Monday, July 28, 2008

Week 5 - The Dreaded pre-exam week

Monday started with a sea change in people's expressions. Mid-sems were just a week away. People were pushing themselves harder, late nights turned from 4 am to 6 am. Groggy faces became groggier in class. Room lights stayed on throughout the night. The usually ignored library became a camping spot with people turning up with everything short of an extra pair of clothes.

The storm clouds called exams gather....

The Eco quiz on Monday went well. I had really worked hard for this, and it was a relief to see it paying off. There was an accounts quiz on Friday, a subject dreaded by many. 3 long late night sessions in the library with Kaveesh took care of this. God bless his soul, he was getting my vote for PlaceCom for sure ;)

Nothing more to report other than the fact that I was also up till 5 throughout the week. It drove me crazy sleep wise, but there was little choice. Lectures continued at full pace with the usual pre-reads, which added to the pressure. A couple of project update deadlines made their way into the week, which didn't help matters.

One fantastic thing about K is the attitude of fellow komrades. We have 3-4 people in class who have managed to finish off most of the syllabus ( dont ask me how ). These guys are making ppts and holding 3-4 hour sessions every day for the rest of the junta. There are people who know 1 subject well, but are in a so-so position in others and yet, they are sacrificing their time to help people with that 1 subject. There have been other instances when people have chosen the community good over personal good, and it's very, very heartening I had heard of the good 'attitude' in K, but had been skeptical before coming here. Must say that I was wrong.

The week passed by in a flurry, and suddenly I found myself staring at an exam in 3 days. Err, we have a problem!

Monday, July 21, 2008

And so ends almost a month at GOK

Monday came with a surprise OB quiz. Surprise quizzes were much talked about and dreaded in the pre-MBA world, when we wondered how anyone could play such nasty tricks on us poor student folks. Now they were just another event. Few bothered to skip lunch for studying ( the quiz slot is immediately after the lunch break, which represents the only reasonable amount of time available to study in case of a surprise quiz ), and turned up in the post-lunch groggy state, exacerbated by the staying up necessitated by the QM assignment.

The rest of the week promised to be tough as an Micro-economics quiz was planned on Friday, a subject which I little clue of, though by some application of common sense, I’d managed to sneak in a score just below average in the first quiz. Just below average was fine with me; I was struggling to stay afloat here. So much for dreaming about consults and top-30 positions before coming here!

Thankfully, the eco quiz was postponed to Monday, giving us a bit of a breather. The rest of the week passed in a flurry of eco studies, placecom tasks and arbit gyaan sessions from the various interest groups on campus. I was fighting it out for Placecom here, short for Placement Committee, one of the most prestigious and hard-fought for committees in any b-school. It is one of the most demanding and satisfying jobs, though any b-schooler or alumni will have polarized opinions about it. Many think it’s well worth the prestige and job satisfaction, quite a few feel that it changes you into a mean, sadistic fellow with tons of unnecessary attitude. I’ll reserve my opinion on that! We had to do a series of tasks assigned by the current Placecom members, which would be graded. A cumulative grade would be awarded, and your section will vote for you ( hopefully ! ) after looking at the grades and the soap pitch. These tasks were a nightmare, some with ridiculous deadlines, others with brain-numbing clerical work.

Group Photu!

Sunday morning saw all of us dressed in our best, clean shaven and with combed hair, for the photo shoot for summers. It was funny, people looked all awkward and conscious in ties and suits, as if they had NOT dressed well. Some had decided that since the photo was not going to be full length, there was no need to go all the way in dressing formally, and had turned up in a crisp formal shirt, tie, top part of a suit, and a pair of jeans or cargoes below with chappals to complete the scene. It was hilarious!

Just because we are dressed seriously doesn't mean we have to be serious na ?

One by one, all of us stood against the standard rocky wall background, trying hard not to laugh at the funny faces the rest of us were making from behind the photographer. Many were not successful, and occasionally we got exasperated looks from the photographer.

Soon after the formal shots were done, started the usual rotting around and group photos. There were few occasions when we'd be dressed up like this and the first one since landing here, so we made full use of this!

