Life Of A B.Tech Student At IIM Ahmedabad – Nishant Shah
14th April 2016. 1 a.m.
As I lie down on the bed, contemplating the way my life would take turns from now on, there was a sense of apprehension surrounding my thoughts. They weren’t a liberated lot anymore. They weren’t carefree. They were sceptical. They were restricted. And you can’t blame the autonomy with which the mind generates thoughts at times. It had been almost 9 hours since I made it to IIM Ahmedabad, and once all the euphoria and celebrations aggrandising the event would settle in, the reality was bound to sink in.
What was this reality anyway?
No, it was not the fear of competition. No, it was not the fear of rigorous academics. It was definitely not the fear of placements. It was something larger than that. It was the fear of not being able to make the most out of this wonderful place full of opportunities and at the same time, not having the slightest clue about what all this place offers. Wow, that is scary. You want to do all that is possible but don’t know all that is possible.
The place gives you the opportunity to change the world. Though at the same time, it provides you with all the resources to enjoy the world. And that’s the choice you got to make as you roll along. One of the most difficult ones as it turns out.
30th December 2016.
Fast forward some eight months and here I am. More than six months old at this place. If everything can be quantified, a 33.33% MBA and almost 67% worthy of a PGP1 survivor T-shirt.
Okay, what’s the purpose of this piece of writing?
To recollect what all I have gone through at A. To share what all might be relevant for people dreaming of being at A. But most importantly, to build an aura of suspense about the life at A. And No. There is no sadistic joy in that. As I figured out, and I am sure people senior to me would agree on this, the real pleasure of life here is to stumble along your way to wisdom. To figure out by yourself what all this place is about and what else remains a mere façade. That 2 states might actually be a reality for some people and most of us would wish to lead a Raghuram Rajan life.
What all I have gone through at A?
A hell lot of things more than a hell lot of things I already imagined I would go through.
I joined the place early. Some two weeks earlier than two-third of the batch. Though that was not a choice as the PGP office had mandated some extra training for me before I get battle ready, I would have happily volunteered for this extra course anyway as did so many other enthusiastic souls, dying to experience the place early.
And thus started the best two weeks of my life at IIMA. After some few thousand WhatsApp messages flooding the (un) official IIMA converts group daily had become a regular affair, when some of the people-on-the-peak-of-their-lives generating these messages finally met in front of the glowing LKP at 10 in the evening, it was a dazzling affair. I stayed quiet as everyone else talked their heart out, networked. It was too early for me to feel comfortable with the place, with the people, I, at times, looked with awe and appreciation.
Why these two weeks so special?
After repetitive warnings by every Tuchha (A lingo for second year students of PGP course, who mostly chill out and do all sorts of activities that make a first year student dying to be in the second year) that these two weeks would be the only two weeks to enjoy at the campus for a long time, I finally succumbed to their prediction and decided to cool off.
The two weeks were spent in getting to know a lot of new people. People with a variety of backgrounds, a variety of thoughts. People with so unique freshness about them. People who were mostly curious, just as I was, about what was to unfold. I had a preoccupation that people here, largely, would carry a bit overstretched obsession with self-respect. Luckily, it wasn’t the case for most of the lot. The word ‘friendly’ did define so many.
6th June 2016 would always remain a fond memory for me. That was the day when I quite literally lived my dream. The hallowed Well-shaped class finally had a space reserved for me. I was allowed to study from some of the best professors in the country, sitting with some of the best minds in the country. What I learned academically during this extra course had something to do with MS Excel and how to give public speeches. Though hardly 20% of time and energy were spent in learning this something extra and the rest, as advised, were devoted to making ‘friends’.
Good times fly by and so did these two weeks. New faces became familiar and few of them became comforting. A ground was laid for some amazing times ahead.
I felt ready for 22nd June 2016. The day when the remaining two-thirds joined in and completed the unity. The day when I got to know my section and my study group. The day when the dorm finally looked alive and dorm-like.
