Saturday 13 August 2016

The MICA Interview experience

The MICA Interview experience

Despite insidious rumours to the contrary, the Slacker did acquire an education at some point in the hoary past. Indeed, by most measures he did quite all right, despite that regrettable tendency to slack off. This included acquiring an MBA from what was then, at least, considered a premier Business School. Naturally, this meant giving the dreaded CAT and sitting through the interview process at several institutes, but it was the process for MICA that was so wonderfully random – one might even say, bizarre – that it spawned what was my first-ever blogpost. Now why this was so, it is easy to speculate. MICA geared towards advertising, which means it does attract a different type of applicant from the IIMs of the world. As perhaps the only person there who was on the cusp of being a Chartered Accountant, I knew my chances of getting through were virtually nil, no matter how ‘creative’ I fancied myself to be, so I was more observant and less involved than I might otherwise have been.

Without further ado, then:

So it happened something like this:

I’d invited my favourite cousin, Fenderis the Wolf, son of my Uncle Fenris (you may have head of him, Grandpa Loki’s eldest) over for tea yesterday, and as it oft happens in polite company, he opened the conversation with:

“Jormund, my man, how have you been?”

“Not worse than usual,” I replied in my usual, despondent tone.

“How did your GD-interview with Mickey’s [My little euphemism for MICA] go? That test and interview you told me about? I recall you were pretty chuffed about being invited for it.”

I made non-committal noises.

“Come now, Jormund, do tell,” he insisted, “it was for something quite different, right? To do with the Advertising Industry and what not? That’s what Mickey is all about isn’t it?”

I nodded.

“Integrated Communications Marketing to be more precise.”

“Sounds jolly,” he responded, “and with you being the creative chap we all know you are it must’ve been a breeze.”

I made a sound that in a sea-serpent less well-bred than myself would have been termed a snort. Fenderis poured himself a cup of tea and settled himself comfortably by the fire, taking care to keep his bushy tail out of harm’s way.

“I’m waiting to hear all about it,” he said.

"Well," I said, relenting, "The first thing you must know is that Mickey had kept the process at Just a Ball In Mickey’s Sphere [Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies].”

Fenderis raised an eyebrow.

“Isn’t that the most exalted Ball Sphere in Bombay?” he asked.

I nodded, and went on.

“The first thing you need to know about JBIMS is that it’s at the other end of the city. The second is that it only lets in 42 creatures in each year. Just 42. I mean, imagine, that’s a bloody drop in the ocean.” [Oblique reference to JBIMS’ reservation policy that results in only 42 of 120 seats being in the open category]

“Don’t get off-topic,” interrupted Fenderis, like a faculty-member at a MBA Coaching Institute, “we’re talking about Mickey here.”

“That’s right,” I said, “I’m sorry. Anyway, I was told that I had to show up there at 8 in the morning.”

“That can’t have been easy for you,” said Fenderis sympathetically, “You rarely wake up before nine.”

“Don’t even remind me,” I said bitterly, “but it had to be done, so I arrived there a few minutes before that time, and guess who I met in the vicinity?”

“Who?” he asked, piqued.

“Bugs Bunny!”

“No kidding,” said Fenderis, “Bugs himself? I’ve been a fan for ages. What was he there for?”

“Much the same thing as I was,” I replied. “He wanted to go to Mickey as well. I didn’t know he was Bugs at the time, but he introduced himself later.”

“Well, well that must’ve been nice. What was he like?”

“Oh, awfully decent chap. We had lots in common, went to the same college, speak the same language, share some common interests. In fact we stuck together through most of the process. But to move on, when we did reach JBIMS we found that Mickey was conspicuous by its absence. Nor had it left a note. I cross-checked the letter I was carrying from them twice to make sure I was in the right place. Then someone figured out that folks as important as Mickey must be somewhere in the higher echelons of JBIMS so we began climbing the stairs.”

“Like a stairway to heaven,” said Fenderis indulgently, pouring himself another cup of tea.

“Not quite that far but I’d say about halfway there. When we reached the fourth floor we realized that most of the other people whom Mickey had called had settled into a largish room and were making themselves comfortable. Not having anything better to do, Bugs and I did the same. There was still no sign of Mickey. Then eventually two of his minions emerged – a harried looking female and an impish bloke. They settled on a table and demanded a pound of flesh – no less than five hundred rupees from each one of us for the privilege of going further in the process…”

“Hold on a minute, didn’t you already pay them more than twice that amount?”

“One thousand two hundred to be exact,” I assented, “and I had to borrow those from Papa Jormundgand.”

“And you didn’t even get a copy of their prospectus against this 1200?”

“That’s correct,”

“But Mickey still demanded a further 500 from all of you?”

