Sunday, June 29, 2008

And so starts the Roller Coaster Ride !

The PGP Chairperson addressed us on Tuesday, the day after the induction, and gave us an idea of what to expect at IIM K, the rigour and the amount of hard work we were expected to put in. It sounded exactly like what we had expected; what we hadn't expected was that the course would turn out to be way tougher than probably what even he had in mind. He dropped a few good one-liners, including one which, I have a sneaking feeling, we as a batch took to heart in too much spirit for his liking. He said that if we did not nod off in lectures, it was a sure shot sign that we weren't working hard enough. It sounded funny at that time, but 3 days into the course we realized he wasn't being half funny. I am sure, though, that there's going to be a speech soon in which he'll tell us the virtues of a good night's sleep and that how all work and no play makes jack a dull boy :P

K : Towering above the rest...

Lectures started on Wednesday, and right from the word go, it was full force. No mercy. For the first few days, I understood everything in class. These are the days I will remember as the golden ones - for it never happened again. Most of the times, I had little clue as to what was happening - it was just overwhelming. I did my best, did the pre-reads, *tried* to do the post-reads, but to no avail. The scary part was, many in the class were doing perfectly fine. I had the first inkling then that things were going to be a tad dicey, to put it mildly.

It took some time getting used to the 1 hr 15 minute lecture format. I had the attention span of a 5 year old ( I am like a 5 year old in more ways than just that :| ), and had never had to focus for so long earlier. Exams are different, there's no choice there, the fear of having to go through the torture again if I failed this time was enough of an incentive to somehow manage things. The 15 minute break between lectures, though, was great. It provided the perfect amount of time to grab a cup of coffee and rot around with others. It also ensured that I started the next class on a reasonably fresh note ( you have to get up and walk to get coffee ;) ).

Finally, after 3 days, the weekend came, though ours was the 1 division cursed with saturday lectures. I have no issues with saturday lectures other than the fact that I have to get up before noon in order to attend them.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

An Outsider's Guide to Kampus Lingo

Committees - Officially recognized groups of people with specific non-academic targets. Includes PlaceCom, StudCon, Alumni Com ( Alcom ), etc.

CP - Class Participation - A component of the grading system where students are graded according to their participation in class. A much used and abused system by students, often leading to DCP.

DCP - Desperate for Class Participation - A common term for any participatory activities done with the sole purpose of getting CP marks. Typical symptoms include a more-than-normal enthusiasm to say something / anything. Used in a verb ( kya DCPgiri karta hai ) and noun form ( xyz to pakka DCP hai ). A rabid outbreak of DCPgiri can make the best classes unbearable due to the innate abilities of Globing and Gassing in everyone.

Globing / Gassing - Tendency to spout unnecessary / irrelevant stuff when one has no clue what is really asked for, in the hope that some credit might be given. Usually extends beyond exams into CP and general everyday talk, much to everybody's frustration. Most likely stems from the phrase 'Global Perspective'. Usage - Globe mat mar yaar / Woh subject ? Woh to gas hai yaar.

GOK / GOC - God's Own Kampus / Campus - a reference to the fact that we have the most amazing campus amongst b-schools :D

MADCOM - Merchandising & Design Committee - The committee which thoroughly enjoys their 15 minutes of fame when the new batch waits for their laptops to be delivered. Got us a good laptoo deal, though. Including my Mac :)

MF - Margin Free - The campus store, located a 10 minute walk down from the academic and hostel areas. A nice destination for a late night walk.

MCS - Multiple Committee Syndrome - A term coined for creatures from our batch who got massacred by the workload due to applying to multiple committees. Especially used for the deadly combination of PlaceCom + StudCon aspirants.

NC - Night Canteen - A term used for the IIMK canteen though it is open through most of the day. Good food at fantastic rates ( where else in this world would you get scrumplicious Aloo Paratha for 5 bucks and thick mango shake for 12 ?? ). A typical haunt at 2 am, where the night owls ( which means most of the batch ) come for their last fill, as only maggi is served after that.

PlaceCom - Placement Committee - Self Explanatory. The lesser said, the better. I want a good summers ;) More seriously, a really dedicated bunch of guys ( atleast aisa dikhate to hain ;) ), who work like crazy to get us mere mortals placed.

STI - Social Transformation of India - A compulsory course for Sem 1, by a professor with a fan following to rival a bollywood starlet. The course with the maximum table thumps / lecture ratio, as Prof. Mathew has everybody in splits every other minute.

StudCon - Students Council - A body representing the students, and looking into issues within campus, and doing some fantastic work. The only committee which ends with a 'con' rather than a 'com'. I wonder why :|

Table Thumps - A term coined by your's truly to explain a method of appreciating a joke / comment in class, done by thumping the tables. Can also be used for other purposes like hooting and cheering.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

First Look !

[ First published by Business World India here ]

A warm, fresh blast of air hit me as I opened the door of the AC coach and went near the door of the bogie. The world outside was a sea of green, tall coconut trees, paddy fields and far-away mountains, their tops shrouded in clouds. I was in Kerala, 'God's Own Country', also home to IIM Kozhikode or God's Own IIM as it's fondly called, where I would spend the next two years of my life.

On the way to becoming Komrades!

