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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Chp 138. Interview with Muanpuii Saiawi IFS

Meet Muanpuii Saiawi.

IFS Batch of 2005, the Media proclaimed her as Mizoram’s greatest Pride when it comes to the Indian Civil Service, making a new earth shattering NATIONAL RECORD in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) by bagging BOTH the two most prestigious IFS Award recently, namely, the Ambassador Bimal Sanyal Memorial Gold Medal for the Best Officer Trainee and the Ambassador Bimal Sanyal Memorial Silver Medal for the Best Dissertation. Nobody in Indian history has ever received both awards before!!! She was deservingly declared as The Best Probationer of 2005 Batch of IFS Officers.

On her first UPSC attempt in 2003, she made it to IA&AS (Indian Audits and Accounts Service). She wrote the exam again in 2004 and got into IRS (Indian Revenue Service)! But again, she decided to aim even higher and wrote the exam again in 2005. She made it to IFS (Indian Foreign Service)!!!

She’s always been my inspiration and role model when it comes to the civil service exam. Apart from that, she’s also my role model when it comes to leading a devoted life. She’s selfless, cheerful, and always ready to help out anyone. If there is one true example of “What goes around comes around”, then she is it. Good things come to those who are pure at heart. Amen!

In spite of her hectic schedule (she’s flying to South Korea next week for her new posting), she managed to find time to meet me (surprise surprise, she’s even a regular reader of my blog!). She even agreed to do an interview!

Some of you may be familiar with my style of interview. I’ve interviewed Mizo celebrities like Jenny (Former World Boxing Champion) and Zonunsangi (Zonet TV anchor) before. I like adding a lot of humor and good clean fun to my interviews. The Print media and other professionals have interviewed such personalities before, so I don’t want my questions to sound redundant. Hence I ask them questions that others wouldn’t have asked before. Some people strangely considered that as an insult and that I am making fun of people we should be proud of. That is not the case. I have the utmost respect for such people. It’s just that, when I add the “zing” in my questions, I bring out the “fun” in them. If you can’t stand such sense of humor, then with all due respect, I wouldn’t recommend you to read this post.

The interview was a great success. Muanpuii was sporty as usual, laughing out a lot and blushing sometimes, but nevertheless, answered every question.

We picked her up from JNU and proceeded to CP for the interview. We had a small problem initially with the interview venue, because it was Sunday AND Friendship Day, so all the hangout places like CCD, KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Costa’s etc were all jam packed. We finally found a good place at Baskin Robins.

The interview:

What subjects did you take for the UPSC 2005?

I took Public Administration and Anthropology.

How many hours did you use to study?

Well… ummm… I never used to time myself but let’s say… approximately 8 hours a day. That was for around 6 months until the Prelims exam. After that, for the Mains exam, there were so many different coaching classes I go to that there was hardly any time to study at all! That hectic lifestyle went on for around 5 months until the Mains exam.

Is it true that you used to wrap your study materials in a transparent polythene bag and read them while taking a shower? (yeah it was really hard trying to keep a straight face while asking this question).

NO!!!! (laughs out loud)… but… (gives a silly grin) sometimes I read while washing my clothes!

Oh! And how long do you wash in between, say two chapters?

(laughs out again) it was never like that…

Ok maybe it’s easier to answer this way. How much do you read while washing a blouse?

(giggles) well… two A4 size study materials…

And jeans? How much do you study while washing jeans?

(laughs again) I need both hands to wash my jeans, so I don’t read anything then.

So you’re saying jeans is bad, and that if we want to become like you we shouldn’t wear jeans…

Yes… NO!!! I mean… what? You can wear what you want… I’m just saying…

That we cannot read anything while washing jeans.


So we shouldn’t wear jeans if we want to read.

Yes... NO!!! Aaaargh. I’m going to kill you!!!

(After 2 minutes of uncontrollable laughter and a chase inside Baskin Robins that cannot be mentioned here…)

Apart from all the studies then and the work now, how is your romance life?

(blushes) romance? Ummm…… uhhh…. It’s like the waves (shows the up and down action of waves and then laughs out loud. I was biting my lips not to laugh too. After sometime she became serious) Well… seriously speaking, you know me personally. There had never been such waves in my life so far. And I haven’t found Mr. Right yet, but yeah I have my fair share of suitors (smiles).

That’s not surprising. You’ve got the looks and the brains. Right now you’re the most eligible woman in Mizoram.

Yeah rightttt….

Seriously! And just to give some chance to your ardent fans, what would be the minimum criteria or eligibility for somebody to woo you?

