Friday, August 29, 2008

Off the beaten track !

I'm getting a few what-the-hell-have-you-written-about responses for the piece below, so I'll add an introductory note. I am rather keen about wildlife and nature, and was a lot into birding ( bird-watching, the feathered variety ) initially. An oriole is a yellow bird, about the size of a myna, with a red beak. It is seen ( though uncommonly ) in our cities, and is quite an eye-catcher. A shikra is like a falcon ( Regular birders - My bird knowledge has become a bit rusty, so forgive me if I make some bloopers ), and is a 'bird-of-prey'. White-cheeked bulbuls are the more unusual type of bulbuls seen in the cities - the one with a tall crest and hollow cheeks. A tree pie is a large brown bird, not seen in cities. A paradise flycatcher is a stunning white bird with a tail which is 3-4 times the length of its body. Jungle babblers are plump, grey-brown birds who usually create a huge racket ( and are therefore also known as 7 sisters in english and saat-bhai in hindi... take your pick :P )


A pair of black-headed orioles hopped around in the trees. Oh, I'd forgotten how beautiful they looked, their stunning yellow standing out against the bright green foliage. One of they got a tad too close to a well-camouflaged shikra sitting quietly on a branch, and suddenly squawked away in fright. A few seconds later it regained its composure and restarted its hopping. The shikra wasn't interested, it had probably decided to retire for the night. A couple of white-cheeked bulbuls chirped loudly from the tree-tops. A sneaky looking cuckoo warily hopped closer and closer to the center of a coconut tree, no doubt interested in the nest hidden there. A large tree-pie jumped around, its long tail more of an encumberance than help, though it couldn't really complain too much with creatures like the paradise flycatcher around. A group of large, noisy and fat jungle babblers fought and screeched and generally made a nuisance of themselves. A southern birdwing butterfly lazily sipped nectar from the ubiquitious lantana growths on the road-side, its bright yellow competing with the orioles. An unknown peacock butterfly flew past in a hurry, with its dazzling blue uppersides adding yet another colour to the scene. A more mundanely coloured bushbrown hovered in the undergrowth looking for a roosting spot. A large rustle reached my ears; probably a snake realizing that it was a tad too close to an unwanted being. How I'd like to have a glimpse at it, even if for a second!

I looked up into the foliage, my mouth agape in wonder. Under me was a tar road which cut through this patch of forest, and connected different parts of the campus. It was a lazy evening after a crazy night and day, and I'd gone for a walk to explore the off-road bits of campus. It felt so good to be back, I thought. Back where I belong, back where I feel home. The 4th QM assignment was done, and so was the Management Accounting quiz. That left me with a few hours with nothing extremely important to be done. A sudden urge to do something different from the usual rotting around in the NC or surfing the net rose in me. I packed my camera and ran down to the classroom area, through it, and down my favourite flight of stairs in the whole campus, down to the road below, below which beckoned the lush green patches of forest on campus. Within minutes, the smell of the forest gave me heady high and a feeling of complete calmness and peace...

An hour later, I reluctantly packed up and walked back. It was getting dark, and light levels were falling quickly. I started the long walk back to the hostel and academic block, and hitched a ride half-way up. NC was deserted and therefore a delight. A cup of coffee in my hand, a gentle breeze playing with my hair, a stunning sunset as the view, and the whole place to myself. What a great way to end a super evening!

Monday, August 25, 2008

There goes yet another week...

It was a high workload weekend. Its funny how work often piles up so that by the time its Saturday and Sunday, all thoughts of relaxing and sleeping late go out of the window and you end up working even harder than weekdays. Every week I decide that I'll finish off all work by Friday and chill out, or at least study in a leisurely way, over the weekend. Maybe call a few people who's first few words will be unprintable or might be 'Who are you? Don't know ya.' Maybe read up a bit on what's happening in the world. Or just update my blog for the half a dozen people whom I force to read it.