Monday, July 14, 2008

A topsy-turvy weekend !

Friday morning, and the skies were blue, the sun was out, the birds chirped, and all was fine with the world. The quiz and Case Study were postponed to Saturday, and the assignment, Monday. For a change, we weren’t running around like headless chickens.

We’d got our official email ids a few days ago, and soon everybody was floundering desperately trying to control and go through the hundreds of mail we received every day. We had to sift through these hundreds to ensure that we didn’t miss important ones sent by the teaching assignments, which had details about the pre-reads and case studies.

I was going through the mails when 1 of them made me completely crack up. ‘Bucket Lost’, said the subject. This sounded like it had potential. It read ‘ Blue bucket lost in hostel parking area. Whoever has taken it, please return it and refrain from repeating the act.’ Barely as I had managed to regain sanity, the next one caught my attention. ‘Helmet Found in Hostel parking area’. Which idiot forgot his helmet there, I thought. I read the message. ‘Silver helmet found in A Hostel parking area.’ Silver helmet, hmmm. Sounded familiar. ‘Vega brand’, it continued. Crap, I also had a silver Vega helmet… Rather, I HAD had a silver Vega helmet...

Friday night, and I am innocuously led by Namratha to Pallavi’s room. We enter, and they all jump out of the balcony into the room, with shouts of Happy Birthday! A nice cake was waiting for me with a tiny candle. I was apparently turning one ;) A nice way to start the day. As it turned, it was the only time I had any fun in the next 24 hours. The celebrations had to cut short as my case study group was waiting for me in the library. I had decided a time of 12 midnight with them without having any idea of the significance of the timing.

Saturday, 12th July, passed in a flurry of lectures and sleep and phone calls. Evening, and I was studying again, on the QM assignment, trying to figure out hypotheses and such incredibly appropriate-on-a-birthday stuff. Whoever met or called me tch tched in mock sympathy and swore at me for being a maggu.

Midnight, and we were all convinced that we had enrolled for the PGPQM ( Post Graduate Programme in Quantitative Methods ) instead of a PGPM. It was Pratik’s birthday, and we decided to spice things up by having it at the MF, which is a good 10 minute walk away on dark roads flanked by dense vegetation, at the base of the administrative and hostel area hill. Pallavi took him away at the pretext of going for a walk, Nikhil and Nidhi were going to drive down on his bike with the cake and reach MF before them ( how in hell they would reach there without crossing Pratik and Pallavi was something which never occurred to us ), while the rest of, Rupee, Pranav, Namratha and me were going to pack all the stuff lying around at our study place, dump it in Pallavi’s room, and run down to MF via a shortcut, via stairs which cut through the slope. These stairs go through dense grass, are covered with moss and occupied by an assortment of reptiles and insects, all of which contribute to making them distinctly avoidable during the night, especially for non insect and reptile loving folks.
Celebrating Pratik's budday

Trying to convince that snakes indeed were harmless creatures and rarely bothered anyone, off we moved, running stealthily down the stairs, if that were possible, trying to reach MF before Pratik did. As expected chaos reigned as all 3 groups ended up reaching an intersection at almost the same time. Nikhil didn’t know what to do and suddenly sped off in another direction, leaving Nidhi behind him wondering where he was taking her. Pallavi was trying hard to convince Pratik that Nikhil was taking Nidhi for a midnight drive. The 4 of us had ducked into the grass on realizing that our torch beams would have been visible. With no chance of reaching MF before Pratik did, we waited till they had, and then burst on to the scene in a crazy dance, giving the MF watchman the fright of his life, though I think he’d forgive us for that due to the cake.

Inspite of the QM assignment looming large, we decided to go out on Sunday; after all, birthdays came only once a year and twice during a MBA programme. Kadavu is a fancy resort a few kilometres from Calicut with boating facilities and a sumptuous dinner spread, and we spent a fun evening fooling around in the place. A night-ful of QM followed, but it didn’t hit me that hard this time. We’d turned into battle hardened veterans in 3 weeks!

An evening off at Kadavu !