The train screeched to a halt in a sleepy station, and 20 of us, to-be comrades, frantically threw the enormous amounts of luggage that we had got along on the platform. After struggling with the luggage for half an hour, we reached the entrance of the station, where a bus was waiting for us, along with a bored looking senior. Another round of huffing and puffing later, as we stuffed everything into the bus, we set off, waiting eagerly in anticipation to see the much-talked-about campus.

The road was fantastic, and I was looking forward to zooming through these empty streets, flanked on both sides by sleepy houses, moss covered stone walls and the ubiquitous coconut trees. A yellow board saying Kunnamangalam passed by, and suddenly the bus swerved, and we passed through a stone arch with the trademark IIMK mud-tiled roof. A large, black plague told us that this was it, this was the Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode.

The bus trundled through a second arch, as we saw the campus buildings high up on the hill in front, nestled among trees, the red tiles standing out in contrast to the green everywhere else. The road climbed rapidly, flanked on both sides by tall, wild grass. A few blind turns later, it came to a halt in front of a wide flight of steps, behind which stood a tower. A small garden patch stood in the middle, with the Indian flag flying in the breeze.

It was love at first sight. It is an incredibly well-designed campus, and that's not just from an aesthetic point of view. The one word after beautiful which comes to my mind when I think of the campus, or Kampus, as we prefer calling it, is comfortable. Everything has been designed with the end-user in mind.

I dumped by bags in the room and hurriedly opened the door to the balcony. The entire valley was visible, range after range of mountains, stretching out till the horizon. The view was stunning at noon; and I could only imagine what it would be like in the evenings and mornings.

After a quick lunch, I set off to MF (the campus term for Margin Free, the on campus shop), for picking up some essentials. MF is located a good 15-minute walk away from the hostel area, something which normally would have caused a fair amount of irritation due to its inaccessibility. Out here, however, the route to MF is so beautiful that going to MF has almost become a pastime. After buying all sorts of stuff, half of which I wouldn't use, I returned and unpacked. After a stroll through campus, I parked myself at the canteen, where I met up with the rest of the folks; people I would be spending close to 20 hours a day for almost 2 years.

The seniors addressed us in the evening, and tried their level best to make us as uncomfortable as possible, by yelling at us, throwing people out if they came in two micro-seconds late, and the likes. They told us in pompous tones, "6.00 means 5.59.59 at IIM-K" and, stuff which was parodied to the death in the cultural events that were held a week later. The whole batch was convinced that we had landed in a place where people had really bad attitude. Of course, as we later found out, all this was part of a prank played on us, which continued till the weekend, in which the seniors spoke to us rudely and made us run around like headless chickens, trying to complete all sorts of fictitious assignments! It sure got us more than a bit cheesed off then, but it was all a lot of fun, and was taken sportingly by most of the batch. After all, next year, it was our turn to turn senrors!

Day 1 dawned with a sunrise, one which made me wake up way earlier than my usual time. This was one side-effect of having a stunning view which I hadn't taken into account!

After the formal registration process was done with and with no other activity planned for the morning, I set off to the railway station with a friend to fetch our bikes, which was expected to reach Kozhikode the previous night. What followed was a comedy of errors, and something which almost made us miss the induction speech by the Director. After reaching the station, it dawned on me that we hadn't brought the bike keys along. After my friend promised me that he could work around that by shorting the circuits, we got the bikes out of the station. As I looked at the bike, I had a feeling that something else was also going to be a problem. Starting the bike was fine, but how do you fill in petrol without the key??

So off we set on my friend's bike, the keys of which he hadn't forgotten, back to campus, a good 20 km away, to fetch my keys. After missing lunch, which we got me a fair amount of nasty looks, we set off again to the station, when we suddenly realised that we had no clue how to get there. Kozhikode is full of one-ways, and we had little idea how to reach the station without taking the road we had come by. Anyway, after half an hour of driving around and getting the bike, and buying a helmet in two minutes flat, we reached campus two minutes before the start of the speech.

The speech was uneventful, as 260-odd students looked around eagerly at each other and at everything around us, fairly dazed. Even to the most incredible achievers present there, the feeling of being in an institute -- which lakhs of people across India would do anything to be in -- would have given a tremendous high. Sure, we weren't A, B or C. But we were still in an IIM. This was it. This was what I had worked for, for so long. I was a student, a part, a tiny bit of IIM Kozhikode.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A new day has come...

First Posted on Pagalguy, here

Its 1.30 in the morning, and I've just managed to burn the last of my stuff on DVDs to lug to campus. The last few days have been absolutely crazy.... so much of work, so many loose ends to tie up, so many goodbyes. Add the PlaceCom assignment to that and my nerves are in a fairly frazzled state..

I started my journey 3 long years ago, and here I am today, 3 days from catching a train to the God's Own Kampus, a reality which I wouldnt even dream of a few months ago. Life is about to change like it has never before.... that much my friends in the IIMs assure me. For a change, change is not something I want to avoid; the past is not something I want to cling to. The view through the viewfinder is gonna be completely new, with vistas and horizons never seen before.

In a sense, its like I am about to board a train; a train which I have no idea where it will take me. All I think I can say is that I hope I enjoy the journey.

Just cant wait to reach there and setup my tripod ( err, base )