I write this as I try and smuggle the remainder of minutes left from an evening that is pacing to leave. The sky is full of clouds but free of rain, which is oddly out of character. The evening or the cow dust hour had both its empire and place in the sun but now, the light retreats. It races and traipses along the same slender branches of trees that fractured it into spangling shards. This coalition of endless scattered light rays march merrily into the sun that looks like a warm copper penny lost by someone high up in the clouds. If you observe the TISS logo carefully, you could perhaps trace similarly fascinating imagery! This is my attempt at chiseling away at the iceberg of a writer's block. In that glint, I reflect a speckle on #lifeatTISS. I will float a nifty disclaimer though- if I could say it in words, there'd be no reason to paint. We're all artists here!
To the uninitiated, I am a first-year student at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai (TISS, for simplicity's sake) pursuing my post-graduation MA degree in Human Resources Management and Labour Relations. I try to distill through the article the life at the campus from my lens. My minor history is that of a Computer Science engineer who used to design video games until I got bored and ventured out in the civil pursuit of public services (Ahem, UPSC CSE). A traumatic accident and a long recuperation had prevented this pursuit from fruition. But that my moral GPS was always set at serving the society helped me cash the raffle ticket to TISS. The institute is a potpourri of schools, specializations, and students. These students begin as aspirants and are guided masterfully by a very approachable Aspirants' Relations Committee that serves as the guiding light, right from TISSNET preparation to interviews, onboarding, to getting to know the TISS culture of collaboration better by way of super creative socializing. Look out for these ARC people! If I was able to barrel through my interviews after jaw surgery, it was because of these friendly faces that helped me at each step with the greatest patience.
The diversity, which is a proud brand of TISS, comes not only from varied geographies and cultures but from different affinities, work experiences, and life experiences. We have lawyers, bankers, doctors, engineers, et al in a happy blend of permutations and combinations, including the forces of nature that are mothers. To list them would be boxing them into types so I will say that it piques one's cross-cultural curiosities, and learning becomes more fun and real-time with perspectives in pleno. This world is made of stories where its distinctive storytelling makes TISS unique in dissolving the barriers between aspirations and judgment.
And if a return to cliches I must, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single (or however you identify yourself!) graduate in possession of a good fortune (degree, work ex, etc.) must be in want of a platform. TISS is that all accommodating springboard and in that, it is not just another B-school. But since forewarned is forearmed, the schedule is just as jam-packed, and subjects just as demanding, but the 'collaborate or perish' sentiment makes sure we're all happy going concerns!
The campus is a sea of green but it is the Bombaiyya rains that give the day its personality. This is an acquired taste for me, hailing from Jaipur, Rajasthan where the desert climate is only bipolar - very hot or very cold. Some days we whisk off the brisk rainy rendezvous, on others we're held hostage to rain's longer conversations. Two designated days of the week for fieldwork immersion see us plyin', marchin', wheelin' and dealin' with the rains, potholes, heroic auto drivers, fieldwork mentors, and the eternal optimist Murphy (Murphy's Law is more reliable than the rain forecasts). We get both a bird's eye and worm's eye view of how an organization works connecting theory to life.
These observations are faithfully recorded in our fieldwork journals and documented in our memories with tender loving care. To give the soul a Kafka-esque stirring, the campus is strewn with cats and dogs and dogs and cats galore, advertising their lazier-than-thou philosophy with majestic personalities that puts all the Skimbleshanks and Scoobies of the world to shame. The Dining Halls and canteens double up as discussion addas/war rooms. It's a home away from home with the editor's unkindly cut on the comfort zones-one learns, one tries, one fails and evolves. If it is the magnetism of return on investment that appeals to you the most, Reader, consider this: the return on investiture. For the knowledge, skills, and attitude aside, the cornucopia of values that you'll leave with constitute an indispensable travel guide for the journey of life.
Where Human Resources Management has itself acquired a new silhouette in the shifting sands of time from being Personnel Management and Industrial Relations, the volleying of ideas makes us all gauge what the future of work might be and how HR will still acquire new robes and masquerade. The many industry engagement sessions with maestros and their impactful 'just-add-water' insights make it all the easier to witness this transition, in re-imagining futures. Lessons are incremental, learning is experiential, every day is a learning experience! You may not be able to get what you want but you will be able to negotiate with satisfaction. But beyond this hygiene factor of satisfaction, motivation is free-flow and full force from teachers, seniors, alumni, counselors, peers, animals, broken umbrellas, chai, poha, the long roads, the blue sky and you name it! Rituals like the mentor-mentee program, the various committees, and case study/business simulation competitions, library investigations, convening at the chai tapri make the bustling day melt seamlessly into a humming night. And only because I had invoked a Murphy moment, I watch the skies gingerly. Till the clouds decide to cough and scrape their scratchy throats, this odd prelude to Sunday saw a perfectly blue sky turn tangerine slowly as the big hours tumbled on. Usually, the rains conduct an operatic scene shift from glissandos to a soft ending coda. But the enterprising night painter has decided to cloak and soak the sky in inky darkness without cue today. I'll do the same then. Sleep is sold at thrift, I must return to my case study!
Alas, poor Yorick! He had braces. :)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Himalini Sharma is a first-year student at TISS, Mumbai, pursuing her MA degree in HRM&LR. Graduated as a Computer Science Engineer, she's always been an unadulterated Arts student at heart. An ailurophile sobering from lexical pyrotechnics, she enjoys everything from Wodehouse to Woodstock. Bombay streets are okay, you can find her romancing the city skies.