It ends with a huge list of pending activities on friday night or saturday morning which leaves me frustrated and annoyed. Monday, invariably will have a quiz or two. Having received a thorough walloping in the mid-sems, these quizzes mean the world to me. They say only the toppers fight for each and every mark. Obviously they haven't met the outliers on the other end of the bell curve :|

So there I was on Friday evening, with 2 huge MC ( Managerial Communication ) presentations due the next day, an economics quiz on Monday and the dreaded MIS project submission on Monday 23.59, which was giving nightmares to almost everybody. I was in for a long, long night. Again. 3 hours of reading and typing later, the first presentation was done. 3 more hours of brainstorming and again, typing, the second one was done. 4 am, and I am feeling like I've hit a wall. Saturday morning dawned. As expected, our group did not have to present ( random selection ) our analysis (The Inverse Law of Preparedness - The probability of you being asked to present your analysis is inversely proportional to the amount of effort you have put into it ). The afternoon went by in some frantic dashing around to ensure that the requirements for the second presentation were completed. Saturday evening, and finally I could get a bit of time to study eco. Thank god for small mercies :P

Sunday passed pretty peacefully with the economics book as a day long companion. Evening came, and the alarm bells rang across campus. There were multiple documents which had to be submitted on Monday for the MIS, not just the code freeze which people were expecting. Most of the evening and night went in taking care of that, and a rather harassed looking and blistered-fingered me trudged to my room at 4 in the morning. There went the weekend, just like that. I hope the eco quiz gave me some solace the next day.....

Friday, August 22, 2008

Midnight Coffee @ Coffee Beans

It was a dull and dreary thursday night. Economics mid-term marks had come out and how good or bad they were reflected in the fact that I'd spent most of the day studying economics. Ten minutes to eleven, and Kaveesh pings me - 'Coffee Beans'. I'd heard of this place; it was a coffee shop frequented by the prone-to-cravings junta of kampus. But leaving at 11 in the night for a place 20 km away sounded loony to me. Which meant that I said yes, after a feeble attempt at resisting. Anything remotely loony and out of the ordinary appeals to me in some crazy way. After trying to round up fellow komrades who might be game, we set off. It was twenty past eleven, and Coffee Beans closed at twelve.

The drive to the city was an absolute de-stresser. It was a moonlit night, and traffic on NH212 had dropped substantially from its day levels. We reached Coffee Beans just before they closed down, but they assured us that they'd serve us. It was an experience which I will remember for a while, just for the closeness it achieved to perfection. Having stayed in a metro all my life ( although Mumbaikars might take objection to Pune being called that ), I've been to a lot of places, but never have I experienced such a combination of delicious food, great ambience, impeccable service and reasonable prices. The baristas smiled genuinely, this wasn't the I-have-to-smile-else-they'll-cut-my-pay manipulation of facial muscles seen in CCD and other typical coffee shops. They were genuinely apologetic about the unavailability of some food items. The cheese dosa, which came first was the crispest I've come across. The baked vegetables and cheese which followed would have given an italian joint a walloping. The mousses and thick cold coffees left us scraping the bottom of our glasses. Apparently, they just couldn't go wrong. When we'd gorged to our hearts' content, and were about to pay the bill, we asked for 2 additional mousses to be packed for the the unfortunate souls back at K who'd missed this, and in spite of it being 12.30 and way past closing time, they smiled happily and got it for us, without showing irritation about changing the bill. The whole experience was like a breath of fresh air for me, being used to putting up with appalling service, something which runs through the service industry, and mediocre food quality.

Coffee Beans, you have one really impressed customer !

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

:|

The weekend passed in studying for the QM quiz. Monday and Tuesday were a drag, with lectures for most part of the day. Tuesday was curtains for OB and QM, the last lectures for the semesters. Wednesday brought a real shock for me in terms of the marks for one of the subjects for the mid-sems. I'd done badly, and I was quite upset about it. It wasn't that I hadn't worked hard - I knew what I'd put in before and during the exams. I knew I wasn't going to fare extremely well after the paper, but I didn't expect to be below the class average. Frankly, I am at my wits' end. I know I cant put in more than this. I have to change the way I study, but I am clueless about how :| The end-sems will be a test of fire. I have to adapt, and adapt quickly, unless I want to spend a miserable 2 years here.

It's here when I wonder whether this course is really for me. I often feel out of place here, and it's not because of any one particular thing. I am unable to 'click' studies-wise. I don't want to be in a capitalist company which doesn't care a hoot about anything other than bottomlines. But I have no choice here. I don't want to worsen what is already a consumption oriented economy - one who's boom is tied with the stripping of mother nature. I don't want to be a part of an infrastructural boom, I don't want to 'develop' beautiful landscapes into concrete jungles. And yet, I don't have a choice. I have to follow the herd. I have to get a good summers, work hard, get a good finals, get a 'dream' job, or one which I would call a dream job after I realize that my actual dream job is way out of reach. I am stuck in the miserable grey area between a typical life and one which makes sense to me. And yet, I know that I cannot lead a life which makes sense to me, it requires too many sacrifices of things which I have unfortunately grown up getting used to. Money. Comfort. Materialistic pleasures. I lack the good parts of both worlds, the contentedness of being rich and leading a comfortable life and the satisfaction of doing something which makes sense to you and you love at the cost of worldly pleasures. I am, truly, stuck in place from where there is no getting out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Oops... there go the comments !

