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

Elephanta Caves

Heard about the caves on numerous occasions, but I visited Elephanta Caves for the first time last month. Elephanta Caves is declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. So we three ladies decided to visit the caves.

7.30 AM: We reached Andheri station at 7.45 AM to board a Churchgate local (45 minutes) and from Churchgate station, a cab (10 minutes ride) to Apollo Bunder (Ferry Wharf). A beautiful morning and a beautiful view – the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel & the Tower. Wow!

Ferry return ticket costs INR 180 per person and the 1.5 hours boat ride from Mumbai city takes you to the Elephanta Island, originally known as Gharapuri derived from the massive stone image of Elephant. If you want to enjoy the boat roof/deck view then you got to shell out an additional Rs.10.

One boat capacity is for about 62 people and if you book an entire boat it will cost INR 12,000 for four hours. Not advisable even if you are in a group as the round trip takes at least 6 hours, and negotiating is a task there.

Foreign tourists, Indian tourists (from various states) and locals gave us company in the ferry among some sellers and the crew. Ferry was less crowded in comparison to the Alibaug ferry—enough place to sit and many seats empty.

11 AM – We reached Elephanta Island; at the jetty, there are various hawkers selling books on the heritage site, hats, caps, and interesting local recipes. You can refresh yourself with energy drinks and local quick recipes, like we relished the spicy-sweet-sour raw mango pieces dipped in chilli powder and the all-time favourite Aam Papad (Mango Leather). From the jetty, a mini train ride (INR 10 per person round trip) takes you towards the caves. You can chose to walk towards the cave entrance from jetty, train is an option.

There is INR 5 ticket per person to be purchased – this is the village entry fee you need to pay, following which the next pay, INR 10 per person, is at the caves.

Once you get down from the toy train, again various colourful displays by hawkers selling different items welcomes you. This is just the beginning as once you traverse the path leading to the caves, you will come across handicrafts from across India displayed on either sides of the 120 broad steps that lead you to the caves.

The 120 steps trek path is shaded with the typical blue plastic commonly used in India as protection against heat and rains, and also from the hyper active monkeys all around. The entire path due to the coloured shade gives a strange blue glow, and coupled with the chiming of bells and wind chimes, in an abstract way the ethos in itself tells you a story – a story of spirituality, of the history of mankind, of the ancient India. It took us an hour & ten minutes to finally reach the caves. Of course, some time was spent shopping, talking and a short breakfast break. Three ladies together – a little chit chatting is expected. 😉

Some DO’s & DON’T’s

  • Wear Comfortable shoes – avoid flats/heels as your feet will hurt climbing up and down the 120 stairs.
  • Breathable clothing, preferably cotton, is a must. The plastic covering can make you uncomfortable in synthetic garments.
  • Carry a shawl or jacket as you may feel cold in morning due to lower temperature and breeze.
  • Caps and glares are advisable, but beware of the monkeys snatching your belongings.
  • A backpack bag will be a better option as carrying a shoulder bag all the way up the stairs is slightly tiring. Also ensure you carry bare minimum essentials in your bags. Anything you need (except medicines and first aid kit) can be bought from the shops around.
  • Tread the way up admiring the display of Indian handicrafts and other beautiful craftsman workmanship. Many are worth buying which are exhibited at very affordable and reasonable prices. A glass turtle, a compass, a wooden ship, an anklet and a bracelet – were my purchases in INR 500 only!
  • Take a halt – have breakfast or at least an energy drink on way towards the caves. This will give you the much required rest from the trekking and helps you get your glucose levels back to explore the caves and click selfies and groupies.
  • A guide – government or private – will give you relevant information on Indian History, Shiva-Brahma-Vishnu & Rituals making your trip worth it!
  • On way back be careful while taking the steps as there are high chances of tripping or a misstep if you get distracted by the surroundings. A fall can be really bad here, so be careful!
  • Carry your cameras—smart phone camera is good, but a digital/DSLR would be great.
  • Carry two rupee coins as there are pay and use washrooms situated near the entrance before you take the stairs. And yes, they are clean and usable. 🙂
  • Ensure you keep your ferry ticket safe as you need it for the trip back to the city.

The caves were a sight memorable. Words aren’t enough to describe the beauty. Pictures clicked will do some justice, and a visit for sure will be a great experience.








Luv U Pushpa Aunty and Prajz!

3.30 PM: I had a great time at Elephanta Caves and the following coffee & conversations at Sea Lounge, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was equally interesting. The cappuccino and cheesecake was just worth it my ladies! Thank you for some good memories!

Happy Women’s Day to all the dear ladies out there!

                                                                                                                                                                      …Ashu Bolar

Note: All the tariff mentioned in the articles are for Indian citizens. For Foreign Tourists, the tariff differs.