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The Cat and I

The CAT (entrance exam to the IIMs) advertisement in the newspapers last week brought back fond memories. I’ve written (or at least tried to write) the CAT four times now, and never once passed. The CAT is like a yearly festival. Almost a ritual. And from the looks of it, I’m probably going to keep writing it forever.

The first time I took the CAT was in the final year of my Engineering. I was writing for the heck of it, because it seemed like a very fashionable thing to do. Everyone else was doing it. The highlight of this CAT was that my exam center was at Mount Carmel College for Girls. “Whooo Hooo”, I thought to myself when I saw the venue on the hall ticket. Everything went downhill from there.

CAT is held on a Sunday, so MCC college was out of the girls. Not only where there no chicks, the college was full of serious soda-buddy types doing the usual last-minute mugging. Plus there were the “sisters” from the college (or nuns, whatever you call them) that were doing crowd control. I sat down at my assigned place as the question papers were handed out. The first question was one of those “sentence correction” questions.

1. Correct the grammatical errors in the underlined portion of the following sentence:
Despite growing concerns over the implications of rampant inflationary pressure in the stock markets, Ram, who had had an aggressive call options in the F&O derivatives market, hedged his bets opposite to the US dollar treasury T-bills in the primary bond markets.

I read the sentence again. And again. What the hell did it mean? “Ram, who had had an aggressive call options in the F&O derivatives market”?! Why doesn’t Ram just buy mutual funds?

Unfortunately, that option was not there in the answer choices, which made even less sense than the question. After what seemed like an eternity of torture, the exam was finally over and I was free again.

But as soon as I got out, there were rumors flying that the CAT paper had leaked, and that the exam would be re-held. Later that day, it turned out that the paper had indeed been leaked, and a re-exam would be held in Feb 2004.

The day of the re-exam came and… went by. I totally forgot about the re-exam date and slept right through it. Later that afternoon, a friend called to find out how my CAT had gone. I told him that it had gone. Without me.

The next year, I took the again CAT, but flunked miserably. The year after that, I paid the money, but spent the day of the exam at a nightclub in China, and the year after that, the IIMs rejected my application for unknown reasons. I’m planning to write again this year.

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