This Day, Last Year.

16th August 2015

The day I had my interview at IIM Indore Mumbai Campus. A month back I had filled the form with no hopes of even being shortlisted for PGPMX two-year executive management program. And there I was ready to go to the interview.

It was a Sunday. Interview was scheduled at 3 pm. I had booked a car as I was too nervous to take public transport. For the first time I was going to travel from Andheri (western suburbs of Mumbai) to Navi Mumbai, so I was anxious and left early to reach on time – well, I reached two hours early as I left at 11.30 am. 🙂

I had checked and rechecked my certificates and photocopies to ensure I have all the documents in place as mentioned in the mail—but was still worried if anything was missed.

On reaching the venue, I was asked to take a seat in the cafeteria, and there I see the shortlisted candidates—all impeccably dressed in formal attire, majority in the age bracket of 40 – 50 years, and there my titbit hopes of being associated with IIMI sunk as I was sure no way I will be selected.  Twenty-plus years of experience versus eight years of experience was no match. Nevertheless, since I was there and had travelled for almost two hours, I was sure to give the interview.

Interviews had started in the morning. My appointment was scheduled in the second half, post lunch.

After the lunch break, the staff resumed work. The documents were screened and verified, I was now shifted to another room, and was told I am third in row to be called.

Interviews were conducted in two different offices. Each office had three professors. I did not bother to check with the candidates who had gone through the interview to what was asked, as I was extremely nervous.

“Asma take deep breaths. This too shall pass.” That’s how I consoled myself.

And there was ‘the call’.

As I entered the room, I was greeted by three senior faculty members. One being the Director for the course which I identified as I had gone through the website faculty profiles and had attended the info-session program held at Hotel Orchid a month back.

I will not describe all the questions but a short summary of the event should do. One interviewer will be examining you and your gestures and may ask questions to know you and your reactions better like…

“Tell us something about yourself.” (I have answered this umpteen times, so it was not a problem)

“Of all these organizations (say XYZ) I guess X was your best experience.” (Well mine was Z and I confidently mentioned it.)

“How good are you in Mathematics?” (A common question asked to any and every medical student/professional and makes sense as we kind of forget maths while learning human anatomy.)

“Why do you want to pursue MBA? How will it benefit you?” (I has an answer for this, so I was fine)

“From healthcare to MBA. Why?” (Again I have answered this many times.)

The second member, will be mostly from the area of your expertise – Marketing in my case.

“How do you think your current profile (Manager – Branding and Communication, Hospital in my case) will benefit from pursuing this program?” (This took me a long time to explain and none seemed convinced. But ok, it was time for next question.)

“If you are to sell XYZ product, what would be your strategy?” (Strategy word is scary but since I had recently completed Mass Communications from XIC, so this was the best question one could ask me. I kind of gave an entire marketing plan as an answer.)

Now the third, and the questions were like:

“You are a Masters in Clinical research. So about statistics…”(Oh Lord, that was the most dreaded question and my answer was honest – “I did MSc Clinical Research but never worked as a clinical research professional. So sir, I will have to revise the subject to answer any questions on statistics.” – Seriously stats I need to revise. And honesty is always the best policy. Trust me.)

And then one GMAT type question.

The questions will not be asked in this order nor were they worded as mentioned above, and these are some of the many questions asked.

After 30 minutes, I was out and unsure what my fate at IIM Indore will be – selected or rejected – and kept thinking all the way back home.

‘Selected’ – read the email about 15 days later and I took admission in September, 4th October was our induction program.


There is a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to be submitted at the time of admission. It is advisable to take approval from both you HOD and HR. If the HR is not aware, then it may not go in your favour later at work especially at the time of appraisal and if you have an insecure boss–sad but it does happen.

Some Funny Thoughts in My Head:

INR 5000 was the application fees. So the thought while filling the form was to gamble 5000 bucks… kind of – Lag Gaya To Teer, Nahi To Tukka (hit and miss affair) :O

I was to travel Ranthambore in October last year with my colleague. Never been to a wild life safari and was looking forward to it. But after paying a huge fees, I had a weird thought in my head – “Asma, what if the tiger eats you – total waste of the money spent.” Very crazy thought, I know, but enough for me to cancel the trip. 🙂

“Will I be able to manage subjects like Finance and Economics?” – with the amazing faculty team at IIM Indore, I do not think one should worry about this at all.

