He looked into the mirror in the rest room as he tucked in his shirt. He saw in his reflection, the typical mid-thirties “bhadrolok”. A fading hairline, an once angular face rendered into a blob by second and third chins, the un-stylish spectacles, the black circles, the paunch (that reminded him of the salad he just had for lunch), and the trousers sitting uncomfortably below the paunch looked back at him.
He could easily make out the conversations from the class room outside; about leadership qualities in the college fest, team-work in the magazine, summer research project at IISc and more such activities to garner those elusive “resume-bullets”. He stood just a little longer at the mirror, and reflected back 15 years, when he was the student.
They were standing outside the departure terminal of the Mumbai airport. Sharing the silk-cut with his friend (more an acquaintance, now that he had the benefit of hindsight), the both of them were reading the faces at the airport. Among eager but scared students (full of dreams), the folks returning back after an India visit ( I should not have gotten the ticket to New york, Chicago is so much more comfortable), the sobbing brides (still parading their recent wedding with hands full of bangles and an exaggerated sindoor), they spotted this business travler. He got off his fancy car, peeked back in, said a quick bye to his wife, picked up his small suitcase from the back seat and walked into the airport, while his wife drove off. Amidst the elaborate rituals of sending people off, this one lasted all of thirty seconds. He immediately told his friend (acquaintance), that is the life he desires; how cool is his success (although all he saw then was probably one sign of success) that he must be probably going on a foreign trip once a month. That is why, he concluded that the MBA, was the right degree for him. The rest of the evening passed off discussing this and that, and his friend (acquaintance) walked in to board his plane to the US.
He snapped back from his memories, looked at his watch, and practiced his opening lines again : “Students, the next six months are going to be the most critical in your career. A good score in CAT can make or break your dreams. While I have no doubt that you will all work hard, it is our responsibility here at this teaching center, to keep pointing you in the right direction, so that your hard work pays off”.
He hated the days in which he had to do the introductory class to the new batch.