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The Job Interview - A True Life Story

The year was 1985. My dad was in the Army and was posted at a Cantonment in Ambala, a place in the state of Haryana, India. His posting out from Ambala Cantt was waiting just for my Graduation to finish based on the application he had given to the Army stating that his transfer be deferred till I, his son finishes his College. I was studying in SD College in Ambala Cantonment, in Haryana.  A picture of my college in Ambala Cantt is seen below in the picture. Click on it to view it in google map.    

My graduation completed that year and promptly my father was posted to a remote place called Raiwala, a place located between Haridwar and Hrishikesh both places being Hindu pilgrimage in India. We got a house just t0 yards from the river Ganga, the most respected river of India. The whole place is lush green with forests infested with monkeys, elephants, deers etc.

Any time you take a train or walk along the railway track which I used to do with my friends, we used to see fresh elephant droppings each weighing over three kg along the railway track. A place called Motichur near Haridwar the holy place along river Ganga is famous for its Laddoo, which is a yellow sweet found in bakerys all over India especially near temples.

Once we settled down in Raiwala, I went to a College at the nearest city called Dehradun about an hour away by train, to get an admission for Post-Graduation. I, like any other teenager hated the idea of studies. I entered the gates of the college I found near the railway station after asking many people.

I Was Thrown Out By College Principle - A True Life Story

I went and directly entered the Principal's office and requested him for an admission. He shouted at me and threw me out, for not taking permission from his staff before entering his office. Now I was a bit scared.

Anyway, I calmed myself down and went to his staff office. They said I can enter his office after half an hour. I waited outside his office and saw many people entering his office and going out. I never really understood why he wanted me to knock at his office door, which is left fully open to allow cross ventillation perhaps. Anyway, after the stipulated half an hour I took permisson from his staff in the next room, knocked gently at the open door. The principal looked up and nodded.

I went in and introduced myself and told him I wanted an admission for post graduation. He did not even tell me to sit down. He curtly denied me admission saying that they had just surrendered two Army quota seats the previous day, as no one had claimed it. He continued that every year they keep two seats as per government orders which no one claims the seat and it goes waste. Other seats were already filled. I came out and walked out asking for any other college in the city.

I went to two more colleges and tried my luck. The date for admission was over a month back and even though they are not very strict, the rules were strict and I could not be admitted one month after the session has started unless I am coming from some other college already. That was the last of my hope for a post graduate degree. I did not know what to do.

Even today, 35 years later I don't have a post graduate degree. This is one occupational hazard of any one serving in the Army and his children have to live with. But that does not mean life is difficult for everyone in the Army. Life is good, but as anyone else will have problems, so will some problem be there for the Army people.

Hunting For a Job - A True Life Story

After trying in three colleges, I walked to the employment exchange in the city center and registered my name as a class X pass, because I had not got my Graduation certificate they don’t consider XII Grade examination certificate as any qualification. Then I took a train back home. I picked up a newspaper from a fellow passenger in that ordinary compartment of the train to pass time.

As I was going through the newpaper, I saw that small "Medical Representatives required in Punjab" advertisement which was to change my life for ever. I asked the man if I could tear and keep that job advertisement from his newspaper. He readily agreed. I went home, picked up a plain paper and wrote an application for getting that job,  which I showed to my father for corrections.

He said, "You need to study further before I retire." He did not even look at the job applicatoin. For a couple of weeks more I was going to one college after the other in all the near by towns, trying for an admission for doing my post-graduation. I used to walkover 20 km every day. Every college principal told me that I have come late and they can't admit me because the session has already started more than a month back.

About six months later, my dad said that his unit has got a transfer letter to a place called Bhatinda in Punjab. That is when I remembered the application I had written for a Medical Rep's job in Punjab. But I did not remember the address to whom should I write the application. I was searching for the piece of paper with the advertisement I had put into a cupboard when I found the  application I had written months back, lying in the cupboard.

I Was On My Way to A Job Interview - A True Life Story

I immediately went and posted the application, for that six month old job advertisement although I was very sure, the vacancies were already filled up months ago. Amazingly, I got a reply after two weeks which said, Interview at a place called Mohali, in Chandigarh in India which was just a night's journey by train from Raiwala. Chandigarh is probably the first well planned man made city, which is divided into sectors and all roads crossing each other at 90 degrees. Those days there were only a few sectors and far apart. Today, the number of sectors in Chandigarh is over a hundred and are separated only by a ten meter wide road from each other.    

