How to Spot An MBA


How to Spot An MBA

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

Here’s the situation: You’re standing in a group cracking a joke. Your friends laugh. One doesn’t. Unamused Guy asks the friend standing near him, “What?” The joke has not sailed past his ear. It has flown over his head.

If this situation unfolds more than three times, you’re in all probability staring at a future MBA. He has attended the best schools in the city, and yet he’s not the brightest bulb in the pack. All his dudebros have something going for them. One of them is good with music, one’s good with words, one excels at sports, and the other in academics.

What does Unamused Guy have going for him? Zilch. So what will he do? An MBA, of course.

It’s not a decision arrived at easily, but what are his options? He is devoid of a personality, has no interests, no passions. He is on the fringes of every group he’s been part of since childhood. Six months after he finishes school, his classmates don’t remember him; he might as well have been a desk in the classroom. He had a huge crush on this girl at school, but all he ever said to her was, “Do you have an extra pen?”

He gets a big fat pay cheque every month, more than what most Indians make in a lifetime.

Now make no mistake… this boy studies hard in Class 12. He picks the science stream along with his bros. Some may have felt that he would’ve been better off pursuing commerce or arts, but he thinks those streams are for “pussies”.

Unfunny Guy studies for 12 hours a day and manages to get himself an admission in a decent college. Not an engineering one; he doesn’t have the stomach for it. A math degree would do just fine. Initially, he’s led astray by the freedom college offers him. Alcohol flows freely at parties. Mary Jane is passed around. He thinks maybe this will loosen him up a bit and give him the courage to chat up girls. But he might as well be a dog chasing its own tail.

As time passes, his resolve doubles. His friends are living it up in college, barely studying and always chilling. He, on the other hand, goes for CAT coaching after lectures. After three years of slogging, his CAT scores aren’t good enough for any of the IIMs. He has to try three more times before he gets in, not into an IIM, but something that will ensure a high seven-figure package, which is what really matters.

Two years later, his wet dream comes true. Unfunny Boy is now MBA Boy. He bags a job at Supposedly Awesome American Consultancy. He gets a big fat pay cheque every month, more than what most Indians make in a lifetime. It’s time for celebration. He has won, hasn’t he?

Nope. As it turns out, just because every job at Supposedly Awesome American Consultancy sounds like Chandler Bing’s job, it doesn’t mean that it’s halwa. He has to suit up, with a tie and all, every single day, even when the temperature has soared to 40 degrees. He has to work 12 hours a day on an average. He is sent abroad for junkets, not to America or Australia, like he’d dreamed of, but to Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

Yet MBA Boy soldiers on. There is a pot of gold at the end of this deadly dull road. Or so he hopes. To compensate for his dreary lifestyle, he boasts at parties. The conversation might be about Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety or something more random, but he makes sure he brings up work only to mention his Supposedly Awesome American Consultancy for the 100th time. He is tempted to let his inner Walter White out, and say, “I’m not the managed, I AM the management.” Instead, he settles for condescendingly asking people, “Which firm are you at?” Or even worse, “What’s the CTC like?”

MBA Boy gets rich soon (that’s the whole idea isn’t it?). He can afford to buy a three-bedroom flat in one of Gurgaon’s DLF enclaves, close to his Cyber Hub office. He can walk into the swankiest car showroom and buy a (insert the most luxurious brand) sedan right then. He makes more in a quarter than his friends make in a year. His idea of a break from work is a vacation in Brazil instead of a weekend in Bhimtal.

But not much else has changed. Money can’t buy him a personality or a passion and he still has no luck with the ladies. Because “stable job and good income” aren’t as appealing on Tinder as they are on

I need a hobby, thinks MBA Boy, about 15 years too late. “Something that will set me apart and make me cool. Should I learn to play a musical instrument? Nah, it’s too late for that. I’ll just look like a poser,” he thinks unironically.

He has the answer: a DSLR.

MBA Boy now spends 50k on a DSLR with a lens big enough to give his ego a boost. His neck though can’t handle it. But now, when he goes on his bi-annual foreign vacays, he connects his DSLR to his iPhone, and uploads 12 pictures of the same sunset on Instagram. When he’s home, the DSLR just lies in his cupboard.

At parties, new people he meets ask him what he does. The inner Heisenberg is gone by now, and the old Walter White is all that remains. “I’m a manager at Boring and Soul-Sucking American Consultancy,” he says. Their faces say, “You lost us at ‘manager.’” To get their attention back he adds, “But my true passion is photography.”

MBA Boy takes out the latest iPhone from his trouser pocket. He starts bragging about his photography skills – camera angles, lighting, and all that jazz. One of the guys looks at the phone and jokes, “Oh! Now I you know what that bulge in your pants was.”

Everyone laughs. One person does not get it… it’s MBA Boy.