16th August 2016:

It has been a year now, and I am thoroughly enjoying the program. We are a batch of 30 students from varied background. So far it has been a learning experience. Expert faculty, the case-based approach to studies, individual assignments, group projects, class quizzes, exams – all are keeping my adrenaline levels high and helping me enrich my knowledge.

Yes, the program is rigorous. But that I knew when I enrolled.

In two years, I will not be a master in all subjects, but yes, I will excel in those subjects that fall in my area of interest and will be good in the rest. The program will guide you, but it is up to you to perform and rise. Two years of PGPMX is just a beginning to a lifetime of learning. But now, I am more prepared, more aware.

One year gone, and another awaits…

Time will fly, but memories won’t…

Some glimpses of time on and off campus…some more to capture in the future…

…Ashu Bolar


Old Days, Young Memories…

Recently my batchmate had been to IIM Indore and brought a college t-shirt for me. We decided to wear it this weekend to the classes.

I have a habit – bad or good – not sure, but I alter  the t-shirts (minor to major) to fit me best. This time I got the length altered, and the altering reminded me of my NiFD days when I was a part of the weekends diploma fashion designing classes. 2004-2005…long time but memories are still fresh. Besides enjoying the program, I made lifetime friends at NiFD. Creativity, Healthy Competition, Long Chats with Faculty Members, Assignments, Portfolio Development…it was crazy but fun. And one of the tough assignments we had was to participate in Lame Fashion House—a fashion reality show telecasted on Star One in the year 2005.

All fashion designing institutes had received invitation to participate in this show. Our faculty then had asked all the students of the weekend batch to participate in this contest; our Internal Assessment scores were dependent on the design submitted in the contest.

We were left with no choice. And thus, the sketch as in the image, I had dropped in the Lakme Design Collection Box (which was placed at every fashion designing institutes and Lakme Salons). The design was made keeping in mind to create a fashionable garment from a simple Salwar Kameez dress material that is available at a very reasonable cost.

To my surprise, both my batchmate and I, were selected for the first round. The announcement was made in a very creative manner. Star One team comes to your house, shoots you asking on how and why you participated in the program and then during the shoot, you get a call which says – “Congratulations Asma! You are selected in the first round!” and your expression is captured in the camera. These clips were then edited and used during the telecast, and yes, I was on TV in the first episode, as my expression, for some reason, was not deleted by the Edit Team. 🙂

We were excited at the same time nervous. Now, we had one week for the second round – Mumbai Selection Round Fashion Show, where all the contestants were expected to get their garments ready as per the designs submitted. The next five days found us running around collecting all the pieces as in the design, and of course, guiding the tailor on how to get the garment construction right.

Finally, the day arrived and we were at the venue: Ramee Guestline Hotel, Juhu, Mumbai, only to find our faculty there; he was also one of the contestants (who was selected and was part of the show for three episodes). Now, our nervousness was obvious, conspicuous and knew no bounds. We had no clue who the judges were until we heard other contestants discussing – Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla. It was too late to run from the venue as we had already entered the premises, otherwise that is exactly what was on our minds.

Well, somehow we sailed through that day. Both of us were confident that we won’t get selected; however since were already there, we decided to enjoy the experience of participating in a reality show; interacting with models; helping them with the fitting and right accessories; walking the ramp with them and presenting before The Well Known Designers: Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla and the Guest Designer for the show – Anita Dongre.

Indeed, it was a learning experience and my first interaction with the real fashion world.

So every time I alter a T-shirt, I remember this day, and think about the day when as an established designer and brand, I will have my own fashion show.

Lakme Fashion House

…Ashu Bolar


Vikramaditya Trilogy – Book 1: The Guardians of the Halahala

It was in April this year. I was on a short sabbatical from work for academic reasons, and since I was temporarily free from the grilling corporate atmosphere, I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands. So I decided to read as many novels as I can in these two months from my gigantic book collection. Yeah, I collect books, and someday, I guess will have a library of my own. 🙂

I decided to start with The Guardians of Halahala – a book which I received from the author Shatrujeet Nath on winning a promotional contest on Facebook. My friend, Dia, was the one who had enrolled my name in the contest, but I thank her that she did because the book is an interesting read. Since I am a Vikramaditya-Betal fan, I enjoyed every chapter of the first veergatha in series from the trilogy.

