Archive for June, 2009

“this is not allowed here. Don’t u know that u r an MBA student? Cut your hair short. I shouldn’t see u like this again.” That was our president.

But don’t dare calling him ‘sir’ or ‘professor’ with his name attached to it as that was something he hated. Yes you can go ahead and address him so, in case you love playing with fire!

‘Mr. President’, that’s the name!

Truly, ‘the Lion of XIME’ who could make or break any student or faculty.  Even the name sends shivers across the small kingdom of XIME, just like the ‘he who must not be named’ or ‘you know who’ in legendary Harry Potter or like ‘Führer’, the great Hitler, in Germany.

Everyone in XIME feared and respected him and it was he who built XIME. She was one among the top MBA colleges in India during that time and definitely all the credit for that went to him. In a way, he was the backbone of XIME. But his style of management was different…

Whatever it was I always tried to keep myself away from him, just like most others. The main reason was that the chances of attracting ‘fines’ were very high if one met him face to face. The reasons were as silly as ‘carrying a mobile phone’ or ‘not wearing a tie’ or even ‘not shaving’.

In my case, I think, I must have been one of his favorite victims! I had become very friendly with our college accountant only because of those colouful fines…

“Hi Amal, tell me the fine amount.” Miss MR asked me as soon as she saw me in the college admin office.

“250 rupees ma’am” I said. She scribbled something on the receipt book.

“And the reason for fine?” She enquired.

“Er – not wearing a tie”

“Great! Keep it up” She handed over the receipt to me with a smile.

“Thank you” I said as I handed over the money.

“Ya, hope to see you around soon.” She said in a boring tone. That was like a smooth slap on face.

“Never again” I thought, “will I make the mistake of bumping into our President!”


Well it was true that, like most others in the world, even I craved to become a model. But fortune didn’t favour me much. Even so, I enjoyed changing my looks and style very often. So cutting my hair short was something which I could not have even dreamt about at that time. I loved my long hair passionately and was proud of that too. So I ignored the king’s caveat.

If truth be told, a huge risk I attempted back then!

Sensing the alarm bells, some of my warmhearted seniors advised me “dude, listen. This is not gonna take you anywhere. I guess you should cut your hair!”

“Well, he’s got a point there buddy. I think you should listen to him” it was that big guy. “Besides, you must understand that there can never ever be two lions in a jungle! Either you should give up your mane or your MBA!”

Well, that left me with little or no choice!


The first day after midterm exams brought two ‘shocks’ to my friends in the campus. One, obviously is the score sheets, which not only gave a shock but also a heart attack to me, and the other one was my new look. I looked completely different in short hair and there was an outburst of comments from every direction… some appreciated it and others took a dim view of it.

“Long hairs suited you. This one is not that good” Pakru gave an honest feedback.

“Poda. Previously he looked like some rowdy. Now he looks decent, at least!” Kadavanthara responded quickly. He then winked at me.

“Oh! The Golden words from the super model… phew. Shut up you, idiot!” slapped Pakru.

As time passed I started appreciating my new look and so did others.

“Condolences! I know how sad it is to lose something which you love passionately. But fate! Nobody can do anything about that” that was Achayan. He had seen my photos in Orkut and had called me.

As usual he was drunk! “But kid, you look civilized now… just like ME…” he laughed.

“What!” I couldn’t help expressing my shock.


Classes were boring as usual as most of the things taught in the class were soaring well above my head. I felt that the first term was packed with all utter nonsense subjects ranging from stupid accountancy to mind blowing ‘Indian Society’… I didn’t like those much.

But the ‘outstanding’ performance in the midterm exams demanded me to work hard to score 5 point GPA in an 8 grade scale.

By the way, one needs to score at least a CGPA of 5 to pass. As time went on I realized that scoring 5 point GPA was bit impractical.

Pressure mounted day by day and I succumbed gradually…

Yes, that was the point where I lost it & my life became terrible thereafter!!!


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“This is how you pull out the food materials stuck between your teeth when you are at a dinner party” and he went on demonstrating that… That was hilarious!!!

I’d have burst out laughing if the class hadn’t been packed with 60 students! Professor then moved on to other advanced areas of ‘dinner etiquette.’ He explained and demonstrated how to hold forceps, a knife, dinner napkin, etc.

Slowly my mind started drifting… Soon I was thinking about the farewell party I had thrown to my close friends while leaving my job. That was the last time we had an expensive dinner. One thing for sure, none of my 8 friends, at that time, never even thought about the basic table etiquettes that even a common man should be observing! For us, all that mattered was food. Even the chicken bones weren’t spared; total barbarianism!

Achayan was at his best. He picked up a chicken leg piece and said “oh my dear chico, u r the heart of my soul, love of my lonely life & the light of my living room. Welcome to my sacred world!”

Achu’s comment came at once. He cleared his throat and talked with a deliberate bass. “All the sins – it had done – in this life and the previous ones – got washed away now. Amen!”

It was real fun until the bill arrived…

“Ok students we’ll meet in some other classes. I hope u wouldn’t forget to use these etiquettes next time when you dine!” Professor concluded as the bell rang and the 70% of the class who woke up with that bell wondered which dinner he was talking about!!!

Induction classes lasted for one week and I felt that those were ‘the’ most uninteresting classes in the first trimester.

“Da, seniors will come this week end!!!” Pakru was bit upset.

“Oh! that means that it’s time for us to do some ragging”

That was Kadavanthara, the bluff master … No wonder why he did well in non technical group discussions! Looks wise he had a noble guise. But the moment he spoke, everything was gone! The person on other end might even say “would you kindly stop this bluffing?”

That was too much for Pakru. He threw his dirty socks on him and screamed “Who asked your opinion here? You fool!”  

It was always fun to be with those guys.

By the week end the ‘seniors’ came back to the campus. I was expecting some kind of mischievous sprites who were ready to demolish our small beautiful world! I wondered whether it would be like the engineering college ragging!

But they were not dangerous as expected. As a matter of fact, they were not even a 5 percent close to that. The so called ragging session was an utter waste.

“Hey you, tell me the names of 5 hottest girls in your batch.” One big guy shouted…

Five was too much! I hardly knew any names then… Somehow I managed to list 3 names…

Fortunately he wasn’t upset about that. “After all what’s there in a name, buddy. Go on & tell me how to identify them…”

I started describing them…

“Sorry boss, I don’t have the time to check their eyes, lips and all… tell me the ‘other’ things!” he deliberately stressed on the ‘other’. The crowd cheered him up…

Well, the golden rule to get out the ragging situation is this: Speak what that they want to hear… 

I spoke for next 3 minutes and that was it…

“Well done buddy. Welcome to XIME hostel…”


The next day there was a continuation of this in the college basket ball ground…

Some girls wanted me to sing some Malayalam song. I tried my level best to save them from the distress but they were persistent! I hardly ‘sang’ two lines than they screamed “ohh … please”!!!

That was my whole ragging section … 


The next few weeks were amazing. Knowing each other, making new friends, exploring new shops & hotels… all were fun. Days went by. I thought XIME life was heavenly. 

It is said that the devil kisses you when you least expect it… and so it happened!

One day, all of a sudden the villain appeared on the notice board!


Oh – my – god! I am not prepared at all for that.

Just like any other ‘normal’ student in the world, I also had that baffling question deep inside my head – “why the hell do they take exams? Cant they make out my smartness without conducting exams?”

XIME followed a wonderful philosophy: Students should write a minimum of 2-3 exams a day and should never be given the liberty of study leave.

Well, no one had ever wasted their time in analyzing whether it was good or bad as there was no point in doing that! One great advantage of an autonomous college: Yes kid, you can’t question anything here; You just obey!

I stopped my gym, I stopped going out, I stopped hanging around with friends… and what all things I did; God only knows! According to it students were denied the liberty of study leave and also had to write 2-3 exams a day and

But did any of those make any difference!

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“Fish markets are far better!!!” I thought when the group discussion was going on… Well, there were 16 MBA aspirants in one group and what else could have one expected there! I was disappointed when the group discussion turned into a group fight. True that I anticipated an active session there but never expected such a mess over there.

