Thursday, December 20, 2012

SSC CGL 2012 Interview

I have not written anything in a long time. This seems weird.

Anyways, it is 20th December, and I must say: Happy Birthday Neeru Masi!

I had my SSC CGL Interview today at Chandigarh, and thought would write about it since
1. It went better than I expected, and
2. I could not find a lot of those from other candidates.

So me and my friend Pankaj Beniwal had our interviews together, same day same time. I guess it saved us both a lot of boredom and awkwardness (thanks, spell check!), though talking to other candidates is good too. Feels nice to meet others just like you. And not to mention the variety  of people, in almost every sense of the word.

Pankaj knows about the almost. In other words, great if you are girl and want guys hitting on you. :)

We reached the Central Govt. Offices in Sector-9, Chandigarh at around 8:25 am.After signing the attendance etc., we just sat around the last seats for about an hour (that passed in about 5 minutes cause we are friends from college). Then an official came and started instructing us. On paying attention we found that the instructions  were nothing but a repetition of the documents that we were required to bring. We did not have photocopies of our identity forms, and had to get it done at their office photocopying machine.

After that we came back and waited till another hour or two before we were called for document verification. In the meantime, people were being called for their interview.

It was time spent having half-philosophical, half-jackass-ish discussions, and no attention whatsoever to what might be asked in the interview itself.

It must be around 11:15 am, when an official came and summoned Pankaj for his interview. I just told him to go there and give em hell.

Then I started talking to a Sikh gentleman who was originally from Muktsar, who turned out to be working in the Ministry of Labour, and I must say I enjoyed it. We talked about the work that he did, and the highlight was why he could not get his department to provide leave to him.

Then Pankaj came back. He told that the interviewers were asking about recent news and football and some other things. Way to kill a mood.

We all talked for some more time. Then I was summoned.

The waiting
I went in, and was greeted by another candidate, who had another panel. And much like a cricket test match, his panel had been on tea-break since the last hour.

We chatted for a few minutes, and then a bell rang and I was called for interview.

The actual interview
Ok. So I went inside, and there was a small room. Like the Matrix trilogy, this room had 2 more doors at the end, and I was told to go inside the one at the left.

As I entered, I was greeted by a 3-member panel, consisting of 2 Sikh gentlemen, one a bit old (M1), and the other in his late 30s/early 40s (M3). The third member was a lady (M2).

I wished them good morning, even though it was past noon, or almost noon. Whatever.

The older Sikh gentleman, sitting in the middle started the interview. For the most part (70-80%), the interview was in Hindi. Jai Hind! (Bad parts in italics)

M1: So, Kaushal ji, why are you leaving your current job? Is it not a good job?
Me: Sir, I have already been selected in FCI...

M1: F-what?
Me: Sir, Food Corporation Of India.

M1: So you think this job (meaning the current interview) is better than that?
Me: Yes, sir.

M1: So, Karunesh ji, aap newspaper to read karte he honge? Aur zahir hai TV bhi dekhte honge?
Me: Yes sir.

M1: So tell me what do you watch on TV?
Me: Sir, I watch football on weekends.

M1: Do you watch something else too?
Me: Yes, sir. Sometimes when I am free, I like to watch movies on TV.

M1: So tell me about the latest movie that you watched.
Me: Sir, Screamers.

M1: Ok. Who is your favorite actor?
Me: Sir, I do not have a favorite actor as such. 

M1: How is this possible? There must be one.
Me: Ok sir. It is Shah Rukh Khan.

M1: And there must be a favorite actress.
Me: Let me think sir. It is Preity Zinta.

[THANK GOD they did not ask why I liked these guys] 

M1: Why is she not coming in too many movies now-a-days?
Me: Sir, I do not know. [He smiled] I add: Sir, unhone mujhe to nahi bataya! :)

[All laugh]

M1: Karunesh ji, tell me the number of states in India which have female Chief Ministers.
Me: [Confidently] Sir, 3.

M1: Ok. Tell me the states.
Me: Sir, firstly Tamil Nadu, and Ms. Jayalalitha.

M1: Correct. And?
Me: Sir, UP, and Ms. Mayawati.

M1: No. She was.
Me: Ok sir. In that case sir, my other state is also wrong. Ms. Raje was the Chief Minister of Rajasthan.

M1: Yes. Who is the current CM of Rajasthan?
Me: Sir, it is Mr. Ashok Geholt.

