Monday, September 22, 2008

Sleep ? Eh ?

And thus we landed up in the exam week. Lectures had ended last Thursday, leaving us with 3-4 days without lectures, which was quite a relief as it let us study late into the night without worrying about nodding off in a lecture the next morning. The center of activity shifted from the night canteen to the library. Rupee practically made the library his home; keeping all his books and other study material inside and never bringing them out. I think he would done well to shift his bed also in, although that would have been a bit of an overkill considering how many hours he slept ( 1 hour of sleep = 1 hour of staying away from the books was the formula used by most of the toppers ).

Sunday night. I studied till around 5 in the morning and went off to bed, only to realize to my utter frustration that I just couldnt fall asleep. This had been bothering me for quite a while now - insomnia when I slept really late. It was extremely irritating - I was suffering from serious sleep debt, and here I was, tossing and turning for hours. Usually the nightmare started at 5 in the morning, and ended at around 6.30, after I resigned myself to my fate and went out to the balcony to see the sunrise - which was magnificent, as always. Somehow, after doing that, sleep quickly took over. I have a sneaking feeling that I am a nocturnal creature. The calmness and tranquility of the night make me want to stay awake even when I have nothing to do, and then just as the sun rises, I somehow manage to switch off an sleep blissfully till lunchtime.

Monday was the day of the last Accounts quiz, one in which I hoped to get the few marks required to clear the course. I'd always been paranoid about clearing subjects, although everybody keeps telling me that the relative grading system takes cares of that quite easily. I guess its a hangover from the engineering days, when Pune University made our lives miserable by make us fight to the very end for clearing some subjects. Things were so tough then that some of the University toppers had had a few KTs ( Fail for the uninitiated ) on their way! The quiz turned out to be a nightmare though, and it was left for me to complete the formalities later that week in the Accounts end-term paper. My preparation for the end-terms started after the quiz, with the intention of getting 2 full days till the first paper on Wednesday, thus minimizing the addition of sleep debt to the nightmare that I was going to live through during the exams.

Alas, as always, that never happened. Micro-economics, my bugbear for most of the sem, was the first paper, followed by Quantitative Methods later that day. Studying eco took a horrendous amount of time, especially since I needed to do well in it to avoid a possible D or F. Thankfully, QM was open book, which took the pressure off quite a bit. I finally managed to wrap it all up at around 5 in the morning on Wednesday, and went off to the paper with about an hour and a half's sleep. Both papers went ok; a good start to the exam. Wednesday evening, night and Thursday was the day of despair for most people, with the deadly combination of Management Information Systems and Marketing Management, both heavy duty rote learning subjects which left most of us non-mugging junta crying for relief. The amount of stuff we had to cover in around 12 hours ( there was no question of sleep, of course ) was unbelievable. I'd always thought that the amount I had to go through before papers in engineering was a lot. Back then, I atleast had 2 days before each paper to study everything at leisure. Here, I had 2 subjects, each with more content that most engineering subjects, to be covered in 12 hours. It was beyond sanity. 5 am again, and I finally manage to hit the bed after blitzkrieging through the material. 1 and a half hours of sleep and I ready to hit the paper again. So far, so good.

Thursday evening had 1 task to be done which I would have given a lot to have avoided - I had to rush to the railway station to change our boarding station for the journey back home. I had booked the tickets online in an extremely groggy state on Monday morning, annoyed and frustrated at the lack of sleep, and had forgotten to change the boarding point from Trivandrum to Calicut, with the effect that I now had to physically go to a reservation center and get it done. So there I was, at Kozhikode station, a good 20 km away from campus, bang in the middle of my exams. Great!

Thursday night was panic-attack time for me. I have this strange mental block against accounts, probably a result of listening to too many horror stories about it. The accounts mania is present amongst most engineers, and whether you will take up finance or not is usually decided by the level of accounts mania you suffer from. By midnight, the panic attack had reached its peak, with me fidgeting and and sweating and doing all sorts of weird things and convincing myself that i would not even get those 3 marks I needed out of 40 to pass in accounts. Kaveesh, who has been my accounts teacher for the sem gave me an exasperated look and tried to convince me, in vain, of course, that I would do sodding well if only I stopped being an idiot and stayed calm. After a while, I did manage to get a trace of sanity into the proceedings, and worked steadily till morning. This night was good for me, I got some more sleep, 2 hours compared to the 1.5 each night so far!