One advantage of those stats assignments is that it keeps us up till the wee hours.... and that's when suddenly the campus fills up with clouds which move in from the valley. They are everywhere, in the amphi, moving through the corridors, in the canteen, and making a beeline to enter my room when I open the balcony door before sleeping. As stunning as the campus is during the day, at this time of the night, it gets a dreamy look, as the clouds make the lights blur...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Week 3 Ahoy !

Sunday started off on a dull note with people reluctantly heading out of bed. It was a real relief not to have to trudge to class at 9 and instead sleep straight till lunch. There was the second of those humongous assignments due on Monday, but now everyone had resigned themselves to staying up all night and decided that it was a good idea to enjoy life till evening. The afternoon passed by lazily, and the evening and night dragged on as we slowly plowed our way through the QM assignment. Unlike last week, there was no desperate attempt to finish it off as early as possible. Within a week, entire perspectives had changed !

The last problem was done and over with at 4 am. 5.30, I had to leave for NIT Calicut to play for sectional pride, in the Badminton event of ‘Clash of the Titans’, an inter-sectional sports tournament. I had a sneaking feeling that the seniors who organized these events were in cahoots with the faculty and arranged stuff only when we were the busiest. Waking up at 5.30 gave me the distinct feeling of having hit a wall at a rather high speed. I was zonked. I groggily changed while cursing myself for being over-enthu about unnecessary stuff. It was just an inter-section competition, for god’s sake. Anyway, if I was suffering, so were other people; with this selfless thought in mind, I called up Namratha, who’d promised to play the girls’ event when the QM assignment wasn’t threatening to take up most of the night. After long minutes of cajoling, pleading and swearing, 2 extremely annoyed looking girls turned up. It was a funny scene. The opposing section girls weren’t going to turn up, but to get a walk-over, these gals had to report at the venue. So off we went, in the full knowledge that the 2 would have nothing to do there other than give me nasty glares.

After giving Section A the hiding of their life :P, I came back and managed to sneak in an hour’s sleep before the lectures. The lectures were uneventful; although they stretched from 9 in the morning to 9 in the evening with just 1 free slot. And we’d thought 9 to 6 was bad, last week :P People were now getting bored of watching others sleep. I guess it’s only expected that the thing will lose its charm when half of the crowd, literally, is sleeping at any given point during any lecture. The one thing that really gets to me is that lectures often go beyond their scheduled time and eat up the 15 minute break between lectures. This break is really essential; it lets us go grab a quick cup of coffee or have a look at the stunning view of the valley from just outside the classrooms.

Last lecture of Monday, Social Transformation of India. An unusual subject for a business course, but taught by a person who must easily be one of the best Socio teachers in India, Proff. Mathew from MICA. Within minutes, he had the class thumping their desks. Within half an hour, he had us all on the edge of our seats. Whatever apprehensions about the appropriateness of the course we’d had when we got the course materials vanished. What a guy! Sure, he does shake your foundations and sometimes make you feel really angry about what he says, but the way he makes you question your beliefs and assumptions is phenomenal. If you go to class with an open mind and agree to disagree with his views and not get angry about it, there’s no class like this.

I have a strong feeling that writing at 4 in the morning really affects the quality of my writing. I read what I’ve written a few days later and I go ‘gawk, that’s me ?’ What a far cry from the Hindu days :|

Tuesday was again, a bit of a relief, with 3 lectures and no submissions to be done, although with promises of bonded labour over the next few days, till Friday. Yet another quiz, a humongous assignment ( need to look up synonyms of humongous :P ), a case study presentation, all due on Friday for, guess what, QM again. But that was on Friday, so we could chill till Thursday evening and then fight it out… A stupid way to do things, you’d say; but it really didn’t matter how much you worked before; you just had to stay up most of the night before, so why make life hell for longer.