(giggles) comon! You don’t expect me to reveal that (giggles again).

Be a sport please (smiles) Just give us 4-5 points on what you see in a future life partner.

ummm… (smiles) well.. first and foremost, he should be a man of God. And then after that, he should have brains, obviously. Thirdly… he should have a great sense of humor. And last point… ummm… he must be polished.

Polished? As in…

Polished as in… you know… polished.

As in Cherry Blossom polish?

(laughs out again) NO! I mean polished as in, refined, well mannered… someone who opens the door for me…

So basically you mean a door man?

(laughs and punches me) You…. You….

And moving on to my next question…. (yeah I was enjoying it!) lets talk about your new posting. Where in South Korea?

It’s in the capital Seoul (she pronounced it “Soul”).

Oh! It’s pronounced “Soul”? I always used to say “C-OL”.

The “e” is silent.

Ok. Thanx for letting me know. And what’s the language called?



Hangeul (han-gul)



What’s the equivalent of Won in Indian rupee?

1 rupee would equal to around 20 Won. But the cost of living is much much higher than here in India.

Which side of the road do the people drive over there?

They drive on the left side of the road.

Ah. So it is a former British colony?

No. But it was once under the Japanese. Even today, there is quite a strong Anti-Japan sentiment among the general population because of its violent history.

Uhuh… and what about Korean movies which are a big craze among the Mizos. You watch Korean movies?

Not that much. But I’ve seen two Korean movies recently and I really love them.

What are they?

“A moment to remember” and “Spring Summer Fall Winter... and Spring”.

Well, will you send us Korean movies from Korea?

Of course! That I definitely will do!

Thank you, thank you. Now coming to your posting, what exactly is your designation? Imagine you are explaining that to a layman.

Well, I will be working as “3rd secretary” when I join the Indian Embassy over there. The hierarchy is usually like this: Ambassador followed by Counselor, followed by 2nd Secretary, followed by 3rd Secretary. Since the Counselor is not there, I will be third in command at the Indian Embassy.

That’s so cool! And will you be staying at the Indian Embassy?

(laughs out again) No, it’s not like that. It’s similar to the fact that politicians don’t live in the Parliament House here in India. They just go there for work. Similarly, we will be going to the Embassy on a daily basis for work, but our residence is outside the Embassy premises.

Oh! Ok. And what about diplomatic immunity? Do you have it, and do you mind explaining it briefly to us?

Yes, I do have diplomatic immunity. Diplomatic immunity is that special privilege we diplomats have at a foreign soil, in which we cannot be tried for any case at a foreign Court. But we can be deported back to our country and tried there.

Uh huh. And what about North Korea. Do you have diplomatic immunity over there?

As a diplomat, yes something like that… but the situation at North is more complicated because of the obvious reasons. Plus I need to be assigned to the Embassy over there and all other red tapes and bureaucracy etc. I can’t just explain the situation just like that, plus it will not be a wise move to make to talk about any of our foreign affairs relationship…

Yes yes I completely understand. So let’s not talk about sensitive information anymore. Instead let’s discuss about your romance life again (grins).

Noooo… (buries face with her hands).

Oh comon! This is what most Mizo bachelors would want to know! (Points at my friend Tawia) Imagine he is one of your suitors (Tawia nearly gets a heart attack). What are the ten questions you would ask him?

Ten???? That’s too much!!!

Just ten. The first ten questions at the top of your head. Remember it’s all in good fun.

(laughs) ok ok. Well the first question is…

Look at him, not me.

I am so going to kill you (laughs). Ok my 10 questions would be (looks at Tawia):
  1. Are you a man of God?
  2. Do you have a steady job?
  3. How is your relationship with your mother or a significant woman in your life?
  4. What kind of relationships did you have with women in the past?
  5. What kind of books do you read?
  6. When was the last time you cried and why?
  7. Do you like kids?
  8. Can you cook?
  9. What’s your idea of a romantic date?
  10. What is your dream woman?
(Tawia turned towards me and gave me a look. I understood that look immediately: He failed in all ten questions.)

Wow! Thank you so much for that important information, Miss Muanpuii. I can picture many of the Mizo hopefuls out there writing the ten questions down on a note pad.

The pleasure is all mine (smiles sweetly).

[So we ended the interview then, and got down to more important discussions like how to prepare for the upcoming MCS (Mizoram Civil Service) examination and which chocolate flavored drink should we order next. Finally we headed back to her hostel. She was kind enough to invite us all up to her room, even though it was already past 10pm.]

Nice room!

Thank you.

