Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Return to the Red Bricks ...

"Sir, aap? Kahaan jaana hai aapko?" asked the ever so sincere guy as I got off the auto. The last time the guy had, was the first time I had been there - a nervy but excited entrance into a campus much revered by B-school aspirants and others alike. 

"Sir? Aap se hi poocha .." he reminded me and broke me out of the nostalgia I had sunk into so quickly! "Old student bhaiyya. Dorm 4 jaana hai," I replied quickly to avoid giving him any suspicions of a random stranger having walked into the campus. From student to old student, but it was a unique and proud feeling to tell him, I had not too long ago been a part of this wonderful institution as well! "Arre, aap log to aate hi rehte ho. Chalo yahaan sign kar do," he said, and let me pass into the campus; for my first visit back to IIMA after graduating about six months ago. 

Two weeks prior to that, I had received a call from the folks at Airtel to ask if I wanted to go back to campus for the Pre Placement Talk by Airtel; and I had no second thoughts while saying yes. Who wouldn't want to go back to the place - that gave me so many memories, great, good, bad and ugly! 

The walk up the Harvard steps took me back to the times where I sat there late into the night, talking about some crazy ideas with my friends! LKP's grass as pristine as it had ever looked resonated the wonderful memories of the convocation and the proud walk up the stage to collect the diploma. The mess, as good as ever. And the dorm, a lot more active than it had ever been in my days there. 

Random talk with friends in the dorm, the walk around campus in what else but a campus T-Shirt, going down the Old Campus classroom corridor to that place which has the photo of the graduating batch; and spot 380 odd proud faces beaming down at you. And somewhere in the bunch, you spot yourself; and have your case taken for having looked like an uncle back then with the moustache! 

The folks outside the campus were there as well. The Dosa-uncle gave a smile to show he recognized me. But made me the laughing stock of the group with his follow up question 'Shaadi ho gaya bhaiyya?' and saying I've become erm .. Healthier! The coffee that was once the solution for the headaches, the pressure, an insomnia cure during boring lectures and for time-pass when there was little left to do, now cost an insane 20 bucks! "Sir, ab to naukri mein lakhon kama rahe ho. Bees rupya hi to hai!" he said when I asked him about the inflation. 

The walk to New Campus and CR7 (not Cristiano Ronaldo!) kindled memories of the numerous quizzes, PPTs and the random bakar during the breaks between sessions! And the spaces near the canteen reminded me of the disastrous Mafia game sessions - the hang of which I never got!

And the PPT! Who knew the recruiter code, and waiting in the Placement office before the PPT. Like every other student, I just walked right up to the classroom only to be brought back to the placement committee office. The same PlaceCom who had looked so serious in the days in the institute, treated you so differently once you are an alumnus. But my biggest worry was to avoid looking like a fool in front of Airtel's top brass while sharing my experiences from the corporate world and the Airtel Young Leader Program in the PPT. 

But it really hit me the most, that I was no longer a student when eager fachchas tried to interact with me and ask intelligent questions possibly under the impression that these may fetch a brownie point some day during the placements (Just like I did in my Summer Placement Days!). And oh! The authority with which you could break the line and pick up the Sub and the cake before it emptied out. 

I took a walk around IMDC, with the grass still wet from the previous night's drizzle. A place I had sworn to avoid after the ugly memories of the tears and sadness during the disastrous summer placements of mine. But this time, my memories drifted to the fond and unforgettable hugs given to your best mates during the final placements and the relief you heaved once you had that placement offer! If only those very friends could have been here as well, I thought. 

As I walked around campus, there were stares from people who were probably wondering who is this guy walking around at such a leisurely pace, when there's so much to be done and so little time. There were these surprise meetings with people who recognized me from this very blog, that were extremely humbling. And the mandatory meeting with the PSBBians and MANITians at IIMA!  

The two days I thought would suffice to relive the campus experience (and IIMA gave it all including the splitting headache that I often got when I was there!), but the taste of those two days, only left me yearning for more; and hoping I get a chance to be back on campus soon!

When you go back to your undergraduate engineering institute after a year or two, you still have people you know from your college days. But in your B-School, after a year, all that is left for you to enjoy are the memories from your two year stay there! The next time I come down to campus, I may not really know anyone out there, but I am sure the memories and just the feeling of being back at WIMWI, will make it a memorable time :)

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