Not A Fresher’s Journey To IIM Lucknow – The Highway To Hel(L)

“I have heard there are 2012 pass outs in our batch as well. How do they even have the energy to do an MBA? Don’t they feel old?” quipped a gleeful “fresher” walking right in front of me (she, obviously, didn’t know about my background just 15 days into the program). My name is Sambhavi Ganguly. I joined IIM Lucknow (popularly known as “Hel(L)” among the students) in 2017. I have 4 years of work-ex in the electronics industry. I am a 2012 engineering graduate, and I don’t feel old!  

It was a hot sunny day when I stepped into the magnanimous campus of IIM Lucknow. You know that feeling when you’ve wanted something for way too long and it’s right there in front of your eyes, in its full glory and grandeur. All I could do was breathe in the aura, the beautiful tall trees that lined the roads, the red-bricked buildings and the nature that was just beaming with greenery.

Within no time, the very dreaded induction week was here. I was running from pillar to post trying to get a pair of black socks to go with a black belt and neatly tied hair for the formal attire which was the dress-code of the day. I will never forget the security guard who was kind enough to lend me his socks and the senior eating in the mess whose belt I borrowed (Yes, I wore a guy’s belt for the lack of any better alternative). The 3 days of constant tasks, writing articles, group presentations, frantic searches for polo neck t-shirts, 5 minutes of dinner and barely an hour of sleep finally culminated into an awesome party the seniors threw! I was up till 3 am, hopping hostels and dancing around. It is safe to say, parties here are as fun, as they say, no overstatement! (Especially when you see tipsy folks dancing and toppling over the pavement they oversaw because of course “Mujhe chadhti nai”)

But who knew the real party was yet to begin. The classes started from the very next day. I was so excited for my first class. The whole “2 States” classroom kind of benches with name tags, chirpy classmates and the honour of studying in one of the finest b-schools of the country had me up and about. But I guess it was too early to feel that happy. The classes began, and to my surprise, I found it so hard to keep my attention intact. Besides, there are marks for CP (class participation), so you snooze you lose. And there were lawyers and CA’s sitting in my class asking all kinds of brilliant questions. And there I was, looking at them in awe, sitting with my “too much work-ex” in “too irrelevant a field”, not knowing what to do with the subjects being taught (especially with my CP, clearly, going down the drain). The subjects were all so new, nothing I had studied in school and college (the pain of every engineer pursuing an MBA).

And there came the result of my first quiz, managerial economics, 5.735/10! What! I have always been a 10/10 student all my life. What, in the world, was this! (P.S. I didn’t know the 3rd decimal digit of your marks would be of significance too). I was utterly distressed, and obviously, no one cared. But the thing about IIM Lucknow is, it never lets you stay unhappy for something for too long. The moment you start brooding over something, well, it hands you the next thing to crib about. The deadline for the CV submission was at 11:59:59 (Yes, that’s how they give you the deadlines here. And “the deadlines are sacrosanct”). Another moment of existential crisis! I felt like I had done nothing in my life, to write about, in my CV. People were writing about the national level basketball trophies and international mathematics Olympiads they had won, and there I was, sitting with my “1st prize” in the fancy dress competition I had won in 3rd standard (I had dressed up as Miss India by the way).

Within weeks, I was running around with my CV, trying to make sense of the “achievements” (if you can call it that) I had glorified in it. Before coming here, I was well-known in my friend-circle for being the sleepiest person ever. (I didn’t sleep, I hibernated!). But here, getting 5 hours of sleep at night seems like a rare luxury. We have classes all day, then quizzes and group assignments, case studies, CV reviews, committee selections. There is barely any time left to sleep, let alone admire the aesthetics of the beautiful campus, especially in the rains.

But you know what they say, birds of a feather flock together. Your batch mates become your closest friends, as they are the ones who harbour similar dreams and understand what you are going through. You fall down and rise again. You enjoy the thrill of “00:59:59” and the magic of being a part of a different world altogether.

I am yet to figure out the head and tail of the three magical letters “M”,”B”,”A”, but I am hoping to sail through. Let’s see how the year turns out to be, but the experience of being here in itself is something I will cherish forever.

Signing off

A proud Hel(L)ite

Sambhavi Ganguly

Sambhavi Ganguly is a second-year student at IIM Lucknow. She is a Core Member of IIM Lucknow's Industry Interaction Cell. She has about 4 years of work-ex in Synopsys India as an R&D Engineer. She loves reading and dancing. She lives by the mantra of "Keep it simple, silly!" :)