Once the group discussion was over, a list was put up which displayed the interview slots for each one. Few minutes later they called candidates to the interview room one by one, according to their slot numbers. The others were asked to wait in the discussion room.

Most of them were discussing animatedly about their XAT scores and other interview calls they had bagged. Suddenly somebody picked up some business magazine from the table and shouted “Look, this has the Fortune 500 list of companies. Probably they might ask us about this and that could be the reason why they might have kept it here.” Suddenly there was a fuss on that. The discussions followed then were based on that fortune list!

To be honest I didn’t know what ‘fortune 500’ meant at that time and so I didn’t bother to listen to that. I just waited patiently for my turn. I was given the 15th slot.

After few hours, the 13th person walked into the interview room. Only 3 remained in the discussion room.

That magazine was still there on the desk, but abandoned! I took that ‘once hot’ magazine and flipped through the pages. Then I thought of checking the status of my BPO in that so called list. I went through the list couple of times… but couldn’t find my company name anywhere in that!

“What a stupid list… No wonder I had never heard about this” I threw it back on the table, wondering why they had not put our company name in that!


Personal interview was going well. Suddenly one among the 3 members interview panel shot a question which struck me like a thunderbolt! “Now Amal, What is ‘electronics’?”

Even though I did Electronics & communication engineering, I was never passionate about that. I always hated the semi conductors, transistors and all. To me those were like aliens.

“Ok. Now explain to me the flow of current through a MOSFET.”

That guy gave me a hard time. I knew that I was losing… but somehow I answered him with the little knowledge I had about those stuffs.

Now it was the turn of the 3rd member, the then director of XIME. He was short and chubby and looked like he was in his late 50ies. He sat comfortably in a chair wearing rose shirt and yellow tie!

He shot a cold look at me. I knew something bad was coming. For a split second, I even considered the option of running away from there. But then, I was already exhausted after that ‘electronics’ round.

“Tell me babu, how many MBA colleges are there in our country?” He stressed on ‘how many’. It typically reminded me of the famous dialogue in the hit Hindi movie ‘Sholay’ where the villain asked his assistant “kitane aadmi de, kaaliya?”


After the GD & interview, I phoned my mom and said “I think I’ll get admission in some better colleges in Trivandrum (hometown). Bangalore is anyways not an ideal place for me!!! ”

Yes, a big lie. It was one of my dream colleges. Besides, I loved Bangalore than any other cities in India.

“But what with the interview u just gave” … She seemed to be at a complete loss.

“Hmm not bad …” I paused. “Actually mom, they grilled me and I think I lost it…” I said. 

“WHAT!!!” She didn’t speak for some time. “Anyway, let’s wait for the results.” she sighed.

— A week later …. Location: Alliance Business Academy, Bangalore —

I got selected for their MBA program and to confirm my seat I needed to pay Rs 25,000 on the spot. I was about to go to my ATM, when my mobile beeped

“Unknown caller”

“Oh not again… god, I don’t want a marketing/consultancy call now.”  

“Can I speak to Mr. Amal?”

“Yes, u may. How can I help you?” My BPO life had trained me to be polite with people over the phone…

“Hello, I am calling from XIME, OK?” …A lady said. I was thinking only about the 25,000 rupees and nothing else got registered to my memory then.

 ‘XIME’? What all crazy name do people put, these days, for their consultancies? I thought.

May be because of my silence, she said “Xavier Institute of Management & Entrepreneurship”

Oh my god, oh my god!!! My whole posture changed. Blood ran straight to my brain; and just like a uniformed soldier I said “Yes Ma’am”

“You are shortlisted. To confirm your admission, please pay the first term fees on next week.”

I was momentarily frozen, my mind blank; then I was floating, among the white clouds.

“Are you sure ma’am that it’s me?”

She just smiled. “Yes, you are Amal right? Then it’s you. I look forward to meeting you soon.”

Undoubtedly, one of the best moments in my life, back then…

‘The road to glory’ I thought.

Little I knew back then about the real road I was destined to walk in XIME…


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‘trin trin ….’ it went with a buzz. I got up cursing the stupid alarm clock. 6.30 pm and my day started there! I knew I had only one hour left to get ready for work.

