Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Interview


So I had been called for the interview and had to fly to Islamabad in a hurry. When exams had finished on May 31st, little did I know that a totally different kind of tension (and more intense too) will have to be faced by me. Somehow, with Allah's Help, we got a ticket booked... Chotpo Zindabad :D. And she (in a real hurry) said 'yes, yes yes' to all the questions the travel agent asked. The ultimate result was, that we got booked into one of the posh(er) hotels of Isb :$, and may Allah Forgive us for that one-night stay of extravagance

[but I tell you, the hotel rocked! If I weren't so tense, I would have enjoyed it :P]

Lemme start the story from the day when I had to catch that flight. The morning was so tumultuous, that I experienced (for the first time) what it means to 'break out into a cold sweat' :P. I was desperately trying to work my printer, but it just wouldn't print out the essential documents I had painstakingly collected in one place. It just wouldn't budge. It was 10 am at that time, and Dad was as anxious as me. NOT to mention, I still had to go collect my laminated documents and this er, piece of clothing from the Aunty (whose tailor we had given the clothes too - and had to wear this thing at that day). :S. I can't believe I went through that time now.. :)

Failing to win over the stubborn printer, I finally gave it up and went out with my documents in the USB, searching for a place where I could get a print-out. At that point, nearly all shops were closed. Except one. :D
I walked in, and that shop did indeed offer printing services. Thanking Allah fervently, I got the prints, then left to collect my laminated documents. That done too, the tailor's stuff wasn't ready (no surprises), I rushed back since I had to cook rice. Lol. That was done hurriedly, and then sat down to check my  email. Ho ho ho. I had received the 'confirmation email about the interview call' and that email also kindly informed me that I had to 'bring proof of registration of TOEFL to the interview' - I had less than an hour to leave the house. And I had to register ....!!!? Since I don't have a debit card, I feverishly rang up Chotpo (oh - what would I do without her).. took from her her debit card details, and then began the registration process which was kaaafi slow !

Sigh. Somehow, that also got done, and we left the house. Picked up Chotpo from university. Came to airport, checked in :D.. blogged :P... and then boarded the flight. The plane took off and about a minute after take-off, there was a semi-violent lurch.

Petrified, I clutched at Chotpo's arm and watched fearfully outside the window, where we were in the midst of huge black clouds... I could see those clouds racing against the plane's wings and the plane baqaaida swaying from right to left. There were a few more lurches... everybody looked very nervous. I (as usual) at these points in time, am convinced to the point of firm conviction that this is it... I'm leaving the world. It's all over. No more chances to do good .. :D:D.

Well, the plane steadied itself over the next few minutes. We flew out from the cloud cover Alhamdulillah and breathed a bit more easy :D.

When we landed, the hotel van was there to pick us up. Glancing at each other in suppressed glee, me and Chotpo made their way to the luxurious van. Sat down, and off it zoomed (at the speed of 100km/h!) down these amazing Islamabad roads. I dunno where the heck we were in Isb, but the drive was amazingly out of this world !! :). Time and again, I found myself wishing that Karachi also had this kind of greenery and the amazing 'magical' quality about the city. Islamabad really does affect me like this.. even though, being a Karachite, I find it a lot more quiet and peaceful. But if you're only going for 24 hours, then peace and quiet is totally welcome :).

Khair, we landed at the hotel and the room was pretty cool. The view even more awesome :D.

It was beautiful MA. The night before the interview was terrible. Even though the beds were the softest I have ever slept in my life, but ... :(. I could only sleep for 2 hours! And all the time I was busy running weird/random questions through my brain and answering them again and again .. :S. SOMEHOW the night passed. I had hoped to get some sleep after Fajr, but even that proved to be impossible. Anyway, we were driven to the interview centre via taxi and I could just stare at the view. Oh man. I have never (like, seldom) driven on a straight clean non-bumpy road with Margalla Hills (very very green hills) looming in front of me ... and well, I can't stop saying that I find Isb so very beautiful :). MA.

The interview centre didn't allow guests inside, so my phuppi had to sit outside on the bench :(. I can never repay this much kindness you know. For nearly 5 hours, she sat outside, waiting for me. Because the interview process takes a long time. I went inside (on shaky knees) and met all the other 'contestants' - we were 7 people :). The guidelines page was given to us and it said that there had been 41 applicants and 7 had been shortlisted.  I was amazed. This must mean that I was at least as good as the rest of them. Then I started talking to them all ...

Ahem. All my self-assured bubbles burst the minute those people opened their mouths.

1. One was a teacher at a cool university in Isb - had 4 years of teaching experience and 8 international publications. He was originally from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Amazing. MA.

2. One was a senior Uncle type person who had done his MPhil and had brought his dissertation. Was employed somewhere with loads of experience too.

