The morning began with a nostalgia-inducing newspaper article on going back to campus. Thoughts wandered back to the time when I was a gangly, wide-eyed new student on my B-School campus. While I cannot remember too much of the stuff I crammed into my head during the two years, there are some awesome memories that flash forward in my mind when I think of all good things on campus.
The buildings. Our campus was made of grey stone. Set amidst lots of trees and greenery, just looking at the massive edifice gave you a sense of purpose and history. When I saw the building for the first time during my group discussions and interview, suddenly I so desperately wanted to be a part of the group of people who wandered through these magnificent settings in their shorts and t-shirts, casually owning the place. When it was time to leave at the end of two years, I went around taking snaps of each of those buildings, feeling happy to have just been in such architecture.
The canteen. After eating school and college hostel stuff that qualified as food by a thin margin, food here seemed gloriously rich and tasty. I was shocked when I found out that a batchmate was forced to eat out everyday since he found the food here ‘unpalatable’. Sure the watery Maggie noodles served on Thursdays, may not have been entirely interesting. But boy, Desan, the ex-army canteen manager of ours, ensured that the chicken curries and rawa dosas were scrumptious.
The finance quizzes. No I am not a geek who gets her kicks out of drawing binomial trees. In the first term of corporate finance, we encountered our God-Corp Fin prof who was so funny that all the women had a crush on him and all the men wanted to be as effortlessly witty. His quizzes were full of puns, Bollywood stories and plenty of dry humour, all carefully built around some discounting problem to find IRR and NPV. Half my time used to go in chuckling at the questions, and the rest used to be spent in actually solving the problems. But not all fin quizzes are wired into my mind for pleasant reasons. I remember sitting in an open book, three-question Derivatives final that stretched for four hours. Everybody was watching everyone else watching everyone else. Eventually we all wrote something, submitted our papers and then spent years afterwards recounting our individual traumas.
The admin man. Every institute has a super-efficient admin guy who does work, unhindered by anything as namby-pamby as human emotions or personal biases. During exams, it was his job to ensure we began on time, got the correct quizzes and did not attempt anything as foolhardy as copying from each other. In one of the exams, my batchmate was solving a quiz by the tried and tasted method of tossing a coin. Admin man looked at everyone sternly and said ‘no exchanging of coins’. With a twinkle in his eye. I think that was the only time I saw him say something nearing a joke.
The campus shop. That supplied everything, including very very desi pizzas and tomato ketchup from red, plastic containers that must have had an entire ecosystem thriving on its edges.
Placements. The flashpoint to which the two years in campus are pretty much supposed to lead. Finding that your name is not on the list, whereas that of the batchmate ranked 20 places below is there. Hearing ‘November Rain’ blasting out from your friend’s room as she mulled over being rejected in yet another group discussion. Writing pages and pages of Statement of Purposes and polishing up your C.V. It was a stressed out, ugly time. In the course of a few hours, your entire two years on campus got translated into a brand name job and great starting pay. After all these years, most of us have realized perfect jobs do not translate to consulting or investment banking. Each of us has found happiness and/or success in different fields. If only, we had had the wisdom back then…
The B block. Whose 1st and 2nd floors were occupied by the girls. We thought we were too cool. We were sure we were funnier and cleverer than most people and when our juniors came, we passed on this message to them too. We made some of our best friends there and they continue to be so till day.
That feeling. That others gave you when you told them you were a student at a premier institution. People used to read about fancy starting pays on your campus and look at you with pride or envy (depending on whether they liked you or not). When your cousins told their friends where you were studying. When the world seemed to be full of possibilities, most of it involving being the CEO of Lehman Brothers/HLL someday. You were considered as one of the smartest and the best in the whole country.
I was too old by the time I came to B-School to give it the kind of absolute ‘perfection’ certificate that I gave my class twelve days. But it sure had its moments.