I'm still working on this site, and I was trying to get all the comments together in the sidebar. I've finally managed to do that ( hurray ! ), but I've lost whatever comments I'd received before this. So apologies to whoever commented; I am NOT being nasty and deleting all comments :P Please say all those kind words again ;)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Never make plans !

With 15th August landing on a Friday, most of the crowd made plans to make a sojourn outside K. Many of the freshers and people living close by made plans to go home. This wasn't practical for me; it took 24 hours to get anywhere close to Pune, and I was in no mood to spend close to 10 grand to fly to and fro for 2 days.

Dhaval, a fellow wildlife enthusiast and butterfly watcher ( yes, there are people other than me in the world also who do crazy things like this ), stayed in Coimbatore, and we planned a visit to a place where I'd wanted to go since a long, long time - Silent Valley National Park. SNVP was a fantastic patch of forest around 150 kms to the south of Kozhikode. It had been in the news for a while now due to a proposal to submerge a large portion of it with a new hydroelectric project. With the way things were going in India regarding forest land, I wanted to have a look at it while it was stil around. That's one thing I dread - Excitedly planning a trip to some amazing jungle and landing up there to find that it's either lying under a few hundred feet of water or replaced by a mine to feed our materialistic desires. I know I exagerate a bit, but the way things are going, its quite likely :| The news of the Niyamgiri mining project had upset me for days, making me put up an angst-filled gtalk status message, which I am sure must have amused a few people due to its irony - someone sitting at one of the epicentres of capitalism complaining about something like some remote forest being opened for something as 'vital' as mining for 'valuable' resources.

So we planned a 2 day trip there, and I was all excited that I'd finally be able to go there. Half-way through thursday, the bomb was dropped. Extra QM lectures scheduled for Saturday, including a case study presentation, followed by a quiz on Monday ( all of which count towards the final grades ). There went the Silent Valley plan. I fought an immense surge of frustration. The one 3 day weekend we had was rudely snatched away from us.

Thursday night, and another plan was hatched. Saturday was for the classes and the case study, sunday was for studying for the QM quiz, but we could have Friday to ourselves. Wayanad district, located to the North-east of Kozhikode, was another place with fantastic forests and landscapes, and to top it all was a mere 50 odd km away. So Wayanad it was.

Friday morning, 15th August, saw 4 of us, Nikhil, Namratha and Nidhi set off on our bikes. It was cloudy, but the rain gods were holding back their largesse. All around were stunning views, and the distant mountains which teased me everyday came closer and closer - the mountains of Wayanad. We stopped frequently for pictures, and I thought we should have stopped even more - the sight of Namratha trying to climb a wall beside the road and suddenly finding herself a bit too close to terra firma was something which I would have loved to see repeated.

On the way.... where humpty dumpty had a fall

After a scrumplicious breakfast comprising of a total of 8 dosas, 2 cups of tea and coffee, which cost us the princely sum of 27 rupees, we hit the ghat section. It was an incredible climb, miles and miles of road winding up the Western Ghats, covered with patches of rubber plantations and good forests. Tiny streams and the occasional largish waterfall greeted us at every turn. The valley to the left grew deeper and deeper. Slowly but surely, we reached the top, where a huge gateway marked the boundary of Kozhikode and Wayanad district.

A few miles ahead, we turned left for Pookote lake, a tourist spot. As much as I hate typical tourist spots - and Pookote lake was as typical as they get - I understood the limitations of a day trip, and surrendered. However, this was a pleasant surprise. Pookote lake was a stunning lake set between a few small hills. It was surrounded by thick forest with it's foliage hanging low over the waters of the lake. A walkway went lazily around it. It was a stunning sight, and it was immaculately maintained. Not a scrap of plastic disturbed the placid waters. A small cafeteria and a boat house had all the facilities anyone needed. If this was the way we wanted to promote tourism, I was all for it.

Moi...

