I converted last minute. I can’t remember half the thoughts I had at the time. I’d grabbed my papers and bid farewell to Kochi on a rainy evening. They’d told me that Mumbai was hot and happening – a melting pot of cultures – a city deliciously wrapped in dreams. It barely mattered to me. To someone whose long-term goal is to run a farm in Iceland, whatever Mumbai had to offer – at least in the context of fun – was inconsequential.
“People will be cutthroat. They won’t just want to do well, they’ll also want you to do worse. And they’ll hate you because you’re mallu” my aunt told me over tea followed by a suggestion that I groom myself better for the ‘IIM life’. Another common one was “You don’t seem like the MBA type”. “What is the MBA type?” I’d accidentally asked one of my seniors from college. “Zombies who can crunch numbers and people alike” and I remember thinking – ‘Well, I’ve got neither sorted’. Coming from a chilled out engineering college that demanded no specific personality traits, academic rigour or skill (I know the engineering community can relate), this was an entirely different ball game.
I was discouraged - to say the least. I imagined an institution where everyone constantly tried to drag each other down and addressed each other by their last names. I imagined the professors to be monsters – determined to harass anyone who didn’t conform to their high standards. I was expecting a nightmare but not one bit prepared for it.
Then it happened – orientation turned to fresher’s party turned to hectic schedules turned to wild birthday bashes in the cafeteria and I saw all my premonitions falling apart. “I do a bit of stand-up comedy” – I confided in my roommate. That conversation snowballed into a mutual spillage of some heavy beans. I sat on my bed as she laughed at my unintentional mistakes in Hindi, wondering how this woman who was such an obvious ‘fit’ for the MBA life – a supposed cutthroat witch – was here reading through my set of tinder jokes.
The professors urged us to raise questions and made no demeaning remarks whatsoever. There was an attempt to connect from their side which took me by surprise. One day, our operations professor got mad at us for not knowing a particular data from a case study. Everyone started flipping pages in a frenzy to find this number and a few seconds later, the prof broke into a chuckle as he admitted that the demanded data doesn’t exist at all.
There’s a sense of belonging that I feel with the people here. Something that I really did not anticipate. The batch size is small, so we all are constantly in touch. To the point that we even know each other's schedules and weekend plans. And no matter what issues we might run into, there’s always someone around to help - because no one is a stranger. And I don’t know if Mumbai really is the ideal melting pot of cultures but IIM Indore Mumbai definitely is.