This professor’s journey of making it to his dream interview has netizens hooked

Thanks to the internet, instant communication has become much easier. However, it was not the case even a few years ago. Now, a man’s story of almost missing out on admission to his dream institute owing to a postal delay has netizens hooked–so much so they think it is worthy of being represented on the silver screen.

While email correspondence and traveling in flights have become the order of the day, Samrat Mukhopadhyay, a professor at the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Mohali, Punjab, shared his story from 1997 when one had to even worry not just about performing well at an interview but also about reaching the venue on time.

In an interesting thread, he narrated how he finally reached Bangalore from Calcutta in time and qualified with flying colours. However, netizens have not got enough of the “filmy” plot.

Mukhopadhyay, now head of the biological sciences department at the IISER, tweeted about how excited he was for an integrated PhD program at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore. After his graduation from Jadavpur University with high marks, he was sure to make it to the prestigious institution.

“My exam went quite well and I was certain of getting shortlisted for the on-campus interview that was scheduled to be held from June 16-18, 1997. I reserved my seats on the trains quite early. There was no direct train from Howrah (main station near Kolkata) to Bangalore – Howrah to Madras (now Chennai) by Coromandel Express and then Madras-Bangalore Mail (total travel time including a stopover in Madras ~36 hours),” he wrote.

While he remained hopeful, having failed to receive the call letter for the interview, Mukhopadhyay thought he had lost his opportunity. “I was waiting for the interview call letter that didn’t arrive even on June 13 when I was supposed to travel. I was very frustrated,” he explained. Feeling dejected, Mukhopadhyay said he had canceled his train reservation.

“The interviews were scheduled to start on June 16, 1997. On the 16th morning, I was at home and was totally frustrated. My dream to study at IISc had shattered. I was unable to accept this & was preparing myself to continue at Jadavpur University or join an IIT for my MSc,” he wrote about his backup plans.

However, fate had different plans. He did receive the letter on the day the interview started. Although he thanked the postman for the letter and understood it was a postal delay, Mukhopadhyay admitted, “I was even more disappointed to receive the letter”.

Bogged down thinking he had missed a golden opportunity, he still opened his letter. Only after looking at it carefully did he realise his interview had been scheduled for June 18 and that he still had about 45 hours to make it.

“I had got just 2 hours to catch the train (Coromandel Express) from Howrah Station. I immediately decided to make the best of this opportunity,” he continued, saying his frantic packing made his grandmother and sister anxious, with both his parents at work.

And even though he reached the station on time, with a canceled reservation he was still in a fix. “I had a railway pass but no reservation,” he wrote. But thanks to the train getting delayed by three hours, he managed to get a seat after showing his letter from the IISC.

While it might have looked like that was the end of his dreams, the ordeal was far from being over. The first train got delayed, making him lose his connection train in Chennai. Madras-Bangalore Mail had already left. I was going from pillar to post to find out how to travel to Bangalore. There was a severe storm and a power blackout,” he recalled.

But much to his relief, he did manage to spot another train, the Guwahati-Bangalore Express, to take him to his destination. With severe rainfall, however, the train did not start for several hours and he was still stuck in Chennai. Finally, when the train left the station its slow speed only increased his anxiety and fear.

To his relief, the train sped up a little and he reached Bangalore, only 30 minutes before his appointment. Huffing and puffing and armed with all his luggage, he somehow made it before the interview panel. “My interview went for ~40 min and I did very well. It couldn’t have been better,” he wrote.

As the committee tried to find out what happened, he showed his letter that had arrived by post late, only to find out it was sitting “at the wrong post office for over 2 weeks”. But his determination clearly made him stand out. Eventually, he did make it. “My life changed 25 years ago. I don’t know what I’d have done had I not made it to IISc. Whatever I have done in my life, I owe it to IISc,” he concluded.


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