Sunday, September 18, 2005

Absence does make the heart grow fonder

I'm typing out this blogpost from home. In Chennai. I've been home about 30 hours now, and I realise how much I missed the people and places I had taken for granted earlier.

I zip around in the chaotic Chennai traffic with careful recklessness, feeling a strange sense of liberation as I feel my car leaping down East Coast Road (which, for the uninformed, connects Chennai to Pondicherry) under the touch of my feet on the accelerator. I trade colourful abuse with an irate autodriver, doing it with a smile on my lips and a song in my heart. I shake my head wonderingly at the sight of a potbellied policeman harassing a harmless urchin even as a PTC bus driver roars past the junction in blatant defiance of traffic laws. I sit on the beach, curling my toes in the crunchy sand and watching the timeless waves rising and ebbing, rising and ebbing, rising and ebbing...

It feels great to be back home, to catch up with old friends and see they haven't changed at all. To go to all my usual hangouts and relive memories of what were, in many cases, happier times. To learn of the problems, triumphs, romances, expectations, plans and adventures of all those who matter to me. To call up and rebond with friends who have left for foreign lands, pursuing dreams vastly different from mine. To test the strength of my emotions and relationships, even though its only been 11 weeks.

So much to do, so many people to meet, so many places to go, so much emotional baggage. I'm loving it. (Copyright, McDonalds')

But I also find myself, very strangely, missing IIMA. Already. So much so that I call up my classmates all over the country, just to ask them what's up. To hear their voices and feel the warm emotions that course through me as we both realise it's simply awesome to hear one another's voices again.

I think back over the last term at IIMA, supposedly the toughest grind one is likely to go through in one's two years at IIMA, perhaps through most of one's life. And I realise that what stands out, the memories that stick, are not of getting an F grade in a quiz, staying up several nights to complete assignments, long fruitless hours hammering away at a MANAC case where the accounts refuse to balance, crying in frustration over the workload, angering the Professor by sleeping in class, pages and pages of course material to cover overnight, desperate last minute rems from the acad studs in my class, being repeatedly told that we have to mug and mug and mug or else we will lose out in the race...

Nope, the images imprinted in my mind are of Antakshari at CT (Cafe TANSTAAFL) at 3 a.m., eating ice cream all alone at LKP (Louis Kahn Plaza) at night, sixty people shouting 'Aala Re Aala' as one, dancing in public and forgetting all the steps, walking around campus barefoot and in a dhoti/veshti (Why? All will be explained over the next few posts...), people sleeping on the desks in the classroom with a half coloured T-Nite banner as a sheet, chilling out with friends during power cuts, jiggying to arbit Punjabi songs (even in the presence of a Prof!), smiling understandingly at those who stare at me when I eat with my hands, celebrating birthdays with bumps followed by a mad dash for cake, discussing life with close friends until 5 in the morning, the entire class dressing up in formals just for the heck of it, tempo shouting till I lose my voice, surprising a half naked Oka in his room with a GUSSHOW and embarassing the two girls who were part of the group, putting up arbit replies to arbit responses to arbit posts on the Section NB in DBabble, cracking the most atrocious of PJs at the worst times possible...

Opening up to people and realizing that I need a shoulder to cry on just as much as the next person, sharing and caring like I never have before, getting used to the fact that I instinctively call my dorm room 'home', making friends and building relationships that really matter and that I hope will last all my life.

I love Chennai. I love IIMA.

Friday, September 02, 2005

At Long Last!

Yup, long time. Over a month since my last post. The cry goes around town: Where the @#$% is AC? In Suze's words, did I "die/fall under a truck/get caught in a natural disaster/faint??!?!?" (Of course, the context was different but the general underlying emotions are the same.) I've got loads of mails abusing me for not posting anything for so long, thereby depriving my working friends of another avenue to waste the free Intenet time they're offered at work (obscenity filters rule out other forms of entertainment, you see). I must thank you all, it makes me feel so loved... and thus I'm back after a little hiatus...

So the next logical question (yes, this blog does have some logic) to ask would be - so where the hell was I? What was I doing? What kept me away from my blog for so long? In no particular order indicative of anything at all, I have spent the last 35-odd days:

1. Sleeping in my room
2. Sleeping in my friends' rooms
3. Sleeping through group meetings
4. Sleeping in class
5. Writing a whole series of painful exams (our midterms, and a coupla quizzes)
6. Playing the occasional game of footer
7. Participating in T-Nite!

The first four are rather self-explanatory. The fifth - the MidTerms - is a periodic ritual that every student must endure at some point or the other. It's the most cruel, shocking and disturbing way to expose several things you had a sneaky suspicion about but weren't willing to investigate or admit. Examples being:

1. You haven't read half the cases in the material for the course. EVERYBODY else has, in addition to poring through thick reference books and high-funda websites.
2. What you thought was merely an insignificant appendix to the core chapter turns out to be the only paragraphs of any consequence in the textbook.
3. Scratching one's cheek with a pen, however assiduously the act may be performed, does not give any insight into an HR case.
4. You are presented with a surprisingly easy paper. Initially, you're pleased you've scored 22.5 out of 25. And then you realise 40% of the class has scored more.
5. Teaching/Research Associates can be astonishingly stubborn when facing a student grovelling for a hike in grades from C+ to B-.
6. Inky-pinky-ponky does not work with Multiple Choice Questions in Economic Analysis.