The drill begins…
22nd June 2016. 8:45 a.m.
Well, this time was yet to assume the dreadfulness it would eventually assume. On the first day of the first slot of the first term, everyone was expected to display their evanescent punctuality. The first class started in Class Room 10, new campus right at the stroke of 8:45 a.m. First time in my life, I had my name tag in front of my seat and with that the official right to that seat, to that angle, to those sideys. (Another lingo used to denote anyone who lives, sits, pees, etc. beside you. They assume unparalleled importance because it is their duty to wake you up on time).
The Story builds up…
The kind of things that happen in an IIMA classroom should better remain a mystery. But from an intellectual factory to an anarchic zoo, it takes every shape and form. From thumping (to appreciate humour mostly) to slow clapping (to display utter irritation for a Desperate Class Participation and/or a failed attempt at humour in front of 90 unapologetic souls), it expresses itself thoroughly.
The first class ends exactly at 10 a.m., and with that, so many sleeping souls in the class slowly wake up to have their breakfast. Most of the liquids including tea and coffee lose their ever so famous ability to keep people awake here and when the next class starts at 10:20 a.m. sharp, the same set of people would have their eyes shut to the worldly affairs.
The rest, however, participate heavily in Class Discussions. (You get graded for your contributions in the class, and thus a sensible thing not to sleep when you are so easily allowed to). It always flabbergasted me when a Marketing professor would come up with a solution to a case study that the collective mind of 90 students was so unable to even reach closer to. But that has always been a joy of classroom discussions.
Three classes on a typical day, with the last one ending at 1:10 p.m. The time from 1:10 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. is spent in anticipation of 1:45 p.m. This is the exact time at which the notification for a surprise quiz on any subject pops up from everywhere- email, text, notice board, your section group, your study group and your friends. Though surprise quizzes didn’t seem much like surprises as people eventually figured out the schedules, PGP office could still outwit the batch of 400 students so royally on several occasions. You have one hour to collect the notes and prepare for the exam. Or else you could just sleep and let the destiny decide the course of action (Or your sidey in the exam room).
The quiz ends and with that the campus sleeps. Wow. How often do we sleep? In class, before the quiz, after the quiz. There has to be some reason behind this. Anyway, the campus wakes up again at around 6 in the evening and from then on, is full of activities that define the life at A.
Study group meetings (That often involves discussions on EVERYTHING and is usually a fun outing), midnight submissions, Case preparation (Three classes require some four hours of case preparation in total. Though this is an ideal world where everyone prepares for cases religiously. IIMA is everything but an ideal world), Quiz preparation, Club meetings (Clubs- A collective noun for all those entities who are extremely difficult to get into and people literally ‘run’ for their lives to be a part of some), hang out at Café Tanstaafl, hang out at Tapri, Hangout at Nescafe, Hangout at Café Tanstaafl (No, I haven’t repeated anything), etc, etc, etc.
Quite a list, isn’t it? Things quiet down at around 3 in the morning in the campus. This is one hour before the food outlets stop room delivery for the day. People sleep again at around 4 in the morning (Things presented here are highly generalised. I myself sleep early and so do some more on the campus). Such a wonderful time to wake up, 4 in the morning. Not here. Not anymore.
This leaves you with exactly 3 hours 45 minutes to sleep. And this explains why people sleep at awkward places at awkward times throughout the day. One of the most important decisions one would ever make here is whether to sleep a few minutes extra or go for the breakfast. Most choose the former, despite the only amazing thing that mess serves here is Breakfast. And thus, 8:45 assumes the dreadfulness very shortly in anyone’s A life.
And with this ends a very typical description of the life at A. Things are beyond that, most of the times here.
Words describing them should follow, in days to come.
To be continued…
About the Author:
Nishant Shah has finished his B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from NIT, Surat and is currently a student at IIM Ahmedabad for PGP in Management. He has interned for two months at IIM Ahmedabad under Prof. Vijaya Sherry Chand, working for the Education Innovations Bank.