To all the visitors' ensuing delight, Namratha and I decided to go for a Kayake ride. Within minutes, we had people lined up on the banks pointing at us and laughing to their hearts' content. After reaching the middle of the lake, we'd lost control, and were going round and round, spinning out of control. As soon as we'd managed to stop rotating in 1 direction, we started off in the other. By the time we managed to stop that too, we'd lost our breath and took a break, with the effect that the boat started drifting - again in circles - around. Every frantic struggle to control the boat resulted in splashing the other occupant with the contents of the lake, with the effect that we soon got the strong feeling that we'd passed under a rather large waterfall. After trying to smack each other with the rows, and bellowing and cursing at each other for being a incompetent jackass and the sole cause of our miserable state and the reason behind a sudden surge in the topline of the company which managed the site ( I am sure they started charging a premium for entry as soon as they saw us for a couple of minutes ), we realized that out allotted 30 minutes were up, and we had to, by some way we had not managed to figure out yet, row the boat in a straight line and reach the shore. Not just any shore, but the one we had set off from. After much fighting and strategizing, we managed to set a routine which would eventually get us there. 1 person would call out numbers loudly - which technically meant that we were supposed to row in co-ordination -, and we'd row hard. This would take us a few feet ahead, after which the boat started turning around. At this point, we'd just stop, and let the boat do as it pleased. When it got bored of playing merry-go-round and came to a standstill, we gently straightened it, and set off again till the next revolution. Finally, after a long time, we reached the shore, feeling like mini-celebrities. I have a feeling that the Pookote lake management is going to allow free entry to IIM Kozhikode students. After all, we are a brand to reckon with :)

After a delicious banana snack ( what is it called ? ) where they fry steamed bananas in a batter, we set off. Leaving the road for Bangalore and Mudumalai National Park ( elephants ! ), we took the road for Ooty, which would take us to the Soochipara waterfalls, apparently a sight to behold. The landscape opened up, and we surrounded by tea plantations. As environmentally unfriendly as tea gardens are, they are a stunning sight. Hill after hill of rows of green hedges interspersed by tall trees, and a winding road going up and down through them. Biker paradise! After another round of crazy snaps, we reached the Soochipara falls. Or rather, the parking area of the falls. After a long descent, we reached the base of the falls. It was a fascinating sight, the pounding the base was receiving from the falling water. Unfortunately, there were too many people were around, which kind of spoilt it. One disadvantage of coming on a national holiday...

The rain greeted us on the long drive back home, but thankfully it decided not to really nasty. The drive back was as delightful as ever, and in spite of the day's reading going beyond 160 km, we felt no fatigue. My bike, a Splendour, ain't an incredibly comfortable bike to go for long rides on, but even then I didn't feel anything. After a quick pit-stop at the breakfast place ( which had no dosas, much to our disappointment ), we reached campus by sundown. An incredible trip, something which made me look forward to exploring Wayanad and Kerala with a bit more time at my disposal.

For more pics, visit : http://www.flickr.com/photos/harshadkarandikar/sets/72157606782930133/

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Start of an interesting week...

After an extreme reluctance to do anything academic related unless absolutely necessary, people started settling down. The toppers ( or atleast whom the rest predicted would be toppers ) started going into hiding again in the library, from where they would emerge for a few hours in the day to ensure that their skin got a bit of a fresh air and didn't start molting or something, and of course, lectures and the quick meal or two. Even lecture time was well utilized by these fellows; they either concentrated hard and took down notes, or took a bit off their sleep debt by being fast asleep, unlike the others who tried hard to concentrate and understand what was going off and stop themselves from nodding off at the same time, effectively achieving neither.

Tuesday was a super day for me - I earned 3 CV points. This CV point is a concept I understood after landing up here and getting that article of mine on the Business World site. I'd always written because I'd love to write, and the thought that it would be useful in other ways never occurred to me. The first compliment I got was followed by 'That's a good way to get a CV point, man', to which I replied with an 'eh??' look. Anyway, so Tuesday ensured that there wouldn't be an embarassingly large white space in my CV. It started off with my write-up being published in the Business Standard newspaper. As happy as I was with that, afternoon threw another surprise. As I was trying to make head or tail of the marketing case, I browsed through my K mail, and found something about a OP Jindal scholarship. Yeah, right, I thought, me getting a scholarship, but still decided to go ahead and have a look at the attached brochure. Apparently, the top 20 people from each institute were eligible. As if it made any difference to me, I thought. However, for some reason, before deleting the mail, I had a look at the recipients. It wasn't sent to the whole batch.... just had a few random people. Interesting. I counted. 20 people. Including me. What ??? Whoa ! What a hoot !

The next 20 odd minutes, I was cracking up at the irony. Last year, 5 IIMs and a few other institutes had almost shooed me out. And then, this year, I was in the top 20 people to get into IIM Kozhikode, based on the cumulative score of CAT, GD and PI. It was, to put it mildly, unbelievable. I'd always been very pragmatic about my capabilities and always found it rather funny when proved wrong ( as rare as that was :P ).