Lazily, I went to bathroom and switched on the water heater. Just then the doorbell rang.

“Dude, free on this Saturday? I have an extra pass for the rock concert!” It was my neighbor, Vipin. He just returned from work!

“Sorry bro, working on this Saturday too!” I was sad that I would miss the concert.

“Damn! On a Saturday!!! You are into deep mess man…” I felt that he was over animated for the situation. “Anyway, u get ready for work, buddy. I’ll ask Sujith”.

By 7.30 I was ready. I put my id card on and waited for my cab… just like a school boy waiting for the bus.

Few minutes later, my mobile buzzed. Well, it was a miss call. A Miss call meant that the cab had already reached. I locked the room and ran towards the cab.

Since I was staying close to the office I was picked up last and dropped first; one huge advantage of staying in the city. Yes, renting out a house in the Bangalore city burned my pocket like crazy, but any day it was better than spending 2 to 3 hours in the cab.

“Achayoo … pooeey” I tried to woke Achayan up as he was sleeping peacefully inside the cab. Just then Achu said “dude, don’t wake him up… we picked him up from the ‘down town pub’. Today is his second wedding anniversary. Let him rest for some more time!” He finished with a naughty smile.

Achayan was a tank. No man could ever beat him in that! But it was great fun to be around him and his Dubai stories were one big hit among us!  

Normally, the cabs in Bangalore soared like a Porche! They never cared about the rough & bumpy Indian Roads! The poor people inside the cab felt like they were trapped in a house boat which was swaying violently in the storm and those outside; they won’t get time to think of anything, but to save themselves.


Once I was inside the office, the only thing I saw was numbers… just like in matrix. Yes! We had targets & it was a nightmare. All our incentives were directly proportional to the number of customers we converted or say, the number of people we successfully fooled around!

The team leaders used to brief us daily about the importance of numbers and the role of each and every one in the team. Since I was one among the tenured agents in the program, my targets and campaigns were bit grueling…

In addition to all these, they used to put up the stats on the stupid board every day and the whole chics on the floor used to survey that. I didn’t know whether anybody cared about my performance there except my team leader & manager; yet, I always wanted impress the people around & also wanted to be one among the top performers. Thus I, myself, made my sweet life miserable out there. My happiness became directly proportional to the number of sales I made!


“Here comes the ‘memo man’” my friends cheered as Moopan walked towards us. Breaks were the greatest relief for us and we generally met at the smoking bay or in the canteen during those times. Smoking zone was also called ‘the second cloud’ as the complete area used to be covered with nothing but cigarette smoke. Yes, passive smoking was more injurious to health; but then, I didn’t want to miss out the fun of being out there with friends.

Moopan just got a memo for sleeping during the calls. When the customer asked him about the bank, he mentioned that it was a shattered bank instead of charted bank! His manager got furious and issued a memo straight away.

“Party at my house this week end, comrades… on successful completion of my 3rd memo. One more memo and I am out this place. So time to enjoy” Moopan was high on spirits and people around him cheered him up.

At the end of the day the team leader, as usual, appeared again with the stats. “Why? Why? Why have our sales dropped?” followed by his sentimental or threatening speech. As this was a usual drama and we were never bothered about it. We pretended to listen.

“What happened to all of you guys?” He scanned each and everyone in his team and shook his head to express his disbelief. “Come on… Where is the spirit, guys?”

“It’s with Achayan” Achu whispered to me, for which I couldn’t help myself laughing… 

Our team leader then explained passionately about the following day’s ‘attack’ plan as if we were on a war!!! But who cares!

Well, that was a normal ‘night’ at work… & it used to be like that. Work was fun in a way, but hectic too. After all those drama, mostly by 7.30 in the morning, I used to reach my room.

Now one question: When did I eat? Well, even after working in a BPO for 21 months, I never figured that out. Usually I skipped most of the meals and the depressing part was that most of the times I didn’t even realize that I had forgotten to eat! Many people benefited from that; but the one who profited most was my doctor, as I was a frequent visitor.

That was my life till early 2007 and I badly wanted to break free from that. And one day it happened. I got an interview call from XIME ….


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