The CAT Race

When I was doing jobs during my graduation, I would regularly be confronted with a question, “When are you going to start doing a serious job?”

Now, what on earth is a serious job? So for three years, I was a construction labourer doing stand up comedy on top of buildings?? Fuck that!

So anyway, I was doing my B.Com, and had no clue what I wanted to The natural progression of a B.Com student is to do an MBA – no two ways about it. This was in the time when new records were broken by placement cells every year, and the word recession was used in history books to talk of the Great Depression of the 1930s. I plunged in.

There was IMS and there was TIME. I chose TIME, though I don’t remember why. There was an entrance test which would be the basis of a scholarship. I won a 25% scholarship and I duly took admission. And thus began my MBA trip.

Every student, at some point, has gone through an MBA trip. There are some telltale signs of being an MBA aspirant.

  1. If there are more than three guys sitting together,the discussion will revolve around colleges.
  2. An MBA aspirant can rattle off details like fees, course structure, average placement packages with the snap of a finger.
  3. Being an MBA aspirant screws up the things you did earlier for the fun of it. If you liked reading, you’d be listing out must-read books for an impressive interview. If you like watching movies, you’ll be looking for classics. If you like singing in the bathroom, you’ll start judging yourself to see if you qualify to put ‘singing’ as your ‘interests’ in your CV. If you had the habit of reading the newspaper, you’ll now be making mental notes and trying to remember the colour of Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s turban.
  4. MBA aspirants will ruin a normal chai session and make it a board room group discussion. While normally any opposition would be met with ‘Chup kar, chutiye’, if you are an MBA aspirant, you can’t do that. You have to show passive aggression. So you disagree by saying, “I understand where you’re coming from, but you’ve got excreta in your cerebellum.”

Nobody, however, raises the most important issue. CHICKS.

Most guys won’t admit it, but the numero uno deciding factor is chicks. The query will be innocently disguised with questions like “How’s the crowd there?” But deep within, every MBA aspirant is hoping for Vivid Entertainment style action in the two years.

So I joined the herd as well. I would attend classes, and discuss politics, and shake my head when something was being spoken, and nod when I had no clue what was being spoken about.

I would talk to people, and talk about reading ‘MBA books’. MBA books are books that somehow make you a better manager. And ‘The Fountainhead’ tops the list. Now, I was on my own ‘Fountainhead’ trip. I had read the book. Reading ‘The Fountainhead’ for the first time is a little like losing your virginity. I wanted to do what I was best at. I began wondering if I was just going about the motions. I become disillusioned with what I was doing, and told my boss I wanted something to challenge myself. He patiently heard me out and fired me the next day.

I failed to see how the book would make me a better manager, but since everyone was orgasming over the book, I joined in.

I’d attend the classes every alternate evening. I did fairly well in the English classes, and my GK was decent. I didn’t understand much in the Personality Development sessions. I mean, it’s a goddamned MBA course, how on earth are you going to develop my personality by asking me questions? But I attended them, as they made my issues seem professional and serious. The Group Discussions I totally loved. You got to meet different people, and take any side you wanted in the argument, depending on how much you disliked the others in the group.

And then, there was Quantitative Aptitude. Changing the name doesn’t change the game – it was still Mathematics. And I have had a tumultuous relationship with it for a few decades now.

Amidst cubes, square roots, Fobonacci numbers, and derivations, I seemed like a guy who had just dropped in from a nearby cave. Quite naturally, I didn’t attend more than three classes.

This went on for more than a year. I got a huge stack of reading material, and felt really good. I didn’t give even a single Mock CAT, to avoid being mocked at. But in the back of my head, I had confidence in my abilities.

It all began with the dream.

I dreamt that I was sitting in a class. The walls were of red brick, and there were hot chicks all around me, discussing issues, nodding, and driving me crazy. It was quite inspiring.

It was around the time when a friend told me about this technique called ‘Creative Visualising’. You have to imagine something with full concentration – see the minute details, see everything about the place/situation you want to be in, and your brain automatically works towards it on a subconscious stage. This was easy. I had been creatively visualising Raveena Tandon for years now.