Tuesday was also election day for the rest of the committees, and I made it into Media Cell, no doubt boosted by the 2 published pieces. Media Cell felt good, it was quite in my line. Not a bad day, I thought! Time to edit the Summers CV :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

A rare lazy week comes to an end...

The first post mid-sem week ended on a lazy note; other than marketing, there wasn't much which required a lot of attention. The workload in marketing was a killer, though. Reading up a case and a chapter from Kotler every 2 days took quite a bit from the system, and every alternate day you saw the scene of people scurrying to and fro trying to round up errant group members or trying to figure out a common time to meet and discuss the case.


Another early morning view....


The weekend was a relaxed one; the first chilled out weekend after we'd landed up in campus. The one after the mid-sems was also work-free, but then you can't really call a weekend chilled out when you've been almost dead because of the preceding few days. It was a strange feeling; that of having nothing to do, and that too for 2 full days. For me, it was something which I wanted to savour, for I doubted I'd have anything of the sort after this one - once the mid-sem marks started coming out, I'd had it :|

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

And the circus starts again !

Sunday, and it was time to hit the beach. 30 odd of us piled into whatever vehicles we could get hold of and set off to Kappad. Kappad is around 25 km away from the campus, and as is the case irrespective of where you go, it's a fantastic ride. Biking had turned into an activity to be done only when you had a surfeit of time, a rare situation most of the time, and I enjoyed the usual high of driving through the curving, superbly banked roads of Kozhikode.

The beach was nothing spectacular, but it was high tide, and the waves hit the beach with a ferocity I had never seen before. Most beaches in Maharashtra are vast expanses of sand, and you usually have to go a fair distance inside to get anywhere close to wet. Here, on the other hand, the waves lifted and rolled you over 15-20 feet into the water. The power of the sea has always been a huge attraction to me, and it was an exhilarating feeling. After getting walloped and thrown about for an hour, and smacking everybody in range with wet sand, we reluctantly came out in a dazed state.



This is where we sip eagerly at the fountain of learning... err, the classrooms


Sunday night was StudCon Soap Box night. K has an election procedure for it's student bodies. Although elections generally mean campaigning, politics, groupism and has all sorts of negative connotations, it was a pleasant surprise to see that missing here. I myself was standing for PlaceCom ( Placement Committee, the guys who look after the placements for Summers and Finals ), and it was a remarkably clean and democratic process. There was stiff competition; yet there was respect amongst rivals. Nobody seriously campaigned, it was generally understood that you prove your mettle through whatever channels that were available to do so.

Monday morning, and classes started for the second half of the sem. I had my PlaceCom Soap pitch today, and was frantically trying to prepare for it, which would ( hopefully ) prevent an attack of nerves which I always end up getting when I speak in public. The speech did went off pretty well, at least in my opinion :P, but I knew that I didn't have more than an outside chance of getting through. The afternoon went by in sleeping ( the midnight of campus ), and I woke up to see the results of the election. As expected, I wasn't in, but it did throw up a few surprises. Democracy is, of course, like that..



The admin block from the auditorium


Just when we were all thinking that we'd get a few easy days now that the mid-sems were over, the workload hit us like a wave. Marketing was going to be a lot of hard work with one chapter and one case study to be read before every class. Add to that the summers preparations, which had started in full swing. Every night we had 2-3 interest group sessions and other gyaan sessions by the seniors. You just couldn't afford to miss these things. It's been just 2-3 days, and I am wondering how I am going to survive till the end of october, when summers will happen. I have to work really hard on the subjects I've messed up in the mid-sems. I have little sectoral knowledge. I don't know the F of finance. I have no clue what most things are about. So much to study. So much to learn. So much sharpening up to be done. So less time. I watch the odd butterfly flitting past me as I run from one session to another, and I don't even have the time to stop and wonder what species it is. There was a point in life where I would have dropped everything and ran back to the room to get my camera out and followed the fella around till I had a hundred shots of it. Life's changed so much! I yearn for the pleasures of the outdoors, the simple joy of a walk through the forest, the tinkling sounds of a mountain stream, the calm glide of a bird of prey high up in the skies, the melodious tunes of the birds in the canopy above. I have no time here for such luxuries, I blink and I miss that teeny weeny point which could make the difference between a good and a bad summers. They say the human race has progressed. I wonder. Have we made life simple or further complicated? Would I prefer a day-by-day existence where I live in the present, for the moment, where death is not seen as something catastrophic but as something which is an everyday part of life, or in this kind of life where everything is just so exhaustingly complicated. I have my doubts.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Week of Horror : Mid-Sems !

