ISB Diaries – Part 3:

“We are stupid people Shravya. We don’t know how to behave. Teach us how to be sensitive.” I don’t know if this was an attempt to keep me glued or a genuine expression of understanding, but in the absence of politeness invading my lips, I felt like responding to that statement with a yes. Honestly, if I were to hear this statement from a guy trying to lure me into a relationship, he would have had the delight of watching me turn pink. But no! this was a job interview. A job interview in which I was immediately called in after the first round to receive the possession of a job offer. The interviewer wanted to gain a deeper understanding of how I work and the assistance I might need while working hence this statement.

But the sense of vindication I had on that day did come with its own test of resilience. “Hey… How is it going?” I asked a friend whom I met on my way to the class. “What else can go on yaar, CVs, shortlists and case preps. This is all there is” She replied with a rather mundane tone. “How many shortlists do you have?” I asked hoping to get a sense of validation. “hmm, 8 I guess?” She replied with a slight sense of concealed happiness. This was a time when alums were being badgered with tons of resume reviews and mock interview requests and the entire campus was successful in editing out every otherworldly thing but for the P-word. The placements. This was also a time when I once again felt lost. Lost not just in the cluelessness about how to do the needful to secure a job but also in the dearth of hope. The fear of unable to display an offer letter in my hand haunted me. The day of the conversation with my friend coincided with the presence of zero shortlists and all that my inbox received was “application not shortlisted.” This was undoubtedly a time when I felt like I was sharing my mother. My mom’s food had reached many tongues and lips earlier in the year because we had left no festival unattended to saver the same but this time, it was more than food. My mother began some humble attempts to offer my friends some support in whichever way she can, and they also existed in her prayers. But me, on the other hand, wasn’t even proud of the resume I made. I was falling short of preparation. What was more worrying is the uncertainty behind the rejection. I wasn’t sure if my visual impairment or the underwhelming resume was the cause of my rejection but a couple of companies much to my relief and shock, declared that the reason for my rejection is their decision of not being able to consider the differently-abled people in their workforce. While my emails and texts perfected the job of effectively bothering the placement team and my friends for follow up with companies on their readiness to hire a differently-abled person and placement prep, my enemy named self-doubt was raring to hug me. There was a feeling that constantly tickled my gut which pronounced to me with the loudest noise it could make that my placement is a far fetched dream for me. This time, no ugly words flashed in my head. I was assured by my gut that I wouldn’t get placed. The dark silent murky nights were shared with my mother where for the first time in my life, my hand wrapped around my mom’s trembling neck experienced tears. I and my parents were collectively losing the battle.

Sometimes I fail to understand if my life is a collection of miracles or if it’s my own doing. I guess this experience had some divine intervention. The divine power blessed me with precisely two shortlists out of which one ended up disrupting my fears by gifting me a job offer. The statement mentioned above uttered by the interviewer was received by me with shrouded jubilation during the discussion of this very job offer. Despite this unexpected victory, peace refused to embrace us because acceptance of the offer meant relocation to Mumbai. My heart disintegrated into countless pieces when my parents with all their might, and strength argued about who should stay with me in Mumbai and who should remain in Hyderabad. The mental and monetary affordability of the entire family moving to Mumbai was also being assessed with the utmost thoroughness.

While this was incredibly unsettling to me, I was left with little choice as my kitty displayed a zero balance of shortlists yet again. I guess luck wanted to bid my enemy named self-doubt a goodbye by seducing me with its most passionate smooch, so it decided to pour in miracles. The placement week on campus constituted two days of pre-processes followed by three days of actual interviews. During the pre-processing period, understanding the intensity of the excessive shortage of shortlists, my resume copies actively pushed themselves into people’s hands with a request to drop them at all the counters they visited. The byproduct of this exercise was a friend dropping my resume at the Wells Fargo counter and the recruiters liking it. This good fortune extended itself to a couple of days later while I was on the lookout for walk-in interviews on one of the actual interview days. My friend’s kind gesture ensured an easy walk in and the next three hours were filled with me barging in and out of the Wells Fargo counter while the decision-makers divided their time between contemplating offering me a job and interviewing other candidates. Two things caught me by a stunning surprise in this process. 1. My audacity: When the interviewer asked me if I would prefer an HR or a finance role, I responded with an emphatic no. I wonder what conquered me for me to have said that given my desperation for a job in Hyderabad. I was an absolutely candid interviewee during this interview. 2. The openness of the interviewers: Unlike very many organizations I have encountered in the past, I wasn’t being looked at as a special person. My conviction and capability were understood. In fact, I was having a free-flowing conversation with every person I met, and it felt like I was already welcomed into the organization and the conversations were being held to make an attempt to find a right role for me. I felt celebrated within these three hours. Yes! I got the job I wanted in the city I wanted.

Happy problems cluttered my head because from a mere vulnerability of clinging on to even the slightest possibility of an open door, I had two offers to choose from. I yet again traversed the journey from nothing to everything. At the risk of divorcing modesty for a second, I bloody hell proved it to the world once again.

“Shravya, tell me that the rest of your time at ISB was fun.” Dear reader, if this is your plea, I shall give it to you in part four but only with a combination of some regrets.