Wednesday evening, and we had to read 2 enormous chapters for Marketing Management as pre-reads. Whatever interest and curiosity I had towards marketing started getting eroded very quickly as I couldn’t make head or tail of what Mr. Kotler was trying to tell us through his book. After several hours of plodding through the text without getting any closer to nirvana, the whole thing was succinctly explained to me by Namratha in ten minutes, god bless her soul. I am quickly trying to find people who’ll help with me with different subjects; souls who can comprehend what I have no clue about even after reading a few times. This Namratha dame, as smart as she is, is quickly getting a reputation for DCP ( a term which unfolds as Desperate for Class Participation ), a crime of the lowest types in a b-school where you try to participate in the class discussions without having the faintest clue about what is going on in class, for the sake of the precious few marks which are allotted for this. So we have the rather amusing spectacle of her dozing off into deep slumber in her peculiar theta pose, only to wake up suddenly due to some so-far undiscovered stimulation and rattle off a question to the proff. This is annoying not just to the whole class because of its strong DCP roots, but also to the guys around her who suddenly find themselves being looked at by the proff and who don’t a have the slightest clue as to what is going on for obvious sleep related reasons. Although she claims otherwise, we have a strong feeling that Namratha herself has no clue either, but when you ask a question, you are in a reasonably safe position; its highly unlikely that you’ll be asked a question in reply.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Pagalguy Post - Life@IIMK

Its been 2 weeks here at IIM K. 2 weeks of absolute craziness. Life has changed dramatically from the pre-IIM days in the sense that I could have never imagined that so much could be packed into a single day. So much stuff keeps happening that 3-4 days later I dont even remember what I did on that day.

Its been just 2 weeks and it already feels like forever.....

I was a bit skeptical when my friends in the IIMs told me about the competition in these places. After 2 weeks here, I feel what they said was an understatement! There is only 1 word for it here - fierce. Not in a bad way at all, though. You have this huge bunch of incredibly smart, intelligent and hard-working guys who will make you feel like an idiot very easily in class; and yet, outside class, they are the most helpful and co-operative souls around.

Finally, I've got a bit of a breather this weekend. There is still a huge assignment due on monday, but atleast its just 1 single thing, not the half a dozen things which I have been attempting to complete for each day for the last week.

There's one thing that keeps coming to my mind all the time, every single day - this place is so incredibly beautiful! And for a nature lover, it just couldnt have got any better. Green is the predominant colour in the landscape. Green is what everything is, till the horizon, till the far away mountains forever shrouded in clouds. Green is what fills the space between buildings, tall, wild grass, overflowing boundaries made by man.

Inspite of the rigour, so far, its been an incredible experience at an incredible place. Whoever thought of putting an IIM here and whoever designed this place must have been simply brilliant. Every thing that has been designed has been done with the end user in mind. Its just so comfortable.

View from the NC

My favourite haunt on campus is the Night Canteen or the NC, as its popularly known, though its open during the day too. Located above the mess, it overlooks most of the academic area and the amphitheatre. All the side walls are just till waist level, so its nice and open, with natural light and a lot of air. There are granite slabs wedged into the walls. Sit on one of these slabs, rest your head on one of those rods, tilt it a bit behind, stretch your legs out, watch the evening sun light up the campus, and sip or munch the delightful stuff that NC dishes out, forgetting for a moment the craziness going on all around you, and you feel - this is what bliss is.

Calling it God's Own IIM is the most appropriate phrase I've heard in a while !

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Week 2 - The Latter Half

It's Wednesday morning and I am wondering what has hit me. Things are just getting crazier and crazier. I am drowning in assignments, submissions and quizzes. Putting in 7-8 hours of work each day is essential for mere survival. It's reached a situation where everybody in class is wondering about the choices they've made and whether it’s worth it. We have a quant quiz on thursday - the second one already, and its been just been a week since classes have started.

Wednesday went by quickly while worrying about thursday and friday. There's an inter-section event called Roobaroo for us fachchas, and I dont even have a clue what its all about because of the workload. I've always been incredibly enthusiastic about extra-curricular activities all my life, and here I am letting this thing go by without even knowing what all is going on :| Sure, there are a lot of people even from my section who are enthusiastically taking part, which means it must be manageable to balance both. But then, for me, it's quickly becoming all about survival rather than doing extremely well. I had a bad feeling it would be like this before entering b-school, but I sure didn't expect it to happen so quickly.