I went with just enough money in my pocket for a return ordinary train ticket plus one basic food, from Raiwala to Chandigarh, an overnight journey. I started at night in the train and was in Chandigarh by morning. I took a bath and changed in the train itself. Indian trains are not very clean. But I had no choice but to take a bath inside the toilet itself at 4 am, when everyone in the train were still asleep.

I alighted looking immaculate in my dark brown pants, a pink shirt and my father's striped neck tie from the train. From the station, I took a bus which cost me Indian Rupees 1.50 to Mohali which was an industrial area. From there, I took a cycle rickshaw to the exact building I was to attend the interview which cost me just half a Rupee. A cycle rickshaw is a tricycle pedalled usually an old man with a sofa seat for two people to sit behind. The seat has a retractable canopy.

So in other words, a cycle rickshaw is a human powered convertible tri-cycle.From the station, I took a bus which cost me Indian Rupees 1.50 to Mohali which was an industrial area. From there, I took a cycle rickshaw to the exact building I was to attend the interview which cost me just half a Rupee. A cycle rickshaw is a tricycle pedalled usually an old man with a sofa seat for two people to sit behind. The seat has a retractable canopy. So in other words, a cycle rickshaw is a human powered convertible tri-cycle.

The Job Interview - A True Life Story

There was a tall boy wearing a tie and suite, standing in the shade of a tree in front of a big old building. I asked him if this is the place where MR interview is on. He said angrily, "Yes, but it is rigged, they have already chosen who they want." This interview is just a farce. A few minutes later a peon came and called him in. Another few minutes went past and I saw him coming out of the building murmuring the same dialog he had delivered to me before, it is rigged..... they have already taken..... The peon now looked at me and called me in.

A gentleman in a grey Safari suite sat on a huge sofa like chair with a small table in front. He gave me a form to fill. I filled my name, address and the expenditure from home till then. I attached the Rupees 35 I spent on train ticket, bus tickets for Rs 1.5 and Rs 0.5 for cycle rickshaw without ticket. After that, he showed me a pamphlet to read, which I didn't know then, that it is an MR's, only equipment to teach and argue with doctors in the field.

He casually told me to go through it and went away. I read the first page and didn't understand anything. It was talking about some beta blockers and there was a picture of a heart made on it. I turned the page and there was a stomach and acid bottles with a write up on some H2 receptor blockers. I went back to the first page and read it a few more times. I still did not understand much what was written in the pamphlet.

The Job Interview

By then the gentleman came back and asked very gently, "Can you tell me what you read till now?" I was surprised. I never knew I was supposed to memorise it. I was just trying to understand the meaning of what was written on the first page. I did not in my wildest dreams would have ever known that the Safari suit guy was taking my test. But, I knew the first para verbatim by then, as I had read it at least five times and so was able to rattle it out confidently. He seemed to be happy to hear me.

Then he looked at my form and told the peon to give me the cash refund for travel. He gave me many times more money than I had spent. I took double the amount I had spent actually coming till Chandigarh catering for my return journey and returned the rest of the money to the peon. That is when the Safari suite man took the money back from the peon, put it inside an envelope he had with him and handed it over to me.

My Job Interview Was A Success Or Failure? - A Short Story

I thought, that suited angry boy whom I met under the tree half an hour back, who took the interview before me was actually right. It is all rigged and they probably have already selected candidates they want. I too came out of that old building completely dejected at my bad luck, cursing myself for having returned the money to the peon and which I thought was taken as an insult by them. Probably that was why I was not selected for the job.

I did not open the envelop with money because of my bad feeling about the whole affair and having wasted two days with absolutely zero achievement. I had adequate money for a return train ticket and a small lunch given by my father secure still in my pocket including the bus fare and the autorickshaw fare.

Now that I had nothing else to do and nowhere else to go other than home in the train late at night, I went walking to the bus stop two kilometers away in that scorching sun to punish myself for my failure in the interview. I reached home the next morning and my father asked, "How was the interview?"

I Suceeded In My Job Interview - A True Life Story

I said, "They refunded the travel money" and gave the envelope to him which I had not opened till then. Without my saying it aloud, my father understood that I have not landed the job. He opened the envelope curiously and I was in for a surprise when, along with the money, he took out a letter in which was written, "Interview at Janpath Hotel, New Delhi" the next month.

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