M1: Ok. Now go to the east of  India. Can you remember something?
Me: Yes, sir. Ms. Mamata Bannerjee is the CM of West Bangal.

M1: Ok. Now come back. Near UP.
Me: Yes, sir. Ms. Shiela Dixit is the CM of New Delhi.

M1: Good. So, Karunesh ji, can you tell me a few things about what is happening in the world right now?
Me: Yes sir. Currently I can think of 2-3 things. First of all, there is the problem in Nepal.

M1: Yes.
Me: Sir, the problem is that they had created a Constitutional Assembly, and they had set a deadline for its working. The problem is that it could not complete the constitution in the stipulated time, and there was no provision in the Assembly's work or otherwise that could guide the way the work could further go forward. [Thanks Pankaj!]. Therefore, the different parties are not able to arrive at an "ekmat" (love Hindi) at the moment, and hence the chaos.
           Then sir, North Koreans just tested what was meant to be a nuclear capable missile launcher with a weather satellite. [He nods]. And elections in Japan have resulted in the winning of Mr. Shinzo Abe led Liberal Democratic Party. He will most likely be the new Prime Minister, and he was also the Prime Minister in 2007.

M1: [Nodding] There has also been an incidence in America [implying USA].
Me: Yes, sir. Near the city of Connecticut [Nod], there has been an incident involving the shooting of 27 people, 20 of whom were children.

M1: Good. So, you watch football. Who is your favorite footballer?
Me: Sir, I love watching Jonas Gutierrez play. He plays for Argentina, and played in the 2010 World Cup. Also, he plays for Newcastle United in the Barclays Premier League.

M1: All right. You like John Gutierro.. and he plays for Newcassa United...[at least he tried]. Have you heard about Thierry Henry?
Me: Yes, sir. He was a very good French striker. In his best days, he played for Arsenal and Barcelona.

M1: Who is your favorite Indian footballer?
Me: [I really did not know what to say I started mumbling].

M1: There is Jarnail Singh, ___ ___ ___ ( a few Bengali names).. 
Me: [Still clueless]

M1: Ok. Who was the captain at the time we won the Asian Games Football Gold in 1962?
Me: I am sorry sir, I do not know. [I should have known]

M1: No worries, it was ___ (Bengali name)
Me: Ok sir. [I feel ashamed that after only 6-7 hours I have forgotton]

M1: [nodding towards M2] You can ask, mam.

M2: What is a barometer:
Me: Mam, it is a device that tests air pressure.

M2: What is the unit of pressure:
Me: Mam, I do not know. [It was pascal. WTF?]

M2: What are endocrine glands?
Me: Mam, these are hormone-secreting glands that inject hormones directly into the blood supply, from where it acts at the target organs.

M2: Which organ produces Bile Juices?
Me: Its the liver, mam. [Thanks, jaundice in college!]

M2: What is insulin?
Me: Mam, it is a hormone produced in the pancreas. If the body is not able to synthesize it, the result is diabetes.

[M2 then asked 4-5 more questions, all of which I answered. Maybe except 1, but I do not think so]

... Then it was M3's turn. I do not remember the exact order of his questions.

M3: What are Pascal, Fortran and Cobol etc.?
Me: Sir, these are Computer Languages, rather programming languages.

M3: [Nodding] Are they used now?
Me: Sir, they are not used now for new projects. But there are a lot of legacy projects that make use of Cobol and Fortran. [I felt compelled to tell him about phone calls, ATMs etc., but decided in favour of being to-the-point]

M3: Have you heard about the recent Apple-Samsung controversy?
Me: Yes sir. Basically, Apple first created its iOS-based line of smartphones. Then Samsung also entered the smartphone market with products similar to Apple's, and I think both overstepped their boundaries. Samsung copied the look and feel of Apple's phones and Apple sued them for very minor things like having rounded corners in rectangular phone frames.

M3: What is Android?
Me: Sir, it is a smartphone operating system. The Samsung phones we were talking about just now run on Android.

M3: What is the latest version of Android?
Me: Sir, I do not remember the latest version.

M3: Do you remember any versions?
Me: Yes sir, there is Marmalade, Jelly Bean..Thats all I know sir.

M3: [Nodding] Ok.

M1: Ok, Karunesh ji, you may leave.

I pick my things, wish them, and come back.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The fatak wala sardar

Sometimes I feel too stressed to even think. No matter what, the eternal optimist in me too fades away sometimes, and with it goes my ability to think 'don't worry, things'll be fine soon.' Why I feel this way, or not feel any other way is not the matter of this post.