The week of horror, the week of the mid-sems. Sunday saw the entire batch looking a bit tense. The first big exams, and no one knew how they'd be, how they fare. Most people had an engineering background, and were used to having their exams spread out for around 2 weeks, giving them enough time to cover everything in the days before each paper. And here we were, staring at 8 papers in 4 days. There were atleast 2-3 subjects which almost no one had had a look at. The next 5 days promised to be gruelling :|

There wasn't much left in Sunday by the time I got up. Sleep has become such a luxury. I hadn't gone to bed before 5 for the last 10 odd days, and even then, I was sure I wasn't going to do exceedingly well in my exams. What more do I do ?

Sunday went in another desperate round of trying to cover untouched territory. The afternoon passed by quickly and soon we were at dinner, the unexciting prospect of another night in the library looming in front of us. Dinner was a splash and dash event for me; studies had taken the joy out of life in general. All I could think of were the exams, with a sense of gloom.

Monday morning, and it was business at usual for everybody else other than us. The day before the mid-sems, and we were still expected to read case studies for class, and as tough as I find to believe it now, most, including me, had come prepared. They say that exams in b-schools are there to test how prepared you are in general and not how much you prepare on the day before ( they anyway give you little time to prepare on the day before ), but this was getting a bit beyond me. The 2 lectures passed by quickly and soon we had the rest of the day to ourselves to study, an undeniably exciting prospect.

2 papers the next day, Accounting and Social Transformation of India. Accounting gave a few nightmares to most engineering folks. Why people who are otherwise so comfortable with numbers and who are here because they cracked an exam like CAT which is so number and logic heavy find accounts so remarkably tough to get the hang of is something which intrigues me, though I, myself, am a part of the majority. Debits and credits and assets and liability and what not stuff we all desperately tried to make sense of. I have a sneaking feeling that CAs purposely made this stuff so complicated so that us mortals would have no choice but to go to them to sort out the 'mess' we created. The saving grace with studying accounts was that there was a significantly lower chance of me reaching that horrendously depressing state of semi-consciousness caused by extreme sleep deprivation, which I lapse into while studying theory-heavy subjects. This is usually characterized by an initial feeling of extreme comfort when you are tempted to slide down a wee bit more on the bed. You feel that all's fine with the world and that there's nothing more you wanna do than be here. Then you suddenly realize that the last paragraph you read made so sense whatsoever. So you go back to reading it again. Half-way through it, your eyelids seem to have a life of their own. You open them suddenly to realize that you'd had a micro-nap for 2-3 minutes. Yanking them open in a fit of violence, hoping that that would shake the mist of sleep off, you start reading the paragraph again. The first few words go well, and you congratulate yourself for having successfully resisted the attempts of the sleep monster to whisk you away. Then suddenly, another micro-nap. Again you get up, this time angry for letting this happen. And on and on it goes, with you getting more and more frustrated and irritated at yourself. Within 10-15 minutes, you are beyond the point of return. The only thing you can do at this stage is to give in and sleep peacefully for 15-20 minutes. Doing that, however, is akin to admitting defeat, so on you go, fighting, wasting a couple of hours in the process. You feel really lousy when you realize that you don't even have the faintest clue as to what the paragraph which you read atleast a dozen time contains.

Accounts, however, created no such problems. Debits and credits, however, refused to balance themselves, but at least I wasn't making too many fundamental mistakes. Money and other such materialistic matters were interspersed with reading a bit of sociology. STI was a very interesting subject and surprisingly well received by a bunch of people whom most of the rest of the world would dismiss as a bunch of capitalists / materialists. In fact, it was easily the most popular course this semester. Prof. Mathews lectures were always well attended in spite of there being no attendance. Reading up sociology was, however, a bit of a drag. It was interesting, but wasn't the sort of stuff you'd want to read before an exam, mug up, and spew out the next day. Give me a free day and I'll sit happily reading it, but don't tell me to speed read it for a paper the next day, please :| Sociology, however, did give most of us a very different perspective of life, something very different from what we otherwise got in business school. Here was a world in which hard selling was bad, consumerism was bad, 'development' under the garb of infrastructure and higher ( note, NOT better ) standards of living was something which had to be viewed cynically and after removing the money tinted lenses that most of us ( and this is not b-school specific ) tend to wear through all our lives. I don't know how many b-schools have this kind of a course, but I am really happy that K does. It does make for ironical situations when you read about targeting segments in marketing and then read how capitalism and consumerism is bad within an hour of each other, but then that's life in all its glory (!). I would prefer an attempt at balancing things ( this way ), rather than going to either of the extremes.

