Monday, May 19, 2014

Confused

I have always been a very confused sort of person. (You knew that always? The things you already know, after you have been told!) Since school I have found myself weltering in a morass of doubts when my peers seem to be seeing things through crystal clear glasses.

For example, I had always harbored the opinion that West Bengal ought to be in the west. If it were not, why call it 'West' Bengal? It seemed to me that they deliberately named it like that in order to provide trick questions for school-kids. "Where is West Bengal?" - "In the eastern part of India". No matter how much people assured me that it was so named only because the rest of Bengal was situated further east of it, I stuck to my stand that it was a deliberate ploy to mess up with the minds of kids so that adults can feel superior about knowing more than them.

With my geographical orientation the way it was, it is but natural that Chess should be far more confusing. With so many pieces moving in so many different ways on the board, I just could not keep track. Yet, I persisted in playing chess with my brother and, as was inevitable, lost invariably. Or I would have, but for the fact that I started throwing the pieces at him somewhere around the time when defeat seemed inevitable, thereby converting a virtual battlefield into a real one. Despite all this, he did manage to get quite good at chess. If he had learnt the way pieces are moved from the way I used them, rooks would fly, bishops would be hurled like javelins, and the only way he would have won any game would be by putting out the eye of his opponent with a knight. (Though I cannot help thinking that Chess would have been a more appealing spectator sport played my way than the way the likes of Anand play it.)

Comes to the interview I had for selection into IIM, though, I really cannot blame myself for being confused. I mean, I was a chemical engineer (certified as such, at least) and the interviewer asks me, "What does increasing positive entropy mean in the context of the Universe?" Have a heart, guy, I did not say "Astronomy", I said "Chemical Engineering". It meant that the universe was expanding, I believe. Well - can someone tell me in what way an expanding universe would help me in selling soaps, after my MBA? An expanding waistline, I can understand, because it provides more surface area to wash and, thus, more demand for soaps. Sometimes, I feel that interviewers have a mistaken impression of what they are supposed to do. Instead of testing how clever the candidate is in the concerned area, they seem more intent on showing off how clever they are.

By the way, if you thought that I was chucked out unceremoniously, you are sorely mistaken. Believe me, I was selected into IIM-Bangalore based on THAT interview. Goes to show that I may not have been the only confused chap around. Or, maybe, the sheer confidence with which I said, "I do not know" must have made the interviewer feel ashamed about knowing that tit-bit (Like you would say loftily, "I do not know", if asked about how you would scrub the floor) and he had to select me. It is a pity, though, that I lost that lofty confidence in latter life but that is another story.

Anyway, I have confusedly bumbled through life for this long and...what was I saying, anyway? I am a bit confused!

48 comments:

  1. Life is a marketplace where entropy reigns supreme. Nice humour :)

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  2. "Though I cannot help thinking that Chess would have been a more appealing spectator sport played my way"- that other humorous takes on interviews etc makes this an interesting read...

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    1. Good to hear that you found this an interesting read, Rajeev!

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  3. "Sometimes, I feel that interviewers have a mistaken impression of what they are supposed to do. Instead of testing how clever the candidate is in the concerned area, they seem more intent on showing off how clever they are." - Satyameva Jayate :)

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    1. Ah! Hope you will still remember that when YOU start interviewing :)

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    2. For the past two months - I am trying to recruit a full-time content-writer for my firm; every single candidate is failing the written test :( !!!

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    3. Ah! Now THAT is beyond the scope of this syllabus :)

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  4. CONFUSION GOT YOU INTO IIM......Maybe I need to be confused too :D

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    1. Yup! Confusion probably got me into IIM - the question is 'Whose confusion - mine OR the interviewers'?' :)

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    2. The interviewers' of course. I mean who does not know the answer to "What does increasing positive entropy mean in the context of the Universe?"!!! I am ashamed that I associated with a person all these years who does not know the answer to this simple Q but... being a honorable gentleman (or one who is too ashamed to let the world know how gullible he is) I shall take this to my grave :)

      I bet he was confused by your confusion and in that dazed state he put a check mark next to your name when he intended to put a big X; all he could manage is one half of the X and you were lucky it was the right one :)

      I think most interviewers (this is true of the tech world) google to get the FAQs on a topic and then ask the question. The questions are usually about the most obscure things about say a programming language (C/C++ lends very well to the ambiguity) which, if the interviewer were a good programmer themselves would realize, is hardly used in reality.

      About west bengal. Direction is always relative to a given point. Of course people like us, I hope you don't mind being included, don't know where we stand so we have literally no sense of direction :)

      Good post; good one... (I forgot all the other famous one liners you mentioned in your post on back scratching :)) Fortunately for the blogging community, I have decided to keep my thoughts to myself instead of writing a blog :)

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    3. ha ha ha :) You are right, the impact would have been global ;)

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  5. That was a good one, Suresh! For a rambling of a self-confessed confused writer, it was quite logical actually :)
    That must have been quite an interview. "(Like you would say loftily, "I do not know", if asked about how you would scrub the floor)" - this is a gem :) Now I know why I would have never made it to any MBA program (not that I ever tried, but that's not the point) - I just don't have that "lofty" way of saying - I don't know. Thanks for the tip!

