Image source: Waagner Biro

On 31 Jan 2008, we were informed that there is a InterCollegiate competition organized by the ICFAI National College, Hubli. It is a prestigious event in which a lot of colleges will participate. There were 5 events in which we were supposed to perform. And now, the surprise! “The fest will begin tomorrow“. It was evening 5 when we got the information and the next morning at 8, the fest was supposed to begin. Puzzled and confused, I gathered along with my friends and started planning to see if we could do something. We found that we had a quiz team and so, we don’t need to bother about it. Further, there was a need to perform a dance show and none was ready for that. A round called Bindaas Bol (Speak your mind) was obviously meant for me. Another event called Prachaar which involved the marketing of a product was also taken up by me and another 2 students. An event called Icebreaker which was the introduction round also had my involvement. Now, the prestigious event of the function was, The Best Manager (Ustaad), and even this was given to me. We started preparing for the Icebreaker immediately. We had to present a fairy tale. After a lot of discussions and thoughts, we finalized the script and make a few practices.

And then, I had college football team selections. I went on with it. On the ground, I was interrupted and told that, there is a cultural program also. I left immediately and we started thinking, what has to be done. No one was getting an idea. So, I had to take the lead again and tell them, we’ll dance and I had to join this too. The practice went up to 10 in the night. I never ever danced in my life and this was a real impossible task. But, I knew, had I not joined and motivated, no one would perform in this.

Tired and exhausted, I reached home and got asleep.

The new month began and I packed up and moved to the college in the early morning. I asked everyone to come and we had a some rehearsals, etc. We registered our team and the events began. Our team was named PARLE. There were a lot of problems that I faced again. I was not allowed to participate in the event, Prachaar, as I was supposed to participate in another event at the same time. Although there was enough time gap and I would definitely make up easily, I was still stopped. One of my teammates took my position in the event.

And then, we performed the Icebreaker. Our story was about a king who has given everything to his beautiful daughter but never exposed her to the world. The princess wants freedom but never gets it. Things take a turn and finally, the king realizes his mistake. We had almost zero preparation but still, we managed to perform well. Further, we did the tale in Hindi, which was really difficult for the teammates to cope up immediately.

Now began the hunt for the best manager. We were all given a objective type question paper which testing our reasoning skills, interpretation skills, verbal skills, analytical skills, data interpretation, general knowledge, etc. There were 60 questions and 60 minutes to answer them. I started writing the paper and exactly, the same moment, there was an announcement saying that the participants of Speak your mind were supposed to be on the stage immediately. I was totally struck again. I knew I was the 16th person to speak on the stage. Each person would be there on the stage for 2 minutes and at least 1 minute will go in entry and exit, etc. So, 3 x 15= 45 minutes. I started the test and went on like a hungry horse. And guess what, it was over n 22 minutes. No cross checks, no second thoughts, I just got up and handed over the paper and ran on to the stage.

My turn came. The topic that I got was ‘Is performing tests on animals necessary?

Hmm.. Had I continued to be a science student, it would be a simple task to me. But then, all my science knowledge has been deeply hidden somewhere in the deepest part of my brain. In a moment, I made that deepest part ready for the race and gave a best shot for the next 2 minutes on the topic. All said, I did excellent, but only results would say how I did.

Now, the results of best managers was announced. A large number of participants were eliminated. And I was the 2nd highest scorer in the test. A big surprise! And the very next moment, all the 12 participants were called out, locked in a cab that drove us to the college. All the function was being held at Sawai Gandharwa Hall. Now, in the college, we were given a case study of the Himalaya Drug Company. The company did many branding and re-branding exercises. We were asked to read the case study carefully and answer the questions asked. And also, to justify our answers. It was all an individual effort. After 15 minutes (we were still reading the case), all were asked to close everything and move to the computer lab. And guess what, they said, prepare a powerpoint presentation on the case in the next 15 minutes. I am used to make presentations. But making them ready in 15 minutes and that too with insufficient knowledge was a herculean task. I did that too. And next, they asked us to sit in another room and asked each of us to give a presentation on the powerpoint that we had prepared. Gusshh!! Most got frustrated. But, there was a need to perform and all did that. Even I gave a super shot presentation. As usual, hosh uda diye!. The HR manager asked a few questions which were answered to the best I could. After all this, we all were brought back to the function hall. We were told that the results will be announced before dinner. And after dinner, we would have 1 more round to go.

