I had a flight to catch in exactly 60 hours and 35 minutes, the flight that would tear me away from home. Make no mistakes, I wasn’t going home. I was leaving what I called home. IIM Udaipur, my nest for the two years. I stood in the open area near the mess hall, the word ‘Convocation’ winking at me in shiny green light. It was night and people were still at work to get things ready for Convocation dinner night. A proud moment for the institute and students – to host the many parents from different parts of the country coming with one universal sentiment – seeing their wards graduate from one of the best management institutes in the country. For them, it was but a Business school, a very good one. For us, it was an adventure. I started walking towards the night canteen.
The courtyard was full of familiar faces. The huge hostels stood tall overlooking the valley. It is fabled that the view of sunrise from some of the rooms is breathtaking. Being a late riser, I have never seen sunrise but I have seen matte yellow light of daybreak, when my friend and I went to accompany one of our esteemed guests from the airport. It was the time of Solaris, our management fest. At the time of Solaris, some of us sleep fourteen hours, a week. Intensely passionate, students work on an adrenalin rush to get things in order. The various teams from hospitality to logistics work day and night for those perfect two days. The cultural fest is equally demanding. But it is worth it!
Everyone tells success stories – no one tells how much of night oil was burned in logo and website design, and how many arguments cropped up between various clubs, committees and teams and how many times people walked out of the door frustrated and then walked back in to help again, just a day later. No one tells you how difficult it will be to wake up at 8 AM the next day after you have been up till 4 AM drafting a script for Luminaire, the Dramatics night at IIMU or finalising the theme for Lit-fest or TEDxIIMUdaipur. Also unless you have been here, you won’t know the fever pitch excitement of our very own CLU and FLU, the cricket and football leagues with their very own auction system for player selection.
The night canteen was bustling with people waiting in line for their order. Mine would take a good twenty minutes. I decided to take a walk down the long thoroughfare leading from hostels to academic block, and met a group of people walking back, helmets in hand. The bikers were returning after a joyride. It was midnight. No one will tell you that IIMU is the place where you live believing that everything is possible. Be it something as simple as finding a juice shop at 2 AM in the morning, or setting off to Everest base Camp after farewell. Two of our classmates actually did that! At IIMU, you run free to follow your heart, yet you keep coming back home, to that little place in the huge world where everyone has a nickname and hostel mates become brethren.
I sat with a friend after food, planning to watch a movie. The courtyard had slowly emptied and people had retired to their rooms. No one will tell you how you never see any of the hostels completely dark. Someone or the other is always up – reading, painting, playing the guitar, and sometimes just wondering what life would be once we left this safety net. No one tells you that in IIMU, no one is allowed to sit with a broken spirit. Be it the college appointed, kind counselor who has her door open to students in stress, or be it the loving lady Doctor on campus who besides treating you for illness, once in a while helps you tuck in a Saree because you can’t get around to wearing it right. No one tells you that an Open Door policy also means Open heart Policy and you really won’t be the right fit unless you are ready to walk in with likewise open heart and mind.
"Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it" - Albus Dumbledore
We didn’t see a movie that night. We sat listening to songs till 5 in the morning. Classic Rock to Country, Metal to Blues, English to Hindi. It seemed like forever before we decided to take a walk, to see the sunrise, perhaps the first time. As we stepped outside, we heard music from the adjoining hostel. Another group of people were up too.
“So close no matter how far, couldn’t be much more from the heart…”
“They had a birthday party earlier. Looks like they stayed up the night too”, my friend said. At IIM Udaipur, you are never up alone. You will always find someone else.
We sat outside quietly a while, wondering if we can ever get over this place. As we set off for our walk, the first notes of Hotel California, by the Eagles, echoed in the night air around us.
“On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair…”
No one ever tells you, you never truly leave a place you have been in love with. You never really leave IIM Udaipur.
Pic Courtesy : Prof. Srinivasan Tatachari