I was expecting it to be a bit untidy, with all your heavy schedules and stuff. It’s as if you ran ahead in front of us and cleaned up your room before letting us in.


So (looking at the map on the wall), can you tell us where exactly is South Korea?

Of course, its right over here (points it out on the map).

Now can you just pose (aims the camera)…

No!!! Min bawl eee!!!

Bawl lo. Seriously, I’m just taking the snap for my collection.

Ok (posing).

Now smile.


Let’s talk about Music now, shall we?

Yup. At last, something decent (smiles).

So what kind of music do you listen to?

I listen to mainly P&W songs. Then there’s Sarah McLachlan and Josh Groban. I like classic rock too, like Queen and Manfred Mann. Wait! Don’t mention Manfred Mann, people will think I listen to such old genre of music!

Ok I won’t mention Manfred Mann.

When it comes to style of music, I love Baroque… you know Bach?

Well, I never knew him personally, but yeah I heard he’s a great composer (grins). Speaking of Bach, I hear you are really really really good with the keyboard!

(blushes) I’m not thaaaat good…

What is your… rank when it comes to music, like a yellow belt, black belt etc in karate?

I am a Grade 7.

And to a layman, that would be…?

Well, the maximum grade is a Grade 8. We have to write an exam called The Royal School of Music exam, and an English man comes to conduct the exam all the way from UK.

Wow! So you are just one grade away from becoming the next Beethoven! So how long did you take to reach grade 7 from 1?

Well actually I started from Grade 5 since I could play the keyboard pretty good then. It didn’t take me long to reach 7.

That is so impressive! And speaking of Beethoven, can you finish his unfinished symphony?

(throws a book at me)

There is one small part I can play on the keyboard. My sisters used to teach me when I was just a kid. I don’t even remember the name but I still remember bits and parts of it.

By all means, the piano is all yours.

(I sat on the huge piano and my fingers went “ting ting ting ting ting ting…”)

(laughs out loud) That is so sweet of you to know that. That symphony is called “Fur elise” by Beethoven and it’s one of my all time favorites. Here I will play it for you.

(Muanpuii sat on the piano and her fingers moved like magic, full of passion and sleight. My friends and I couldn’t move even a bit until she finished playing. We were entrapped in the beauty of her sheer talent and rapture. We all applauded after she played it.)

Thank you thank you (smiles)

Can you teach me?


Thank you so much for teaching me, Muanpuii. It was an honour.

You’re welcome.

So do you have the medals you won?

No, they are with my parents in Mizoram. It’s safer there (laughs).

Are they running trophies type, you know, where you have to hand it over next year…

No no, it’s mine for keeps (grins).

Gold plated?


And what was the name of your dissertation topic that won you the medal?

“Reemergence of the left in Latin America and it’s implication for India”. My guide was JNU Professor Varun Sahini.

Phew! That’s a pretty long topic! I’m sure a couple of marks were added on the length alone (grins). Speaking of adding, how come you don’t look like the stereotype Civil Servant with protruding belly and double chin? Isn’t it true people add a lot of weight once they join the service?

No that is a gross misconception. There are many thin Officers too (smiles). I guess I watch what I eat to a certain degree.

What’s your weight? (smiles)

Hmmm… if I tell you that, then I’ll have to kill you (laughs). Actually I am around 56.

Do you mind if I show the people that?

Well… (thinks for a long time) ok (smiles) Anyway my weight is quite proportional to my height and body mass, so it’s ok.

Thank you dear Muanpuii. It has been a real pleasure for sparing us some time to get to know you better. May the good Lord protect you in South Korea and may you continue carrying the good name of India and Mizoram wherever you go.

That is so sweet of you. God bless you too and all the best for the upcoming MCS exam.

Thank you Miss Muanpuii.

We stayed at her apartment for a few more minutes, singing while Muanpuii played the piano. She is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known, and she truly deserves all the accolades she had received. We wish her all the very best in her endeavors and may she continue making the Mizo name proud wherever she goes. May the good Lord watch over her in everything that she does and once again, a very big thanks to her for the interview. God bless you Muanpuii Saiawi. You are not only studious, hard working and dedicated, but also a whole lot of fun, sporty and humorous.

Translation in Mizo:

Nula Muanpuii Saiawi hi Pathian rawngbawlna ah a in hmang em em a, a lehkha zir lam a nih loh chuan, Pathian lam chauh a ngaihtuah thin a ni. Ram sawmpali chuang rawngbawlin a tlawh kual tawh a ni. Mahse a rawngbawlna lam hi sap tawng a ziah chhuah chi vak a nih kan ringloh avangin kan ziak tel ta lo mai a, in hriatthiam kan beisei e. Pathian malsawmna dawng tlak reng a ni a, mizo thalai te tan amahah hian entawn tur a tam em em ani. Kan tawngtai naah i lo hre reng ang u.

A big thanx to my roomie Maduh-a (mama)’ s N-73 phone cam. Also a special thanx to Tawia for bringing his handy-cam along. Interview videos will be out shortly as soon as we find the bloody “handy-cam to PC” cable!

Miscellaneous Muanpuii snaps :

[Books that Muanpuii reads]

[With my ahemz…]

[Muanpuii with me, and with my roomie Maduh-a (mama)]

[My roomie getting bolder and bolder by the minute…]

[The second round of interview]

[A month ago at a dinner party at my house in Mizoram]

[With U-Baby and my sis Dimps]

[With Sheryl and my sis Mazam]


Anonymous said...

good interview.. no frivolous questions were asked. :)

when miss MPi was in B'lore last year she was invited to take part in the Mizo Nuho Xmas program.. yours truly and Isaac were the 'head ushers' (from head hunters to head ushers) and i had the honor of setting up Miss MPi-s keyboard stand and the mike when she came up on stage to present her songs. :)

Mizohican said...

No wonder she mentioned about two gorgeous hunks back in Bangalore who set up the piano table for her!!! :-P I never knew it was you she was talking about. Lucky you! :)

Lal Jo-a said...

i think Beethoven's music was "Fur Elise" not Sur Elise.. pardon me if im wrong :D..

Lalremlien Neitham said...

funny and strange. i was thinking of my school classmate today -- what he might be doing now, where he might be now. i didn't know the reason for the recollection but i think i know now. after comin over and looking at the pics (dont have the time to read the interview though, mebbe tommorrow), i found him! hey kima, maduha is in del? whats his contact! give him my regards!

Mizohican said...

Yes father_sphinx, you are absolutely right! Googled. And it is "Fur Elise" not "Sur Elise". Thanx for the correction! My hearing is impaired, I am old now. She did say it meant "for" in German, and I was wondering how "sur" could mean "for" because, neighboring countries usually have similar words and "sur" means "on" in French, which was quite far from "for". Anyway I didn't ask further then. Correction made.

Mizohican said...

@ Lal: Maduh-a is my roomie here in Del. I will mail you his phone number because he might not appreciate me posting his number on a public domain :)))

Mizohican said...

eh! Lal. Came to your blog. You did not list your email in public. Lemme know what is your email id and I will mail you his number.

sawmpuia said...

I'm asking myself that who was on a cloud at the time of interview, the interviewed or the interviewee? :-) Thanks for sharing Mister Sand..Very informative and all bachelors will now give coquettish glances. Haha :-)

Mizohican said...

lolz sawmpui. I guess we both had equal fun :) (you can ask her if you want, or wait for the video release)


benjamin rualthanzauva said...

Good Job

Regarding the eligibility, lemme see what I have

1) Sense of humour (Yes)
2) Brain (Yes)
3) God (working on this)

First she has God and now she has everything else :-)

Therefore, "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you"

The way to the IFS's heart is through God :-) (I am serious!)

Anonymous said...

That 'my roomie getting bolder and bolder by the min' photo is really funny and sweet. A ngampat sawt hmel ta lutuk a!! Sheryl hi zarkot veng a ni em?


Tluanga said...

Interesting read, Interview chu a ngaihnawm khawp mai :)

vaphualization said...

hey kim, u've done a great job there again! ur ahemz's really cute...the best of all!!

Mizohican said...

@ Ben: hehehe lolz. Congrats on the grand qualification! :) So now the only thing you'll have to do is fly down to south korea :)

@ Mona: That was the intention :) My roomie is gonna love your comment. lolz. Thanx for visiting and commenting. Sheryl chu zarkawt a nilo. Kan veng Chaltlang a mi, SBI a thawk mek.

@ tluanga: hehehe. thanx :)

@ vaphualization: My ahemz says "thank you" :)

Unknown said...

When the grand illusionaire interviewed me he totally disarmed me with his charm and I kept saying whatever came first to my mind. Then on an afterthought I said,"Yikes! This is going on public domain. Come on lets cut this part out ..." But to my relief Kima has done a good job. I really had a blast and friendship day was made all the more memorable for that. Keep up your goofy humour Kim( hey that sounds like a Korean name to me).

Mizohican said...

wow! The great Muanpuii Saiawi left a comment here on my blog! It's a great honour. I'm really glad you like the way I indited our interview excerpt. It was a real pleasure u-Muanpui. Please do visit again :)

Anonymous said...

Muanpuii hi ah an rel nghek che ania. Ka lo khawngaih lutuk che.

Mizohican said...

Dear Tahanmawnlian,

Hetah te i rawn report a, a lawm awm e. Keini pawn leh forum danga thil kal mek hi kan thlir ve renga kan hman remchang apiangin, tuna a discussion mek kha chu Muanpuii direct a an attack chiah na chu a ni chuang lova, mi thenkhat tawngkam mawilo thawh nuam ti ve mai mai ten an rawn phuh chhuah ve a nia, keini chuan engatanmah kan ngai lo. Thil chu an hre hnem hle a, an ngaihsan awm viau, mahse an thil hriatna kha chapo nan leh mi tih thinrimnan ringawt an hman avangin, vanduai thlak takin an thil ziah kha thutak ah lak a har. "An" ka tih hian mi hming chu la lo mai i la.

Anonymous said...

Oh I thought Sheryl is from Zawrkot. I know her through my best friend Apuii....ka rawn zawk email ang che, i nuih zat tur deuh ( i lawm bawk ang!) ka hrilh ang che.

- Mona

Anonymous said...

Ngaihnawm reuh...
That picture of u and her infront of the piano is cute, i like it

Mizohican said...

@ Mona: Of course please do send me such an e-mail :) By the way are you the same Mona who used to comment here? You know, Kongtea's friend?

@ mystic: Thanx for reading and commenting mystic.

Trix said...


Renie Ravin said...

Hi, please add your blog to our new directory of Indian Blogs, and grab an IndiBlogger badge. Thanks!

Mizohican said...

@ Jesse: Dear Jess! So sorry. Am really tied up with work. Visited your blog briefly from office today, saw the awards you gave me! But the pic couldn't download from there so I am checking from home right away! Hang on, am coming :)

@ renie: Thanx for the invitation, I'm registering immediately :)

Mariuca said...

Wow, that was a lengthy interview, but enjoyable nonetheless. Nice pic of u at the piano! :)

Mizohican said...

marzie! Thanx for the comment!!! although it's a bit surprising since this was quite a mizo-centric post and my non-mizo friends usually don't read my Mizo articles :) Anyway, it was really sweet of you to visit nonetheless. Thanx about the pics :)

Trix said...

Hello illusionaire, I love this interview.You did it so beautifully, I almost felt I was there with you and the lovely lady enjoying a nice made it all flow and come to life expertly ! I am so impressed.The humour really livens it all up and makes it lighthearted and excellently entertaining ! I loved it...really did.10 out of 10 for you, my lad...keep it up ! :)

Trix said...

gulp, I had no choice but to tag you, see my latest blog post at ...only play if you want to

Anonymous said...

I had the privilege of being one of Muanpuii's teammates in a traveling musical group in the summer of 1998; she is probably the sweetest woman I have ever known and I am so proud of all she has accomplished in her life, and proud and also humbled to still be counted among her friends. Puii, you are a truly rare gem.

Mizohican said...

Ohhh Jesse! Thank you! :) Thanx for reading through the entire interview which must have been quiet boring for you :) Anyway, just visited your blog, and thanx about the tag :) By the way, check out your award on my latest post :)

@ kyle: Thank you so much for visiting and commenting, dear Kyle. Puii did mention about those days and I wish I too could have had such a chance too! She showed me some of the group snaps too, I'm sure I must have seen you in it too :)

Ligia Lalhlimpuii Sen said...

Fabulous interview and love it also because I know Muapuii and her family for years and always be thankful to her for singing for my wedding in Hyderabad,She is one person I think who deserve all what she got and much more ,She is definitely one of a kind.
You really did a good job Mister you are almost becoming a pro!

Anonymous said...

hey kima, gd interview man, i really enjoyd da way u did it!!

Muana Khuptong said...

Muanpuii rocks! Proud of you.

Vikram said...

I know I am 3 years late, but here is a question I would ask Muanpuii.

If I understand correctly there is a hierarchy of desirability among the Indian Civil Services. I think things like Indian Audits and Indian Revenue Service are near the bottom. Indian Police Service is near the middle. And Indian Administrative Service and Indian Foreign Service are at the top. Does she think this is a reasonable state of affairs ? Is it not as important for the nation to maintain a good revenue service from which the government will get money to function as it is to maintain a good diplomatic mission abroad.

Basically I am saying that this exam system of recruitment is not optimal and what should count more is stuff like her dissertation.