So I’d imagine my college, the grades, the classes, the smiles after a terrific placement package. I rattled off figures, dismissed colleges with the snap of a finger, and lived a happy life.

The day came closer, and I was hardly tensed. I gave the exam my best shot and left it at that.

The results were declared, and many of my friends did well. They encouraged me to go check out my score, but I delayed it on purpose, wanting to be surprised.

I finally relented and went to an internet café. I logged in, and checked the score. My jaw dropped.

I had scored 18 percentile.

I don’t know anyone who has gotten a lesser score in CAT. Sarthak came over, and I was too numb to talk. I stepped out, went to a paan shop, and smoked three cigarettes one after the other. I felt giddy, and asked him to drop me off at home.


I am glad I didn’t do well in the exam. I would have gotten an average score, joined an average college, and been an average student. I wouldn’t enjoy it, and no amount of placement packages would make me feel like I was.

I am now studying Mass Comm, and I genuinely like it. I am still lazy with assignments and stuff, but it’s something I know I can do.

And what’s more, the walls of my classroom  have red bricks!

20 thoughts on “The CAT Race

  1. AK

    LOLz…. I got 49 percentile in CAT. But I never happened to meet anyone who had lesser than mine (or they did not confess).
    This one of yours gives me hope that I am not alone and being not able to crack the f***g CAT does not make any difference..

  2. Amit

    Honestly, I think you are a loser. Not because of 18 percentile but because you were looking for ‘hot’ chicks when talking about colleges. This only proves that you were never serious about any goal in your life.
    You want it easy.
    Journalism requires very hard work. Are you game for it post Mass Comm?
    And using so many expletives doesn’t make you cool. It makes you look desperate.

    1. samhithagomatam

      Honestly, I think you’re a hypocrite. You do your MBA to land a good package for what? For a hot chick. It’s a natural instinct. To reproduce. The hardest instinct to fight, after hunger, perhaps.
      Why would anybody want it hard? Everyone wants it easy. Have you never cheated on an exam?
      Mass Comm is more than just Journalism. Insulting people doesn’t make you look cool. It makes you look like a jealous loser yourself.

    2. randomfakename

      Woohooo why so judgmental? Are you feeding him?
      Guess what.. I am a looser too. I scored 16 percentile in CAT, didn’t even dare to attempt IIT-JEE and there were more zeros in my AIEEE rank than in 2G scam(Okay CWG) but I still ended up working on Wall Street and living stone throw away from Times Square in Manhattan.

      Sabka apna talent hota hai . (Taare zameen pe nahi dekhi kya??)

      Anyways .. I think he is an amazing writer and I am more than sure that very soon “the eight planets will do chakras in his kundalini and the sun will shine out of his ass”. 😀

      -big fan of you blog and eagerly waiting for your first book.

  3. Arvind

    Loved it 🙂
    I guess the ‘cream’ of MBAs will never relate to this write-up and the ‘down part’ will not understand. The rest are us 😛

  4. Arjun Narayanan

    Hey Heartranjan, which city do you belong to? for a while I wondered if I studied for those CAT sessions in some class with you… but no… none with red bricks where I did my coaching!
    Well I would say good decision! I finished my CAT, got into a decent B-School and got into a decent MBA type job. Now wondering what I’m doing here… Keep writing and do drop into my blogs once in a while!

    1. heartranjan Post author

      Hey there,

      I did my coaching at Bhubaneswar, Orissa. The red bricks are from the iconic IIM Ahmedabad building. I am currently at the University of Hyderabad, studying Mass Communication. And I read your blog, and liked your review of Chetan Bhagat’s new novel. Good job! Will look forward to more!!

  5. Spaceman Spiff

    Oh yes, the new S.N.School building has red bricks, right? 🙂
    So it’s not enough to just visualize, but while visualizing, you also have to be very specific about the place. 🙂 It’s called Specific Creative Visualizing.

  6. Pranith Maddirala

    Man, you’ve hit many nails on many heads with this one. I had the MBA bug too, though I did not go to any institute. And, how, how how how how did they think ‘The Fountainhead’ will improve management skills. Its the most anti-management book there ever was, because it talks about every man for himself.


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