Masala Chai (or How I Ruined My Chances to Get Into IIM Lucknow)

It was not my fault.
Or maybe, it was completely my fault.

The day wasn’t much pleasant, but it wasn’t going bad as well. I had an easy WAT topic, and I believe I had created a good piece of essay. And I had almost had a good interview. But…..
Yes, I couldn’t control myself. I just couldn’t. I realised it a long after I walked out of the room.
Rather, I realised it when I didn’t get an admission in IIM L.
If only……………….
Yes, if only I had not said that (sigh!).
So, let me do a flashback, and let’s revisit that day again:


“May I come in, Sir?” I asked politely. I wasn’t much nervous. It was my 6th interview, and I was used to interviewers-asking-me-awkward-questions-and-making-fun-of-me. Rather, I wasn’t thinking about “what-if-i-don’t-make-this” kind of stuff. I just wished for an easy, relaxed interview, cause the previous one was a stress interview, and it had kind off frustrated me.
“Yes, Abhishek. Please come in and have a sit.” the male interviewer (let’s call him M), who looked in his early forties, said in his cold voice, while the female interviewer (let’s call her, well, as you thought so, F, and remember that it strictly denotes ‘Female’ and isn’t related to anything else) warmly glanced at me. I should have predicted that it’s going to be a song of ice and fire, literally.

F: “So Abhishek, I see a discontinuity after your education. You passed out in 2016 and don’t have any work experience. Why is that?”
I was completely ready for this question. I knew this would come. I knew it all along. I simply repeated my I-tried-to-start-my-company-but-failed-miserably story, with bringing as much enthusiasm in my voice as I can. Felt like, a person with lymphosarcoma of the intestine, trying to laugh even in the last moments (reminds me of some movie. Do you know which?).

M: “So, you basically wasted a year, right?” Man, again that cold voice. The empty glass on the table sported some drops of some cold-drink and his voice suggested, that it was way colder than it should have been.
Me (trying to bring some smile on my face): “No Sir, I tried to start something from the scratch and that was really a satisfying experience. I won’t call this a wastage, I’d rather call it an investment”.
He didn’t seem convinced. His follow-up questions suggested that.
I was tired of answering those questions again and again. My diminishing smile gave it up.

This continued for quite some time and only stopped when the female interviewer asked me a question.
F: “So, you have taught English, Tell us something about it.”
I felt relieved. I told them about my sisters English classes in my town and my short stint there. Then I guided them through my course on Unacademy as well.
M: “So, what was your target audience?”
Me: “In the classes? I have taught to students from 8th std to grown ups as well.”
M: “Do you read books?” Seemed like he wanted to change the subject. Great.
Me: “Yes.” Oh yeah, my territory.
M: “Chetan Bhagat Pada he?” (Have you read Chetan Bhagat’s books?)
Me: “Yes (unfortunately). I used to read his books when I was a teen (most of us have done that, haven’t we?”
M: “So, describe 5 Point Someone in only 5 adjectives. Let’s see how good a teacher you are”.
Me: “Sure Sir. I’d definitely start with Masala. And….” and that’s where he stopped me. And that’s where my death bell was rung.
M: “Masala? And you call yourself a teacher? Such a poor adjective. It’s not even an English word.”
Me: “Sir, you can find it in the Oxford dictionary as well (yes, you can). HDFC has also introduced a bond by the same name. And we often describe movies by the same adjective too.” I don’t know how I sounded, but it wasn’t polite. I could feel it.
M: “Really? I can’t think how dark the future of those 8th std student’s is going to be. I can only pray for them.”
I knew that I needed to break the ice. So, I tried a very poor joke.
Me: “Sir, if you consider that students, then I will probably use Erotic as an adjective too”.
F smiled. M looked at me, like I have said something really stupid (and I have).
M: Still, do you think Masala is an adjective? (Oh god, he is not ready to drop that bone). It is not. You should probably stop teaching English. At least your students won’t learn anything wrong”.
It hurted me a bit. I was proud of only one thing, and he has taken it away from me. M continued to question about my qualification for a while, but I just couldn’t say anything. (Btw, nothing wrong and unusual. That’s how a stress interview is. The panel tries to aggravate you, and it’s nothing personal. So, he was just doing his job, but I realised that much later).
F asked me some simple questions after that. I gave half-hearted answers to them. I didn’t know what to do at that time. I wasn’t thinking at all.
Someone knocked at the door and entered the room. I looked back. It was a waiter, with a tray full of refreshments for the panel.
F: “It’s OK Abhishek, you may leave now. Thank you.”
I got up, smiled at them and turned to go. Again, I wasn’t thinking. My body was on an auto-pilot (and that’s why that fiasco happened.)
I had put my hand on the doorknob and I was about to open it when I heard something.
M (to the waiter): “A coffee for ma’am and a Masala chai for me.”
I had heard it right. I stopped. My body reacted on its own. It removed my hand from the doorknob, turned itself and simply went back to the place where the Panel was sitting.
M (Puzzled): “Yes? Have you forgotten something?”
Me: “Yes Sir. I just want to say something. You said, Masala Chai, using Masala as an adjective, yes, as an adjective, to describe the noun Tea or Chai. Thank you”.
My eyes said everything else. I knew what they were saying, yet I couldn’t control them. He understood what they were saying, but he didn’t stop me.
I didn’t say anything else. I calmly turned back and left, as 3 people watched in horror: The waiter, F and My conscience. My body was betraying me. It was acting on its own.
And the result was as expected, I didn’t convert IIM Lucknow. 😦


I made a mistake. A grave mistake.
I wish I had controlled myself. I wish I had not said that. I wish I had quietly walked out of the room.

If I can, I’ll apologise to that professor. Rather, I’ll go back in time and stop myself from saying that. But I can’t.

It’s easy to say something when you are angry or frustrated, but it’s impossible to take it back.

So, all I want to say is learn from my mistake and beware of what you speak when you are not in the mood.
You’ll be left with many regrets, and perhaps, a stupid blog post. Nothing else.

P.S. -Well, it was not all death-bells. I met an awesome person before the interview, who gave me a new perspective to look towards life. Read it here.

Published by Abhishek Kshirsagar

Just a misguided ghost, trying to find solace in the stories that the streets have to whisper!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: