Why & How

We are asked Mensans why they joined Mensa and how did they benefit after joining. Here are some responses.

I joined Mensa just because I was curious if I would qualify.

It has given me immense satisfaction in 4 specific ways:

1. It has given me a chance to interact with brilliant and engaging minds. It is a pleasure to be in a gathering where you do not have to explain yourself twice and where you get interesting opinions from bright people.

2. It has made me investigate the nature of intelligence and come to terms with the fragility (iffi-ness, for want of a better word) of testing it. It has also made me understand the limits of éclat, vis a vis actual achievement.

3. It has helped open doors in foreign countries as well and I have acquired correspondents in the U.S., Singapore, U.K., Greece etc. which I would not have been able to do otherwise.


4. Last but, in terms of real value, the first - inspired by Narayan, it has enabled me to start the Underprivileged Gifted Child Identification & Nurturing Program, Dhruv, thus giving me a chance to do something significant for society.

- Kishore Asthana

Why I Joined Mensa: The idea of an IQ society with an interesting history, and yet lack of general awareness piqued my curiosity. A bit like the Freemason symbols liberally spread around in American culture, and yet missed by the general public (until brought to the limelight by Dan Brown with his books), Mensa to me was a world hidden away from the world, behind the innocuous Mensa Puzzles-sections of popular newspapers and magazines. So, not unlike a secret tattoo or an unpublicized good deed, the allure of Mensa to me was its celebration of being special, without needing the approval--or envy--of those who are not a part of the club.

How did I benefit: The membership brought with it a) association with others like and unlike myself; the opportunity to collaborate with them on various projects; and the chance to partake in disparate yet interesting activities; b) the privilege of running the national magazine, MInd, and to interact with s across the country with that excuse :); and c) a warm welcome to Mensa chapters in France and other European countries as well.

- Krishna N. Venkitaraman

I joined Mensa to prove to myself that I have a brain that is efficient and creative!

How did I benefit? I found the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with here! I found friends who are interesting, have opinions and thoughts that are poles apart from me and yet we remain very good friends. We enrich each other with our thoughts And most importantly, intelligence is not really the core trait of s but curiosity and thirst for knowledge.

- Rathi Sudhakar

'Why I joined Mensa'

I work with children. Once, while talking to a parent about IQs, he told me that I was very compassionate and caring and people with high IQs are not so. He said that those with high IQs were basically cold...he was of a rather cold disposition, he said. I didn’t know how to react then but my curiosity was piqued. I don't remember how I got in touch with the local Mensa chapter but I applied for the admission test. I didn't tell anybody, thinking that if I fail, nobody need know and if I pass....well that was an entirely different matter...and I did qualify...in the 99th percentile!

Armed with this information and the qualifying letter from Mensa, I flaunted this information in front of the gentleman and told him in no uncertain terms that his theory of warm people and cold people was all wrong and that here was the proof. I think he stuttered and stammered a bit but I mustn't have noticed. I was too busy turning up the 'cold'.

All this happened about 18 years ago.

How Did I Benefit

Being able to join Mensa did wonders for my self esteem. I had always been a little 'odd' in class, asked funny questions, laughed where nobody found things funny, was very interested in some of the most 'boring' stuff like Astronomy, Anthropology etc and disliked Math and French and any subject with a boring text book and a dry teacher.

When I joined Mensa, I had been working with children for some time so all this helped me put things in perspective and helped me understand children better and helped me figure out myself more accurately too.

Mensa is quite well recognised abroad. It helps when I travel; attend conferences etc. people listen to you a bit more seriously.

- Bela Raja

I have always enjoyed solving puzzles and decoding patterns and one such long internet hunt led me to Mensa. As I read up about Mensa, purely to know if I have it in me, I appeared for the test. The one month till the results arrived was definitely one of the longest months of my life.

Though I have been a member for just above a year now, Mensa has changed my life significantly.

1. It gave me the self-confidence that I am not a 'weirdo' if I have the curiosity of a child for just about any subject that falls on my path. Its because of being a that I seek and can digest much more than most people do. It made me accept myself.

2. It has given me 2 of my closest friends.

3. It has given me a platform to give back to the society, which I love doing. Simply being able to reach out to others who walk on ice like I did all these years, is an extremely fulfilling feeling.

4. The interactions I have had with fellow s have been very enriching and have changed my perspective to a lot of things.

- Dr. Rachita Narsaria

I was very curious as a child and always wanted to know everything about everything. I was laughed at for my 'odd-ball/weird jokes" and it was very disturbing that people who never 'got it' were laughing at me and there were som times that I cried because of that. As a younger person, I felt Mensa would cater to my 'special needs'. This combination of factors made me join. How did I benefit: Firstly it did cater immensely to my special needs of feeling understood and not judged. Next, I met amazing people whom, otherwise, I would NEVER EVER have met. It also made me a radio ham operator, a winning car-rally navigator, took me parasailing over land (just imaging how unsafe that can be!), taught me about a vast number of topics from game theory, leadership without authority, cartooning, the lunar calendar and its applications to name a few. I also gave me friends in all continents except at the poles. I also joined the national committee at a very young age (there is no bureaucracy or seniority rules here) and was given the complete and uninhibited support to install many of the structures and systems in Mensa India. These taught me a great deal. Even today, as younger Mensans share their ideas, they keep me updated with not just the knowledge but also the attitudes and viewpoints of a generation that I would not easily have exposure to.

