CAT Preparation and Birbal

I just thought there were quite a few parallels between CAT preparation and the famous Birbal story where Birbal sets of to find 10 fools for the emperor. Even before you go ahead to the rest of this piece, bear in mind that this piece is in jest. It is important to have fun while preparing for CAT, and this is our bit to help you have fun.

Those of you who are not aware of the story, here is the brief – Akbar asks Birbal to find the 10 best fools in the empire. Funnily, the questions that we get asked on CAT preparation are very similar to the situations that Birbal encounters.

A little farther on he heard a man calling ‘Help!’ He went nearer and saw a man lying in the mud. The man was flat on his back, his hands held above his head. Between his hands was a space of about three feet. Seeing that the man could easily get up if he wanted, Birbal did not help him.

‘Why don’t you get up?’ asked Birbal.

‘I can’t,’ was the reply.

‘Well, take my hand, and I will pull you up.’

‘No, I can’t. Don’t touch my hands. Pull me up by the hair.’

‘Are your hands diseased, then?’

‘No, there is nothing the matter with them. Pull me up by the hair, and I will explain.’

So Birbal pulled the man up by his hair. He still held his hands above his head with a space of about three feet between them. Seeing the strange way the man behaved, Birbal asked him again what the matter was.

‘This is the story,’ replied the man. ‘I wanted a box made to fit a space in my house. The box-maker asked me how big the space was, so I went home to see; it was as broad as this.’ The man looked at his hands. ‘then, as I was coming back I slipped on the mud, and I could not use my hands to save myself, for I should have lost the measurement.’

The guy in question is carrying the burden of retaining a vague metric for which he believes he has an accurate answer.  This is very similar to finding the answer for the question – How many questions should I answer to get 99th percentile?

Not far along the road, he found two men quarreling loudly. They were beginning to fight, when Birbal stepped between them to separate them. He asked why they were quarreling.

‘What has my buffalo done that he wishes to set his tiger loose on her?’ asked one man. ‘I see no buffalo nor tiger,’ said Birbal. ‘Explain.’

‘We were walking along,’ said the first man, ‘when this man asked me what I would choose if God appeared and gave us a wish. I said I would wish for a buffalo, as was always having trouble about milk. Then I asked him what he would wish for, and what you think he  said? “I would wish for a tiger to eat up your buffalo,” he said.’

‘And so I would,’ said the second man, and the two nearly started fighting.

If I secure admit to SP Jain Mumbai Marketing and IIM Trichy, what should I take? Or, I don’t know whether I want to do marketing or finance in MBA?

It was some days later before he found the next foolish man. Birbal was coming back to the palace in the dark. He saw a man searching for something under a street lamp, and stopped to help him.

‘What have you lost?’ asked Birbal.

‘A ring from my finger.’

As they could find nothing, Birbal naturally asked: ‘Are you sure you dropped it here?’

‘No,’ was the answer. ‘I dropped it over there, but it’s dark there and light here. I am searching where I can see.’

I want to do an MBA in India from a great school. I heard that CAT is tough so I am thinking of taking GMAT. Is this the right approach?

I am sure there are plenty more parallels, but this is probably enough for the day. The story ends with Birbal telling Akbar that the two of them are the final two fools – one for asking the question and the other for running the errand.

Well, I have spent time typing this out and you guys have spent the time reading this when you could have been preparing for CAT. So, let us stop the parallel before the joke is on us.

Best wishes for CAT preparation. Have fun while preparing.


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