I joined my team which was ready with some more problems. The participants said that they will not perform as it would be an insult before everyone as we were not prepared for the same. However, my contention was, quitting will give us zero but even the worst performance will give us 1 point. After a hour long tussle, I made them agree. But then, what next? I never ever danced in my life. The people with me have not even practiced properly, they don’t know the steps either, what to do? We just dared on went over the stage.

And then.. Each one in their own mood. It was the worst thing. But I loved it. We had planned to perform some stunts on the stage after the 3rd minute. So, I was taking the lead and moving further. But then, all that was not possible. We enjoyed these 3 minutes to the fullest.

It was the time for dinner. But before, the results of the best manager. Out of 12, 6 students were eliminated and I was in the lucky six that got selected. I was delighted. We were supposed to move for the next round but as it was already 10.30 pm, things took a small change. We were asked to prepare a hand written business plan to set up an educational institution. And this had to be submitted by 8.30 am, the next day.

I left the place and came home. Almost like a dead body. But then, I had promises to keep. I had a bath and started preparing the project report. It was another great task. Preparing a project for making profits is easy. But, this was a social project and I was totally exhausted and the head was bursting, no thoughts came up and things seemed very difficult. Suddenly, I thought, why not make a project report of a defence school rather than a business school or normal college. I knew that no one would ever think of this. My mood changed and I started gathering information. I used the Ajeet magazines, NCC books, etc for reference. But believe me, it got more tough. I kept reading whatever I got in my hand and it was 3.45 am. I lied down for some time and got up. Shocked to see the clock, it was already 6.15 am and I had not written a single word. I wanted to begin writing but there was no paper which I could use. Finally, I got it and started up. I used a very strategic style in writing. My key points were clearly mentioned as the acute shortage of officers in the armed forces and the need to groom a person when he is a child. I stressed upon the importance of all this and finally, the 6 page project was ready. It looked good. It was 8.15 am already and I was still in the bed suit. I just changed my trousers and raced to the function hall. Guess what! I was the first person to come there. The cut off time was 8.30 am, beyond which, negative marking would begin. Only 2 were able to come in time.

I had the next event at 9.30 and it was already 9. I remembered that the pant that I was supposed to wear today was in the college. I had to go to the college to get it and then, I moved home. I had a quick bath, prayed to God and got ready. I realized that I did not have a ironed shirt to wear. I just carried one and got it ironed on the way and changed it at the function hall. The first program for the day was the quiz competition and our college won the second place in this. Then, the results of the best manager were announced. The business plan round was a hardcore elimination round. Unfortunately, 3 out of 6 participants would be eliminated. And me, still held on šŸ™‚ and promoted to the next round. After all, my business plan was ‘The Parle School of Defence‘.

Immediately, the three finalists were called again. We were given a cricket bat and 4 balls to be sold to anyone. They were priced at a sum of Rs 500. And they could be sold at any rate. If we sell them above Rs 450, we get 100% marks for this round. I knew, no one would waste time selling these products at this time. Although we were sent out to sell, I just went and kept them in the college. I said that the bat has been damaged badly and no one will buy it. And so, kindly replace the bat. But then, I was told to sell it at Rs 100 less and I would still get 100% marks. We were also given Rs 50 as petrol allowance. Now, I thought, there is a bat and 4 leather balls and I have to sell them at Rs 450 at least. After reduction due to damage, my selling price must at least be Rs 350. I had received Rs 50 for petrol and I could use that too. So, all these 5 items will cost me Rs 300. I asked my friends if that was worth. All said yes. So, I immediately gave Rs 351 and closed the deal with 100% marks!!

The moment I returned, the second round of Speak your mind began. Here, we would be given a topic and 1 minute to think. And then, we have to speak 2 minutes for the topic and 2 minutes against the topic on spot. I got the topic ‘Parliament expenses are a waste of public money‘. I did well. But then, a new big problem arose. I was disqualified from the event as I was participating in the best manager. However, there was no such rule mentioned anywhere by anyone. There were people who has done this. But they all were already eliminated and so, they were not seen. And it would not be right on my part to pin point on others. We all made it very clear to them that the rule was never told to us. After a lot of effort, we were told that, they will think about it and let us know. But I knew, the show was spoiled. It hurt a lot. If I had been told this before, I would have at least made someone else to participate. Yesterday, I participated in the first round of both these events and there was no opposition at all. Now, when they see that I am almost winning both of them, they started this twist. There was no option for us other than accepting what they tell.