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    1. Hahaha! Inspiration struck me only THAT once :) Never been able to be lofty thereafter :)

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  6. The second para is wonderfully written Suresh. It had me giggling away. How well you write!

    I agree with you about the motivation of interviewers. They seem hell- bent on proving how clever they are... it is an ego trip for most of them anyway. Having sat on the other side of the table with a few stuffed shirts myself, I have, too often, wanted to bury in head in the sand so I wouldn't have to see the petty ego games some of my senior team- mates have taken unholy pleasure in. It is certainly a revolting spectacle... and entirely unworthy of senior recruiters.

    Ugh!

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    1. I sat just the once! It was an education :)

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  7. I am confused too.. So hi five dude..

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    1. And Hi five to you too! AT LAST, I have achieved dudedom :)

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  8. Now I know what it takes to get into IIMB... mastering the art of I don't know! Maybe you can write a self help book, x-ways to say I don't know, and make a quick million off other confused souls!

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    1. First I need to find a book on how to sell books :)

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  9. Suresh, that made me laugh! Seriously, you are absolutely right. These interviewers try to show how smart they are instead of testing the knowledge of a candidate. Seriously, is this the only way they can boost their self esteem? Now I am all confused :).

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    1. Hahaha! So I manage to pass on the confusion :)

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  10. What is better than being confused in an IIM interview is to confuse the interviewer instead. Worked well for me :)

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    1. That's a good option, Jairam :) Maybe we should collaborate on how to succeed in interviews :) Trick would be to ensure that interviewers do not read it :)

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  11. I have also been a confused soul, Suresh. Trust me, the west Bengal location kept coming in my mind not just in school years, until recently too ...only when I gave up thinking abt it....hahaa ...you said I donno...I was thinking if you gave the soaps example..:P Btw, I had many confusions like that...trying to think of another

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    1. I still have to work it all out for myself every time to ensure I remember that West Bengal is in the east :)

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    2. i like the idea of selling more soap to someone with expanding waistlines!! hehehehe.....

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    3. Being the one with the expanded waistline, I am not sure I approve :)

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  12. U confused me too I really don't knw wot 2say....awesome shd b right word wot say ?????

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    1. Love hearing that word, Alka! May you always be confused this way :)

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  13. Being confused is proof that you have too many choices, too many answers to choose from.
    In short, you know too much.

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    1. Haha! Yes, that's certainly one possibility :)

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  14. Oh so thats the secret to get into a tier 1 school! :p I read this post yesterday but my net connection was way too confused to let me leave a comment :P

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    1. Never thought confusion was so infectious :)

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  15. And I thought IIM passouts were the most sorted ones. I guess i am confused now.

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    1. We all have those delusions :) When has a college degree ever indicated commonsense? :) ANY degree :)

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  16. SIr, if you are where you are after being confused , then I would LOVE to be That confused toooo

    Bikram

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    1. :) Only goes to show that others are more confused than me :) About where I am, maybe :P

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  17. Its human psychology Suresh. You get someone to exhert your authority upon and you would automatically transform into villains. Interviewers are human after all!

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  18. Oh dear! Where do I start with my own interview woes? I think I'll have to start of a series of posts on that one topic. I am supremely confused and confusing based on my history of interviews.

    Two quick examples: In one the HR lady did her nails throughout the interview while her colleagues "interviewed" me.

    Another was a panel interview with set questions listed in script form for each of the panel. "Oh, it's my turn!"

    Gahhhhh!!!!

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    1. Hahaha! Had I known I would become a blogger, I may have taken on more interviews :) Seems like it could have given me a lot of posts :) As it is I shied away from them - there is something about putting a person in a position to judge another person's acumen or output that seems to have an entirely deleterious effect on their character. I never did like that metamorphosis, which is why I avoided interviews like the plague.:)

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  19. I've been on both sides many times.

    I have an unfair advantage over you because I moved here cold after 10 years running my own business and over 15 years overall. All my previous work history was wiped clean ("not relevant") by the brains out here, so I had a very hard time hiding my experience from my resume and the way I spoke - yeah, no kidding!

    I'll have to write this up now! Crap! More work for lazy blogger....

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  20. Nice one about interview. In an IIM interview, I have told the professor I have stayed in Europe for 1 year and he asks me to name the countries in Europe and currency of Germany. Did he really expect such stupid people who would not even know this to have cleared CAT and come for the interview?And another IIM put me way below in then waiting list just because I did not know how many centuries Sachin Tendulkar scored when I had clearly mentioned I am not interested in sports. And I made it to the one I did because of my knowledge of history of the middle East. None of this knowledge is helping me in my job.

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    1. Ah! I have had the guy in an IIM interview who asked me to name all the CMs of Maharashtra - it was in the interview for your Alma Mater, if I remember right! Nonsense I tell you. There was more sense in asking about policies but, no! I would have performed better in interviews with a thorough knowledge of all the movies of Amitabh Bacchan than by knowing the fiscal policies of the Govt. :)

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