Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Visa... Shisa.... Haiyo Rabba!!

Had my H1B visa interview today... dont know if what i had qualifies to be called an interview, didnt last for more than 2 mins and involved just 2 questions...
L: So you work for IBM?
Me: yep! (yep? yep??!! did i just say yep??? wasnt i instructed to say yes, ma'm!! oh well...)
L: Have you travelled before?
Me: no (better answer this time!)
L: Your passport will be couriered to your company. Thank you!
Me: Thank you, Ma'm!
..... and I am out of the cubicle, the room and soon at the parking where my mom is getting ready for a looong wait! hee hee...

Not much of a story there but the amount of preparation and efforts that went into the making of these two minutes is worth telling.... It began with my preparation of the questions that could be asked and collection of the documents that need to be carried for the interview... The final set of documents that I did carry
1. appointment letter
2. visa receipt
3. passport
4. petition
5. original degree certificate and marksheets
6. form-16 and income-tax filing form
7. company offer letter and last 3 months payslips
(Note: The first 4 are an absolute must and the remaining can be carried but as my experience shows that they are not always required.)
After the documents came the questions... thought of all possible questions and all possible answers to all those questions and it didnt seem so difficult after that....
Next came the hotel and the cab booking... easier said than done but was through with all the bookings and the confirmations the night before travel....
(Note: The travel was the most time-consuming and tiring part as traveling over 300 kms to-and-fro for a 30-min exercise really was not worth it but I didnt really have a choice, did I?

After spending the night at a nearby (well, not quite) IBM guest-house, reached the consulate at around 8:10 and the day unfolded:
1. Stood in the queue for around 10 mins before being ushered inside the consulate
2. Went through the regular security check (another 5 mins)
3. Went inside the main room and collected the VFS document and submitted it alongwith my passport at counter 1 and got a pink token (# 165)... probably another 5 mins)
4. Took a seat right at near the counters and got a first look at the ladies behind the bullet-proof glass and relaxed... was getting ready for a long wait!
5. Kept my ears peeled to the voice announcing the tokens as there wasnt any particular order being followed and with 13 operational counters things were progressing quite fast
6. After around 15 mins wait, I heard 165 being called out to counter #8. Took my position behind a fat(really fat!) lady and her kid and awaited my turn. The lady was through in quicktime and I was in...
What happened next has already been discussed and I was out and in the car and on my way back to home, sweet home! (and very soon, on my way to San Diego!)

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Alpaviram-a small pause thats what I am going to take in my GMAT journey... the last coupla weeks have been excruciating, was really bogged down by self-doubt and thousands of questions... is this the right time? am I ready? what do i have to show as achievements? what do i tell my recommenders to write about? are all the above questions irrelevant and should i just go ahead and apply?? uff!!
All this began after i spoke to a Ms B from ClearAdmit... she made it pretty clear to me that for someone like me, who isnt sure abt my long-term goals and has nothing to show, applying would be.... (she left it hanging, so one can only guess what she meant!) She even went so far as to suggest that probably i had no idea abt the seriousness of the whole process and should take care!!
Just when I was beginning to see the truth in her observations, I heard about a friend's friend - Ms. A - who had gotten into Krannert with 2-yrs exp and a GMAT score of 650!!! Now how on earth did that happen??!! That made me rethink... am i just too scared of applying? do i fear failing (again!) so much?? well, to be absolutely honest, yes, I do.... I dont think I can take anymore of that!
And to add to this, came the news of my impending visa interview... scheduled for the 29th of August... was getting ready for the interview, collecting documents etc when my manager, a Mr. C, let it out that if all goes well I would have to travel to San Diego in the second week of October itself!!!!
Oh! my brain would almost burst due to overload.... I havent done so much thinking and pondering in a lifetime!! But the decision is now made.... I will apply only next year after I have been able to garner some valuable international experience... The primary points in favor are:
1. additional experience, international, would be advantageous
2. if i make the right moves, i would be able to add up a lot to my right-now-pretty-common resume
3. the income in dollars would come in handy
4. would be give me time to research and select the schools and programs more thoroughly and the applications next year would be more planned
5. could probably gather some better recommendations!
6. a prior exposure to US culture and place would stand in good stead when i do join school
There are many 'probably's and 'maybe's but since I am aware of my final aim everything that I will do will be directed towards that goal...
The only point against is:
1. the further delay.... with marriage looming large, every year spent before an MBA seems like a crime to Ma!!