The plot is extremely gripping. I thought it would take me at least a week to complete the book, but I completed it in three days as there was this constant curiosity to know what happens next. Some pages on the fight for protecting the state, did remind me of the Trojan War, I studied during my MA literature days.

In several scenes, when Samrat Vikramaditya is having discussion with his council of Nine Members, it reminded and related me with how in the corporate world a boss and reporting managers should interact with each other. In the book, all the council members including the King, respect each one’s thoughts and considers other’s opinions. There is equal chance for a man or a woman to be a Councillor. There no discrimination of any sought during discussions or in allocating responsibilities. There is a learning here for many bosses, who are prone to tell their colleagues, rather than ask or discuss.

My favourite sentences/phrases from the book:

“It is in the nature of the bloodied sword to doubt the strength of the untested metal.”

“The council trusts you to do what is right – not what is convenient.” (I so wish the corporate world people understood this!)

“Pride and incompetence – what more harm need anyone inflict on his fellow beings, my king?” (Once again, this reminded me of many ignorant yet arrogant acquaintances.)

“…their expressions ranging from fatigue to relief to triumph.”

“…things were always deceptive when viewed from a distance.” (Yep, they are. And we still get carried away at times and get judgmental.)

“…rumor flies on a hundred wings.” (Oh yes, it does!)

“We shouldn’t let worry and fear impair our judgment.” (Never Ever!)

“…the metal winking wickedly…” (I like the personification used here.)

“…before the phrase could anchor itself in his mind…” (That’s how most of the time we react and then regret.)

“Everything I see and hear and say and do…”

Well, since I have read The Guardians of the Halahala, I was eager to know what eventually happened to Vikramaditya, his nine councilors, to the kingdom, the devas & asuras, and the Halahala. I did try convincing Shatruji if in some way I can know ‘what next’, but well the answer was to read the next book –  The Conspiracy At Meru.

The good news is Book-2 will be available for purchase on soon (Release Date: 22nd August 2016; Pre Order option open).

I am hoping Betal will have a significant role in the coming issues! 🙂

Thank you Dia, and Thank you Shatruji for the copy!


Check the trailer for ‘The Conspiracy at Meru’ (Vikramaditya Veergatha #2) by Shatrujeet Nath at Thunderclap or click:

Happy Monsoon! Happy Reading!

…Ashu Bolar

An Indigo Evening

Having many mini groups of friends is good. However, how often do we get to catch up in the super busy lives we survive today is a challenge. Same was the case with we three friends. Met in the year 2013 during Advanced Project Management classes at SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), post college we had met just once in 2014. It was going to be two years since our last get together, so we decided it is high time we should meet now.

A WhatsApp group was formed as it makes the communication easier, and a day, i.e., Friday, 29th July 2016 was decided. Venue had to be South Mumbai as my two dear friends have their offices there. We decided a fine dine over the famous Colaba cafes, and so finalised on Indigo Colaba.

The only disadvantage of deciding anything in advance, is the fear of cancellation, especially during the monsoons in Mumbai. And Thursday night on wards it started raining crazy. However, after many exchange of messages whether to meet or cancel, we finally met for an early dinner at Indigo Deli—and it was totally worth an experience.

Located in the old yet charming streets of Colaba situated very close to the Gateway of India, reminding one of the colonial times, Indigo Deli has an elegant yet relaxed ambience. The menu has enough options, and while turning the pages you mentally also register what you will have in your next visit to the restaurant. Service is excellent, food is delicious, salad counter has umpteen choices, dessert has a wide range of beautifully exhibited temptations to select from, bakery delights are truly delightful, enough options for vegetarians, and you can buy souvenirs from the variety of displays in the restaurant.

Pizza, risotto and spaghetti followed by the multi layered chocolate and tiramisu – was our choice for the dinner.

We three had a gala time – talk, chat, relish the recipes, savour the dessert, while reminisce on the college days and ponder on what was missed and what was gained in the last two years.

A must visit place, and hoping to visit again to try the next list of delicacies registered in my head. 🙂


…Ashu Bolar