5 in the morning, with the last balance sheet balanced after an enormous fight and a few lost clumps of hair later, I push off to bed. The campus is, as always, filled with clouds, ghostly clumps of white streaming through the campus. This is our territory, they say, our land. They invade everything, the amphitheatre, spooking out the lights encircling them, the empty ground floors of the auditorium, the walkways, the mess, the hostel corridors, even my room, as I go back and open the balcony door and see the faint light of impending dawn at the horizon. I set 3 alarms for the morning, and have told all of my groupies to call me at 8, yes, I am paranoid of sleeping through the exams. As Wednesday would tell, I am glad I took such measures.



View from my room !


Accounts. The paper was ok. For reasons best known to nobody, I panicked like the dickens in the first 15-20 minutes. I broke out in sweat, and saw visions of me flunking and all that rot. I'd managed to stay utterly cool in one of the toughest exams in the world, CAT, and here I was, panicking for some inconceivable reason in a mid-term paper for which I was well-prepared. I lost the first 30 minutes to this. However, I regained control and breezed through the paper, solving all that I could. The trial balance balanced ( hurray ! ), and that was a huge relief ( All those who've studied accounting as a formal subject will know how much of a difference it can make when a trial balance balances - or doesn't ! ). STI was a breeze, though I wished that he'd asked more stuff to write in the paper.

The next day was one dreaded by everybody, the double-strike day - Markerting Management and Organizational Behaviour. Both subjects involved vast amounts of reading and caused frequent bouts of the semi-conscious state described earlier. This wasn't due to lack of interest or because the subjects were boring - I personally found both of them very interesting, though a large proportion of the batch would raise an eyebrow to the term both. The problem was, simply, lack of sleep. It's one thing to study a mathematical subject where you are writing, calculating and wondering how that particular figure ended up there at all, and another where you read page after page of text, although the marketing text did try its best to alleviate boredom by putting colourful pictures all over the place.



No, I didn't get up early to see this... I didn't sleep :(

After catching a quick 2 hours of sleep - an essentiality, if there's a term like that ( which there is, I guess, after seeing that Mac hasn't angrily underlined that word in red :P ) -, I start off, in what promises to be a marathon. After 11 odd hours of crazy reading, interspersed with states of semi-consciousness and visits to the NC to grab some grub, I manage to get it done. Here's to 3 hours of sleep again.

Marketing turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. Again, I freaked out and messed up some stuff, which I obviously had to go back and do again. OB, however, was pleasant. Not too tough, not very easy, the sort of stuff everybody could attempt and come out reasonably happy from.

Day 3 started on a very scary note. Rupee called up and told me that it was time to wake up - we have this system of calling up each other to ensure that nobody misses a paper due to sleeping late. It might sound weird that somebody could miss an important paper by sleeping late, but given the incredible amount of stress and sleep deprivation we were going through, it was very likely to happen. In fact, many people nodded off DURING exams, only to be prodded awake by slightly bemused invigilators and reminded that they had a paper to write. Anyway, I cut his call and got up with a start and sat on my bed. I looked at my watch, and I read the time as 4. I looked again. 4 The hour hand was on 8, and the minute one on 12, and my zonked brain smartly interpreted that as 4. It was daylight outside, so it couldn't be 4 in the morning. That meant it was afternoon. I had missed both papers! Shit !!!!! I looked at my watch desperately and my brain stubbornly kept saying 4. I looked at my mobile, it said 8. Thank god for digital watches. At that point of time I realized what I was doing to my body, to my system, to everything in me. This was crazy. I'd never been so unhinged before, not even when I was really sick. It scared me. This was unchartered territory, and yet I had no choice but to keep pushing on ahead. When things collapsed and my body gave up was anybody's guess. As it turned out, it did happened - though it was my mind and not body - on the morning of the QM paper.

Day 3 was for Management Information Systems and Managerial Communication. MIS was again very dense stuff, and a non IT background didn't help me much while dealing with databases and bits and bytes. Managerial Communication dealt with the basics of, well, managerial comm :P

It was day 3, thursday, which everybody was dreading, not because of MIS and MC, but because of the prospect of what lay in store after that. The next was a double whammy in the form of Quantitative Management ( Stats ) and Micro-economics, both heavily understanding oriented subjects, with vast syllabi. QM was full of numbers and formulae and distributions and mind-numbing concepts, while eco was filled with a bewildering array of graphs, each containing about a zillion curves. They fought amongst themselves, went up, went down, straightened, plunged below zero, and generally made life miserable for everybody. You think you understand it when you are taught it in class, you think you understand when you read it the first time, and yet, on the day before the exam, it sneaks up and laughs at you when you realize you have no clue what is going on.

