21st December, 2008
The SNAP test which is to be written to seek admissions to the Symbiosis institutes was scheduled to be held at 1400hrs, and my test venue was Christ College. Due to the proximity of the venue to my place, I was happy to leave home by 1300. SNAP started at 1400hrs and was on for 2 hrs till 1600hrs. I was confident that I would get a decent score in SNAP as I got a good percentile in my mock-SNAP. The Microcontroller 8051 semester exam was to be held the next day, and my preparation had a good measure of last minute doings as always. The forums at http://www.pagalguy.com looked all the more inviting, and added fuel to the already kindled fire in me which said “8051 can be finished tomorrow, first find out what chances you have”. I spent the evening mostly going through the online forums and comparing my answers with the ones in the key released by various institutes, according to which I was supposedly getting 82.5/180. I stood a good chance at the two top Symbiosis institutes, namely SIBM and SCMHRD, provided I got the score I expected.
10th January, 2009
The SNAP scores were out. I had scored 72.5/180, a dismal 10 mark difference from the expected score. With this score I was sure that SIBM was impossible, but I stood a fair chance at SCMHRD. Pagalguy’s forums came to my help again. It was reassuring to find that many people had got much lower scores than they had actually expected. There were also suggestions to sign an online petition requesting the Symbiosis authorities to re-do the scores. This happened about a week later, signing of which I did gladly..!
21st January, 2009
The SCMHRD GD/PI call list was out and I got a confirmatory e-mail stating that I had been selected for GD and PI, which was to be held at Pune. The slot selection was left to the students on a first-come-first-serve basis. I gathered information from friends and booked the onward and return journey by the same train, Karnataka Sampark Kranti Express,[SK exp] for the 10th and 12th of Feb respectively, and selected my GD slot at 1330 hrs on the 11th of Feb.
The Pune experience:
Day1 – 10.02.1009
All packed and ready for departure by 1045hrs. Had a heavy breakfast and left for Yeshwantpur[YPR] railway station by 1130hrs, reached by 1300hrs. The train which was supposed to depart from YPR at 1330hrs turned up only at 1445hrs, and was 1515 when we actually left YPR station. The journey is 18-19 hrs, and I had taken some magazines to beat the boredom. The chess playing co-passenger, and also the other loquacious gentleman kept me company for some time. Otherwise it was mostly songs from my battery guzzling mobile or the books that aided me in killing time. As for the food, I didn’t experiment with the pantry goodies that have a tempting aroma but clearly prove the age-old quote “Looks are deceptive”. Had taken some bakery items and other stuff to appease my ‘hunger’, after all how hungry can a person feel if he does nothing but sit/sleep for 19hrs straight !! With my bag as a pillow, I retired for the day, undisturbed, on the upper berth.
Day2 – 11.02.2009
SK Exp was running late, and was expected to reach Pune only at 0900 instead of 0750. I informed dad’s good friend, at whose place I was supposed to stay, that I could come on my own, and that he needn’t have to make the driver wait for me at the station. Pune greeted me at 0840, with its fresh, sunny demeanour. I was told that the Pune was one of the good places to live, as the people were friendly, and also because there was lesser traffic or pollution as compared to other cities. I took an autorickshaw and dad’s friend’s place wasn’t all that difficult to find, as I was given clear directions. After indulging myself in their hospitality, I left for ICC towers, the venue of my GD.
I reached the venue about 30 min early, and enquired about the registration for my GD, the slot being at 1330. It was a different environment inside, with the management vibe all over the place. Very courteous volunteers, friendly peers, clear directions and many more indications of a well-managed show. I got to interact with my peers and came to know that of the 15 candidates who had their GD at 1330 [in batches of 5]; 6 of us were freshers and the rest were with work-ex. There was a mini briefing about the process and we were directed to our seats.
The GD was to be held on the 5th floor. The volunteers were helping us to keep our cool. After a 20 min wait, our turn came at around 1400. We were taken to a hall which had 2 panel members and 5 seats for the GD participants. In our group of 5, 3 were freshers. The case to be discussed was “Common problems faced by Start-ups” [as in start up entrepreneurs]. The discussion started after 5 min, by when we must have studied the case.
We had a healthy discussion for about 15 min, with all of us giving mostly valid inputs that contributed to the topic. But somewhere midway, we deviated from the ‘problems’ to the ‘solutions’; which made the panelist to intervene and bring us back on track. I got to do the least amount of talking in the discussion [of the 5 of us], and at the end of 15 min, I was told to summarize the discussion, to which I was able to do some justice.
After a wait of about half hour, I was taken to the PI chamber. There were 2 panelists again. And the interview was a kind of ‘good cop – bad cop’ routine, with the interviewers taking turns as either cop…! Throughout the 15 min interview, I was subject to some ‘throwing me off balance’ questions like ‘why is your score so low in this semester? Your marks are in a geometric progression with a negative common ratio’, ‘As you are a student, don’t you think it’ll be better for you to look like a student’ [thanks to my long hair and beard], ‘your parents have left you to do whatever you want because they know that you’ll not listen to them anyway?’, and many more. I managed to wriggle through such questions with some difficulty.
This was followed by a document verification exercise, and then by tea & sandwiches. The whole show was managed by the first years at SCMHRD, and obviously the panelists were members of the staff. On the whole the experience was a good one, with a ‘feel-good’ aura surrounding it.
That evening, I was taken to the famous ‘Daglu-Seth’ Ganapathi temple; and also to the famous ‘Chitle Bandhu Mithaiwala’ at Pune. After a great Darshan of the Lord, in all his grandeur, and some purchases, we had dinner and retired for the day.
Day3 – 12.02.2009
I left for the railway station after having a heavy breakfast, comprising 5 tasty Akki-Rotis. The lunch and dinner was also packed for me by the extremely hospitable friends of dad. SK Exp was bang on time this time around and left Pune at 1130 sharp..! My co-passengers included a fellow engineering student from Bangalore, and a battalion of about 20 people from rural Karnataka who had supposedly been to Delhi to attend an LIC ‘Kanperence’, for those of us who aren’t fluent with the Kanglish lingo, Kanperence=Conference. It was quite an experience to see them buy literally every other pantry item that passed by; and then litter their own compartment with the food leftovers, paper plates, newspapers, water bottles and many other stuff. This entertainment [sorry to say so] along with my engg friend coupled together helped me beat the boredom blues. To top it all, this battalion of train marauders engaged themselves in liquor towards the night and were subject to some ‘Gyan’ sessions from the patrol police on the train…!
All that apart, the 19 hr journey ended at 0630 on13th Feb, with the train reaching Yeshwantpur on time, and this Pune trip was truly a memorable experience that I’ll remember for years to come.
13th February, 2009 – The Anti-Climax
On reaching home, I got back to my normal activities and resumed my preparation for my project. In the evening, I received a mail from SIBM, with my increased SNAP score [78.5/180] and a call for GD/Group Task and PI, scheduled to be held on 26.02.2009..!!!
Do I need to do all of this again? I haven’t decided as yet…