket.

Then there were some questions on correlation factor. I explained to him, emphatically, how I had never been taught that in maths. Said that there were some things that I’d been taught and forgotten, but this I knew I’d never been taught.

P1: Ok, that’s it. Send the next person in please.

And so ended round 3.

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