And quizzes... don't get me started. IIMA thrives on scaring the living daylights out of facchas by springing surprise quizzes on them after the last class of the day. Picture the plight of someone who woke up late and thus rushed to class with nothing in him but last night's dinner and, if he's lucky, a banana. He struggles through 4 hours of classes, propping his eyelids up with toothpicks if necessary. Come 1:10 p.m., he heaves a sigh of relief and conjures up images of him tucking into a hearty lunch of roti, rice, multiple curries, the works. Just then, the news filters through... QUIZ! He breaks down and begins blubbing all over his desk, his dreams of an afternoon of a leisurely meal and siesta shattered.

A little explanation is required here. When I say 'quiz', I don't mean the Landmark/KBC types. I mean an exercise in academic demoralization and panic that is conducted from 2:30 p.m. onwards on any working day the PGP Office picks. In fact, I can clearly picture the chap in the Office who schedules quizzes leaning back in a comfy chair with his feet up in the air, holding a large number of darts. Which he then proceeds to throw at the weekly faccha schedule 5 feet away. Given the high ratio of darts to days, and the years of practice he's had, he's bound to hit atleast 4 a week. Which means, for us beleagueared victims, an hour of frantic shit-when-did-he-teach-all-this, Rem-Balaji-Rem!, hunting for calculators, desperate prayers and, on occasion, skipped lunches.

But on to more pleasant topics... like footer! That's football/soccer, by the way, and after an excruciating gap of two years, I finally got my rear end back onto a footer field. Which was just as well, coz it had been ages since I had indulged in any activity that could remotely be considered exercise. And it felt gooood. My thigh and back ached like hell for the next two days, but it was well worth it. And then we went on to win the inter-section footer tourney, amidst a blaze of glory, a flurry of missed shots, energetic drum beats and a nail-biter of a penalty shootout. Awesome fun, and one hell of a welcome break from the rigours of everyday academic pressure...

Speaking of which, it's very interesting to note how my morning schedule has changed since the time I entered the leafy and run-your-ass-off environs of IIMA. Here's what I mean.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Wake up at 0720 to the polite beeping of the alarm clock. Have a good bath, comb my hair, fold my dirty clothes into a neat pile, pick up my bag (already packed with the required books the previous night), lock my door and push off the mess, ambling along peacefully, savouring the fresh morning air...

A leisurely breakfast with friends at 0800, laughing and chatting over an impressive spread of omlettes, bread, dosas, a banana, cornflakes and piping hot coffee. Leave the mess at 0830, and head to the classrooms.

Enter the classroom at 0840, only to find 60% of the class already present. The rest trickle in by 0850. Review my notes and go over the key points again. Classes begin at 0900.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Wake up at 0815, after having hit the 'Snooze' button on the insistent alarm clock seven times. Have a rushed bath (perhaps just a quick wash of the upper body), chuck the dirty clothes in the approximate direction of the laundry bag, wear fresh clothes decided upon the previous night, throw books and papers into the bag, run to the mess.

Grab a quick bowl of cornflakes and an omlette. Maybe a sandwich, if I'm feeling adventurous. A glass of cold milk to wash it down. Rush out of the mess at 0850, and head to the classrooms.

Enter the classroom at 0855, and find 40% of the class present. The next 3 minutes see all the others troop in. Try to remember a few arbit points and catch a few winks before the classes begin at 0900.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Wake up at 0840, after 4 phone calls from concerned friends. I am, by now, absolutely immune to the banshee wails of my alarm clock. Then a tough (managerial?) decision - a. bath, b. breakfast, or c. none? Usually something between options b and c.

Wash my face to ensure that I don't look too sleepy. Change T-shirt if I can find a clean one lying around on the bed or under the papers. Grab my bag praying all the books are in it, and run like mad to the mess.

Head straight for the coffee, help myself to one hot glassful of essential caffiene (essential in that it helps me avoid sleeping through all 70 minutes of the lecture; my average now stands at 54 minutes). Grab a banana and head out the door at a brisk jog. Time: 0855

Enter the classroom at 0858, and find just 15% of the students in the room. Miraculously, all the seats are filled by 08:59:59. Ask my neighbour what class we have, and settle in for a little snooze until the class begins at 0900.

I notice I mentioned T-Nite on the list of stuff that has kept me away from you, dear, respected, patient and well-beloved reader. It's the single most incredible and life-changing event any student in IIMA can experience across the two years he toils here. It totally changes your perception of life! But considering the fact that it happened over two/three weeks ago, I'm sure you've read all about it already. In any case, I'll give you my two cents in my next post. That, and sundry other stories about G-14 (excited whispers across the galleries: "What's that?" "Sounds exciting!" "Is it a new type of missile?" "A new political formation!" "Mommy, can I go to the loo?"), campus romances, WIMWI learnings, adventures in the uncharted territory of the bathroom and more, coming soon to a browser near you!