With a trace of apprehension, I took the accounts paper in hand. Didn't look so bad. Hmm. I solved the cash flow problem, but things weren't adding up. Giving it up for later, I went to the reconciliation problem. 10 minutes, and it was solved. 8 marks. Not bad, I thought. Another easy caselet on balance stocks and stuff. Solved. That was good. Things were looking up. Back to the cash flow one, to give the thing another chance to behave itself and surrender to me. Wonder of wonders, it did! I could have almost done a war-dance there!

With accounts done and over with, the major chunk of the exam was over, although we did not know how Organizational Behaviour would sneak up from nowhere and give us a real frustrating time by just refusing to get over quickly. All night I plodded on and on and on. I'd always liked reading OB, but doing it this way was mind-numbing. Finally, at 7 in the morning, I put the book aside and had a bath, and braced myself for the day ahead. Managing to go through 2 papers after a completely sleepless night was going to be tough. I'd always wondered how people could feel sleepy in exams, didn't the tension keep them up? 2 papers into the mid-sems, and things became crystal clear. This was an altogether new world, a different level. Nikhil's Gtalk status message summed things up perfectly : 'Buzyy.... Buzzzzzy...... Buzzzzzzzzzzy.... zzzzzzy..... zzzzzz'. As hard as the mind can try, sometimes, the body just cant keep up. And so people fell asleep in almost all papers, which made others sitting next to them frantically call the invigilators to wake them up. Most invigilators are kind enough to comply. I dread the day when one of them simply refuses to :| Some of them are even kind enough to keep a keen eye on everybody and themselves wake up people who've nodded off, with a sharp rap on the desks and a 'likho, paper likho' instruction. I solved the OB paper in a dazed state of mind, wondering whether it would have been a better idea to have left a few chapters undone and slept for a while.

The last paper was Managerial Communication, which was preceded by a mad dash towards running through all the material we had for the subject in the space of the 2 hours. The 2 hours of the MC paper were probably the groggiest of my life. I hope I don't repeat this silly idea of not sleeping at all again during the course :| I slept for a total of 7 hours in a 102 hour period starting from Tuesday and ending when I went to sleep in the train. It was crazy, something which I could not have even thought of before starting my MBA.

The mood on campus was one of exhilaration, as smiles of relief and cries of joy broke out everywhere. It was, finally, over. For all those homesick fellas, all that separated them from home sweet home was the journey, most of which would go in sleeping. There was no smile on my face, though. I was running around frantically, trying to trace my cell phone, which I had managed to forget somewhere during the day. I couldn't go back without it, and I had exactly 1 hour to pack, fill out some important forms, and locate the damn thing. After 15 minutes of crazy searching, I found it lying peacefully on a table in the library. This is 1 thing about Kampus which I really like. Nobody touches your stuff. You can keep your phone, your laptop, your books, anything you like anywhere, and you can rest assured that nobody will touch it, unless some kind soul picks it up and drops a mail saying 'so and so item found...', which is not a bad idea when you forget things like USB drives, which can sneak into some corner and be lost to the world for ever. I've done all of it, having managed to forget my eco textbook in the first week, my helmet, my clothes in the bath and the washing machine room, my USB drive, and now this. I even came across a familiar looking pullover the other day outside the library. Who else was in fergusson college, I wondered, before it dawned on me, that that was err, mine, and I had forgotten it there a few days earlier.

A stern warning from Nikhil to haul myself to the hostel entrance in 10 minutes robbed me of a parting cuppa at the NC. But finally, everything was done and set. Hopefully I hadn't forgotten anything important. The last 3 months had been incredible. Despite the pressure, the stress, the constant running around, the struggle to keep up with others academically, the constant fight against sleep and the body, the curses of friends who always got a 'sorry yaar, talk to you later' when they called or pinged, and an occasional feeling of 'why am I doing this?', it was a fantastic, fantastic experience. I had been stretched to the very limits physically and mentally at the same time, and it felt good! Time seemed to have flown by; it seemed like just yesterday that I'd landed up here, walked down that red-tiled path, gazing in wonderment at the stunning vistas around me. Just yesterday that I'd met all these wonderful people here, and yet it now feels as if I know them since ages!
I'd always looked forward to the MBA life, and here I was, a sixth of it over already! With a happy yet slightly nostalgic heart ( for heaven's sake, I was coming back in 10 days! ), I sat in the rickshaw and we trundled along downhill. That's it from God's Own Campus for the moment till I return next semester for another 3 months of globing, gassing and rotting around. Till then, the onus of bearing with me shifts to good ol' Pune!

No comments: