The year: 1988.
Month:May. Third week.
I was in Ajmer, visiting relatives, after Final Year Engineering exams. Got a call from Dad, that I had an interview call from BSL. In those days, interviews were few- and the first 2-3 I'd been to, had been just to get the feel of it. There was this friend, who, during our first interview a few days after exams, told me 'when they ask 'what are your career plans?', I always say' 2-3 years in private sector and then, rest of life in public sector due to job security'...believing that this was a smart answer but not really knowing what it meant, I parroted it at the first interview and was surprised to see them looking astonished(But naturally, since I was the year's topper). Well, they were from the private sector, and were looking for long term players.
The BSL interview was on 4th June, so, I came back to Baroda before this date, not being too hopeful but still feeling optimistic.
I reached there, having read up quite a bit on the final year subjects, and 'likely questions' (LOL- as if it was a college exam.) Loved the location at first sight-it was in the heart of Alkapuri, one of the posh areas of Baroda and a dream for those of us who were 'poor city dwellers'. . There was a group discussion, followed by a MCQ(Multiple choice Question) quiz with the usual agility questions they have(Non-technical), like spotting the odd man out, etc. When this was over, we had a short wait, and then they announced that out of 64 of us, 16 were shortlisted. And, the rest could go.
We had an interview with my future boss- a friendly tete-a-tete. They asked me how I fared at the MCQ- I said 'quite good'....and, they showed me the result- 14/50. I was shocked. Don't worry, they said-you're the highest. The others got 3-4-5. Turns out the 10 minute rapid fire MCQ was more to see whether a person gets stuck on a problem and spends time on it, or whether he leaves it, moves to a solvable one.
At the end of our interviews, we were shortlisted to 8. The next higher level boss(Baroda Area Manager) took an interview- again, a friendly tete-a-tete, making me feel relaxed and answering honestly, on both technical and general topics. And, by evening, we were shortlisted to 4 and called on 8th June.
Excitement in the air. Couldn't wait for 8th June. Reached there bright and early. Waited half an hour, and then, whammo..they called the other three one-by-one. And, I felt sure that I was at the bottom of the ladder. Anyway, I was called finally. This was the Gujarat Branch Manager conducting the interview. We exchanged a few words, and he suddenly asked 'when can you join?'. I was so astonished, I said 'don't you want to make a final comparison between us 4', or something silly to that effect. And, he says 'I'm telling you, you're selected. When can you join?;'. I said '15th June'. And the rest, as they say, is history. I spent 13 1/2 years in this Co, which still holds a soft corner in my heart. On my first day, the Baroda Manager told me' there were 128 who applied. We shortlisted to 64. And, we wanted 1.'. And, surprise of surprises, he said 'we promised you 1800/- starting salary? Just see your appointment letter. And, voila- it was a starting salary of a princely 2300/-, considered pretty high in those days. (Today, they offer 30000/- to freshers, and they still don't stick around.)
So, today completed 22 years of my working life. What's the future portend? Should I switch over from the airconditioning and building services contracting line to my favourite hobby of writing?Or take up a franchisee related to books/music, etc? Contracting has been a tiring job. Fun but tiring. And, whenever I have doubts about my abilities during a challenging time, I think back to 1988, and decide' Kuch To Hai', and it makes me feel all charged up and ready to face the challenge. I doubt that those who gave me this break would be reading this post, but if they are, thank you a million times over. I wish everyone could get such positive starts to his or her career.
Maybe I'll do a part II to this post, later. Would you be interested in reading more of these experiences, some of them hilarious to the core?