“That would be correct too.”

“Good Lord, this Mickey likes the colour of money doesn’t he?”

I shrugged.

"That he does. Anyhow, everyone got into a long queue and after about an hour the last pound of flesh was deposited into the bottomless envelope that is Mickey’s avarice. Then the female minions distributed the paper for the Mickey Aptitude Test.”

“What in the name of Loki is a Mickey Aptitude Test? Didn’t you sit for the Monstrous Feline Test already?”

I patted his head with the air of a patient cousin.

“This is Mickey, Fenderis. He has to be different.”

“Well so what was that like?”

“They gave us an hour and a half. The Test was strange. They wanted to know things like what sort of wife I wanted, whether she would be rich and slutty or poor and demure.”

Fenderis almost choked on his tea, “They wanted to know WHAT?”

“I ain’t kidding,” I replied, “they also seemed interested in know in how many different ways I could divide the number 30 into 6 different parts."

"Honestly, Jormund, that’s a rather poor joke.”

“I’m not joking,” I said petulantly, “they did, really. Oh and yes, they wanted to know my thoughts on the Slum problem and made me write a speech to be given to 5-7 year old slum kids on the subject.”

“Strange chap this Mickey,” said Fenderis.

"That’s not the worst thing about him,” I said grimly, “but anyway, after the time was over, the minion took away the papers and asked us to come the next day by 8:50am, or else, she warned Cinderella would turn into a pumpkin.”

Fenderis looked suitably appalled.

“You couldn’t possibly let that happen!” he exclaimed, “Poor Cindy!”

“Of course not,” I nodded, “which is why I actually went early the next day at 8:30!”

“And what happened then?”

I leaned back wearily in the armchair.

“I think I’ve spoken enough for one day, cousin Fenderis, I shall tell you all the rest tomorrow.”

“Fair enough,” said he, and bounded out to hunt for meat. I followed him up to the door and closed it behind him.


The insistent sound of large paws scratching on my door at half-past-midnight could only mean one thing – Fenderis was back from the hunt. We Elvers like our sleep, but leaving a loved cousin out in the cold is not something we do, so I went downstairs and opened the door. Sure enough, it was the large Black Wolf himself, and he looked like he’d been in several fights, most of them violent. I let him in, and he made a beeline for his favourite spot next to the fireplace.

“Something to drink?” I asked, giving him a sympathetic glance as he licked his wounds.

“Some Dom Perignon would be nice,” he replied.

I rolled my eyes and tossed him a can of beer.

“That’s as much as you’ll get,” I told him.

He prised the can open with his sharp canines and shrugged “I guess it’ll have to do.”

I took a can for myself and sat myself on the armchair next to him.

“Good hunting?”

“Can’t complain,” he said nonchalantly, “the blood of the Fenris Brood does not yield easily”

This was his way of saying “Yes the hunting was good and I got plenty to eat”.

“Need rest? You can have the spare room,” I said.

“Nahh, not sleepy,” he replied, stretching his paws, “Look, why don’t you finish your tale about Mickey and the Ball?”

I took a thoughtful swig of beer.

“Don’t see why not. Where did I leave off?”

“Mickey’s minion told you to arrive by 8:50 or else Cinderella would turn into a pumpkin.”

“Ah yes,” I nodded reflectively, “That’s why I made it, huffing and panting to JBIMS at 8:30. Needless to say while going I got off at the wrong stop, and had to walk back about a mile in these god-awfully uncomfortable leather shoes.”

Fenderis clicked his tongue sympathetically.

“And guess what? I needn’t have bothered at all!”

“You mean…”

“Yes. That whole story about Cinderella turning into a pumpkin was pure hogwash. She was in no such danger whatsoever. I could have strolled in at noon and it wouldn’t have made a difference.”

“But then why did they call you there that early?”

“Honestly, I have NO idea. When I got there, as usual there was no sign of anybody. After Bugs arrived we took the elevator and got to the same floor where the previous day’s action had taken place. This time it appeared that everyone had been herded into a corner room with a few rack-like chairs and little ventilation. There was also a list outside which had the names of everyone who had been invited by Mickey. My name was on Puddle 3 and Bugs was on Puddle 1. But – and here’s the crux of the matter – both of us were in the bottom half on the lists.” [What’s a Puddle? A GD group – they called it something pretentious, I remember, but ‘puddle’ was the best I could think of to break the bubble.]

“So you had to wait a while?”

“A long while. Close on five hours to be exact, before anything got started.”

“Five hours?”

“Five hours.”

“No, really, five?”

“Didn’t I just say so?”

He licked his paw and motioned to me to go on.

“Well, anyway, as I said, there was a 5 hour wait, followed by a Group Discussion.”

