Demonetisation made me feel like an engineer – ‘Na ghar ka, Na ghat ka’

It was the strangest of places to feel like an engineer – standing outside a bank waiting for my turn to exchange money. Just like the thorough-bred engineer – who is told in no uncertain terms – that he is no prized catch for MBA institutes, the bank queue is not a place for those who wake up early or take the day off to exchange cash. There is always someone else who gets in faster.

The queue was serpentine and I was the 9th person at 9.00 in the morning. The bank doors opened at 9.30 am and the first hopeful was taken in almost immediately. Which meant, I was the 8th in line.

Little did I know that I would remain the 8th for quite a while.

Just when it was time for the next person to walk in with his bundles of money neatly stacked in a plastic bag, the watchman waved at a Senior Citizen who was possibly standing at number 30 in the line. ‘Buddhe log andar ja sakte hain pehle,’ the watchman justified to us as we looked at him in disbelief. And Mr Senior Citizen trudged in ahead, slowly, yet surely. He took a good ten minutes inside the bank.

Just as original number 2 was about to get into the bank, a lady with a wailing babe in arms walked up to the bank’s door and pleaded. “Can I please be given preference. I don’t have anyone to look after my baby so I had to bring her along,” she pleaded. And of course, she was allowed in.

And we all stood there, shell-shocked. Another 15 minutes and original number 2 was summoned in. That made me number 7. Then original number 3 went it and I was number 6.

And I was number 6 forever and ever.

Before number 4 could walk in, a physically-challenged person walked right up to the queue, he was allowed in.

He was followed by a pregnant lady who came from outside the queue and she was then followed by number 25 who felt dizzy and had to be taken indoors by the watchman ‘on special consideration.’

Finally after half an hour, number 4 made her way and number 5 and it was time for number 6.

But before I could get in, a suited-booted woman, who had possibly bathed in perfume walked up and declared. “I had come yesterday and stood in the line and you asked me to bring some more documents. I have them. Since I have had my chance of standing in the line yesterday, can I come in?” Yes, she was taken in by a bank official who was standing at the door.

After a few minutes, a man who looked ill, who wore shabby clothes and sported the ugliest stubble came to the front of the order and looked at me with folded hands. I looked back at the line and we all silently agreed to let him go before us.

He went in.

And after a good 20 minutes, I got my chance. I walked into the bank and the AC inside felt like paradise. While I stood outside the Withdrawal Counter, I realized how easily I felt unimportant. Exactly the way many engineers are made to feel when MBA admissions come up. Year after year, every MBA institute declares proudly what all it has planned to keep the quintessential engineer out of the admission race. While the CAT exam is catered more or less for engineers, when it comes to admitting them, every other qualification is more loved. With a fairly good score, those who can score over an engineer are include – a woman, a non-engineer, a Humanities student, a BA graduate, someone who has had a good extra-curricular life, or simply, someone who is just not an engineer. Just like in the bank queue – if you are able bodied, with no apparent handicap, young or middle-aged, you just have to wait and wait…