Amongst all the craziness of brutal Thursday came one email which almost created a festive mood on campus - QM lectures on saturday were cancelled. We were due to submit a case analysis in that lecture, something which would have kept us up half the night our exams ended, only to wake up the next morning and trudge to class, not something which spreads cheer in the most study loving of folks.

It was a nightmare, day 3. It was brutal fight, to the finish, from 6 in the evening to 7 in the morning, when I left the library in a state of extreme agitation, close to breaking down and giving up. I had fought hard all night, and yet I was in a state of absolute panic, freaking out. Nothing made sense to me, the simplest formulae were confused with other ones. A nice bath calmed down my frayed nerves a bit, and I went to the exam with a calm, yet resigned-to-getting-sluaghtered look. I had not slept a wink, and was in an extreme state. The last 15 odd days of sleep deprivation and stress had finally got to me, a few hours earlier than I would have liked. Anyway, there was the paper in front of me, and there was no choice but to get on with it.

As it turned out, QM was quite pleasant. I came back to my room in a hurry, and proceeded to do Economics. I had worked hard for the quiz a week earlier, and therefore knew the basics. I was confident that if I managed to read through the text once, I would be in a decent position. Unfortunately, there were different plans in store for me. The lack of sleep the previous night started having its effects, and the next 2 hours were a desperate struggle, a struggle which I ultimately lost. And so I reached the paper at 2, in a completely zombied state, without have read anything properly, and having missed lunch. It was close to a disaster. After all the fight I had put up, the struggle over the last 2 weeks, it had to all end in this way.

The mood on campus was great. The sun was out, birds chirped and wide grins covered most fachcha faces. It was finally over! Many people had had a bad day, but what the heck, it was over!

I reached a semi-dead state of unconsciousness from 6 in the evening to 1 in the morning, missing dinner and half a dozen phone calls and messages. Kaveesh called, and summoned me to the NC, chastising me for doing boring activities like sleeping for hours. NC, surprisingly, was empty - a rare thing at 1, when it's absolutely bustling. While sipping coffee and tucking in an aloo paratha, he got a wicked brainwave. The whole batch was fast asleep, recuperating from the tortures of the week. But that ain't no fun. So off we decided to go, to wake up everybody to share in our joy of being alive and awake. What use is the beauty of life if you spend it in slumber and such lazy distractions was our motto. One by one, we woke up every single fellow, and asked him to join us in our crusade. Initially the seductress called sleep caused much anger and resentment in them, but they soon converted to our noble cause, the liberation of mankind from such futile activities. So off we went, our numbers swelling, chanting slogans and banging doors. The Standard Operating Procedure was set. Bang door till its opened, wait for groggy occupant to come out, push him back inside if he aint sufficiently dressed ( can't have the female members having fun at our expense ), pull him out, lift him and start swinging him, singing happy birthday all the time. Most protested wildly that it wasn't their birthday, the prospect of getting 'bumps' sent shivers down everybody's spine. But sadist creatures we weren't, our intentions were not to hurt, but to enlighten the populace to our cause. So without hurting them a bit, they were placed back on terra firma and strongly urged to join our cause. Some seniors found the whole thing a bit too dry, and promptly emptied a few buckets of water from the higher floors. On and on we went through the hostels, and finally ended up in the NC. A guitar was procured, and a good bout of singing followed. After a while this got a tad boring, so we decided to liven up the proceedings by walking to the football ground, a good 2 km away and above 2-300 feet below. So off we set, 20 odd of us, to the football field at 3.30 in the morning. The singing continued, and we might have given the watchman at the gate a bit of a fright - after all, it's not everyday that he saw 20 odd people singing at 3.30 in the morning, 2 km away from their hostels. It was good fun!

More timepass till 6, discussing life and philosphy, following which I reached by room and crashed, waking up just in time for lunch. The rest of the day went in wandering around the campus. It felt weird to have nothing to do; it was a feeling we hadn't felt from day 1. There was always just so much to do that getting half a day for yourself generally left everybody wondering what to do. Many went to the city to satisfy the cravings for fast food and for wandering around malls. Others continued to catch up on sleep; yet others went to some of the many beaches in the nearby areas. A subject submission, however, put a spanner in many people's plans, who were resigned to campus.