View from B-Top : The most coveted rooms on campus !

Anyway, the quant quiz turned out to be ok for me. Quant is fast becoming a subject I am dreading, in spite of being an engineer and having done reasonably well in quant all my life. Heck, quant was the one section which I really cracked in CAT. Quant here is, however, a different ball game. I can just about imagine the author's state in Snapshots of Hell ( the book, not the blog ). I am feeling distinctly like a poet :|

Friday promises to be dreadful, with 4 things to be done. 1 pre-read for Marketing, a 'bonus' assignment for quant, a presentation on a Case Study for Quant, and to top it all, a Micro-Economics quiz. Calling an assignment 'bonus' is a fairly redundant term, because everybody in class does it :| So there's nothing optional about it; it just has to be done. Thursday classes have gone on till 6 in the evening from 9 in the morning, leaving us all feeling distinctly jet-lagged. There's no way I am gonna be able to get to work straight off after that, so I chill out till dinner, quite a stupid thing to do really considering the state I am in. Dinner is spent as always joking around with the gang and watching TV in the mess, catching snippets of what is happening in the outside world. B-school kind of puts you in a cocoon, where you have absolutely no idea of what is happening in the outside world. It's a strange feeling and it's a bit scary. I haven't read a newspaper since leaving home, and I really have no clue what is happening in the not-so-negligible world outside Kampus. I have no idea of what is happening with the N-deal other than the fact that something's up again, I have no clue who won the Euro championships, I have no idea whether the Asia cup is going on or over or whether India beat Pakistan or got walloped by Hongkong. I just have no clue :|

Time to round up the group for the case study reading. What looked like a comfortable 1 hour's work stretches into a 3 hour fight. Midnight, and I still havent started on the Eco quiz prep....

4 am, Friday. Finally, the last slide of the last presentation is read and done with. Atleast I have gone through most of the stuff for tomorrow. A quick cup of coffee at the NC and I am off to crash.

Just another sunrise for the B guys ;)

8.15 am, a new day starts. I am feeling horrendously low. The lack of sleep, the stress and the workload are really getting to me. Going to the beach on Tuesday was a bad, bad idea :| I should have slept that day. Sleep is something that I am craving for all the time. I have slept for a total of around 20 hours in 5 days. Sunday started off brilliantly with a nice 0. Monday was a necessary 8 to prevent sudden death. Tuesday was a decent 5, followed by a double whammy of 4s on wednesday and thursday. I have a feeling that the Quant professor would delightedly explain this as a normal distribution - Less in the beginning, followed by a spurt during the middle of the term ( hopefully :| ) followed by a slump when exams approach.

The Eco quiz turns out to be a bit of walloping :| So much for reading everything the previous night. Time to add another subject to the 'dreaded' list.

Anyway, classes ended at 4.30 on friday, and the weekend promised to be a bit of a respite, inspite of 2 QM lectures on saturday. I was determined to chill out in the evening, and it went well in the Roobaroo Music Competition, with fierce competition and healthy sledging between sections. We shouted till everyone's ears started ringing, then shut up, then started off again. It ended at midnight, after which we decided that we should fight it out for the dance competition the next day. There went another night's sleep, albeit in a fun way this time.

Saturday. It feels so good :) Lunch is taken in lazily, discussing plans of a short trip to the city to pick up essentials which the MF ( Margin Free ) on campus does not stock, and the Mess party that night. It's called a mess party because it's in, err, the mess. It promises to be a blast, being the first time that the whole of PGP 12 ( as our batch is called ) will be together in an informal setup. Looking forward to it !
The party was rocking, though the DJ didn’t have much of a following due his rather ordinary selection of music. We danced and danced and danced, then went out for a walk, hung around for a while elsewhere and then came back and danced again. Spirits were high; finally the seniors were done with harassing us and making us do all sorts of assignments with promises of CV value and stuff; people had settled in and were looking forward to life in Kampus ( though the B section folks were constantly watching their backs in case one of the dreaded proffs sneaked up and handed us another assignment which would be due on Monday :P ).