3. One girl had been my batch mate in the university in which I had stayed for only 3 months and then I had left. She had gone on to do her Bachelors, then MS and now is a Lecturer in another cool univ in Isb - with publications and lot of research experience.

4. One girl was originally from er, Chiniot (if I'm not wrong. I need to know Pakistan more :(...). And she was amazingly self-confident, employed in a cool univ in Lahore and a research associate or something.

5. One guy had his Major in Chem and was employed in another cool univ of islamabad.

6. One guy was also employed somewhere and had lots of publications. Didn't get  to know him much.

7. Me.

I couldn't help wondering...

Anyway. I couldn't find any real answers to the above questions. My halaat were such that the girl (number 3- my batchmate) tried to comfort me a lot. Such nice attempts :D:D. Told me to 'think everybody in interview panel as dumb' and told me to think 'you're the smartest in the crowd' .. :D:D.. Hahaha. Didn't work. However much I try, I can never think something like that.. 

Khair, everybody was talking and I discovered that I was sitting amidst a group of people who were not only intelligent (in theory), but all of them had a passion to do something about the declining education standards of this country. All  of them were teachers and all talked about their students (I listened, quietly), and how they try to inculcate the love of learning to them and not just reading/re-producing. I was really glad to be in this company :). I rarely meet such people and already I was so impressed and inspired by them all. MA. 

One particular guy (number 1 in the list) was extra friendly to all of the group. He was the one from KP. He talked in such amazing Urdu that he put me to shame. :(. And after the interview, he guided me and Chotpo (who he called 'madam' :D) to a nearby shopping place... walked into a shop and bought us juices. Insisted upon us getting something to eat as well, but since my mood had seriously switched off and all, we declined politely. Then he said to 'madam' ..that 'aap ab mujhay ijaazat dain. Ap humari mehman hain, and mujhay acha lagta agar ap log kuch khanay ko bhe lay laytay' .. :D. Soooo sweet MA. Not only that, he asked me about 47 times 'How did you prepare for the gee aree ee?' and he asked my phuppi this question lots of time too .. Lol. It was a very impressive experience, seeing a non-local Islamabad resident, treating us as if it was his home and we were guests. And not even knowing us or something. 

Masha Allah. 

Khair, my turn came in 3rd from last. Everybody was taking a loong time, and coming out with a rather looong face. I hadn't expected it to be amazing. But I had seriously wanted not to stutter. Khair, I went in, and sat down. And immediately, this (gori) lady asks bluntly,

"Why should we send yet another computer vision related person for this scholarship?"
Me: (see when nothing comes to mind, you blab the first thing that occurs): Er, because the person has a lot of application of CV in mind that would benefit not only Pakistan but the rest of the world. For e.g.. etc etc etc. 

Then some general questions about thesis and all. Then this person asks me :(

"So what are sensor networks"
"So what have you done regarding embedded computing"
"What do you know about RFIDs"
"So if I am driving on the streets of Isb, and my signal gets lost, what's wrong with my cell phone?"
"So if i'm watching TV and a plane flies overhead - my image gets distorted. Why?"

*deeeeeep sigh*

I tried to answer to the best of my knowledge. But I couldn't convince him much. Mainly because I have left my parent field for a long time now. And meray weh-mo gumaan main bhe nahi tha that they would deviate from the topic I wanna specialize in and ask this kind of stuff. Esp after so many people had said that the interview is going to be totally 'non-technical' ...Sighhh. 

Allah Khair karay. I was just happy about one thing. That I wasn't nervous (in front of them). So much so that the (gori) aunty remarked in the end "You're very confident about blah blah...etc etc etc"

Well so long! *a lil gloomily*. The results come out in about a week IA. There are only 2-3 seats. I know 6 other people who deserve it muchh better than me. And no, that's not underestimating yourself, it's just being ...realistic. 

So that was the story of the interview. The whole time I was there (rest of it) was spent in a nice gloomy mood. But I did enjoy the hotel's lunch buffet which had cool items like "stuffed baked fish" and "Afghani beef pulaao" 

Hee Hee


Tauqeer said...

Wish you all the best.

Uni said...

Thanks very much!

blue.butterfly said...

I never thought that interviews could get that technical!
Good Luck!:)
p.s it felt really nice that you liked islamabad(i.e my city:p)
Wish u all the very best!

Uni said...

JazakAllah for the wishes :). And yeah, I love that city. Mainly for its beauty and peacefulness. I'd live there if I weren't a die-hard Karachite, who has a passion for shore-sharaaba :P

But it's great, really.

Thanks for dropping by!

UncleTom said...

sounds good , i had to go for an interview for something, even though it wasnt very bad , but i didnt like it , i think i am not the type to like or do interviews n stuff especially interviews as such

Uni said...

Interviews can be very scary. But the key is to practice in front of the mirror or something, and well, prepare beforehand for some basic questions that are always asked in a standard interview.

Thanks for dropping by!