ISB Diaries – Part 4:

Ridiculous! does your mind occasionally remind you that we are your parents? Is decency allowed to be a part of our conversation? This is how I thought my parents would react when I told them that I would want to attend the speed dating and ball night events on campus. On the contrary, my mom began giving me pointers on how to eat gracefully and my dad, extending the legacy of grace, asked me if I would need a drop to the venue. The reason for the display of such eccentricity I assume stems from their utmost confidence in my inability to hone my socializing skills.

Despite being a person who is convinced that parties and I are antonyms, I attended these events just to bask in the fun of exploration and guess what! They weren’t bad at all. The ball night deserves a special mention here because that was the day when I felt transformed and beautiful. A friend who I call an artist has perfected the art of making people look like works of a creator who’s poured every ounce of beauty in her possession into one person. I indeed felt like one that day. While her hands were busy performing magic on my face and hair, I experienced bliss in its truest form. My partner, who is also my very good friend, added just the right amount of fun to the very blissful night making it capture a very special place in my memory.

How dreamy and fancy right? But what if amidst all this fun, there is a small-sized creature named regret lurking in your mind? What if it threatens to grow in size only to occupy every inch of your mind?

Just when lazy days spent with my pillow and outing plans with my friends began engaging me, the 4-word sentence, ‘can I make it?’, completely incapacitated to feel alive in my absence, inflicted itself upon me with a minor change. It was ‘can we make it?’ this time. While I was trying my hardest to complete an unfinished assignment on a lazy afternoon, my mind gave me a sharp nudge and said the following:

“Darling, can you do yourself the honour of realizing how shitty a president you were? Do you think people are going to unfriend their best moments on campus to come and pronounce this to you loud and clear? Did you think of a place to bury your head if that really happens? Unless you have amnesia, I am sure you remember the number of trust people had in you when you started off as a president. How many of those promises did you fulfil by the way? What is your excuse for this? How effective were you in managing your team? To avoid the wastage of too many words, you were a simple crap. Honey listen to me very carefully. You have led the club and a lot of people associated with it down. While there is no scope for redemption, the event that can prevent you from being assassinated by your own guilt is RISE. Free lunches have conveniently abolished themselves from the world and this implies respect demands a price. It deserves a single-minded focus on this very flagship event and your heart and soul in their entirety. And this is not just about you. This is about Aishwarya, the vice president of the club, who shared not just a huge chunk of your responsibility, but also a dream that you would both work together to fill the Khemka auditorium on campus. It’s about the team, who gulped in both your vision for the club and your brunt all at once to deliver whatever is asked of them. Most importantly, it’s about those believers who thought that you add a tinge of perfection and excellence to everything you do. Wake up, dude. Get to work. Tell the world that it is free to live under a rock if it chooses to miss this spectacular celebration of women. Don’t make idiot your middle name by making love to this pillow. Before I oppose your company, get out of your nasty sluggish self. I hate it.” My passport can thrash me with legal suits if it sees Shravya Idiot Kanithi on it, so I very dutifully obeyed my mind. I started drugging the people around me with nothing but RISE and soon enough, Aishwarya and I were on a lookout for the lead coordinator for the event. Passion is a strange demon that chooses its victims very carefully and when they are finally chosen, it ignites a fire so strong that The most invincible of challenges submit themselves into there most minuscule forms making way for the roaring products of passion to conquer whatever they have set out to. Such was the lead coordinator Pooja and the team headed by her. They were like conventional Bollywood heroes offering the moon to their leading ladies if they so, please. The moon in all its glory hanging up against the bedroom window. What a beautiful thought! Should have asked them for it right?

I ensured my presence at all times whenever it was required but they were the showrunners. The result of all their hard work was not just bundles of respect greeting us but also a sense of self-validation that we could change the question mark into a statement and finally declare to the world that we did make it. “If only you had been a little better. If only you had used your power to create a perfect concoction of vigour and skill to make your favourite thing called impact.” Despite the much-desired success with RISE, the small-sized creature was intact, and my mind reminds me that I am half an idiot by uttering these words to me.

Unmet promises, unfinished conversations, incomplete closure and the heartache that comes with having to wave goodbye to your friends. This is what the entire campus was left with when we were informed 15 days before our actual departure from campus that we would be given exactly 48 hours to vacate it due to the adversary COVID was beginning to engulf us in. Amidst countless tear pools around me and bags anxiously dragging themselves into four-wheeler vehicles, the question I asked myself was “Is this a successful journey?” Strangely so, a 23-year-old me got a grasp of how subjective success is so I chose not to answer that question. But all that I told myself was that this is a very enriching and a fulfilling journey. With this tender feeling, I bid my magnificent campus an amazing goodbye and found myself embarking on yet another beautiful journey in my life.

Dear reader, with this blog, I hereby grant you the freedom of not having to read my blogs only until I come up with yet another one. On a serious note, I would like to thank all of you for getting your sweetest selves to say the sweetest things about me and my writing and making my days sweeter. I sincerely hope that your encouragement helps me explore the writer in me. A special thanks to all my friends Namrata Rajagopal, Hari Venkat Kiran Garimella, Seher Hashim and Niharika Kabra for reading every edition of my blog and filling me in with great feedback.

That’s all from me for now!
Author: Shravya Kanithi, ISB alumna, PGP Class of 2020