I went to Khanna with my family to visit an aunt today, and had a strange experience. When I say strange, I do not mean strange as in weird or life-changing or anything, but strange in the way it made me think about what I've been thinking. That takes me to what I've been thinking lately, and it turns out that I've been worrying way too much, almost beyond the limit of worrying without any cause, if there is one. There are a lot of things can make me mad, but playing into the thought patterns that these things put you into is a bit too idiotic for me. Or seems now in retrospect when I am writing this post.

As we reached my Aunt's home, I came to know that a railway line passes from near their home, and that a lot many trains pass from there everyday. The lot many part is whats responsible for this post. That, and the fact that I am very much a train freak. I just love traveling by, talking about, looking at, and (sometimes) simply thinking about trains. So I just had to go to the rail lines and see one or two of them pass by. And that too just about 300-350 yards. As I am about to go there, my uncle (Masser-ji, in Punjabi) tells me that he too will accompany me, and then my brother and my aunt's younger son too join us.

As we move towards the lines, uncle-ji tells us about a railway crossing nearby. So I persuade everyone we move towards the crossing to.... I don't know, just because I wanted to.

Reaching there, I ask/talk about the kinds of trains that pass from there, the number of trains passing from there in a day etc. we wait for about 15-20 minutes when a train comes and goes, and in about five more minutes, masser-ji tells us, another will pass. I get more excited, with the first four words in this line seeming utterly idiotic to me now.

Like all things in this post, without any reason I propose we all go to the crossing manning guy, whatever he's called, fatak-wala banda to me at least. The others stood outside talking, while I go into the small room containing his stuff, a roster for the trains' timings, all sorts of equipment (which he later told me was almost never used), and a clock that didn't seemed to work since the time we have railway crossings in this world! The man, a sardar turned out to be a very warm and cordial person.

As I talk to him about trains, the way he gets to know when to pull the levers, the way railway signals work etc., a train comes and goes, and (this had to happen at some time) the others get bored and tell me they are going home. I ask the guy about the next train, and he tells me that Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi and Shane-e-Punjab will pass from there in some time. As a result, I tell the others to go home, and that I'll come after having a look at the two trains.

As the others leave, I began talking more and more with the guy, and turns out he used to live in Mohali once, though that was very far off in time and all (ain't Mohali a new city?).... Anyways, he tells me that Shatabdi should've passed his crossing by then, and that it was running a bit too late. Now, with the traffic passing through the crossing at that time, it meant that at any moment of time, a phone call would arrive and he would have to close the fatak, change the signals with the levers etc. Making sure that all the traffic passed in time, or at least waited when he would close (or lower) the fatak would be very important.

In just a few minutes, a call arrives, and after mumbling a few words, and scribbling a few numbers on his notebook, he tells me he's going to close the fatak. But due to the traffic, he could not do it for about 5 minutes, and those 5 minutes were very difficult for him. He had to practically yell at the people riding the cars, trucks, bikes, the cyclists, the rickshaw-wallas, the pedestrians walking slowly and some more. Even I tried going in the middle of the road and trying to tell the people to wait or pass quickly, but.. lesson learnt: I can't ever be a traffic policeman!

Another phone call, and the same mumbling/scribbling routine, and the guy tells me another train is coming. So, with an even more sense of urgency, he goes out and starts yelling at the people, who this time budge, and allow him to close the fatak. In just about a few seconds, we hear the horn of a train engine, and in a minute the Shatabdi comes and goes, just like an aandhi. In about 2-3 minutes, another train (Shere-e-Punjab) too passes and then he releases the fatak, and then the traffic goes on in its frantic manner. Things are normal. I bid him farewell and start walking towards away to my aunt's home.

As I walked, I thought of the amount of stress the fatak-wala man had to go through in a day, with almost a hundeed trains passing through the crossing during his 12-hour shift. My stresses and worries are nothing as compared to the responsibility that he, as a meager class-IV government employee had to handle. Honestly, I think I am unable to express the amount of frustration he went through in about 5 minutes, and the amounts of it he goes through all the time.

As I said, sometimes I feel too stressed to even think. This has to be one of those times. What amazes me is that all the timemost of the time, it takes somebody else's plight to notice that we are in a far better place than them. I am not stressed at my situation, I am feeling like an idiot for being stressed about my situation, when the world has obviously more important things to worry about.