- Nirav Sanghavi

Why I Joined Mensa: I got to know about it through my friend circle and thought it would be a great accomplishment if I was able to qualify the test. But it was way more than that; I wanted to be able to interact with people with the highest levels of intellect, which in itself was a great achievement for me. How did I benefit? Being a part of this organization means that no matter what your financial, political cultural background, intellect is one thing that unites us all. It boosted my morale, and fellow s have been a source of true inspiration ever since.

- Shreya Gupta

I heard about Mensa from friends who had already cleared the test. I just gave it a try and then I was a Mensan too!

It wasn't at all the "elitist", "snobbish" group that people expect it to be. Mensa has been great for me. My "friend in need" is a Mensan, just a phone call away. I have enjoyed the long sessions of board games, trips, random chat sessions, workshops, and meeting people from different cities/countries. Working with volunteers to manage the local mensa was also a good experience. I am glad I cleared the test ;)

- Sugandhi G.

Why I joined Mensa: I was in college when I heard about the Mensa India admission test. I had heard of Mensa being spoken of in hushed tones as if it was a secret cabal and so of course, I had to try and get in! How did I benefit: The most powerful thing I learnt at Mensa is the round table-one you are in, everybody's equal. Here were a lot of extremely intelligent individuals who had an immense curiosity to know something about pretty much anything. The best part was that it was an open canvas... If you found like minded people, you could form a SIG and explore away. Also, the very concept of equality exposes you to immense diversity of people and guarantees that irrespective of age, status, education or any other parameter, the unifying factor is your membership. Everyone is free to contribute to the journey of exploration as per their ability and interest. I made a lot of friends and explored a bit of everything on offer. Looking forward to more!

- Indraneel Pandit

Why I joined Mensa?

I was far away from my home-town for work for a year. During this period, I did not have much to keep the mind engaged after work. And due to language/ communication issues, the difficulties got compounded. So, as I was looking to kill time more gainfully, I came across a mail that was called "Mensa Puzzle". Since it was an interesting one, I decided to look for more. That's when I stumbled upon the original MENSA. (I still do not know if that 'Mensa Puzzle' mail was even remotely related to the high IQ society.) So, hoping to find more such stuff, I joined Mensa.

What did I gain from it?

You get to meet some highly intelligent people. And the best part is when you come to know that there is not much in common! I was surprised to know that there could be highly gifted people with superb logical abilities (the entrance test ensures that) and still hate math. Either that, or they are just plain humble. (I still need more proof to believe that a person with sound logic is not good at/dislikes math.) And of late, as I learned about Tribal Mensa and the Under-privileged gifted child program, it feels good to know that people in Mensa realize their obligation towards society. It is just a random, chance occurrence to have a good 'processor' in the head. We’ve not earned it, it’s just there, we are just lucky! The genes argument is flawed...inheritance of genes is, itself based on chance...so it’s not ours by right; but it makes sense to make good use of it - for us and for the world around us. I mean, it is up to us to put that processor to some real use or use it to play 'MineSweeper'. Tribal Mensa and the Underprivileged gifted child program are about appreciating the randomness that another good processor could be available almost anywhere - even among tribals or the underprivileged. So, it is good that Mensa India is doing whatever it can to find and hone these processors. (And make sure these are not wasted playing MineSweeper.)

- Durva Mayee

I had honestly never heard about Mensa till I started working with gifted kids. Two years back I was looking for lesson plans and that how I chanced on the website. I was obviously curious about it and decided to give it a shot. The idea of interacting with different kind of people with as much intellectual needs as I have excited me.

For me the acceptance letter read as 'being accepted to Hogwarts'. I benefited in more ways than I had imagined. I interacted with a variety of people across age, gender and professions. I loved the fact that you could interact with people who were more qualified, more successful and older in age and yet be treated as an equal. Each conversation I have had with a Mensan has been an enriching experiencing. Even the conversation of a similar nature with the same person has led to new insights. With the advantage of finding highly intellectual individuals comes the humbling realization that intelligence is not enough and we all need a peer group to continuously help challenge the way we think, introduce us to new ideas, give us a different perspective, move us out of our comfort zones and help us grow intellectually as well as emotionally.

Apart from that I got a chance to publish some of my articles with Mind Magazine before which I was pretty much a closet writer. I found two of my best friends over here. Thanks to them I no longer feel weird or pretend to be someone I am not.

- Krishna Vora

I don't know why I joined Mensa. I had never heard of Mensa when I appeared for the test in 1999 & I had no clue what it meant. I was nudged to go for the test by my sister-in-law. I'm very glad she did that.

Perhaps because I joined Mensa without any expectations, I was very much surprised by the variety of people I could interact with during my first AGM. Since then it has been a great experience to meet with so many people with diverse interests that helped me spark an interest in several subjects. It's been a great place to build a personal & professional network. I must also say that I've not fully utilised all the benefits of being a Mensan & I've skipped several events which I regretted instantly after reading the reviews from those who attended. I also like the instant kinship that Mensans across the world feel when I interact with them online. Perhaps it's one of the oldest examples of the sharing economy where people share common threads merely by being associated with an organisation, irrespective of where they are in the world.

- Raunak Onkar

I didn't know anything about Mensa. Someone told me it was an IQ test at MIT Pune and so I showed up for it and took the test. I was flunking years in engineering and was low on confidence. Clearing the exam that had such a low pass rate was deeply satisfying.

Couple of years later, I wanted to go to the US for a Masters. I convinced a lady who played an active role at Mensa to write me a recommendation letter. I don't know if that letter helped me get admission and a tuition waiver but I certainly believed then that it did.

- Ahunawar Chhapgar