But I have come to a decision and I can only hope that all works out well... I just have to maintain focus and I am sure that this decision will not prove to be wrong!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

some links i keep coming back to...

Came across this article on resume writing for us IT-applicants and how to de-jargonize our writing style and suit it better to the admissions committee....
And another link here for the analysis on the essays of the top schools....
This link on admission tips on clear admit provides important pointers on the entire process...


Began the essay journey today... first stop - Johnson! looked around but couldnt find the essays, realised that the application for 07-08 season has not yet begun (will begin only in end August) so moved onto Yale... the essays have been released and though there is new one on leadership, the remaining are as of old! The third essay where we not only provide the answer but also the question was a suprise (as if finding answers was not difficult enough! ;)
Have been going through the website to find the uniques features of Yale and the mandatory international study and the integrated coursework approach is really unique... am really beginning to like the Yale program.... shot of a mail to one of the ambassadors, waiting to see what she has to say! Till then, back to some more research on the program and (probably) a rough draft as well...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Four days gone by...

Four days have gone by since by G-day and I have not made any progress! :(
I have been reading about the essays and all that but dont know where to begin!!! Guess I should get in touch with some seniors in the colleges I intend to apply to... and also some other fellow applicants... if not for help then atleast I would be keeping up the pace.... plan to visit IMS this weekend and check them out... and atleast go through all the essays of the schools

Monday, August 6, 2007

Phew.... what a day it was - Part III

Part III - The winner takes it all....
Finally after one-and-half months of preparation, many tests and 3.5 hours of clicking the answers(right ones, I hope) it was judgment time... But first there was THE question of whether I wanted to report or cancel the score... I did not have an alternative but to report the scores but it was interesting situation, nonetheless! Spent 2 of the alloted 10 mins to decide in staring at the screen and then clicked 'Next'... the next few moments while the software calculated my score and I stared at a blank blue screen were interminable.... and then the score pops up...
Yippeeee!!! I had done it! The score, though not the most important in the process, was a critical part of my application if I had to have a fighting chance at the top colleges... and I had DONE it :)
Pumped my fist and felt like doing a victory dance but considering my fellow candidates who were still fighting their battles, I got up and left the room in silence but my interiors were screaming....
Collected my un-official score-card and my belongings and left the room.... I was suprised to not find my parents waiting for me... checked the watch and realised that I had finished my exam quite early, by 4:45!! Couldn't wait to tell them the news and was patrolling the lobby restlessly when finally I saw them come in.... Suprised though they were coz I had told them I wouldnt be out before 5:30, they were also pleased with my score....
But as past experiences have taught me and also them, that just a good score is not enough, the celebrations were a bit muted.... And even I know better now than to celebrate prematurely like after my XL interview when I had felt that I totally cracked it and ended up with a wl-89 :(
Anyways, thats past now.... the first hurdle was successfully crossed and though there still lies a long way ahead, I am raring to go....

The test-saga ends... Stay tuned for the upcoming recos-saga, essays-saga and the season finale of applications-saga! :)

Phew.... what a day it was - Part II

Part II - the battle begins....
Ahh... the refreshing whiff of cold air was like a balm on my frayed nerves.... The room was chilly and most importantly, quiet... after all the rushing around of the morning, it felt good to be there... submitted my photograph, signed on a digital pad, gave my fingerprint sample and got myself photographed... feeling like I was being admitted to a high-security prison! :D Didnt have too much time to relax though... was asked to enter the test-room almost immediately!!
Was alloted the desk #2 and then sat down to read the instructions... put in the 5 schools names and selected next to begin....
Round 1
The analysis of argument question was on the Waymarsh students and why they are absolutely concerned and serious about their education.... did a pretty good job in defending those poor souls, after all they are the ones who would help me get a 6 in AWA :) finished it well within time and moved on to the analysis of issue question where I was asked to pass my judgment on the the quality of life today!! Faced some difficulties in articulating the points and ended up focusing too much on the personal aspect... at the end, the idea of wars and general threats to society came up in my mind and did put in a line or two but was not too satisfied with the result... But time was up and I got up for my 10-min optional break....
The essays had rattled me a bit and I felt the uncontrollable urge to leave the room... just walked around a bit and splashed some water on my face to relax myself... and I was ready to enter the war zone again....
Round 2
The maths section began promisingly with not too difficult questions... I had a distinct sense of deja-vu... as it almost felt like the last GMATPrep I had given at home... none of the questions too difficult and none too familiar but all the same I was putting in a lot of thought before every 'confirm'! Did feel that I would run out of time at certain stages, like when I had 34 mins left on the clock and had yet more 18 questions to go through... but apart from the sudden panic attack, the section was progressing smoothly and soon I was at the 41st question with 2 mins to spare...
Decided to take the break again and calmly walked out, sat on the chair outside for exactly 4 mins and was back again....
Round 3
It was the last section and I was raring to go... started the section and did not face too many difficult SCs or CRs before my first RC and it was not too difficult either! :) couldnt believe that the RCs were so short and for a change they were not too abstract either! Finished the section with almost 9 mins to spare... did spend a couple of minutes at the end just to let the clock tick but then the waiting got too much for me and I decided to end the exam...