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Halfway through Week 2....

Sunday morning. Finally, a bit of a break from the lectures. There's a Quant assignment to be submitted tomorrow, which looks manageable and the first Quiz of b-school, which doesn't !. After a lazy breakfast followed by a few hours of rotting around, I finally start working on the assignment at noon, hoping to finish it off by early evening. There was a presentation by the various committees in the night, I was hoping to finish off the assignment and do a bit of reading up for the quiz before that.

What followed were the longest 18 hours of my life. The assignment was like a magic rope. Every time you thought you could see the end, it magically grew by a few feet. I was never more than 2-3 hours from finishing it. By 4 in the afternoon, I realized that I might I not finish it by 6 that day. By 6, I thought it might stretch till the committee presentations. I went to the presentations convinced that it required an hour or two's work afterwards.

I finished the last problem at 7.30 am on Monday, after watching a stunning sunrise cooped up in the computer center.

Lectures were an absolute washout that day. I reached my nadir when I fell asleep when one of the professors was talking directly to me, explaining some point. He asked 2-3 people to go wash their faces to stop feeling sleepy; he left me alone. I was beyond anything and everything. My head swung wildly all over the place as I desperately tried to gain control, all in vain. He was a very good lecturer, and I really wanted to pay attention. If only I could stop falling asleep :( I was ragged to the death in the 15 minute break that followed by my classmates. A few came up and thanked me for keeping them awake by entertaining them!

The quiz went ok, which was a bit of a relief. Evening came and I crashed early, at midnight. It’s a different timescale in a b-school. Anything before 10 is ridiculous and beyond contemplation. You either have to be really sick or really anti-social to do that. There's so much happening on campus that you just don't feel like sleeping. Anything between 10 to 2 is early, and should be done only with valid reasons like not having slept at all in the last few nights. 2 to 4 is par for course, and happens when you have a quiz the next day or you are in a particularly enthusiastic mood of rotting around. Late is anything beyond 4, and usually means never, a nighter.

The admin building and library : from 'crossroads'

It's funny. I used to love sleep before coming to b-school. I would actually prefer it to so many things. Now I find it a chore, something to be avoided as much as possible, and to be done in as little quantities as necessary to prevent falling sick. I know I am probably screwing up my long term health, but then it just happens :|

Tuesday was a bit of a relief with only 2 scheduled lectures, of which the second one got cancelled. After a crazy weekend, we suddenly found ourselves with nothing to do, a state which was quite alien. After a fair bit of dilly-dallying, we, 6 guys and 3 femme fatales, decided to go to a beach, and piled into a jeep. Unfortunately, the driver had no clue that we wanted to go to a beach and not just a seashore, so around 2 and a half hours later we found ourselves staring at a rocky shore getting a bashing from the sea in the town of Mahe. After another hour of driving, we reluctantly stopped at a tiny little beach somewhere outside Mahe and decided to make the best of things. It was great fun, however, with the usual fooling around that happens when you go to a beach, dunking everybody and making them thoroughly wet and sand filled. After a round of crazy photographs which brought half the population of the village to the beach, we left, hoping to be in time for the Placecom presentation. Placecom is something you don't mess around with in a b-school, unless you are one of the rare fellows who aren't there for the job afterwards.

Wednesday and its Macbook Day !! Finally, finally, we were gonna get the much awaited and long due Macbooks. Almost everybody who'd ordered it was a Mac first-timer, and was eagerly anticipating the pristine white beauties which promised so much of a better comping experience. Lunch was sacrificed as we trudged down to the room of the MADCOM guy where all the Macs were stored. Noff fair.... he got to sleep with 26 pristine beauties :P The boxes were hurriedly brought to the classrooms where an Apple support guy was waiting to guide us through the setup process. After 5 minutes of patient hearing, I couldn't resist the urge anymore, and attacked the box with a frenzy. The room was soon filled with the sounds of tearing cardboard and oohs and aahs at the ( typically ) stunning Apple packaging. Out came the Mac from the box, and it was love at first sight! These guys seriously know how to design stuff...