The very next minute, the 3 finalists of best manager were called. This was the most important round which was aimed to stress the candidates and see how they perform. I was taken to a room and made to sit for some time. Then, I was blindfolded and there were and a number of things put on me like flowers, papers, designer items, etc and after 20 minutes, I was taken in the same condition to the stage. All of a sudden, the blindfold was opened and the whole audience started shouting. There were 2 judges who had plans to screw up everything and make me lose. There was an endless conversation under all conditions. Some of the highlights are,

  1. The interviewer asks you to sit and if you sit, he says, who asked you to sit on the chair. So, I sat on the floor.
  2. A girl comes with a rose and interrupts and he says she is your girlfriend and you are more worried about her than the job. So, I never bothered about her at all.
  3. A guy comes with a Pepsi and offers it. He’s not ready to leave you and the judge says, you have lost concentration. I said-“Get out Pepsi, I am more worried about the job“.
  4. He asked how much does a cricket ball bounce. I just said it depends on the pressure or force applied and the height from which it is dropped. He asked me the exact measurement. I just held my view.
  5. He asked me the distance between the boundary line and the spectator. I said it depends on where the spectator is sitting. He asked me to tell it in exact measurement. I said- “Distance between stumps and spectator minus the radius of the ground”. I saw a blink on his face which was a good sign for me. And then the entire house went bonkers, cheering me on the answer.
  6. He asked me to sell condoms to the other judge. And the other judge says, he is not interested to buy as he and his wife want to build a cricket team. He made me speechless saying that his wife doesn’t like them at all and there is no fear of AIDS either as she is his only partner. Now, next. The other judge says, the product is still unsold. I tried again but the response was the same. So, I just told- “There is no meaning in selling a comb to a bald person“. Impressed! (I was, not sure what they took away from it because I had refused to do almost everything that I had been asked to do till now, in a very interesting manner although).

There were many serious discussions, negative remarks, tussles, etc. that went on continuously. I was pulled completely. But under all this condition, one thing that I never lost was a confident smile and uber cool temperament. They tried from the first moment to break this confidence but its the Great Wall of SSBJ, how can it ever break?? They teased me continuously asking me to join a toothpaste company, etc, and everyone, including me, broke into huge laughter, but I just kept everything lively and natural.

And guess what, I was not wearing socks.. They saw that (as I sat down) and asked me why. I said I lost them yesterday during the dance competition and as it was late night, I could not find any shop open to buy them. And today, I am feeling more comfortable without socks šŸ™‚ completing blocking the next set of questions.

Finally, they asked me, tell 5 qualities that you have for which you must be selected. I knew, this is the most important question of all. All that has happened earlier was mainly to divert our mind away from ourselves and finally, put ourselves in such a position that we forget our own strength. I was always cool, calm, confident and only getting more and more stronger. I said,

  1. I am grown in an environment of leaders.
  2. I can manage a team well.
  3. While I lead, I am more a team player than merely a leader.
  4. I can make right in a short time.
  5. I can perform better under stress.

I think, these perfect 5 points would have never come from my mouth if I had not been patient and confident. I believe, the last point made a great difference to the show, and like an icing on the cake, apt and appealing.

Things came to an end and I was happy with my performance. We waited long and finally, all the results were out. As mentioned, we were second in quiz. Although I was second in Speak your mind, they had disqualified me.

So, finally, my name was called. All my team mates were happy but I got up sadly as I was expecting the first prize. Till now, all the prizes were given in the order 3rd, 2nd and 1st, and I presumed the 3rd position. I went on the stage and got a certificate and a trophy. I did not even see anyone on the stage properly nor what I got. I just turned back and came down and walked back to my seat. But then, the announcer directly concluded prize distribution. I was still walking towards my seat and I just saw my certificate. It said, I was “The Best Manager“, meaning there was not 1st, 2nd or 3rd position. I was surprised and signaled it to the team members. Everyone screamed and what a delightful moment it was! To confirm, I saw my trophy and it was clearly inscribed, BEST MANAGER. My God! It was a real big surprise again!!

My efforts paid me. A million thanks to the God. 90% of the colleges that participated in the fest were all reputed management institutes. But then, me, being a commerce student, getting the best manager award, was a great achievement.

Its 00.30 am now and I need to go to bed. I have another competition tomorrow at Dharwad. I need to leave Hubli by 8 and so, I have to get up by 6 at least. Further, I have not yet prepared the script for speaking. Moreover, its in Kannada and unfortunately, I am still not able to shape up my Kannada speaking skills.

Thank you God. I am very grateful to you.