Phew.... what a day it was!! - Part I

Part I - The build-up
Woke up, had my breakfast, spoke to Dada and switched on the computer.... well, that is today, relaxed and leisurely.... so different from yesterday, the 6th of August!!
Let me rewind a bit and begin from 5th evening.... I received a call from Dada, the primary reason being to wish me luck, but then we ended up talking for more than 2 hours, discussing and short-listing the 5 schools that i would send my scores to... I very happily(and quite pompously, i believe, selected 5 schools from the top-10 B-schools in US!! But Dada would have none of it... he wanted me to spread out the selection a bit more... covering the top 50!! I was scandalized... I am not going to attend such a low-ranked school but then it makes sense to apply... whether to enroll is a decision that could me made later... and if heaven-forbid, I get rejects from all the higher-ranked schools I would know where I stand.... Well, I couldn't fight against this reasoning, could I? After a long chat and an even longer session of thinking and staring at the paper-board (where I had noted down all the schools and their deadlines) I finally decided on Y/J/K/ISB/UIUC... UIUC being the least ranked and least known of the B-schools!! It was already 12 by the time I had zeroed in on these schools and I had no time or will left to take a look at the essays (as I had planned earlier) Just tucked myself in for the night.....
Heard the alarm go off too early and thought that it probably had a bug in it... but soon after came along Ma to get me out of bed... Was it already 5 then??!! I trudged out of the bed and got ready in record-time then waited while Ma and Baba got ready with Ma quibbling over how much time Baba took for getting ready... (this is normally how it is whenever we got some place in the mornings... with the trend completely reversed in the evenings! ;) Finally we were at the railway station at around 6:15, in time for the Sinhagad Express... the overcast sky increased my misgivings regarding traveling by train but then the journey was uneventful and we were at Dadar by 10:15! (Did watch a group of office-goers enjoy their daily dose of cards during the travel, helped me take my mind off the exam) The next step was to get a train to Andheri... collected the tickets after a looooong wait and then we were off to Andheri in a local... From Andheri, we were lost coz then we did not know the way to the exact location... Hired a rickshaw to Solitaire Corporate Park and after some amount of hunting around, finally located the place and reached building 9! The heat and noise of Mumbai had gotten to me by then and I was having a splitting headache... gulped down a Disprin and went up the building to wait for the doors to open.... After what seemed like an infinitely long time (but was actually just 10 mins) the doors opened and we were ushered in....

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The day before the day before THE day!!

Counting down the hours to the 6th right now.... Have gone through more than a couple of CATs (740 and 760 in the GMATPrep-1 and 2 resp :D) also more-or-less selected the schools that I am going to send my score to... Just waiting now.... and wondering!
The last two attempts at GMAT have really boosted my confidence but I am trying not to read too much into the numbers... One bad day is all it would take but then feels nice to finally cross the 750-mark :-)
It been raining continuously here for the last two days and Mumbai, with its penchant for flooding at a slight drizzle. must already be drowning!! I hope the travel on Monday is uneventful and I make it on time.... Was wondering if leaving on Sunday night would be a good idea but Baba is pretty confident of making it on time... so, Monday it is.

PS: Watched the movie 'Gone with the Wind' finally.... Its luvvvvvvvly!! Clark Gable is perfect as the man's man and Vivien Leigh looks absolutely stunning (was she upset over a 20" waist or did I imagine that ;) It really has some classic moments and its so Bollywood in all its 'oh Rhett..oh...'-scenes... But truly a thoroughly enjoyable movie, an exception in the case of book-adaptations....