“How was that? Fun?”

“NOT,” I replied emphatically, chucking my beer can into the fire.

He tut-tutted sympathetically.

“Fish-market, eh?”

“Absolutely. Not quite the Citylight Fish market perhaps but definitely Wadala.”

“Anyone particularly bad?”

“Everyone sort of spoke at the same time. Except me. I didn’t speak at all.”

He looked at me with mild surprise.“Jormund, my man, I know you aren’t what we call a silver-tongued charmer, but you aren’t that shabby either. What happened?”

I shook my head sadly.

“Couldn’t get myself heard. My voice was on vacation. Must have been the damned tie. It had choked my neck for about five hours already by that time, remember? I couldn’t raise my voice above a croak.”

Fenderis sighed.

“It happens to the best of us. What about the interview? How was that?”

I smiled wistfully.

“Well after that interview I think I can apply for membership of the Grave Diggers Union. Seeing as I dug my own with remarkable felicity. I don’t think I said anything right. When they asked my why I wanted to join with Mickey I mumbled something about entry points. When they asked me to describe myself I gave an answer that sounded patently manufactured. Then I went on and on about my chosen field like someone who’s repeating a vague rumour. And finally I managed to put my foot in my mouth by telling the Mickey was not my favourite cartoon character.”

Fenderis raised his eyebrows.

“You said that?”


“They won’t want to touch you with a barge pole.”

“I know.”

“Well, that’s that I suppose. But what were the other folk there like? People in your puddle, for instance?”

I strained my feeble memory.

“There was The Curry Queen, Kari. I knew her by reputation. She was nice, really passionate about Mickey and most other things.”

“You two get along?”

“Like a house on fire. She’s a fan of mythology and fantasy literature

A most excellent kind of fan!” he exclaimed, wagging his tail.

“We chatted a lot about that sort of stuff and about culture, the role of religion and so on and so forth.”

“So it wasn’t a total washout then?”

“No certainly not, at least I met one good person that day. She’s the sort you could talk to for hours on end.”

“Well that’s good,” said my cousin approvingly.

“Then there was the chick in red.”

“The chick in red?”

“Yes, one of the most intensely irritating specimens of womankind.”

“Do tell.”

I shuddered involuntarily.

“I’d rather not. That nasal voice…that pseudo behaviour…that attempt to bribe her fellow puddle-members with a big lunch if they tanked their GD’s…that patronizing manner…her attempts to wheedle inside information from the impish minion…you get the picture”

“Sounds like the works.”

“The worst kind. Then there was the chick with the nose ring.”

“What was she like?"

“Let me put it this way. Before she went in for her interview she announced that she had plans to seduce the Puddle committee.”

Fenderis started rolling with laughter. He’d have rolled into the fire, but I dragged him to safety.

“I’m sorry,” he said, still laughing, “she actually said that?”

“She said it, honest,” I replied. “And accompanied it by removing a button off her shirt.”

“And did she manage?”

“No, she came out asking existential questions about Gujaratis and cool-ness.”

Fenderis laughed some more.

“Motley crew. Anyone else interesting.”

“Not particularly….there was the hunky but slightly psycho guy, the holier-than-thou female, the overgrown elf, the despicably self-important bloke, you know, the usual lot.”

“Ah yes the usual lot,” said Fenderis, and stretched his paws.

“Yes. In hindsight, if it hadn’t been for meeting Bugs and Kari I’d have called the whole experience a dead loss.”

“Nothing in life is ever a dead loss,” said the Wolf, yawning, “except death. That’s a dead loss.”

I shook my head, smiling, as I walked to the door and switched off the light. Fenderis stretched out his length on the carpet as I walked up the stairs.

“Good night,” I head his lazy drawl from downstairs as I reached my own door.

“Good night, Fenderis,” I said, and tucked myself in.

Mickey eventually declared the results of the interview. I, of course, did not make it. Neither did Bugs or the chick in red. The Hunky but slightly psycho guy, who we later found out was very psycho, did. Kari was made to wait a long while, but Mickey eventually relented and let her join as well. If it hadn't been for this last fact, we'd have completely lost faith in Mickey, among other things. As it turned out, Bugs is now in Wellington Castle, training to be a knight, while I vegetate in North Midgard Institute.

(At a time when I’d never thought of actually being a writer (and did not for many more years), this post did become unreasonably popular – for years later, fellow-students across colleges would dredge it up in conversation. Personally, I thought my subsequent work in pure fiction was far superior, but this was a description of an experience a lot of people had personally gone through, so perhaps it struck a chord)

1 comment:

  1. Nicely done, Percy! The fact that you did it ages ago speaks volumes...