The two bottles of pure, unadulterated Monk left in their wake a trail of destruction. Restrooms had been flooded, basins were balanced precariously on their supports and someone had apparently thrown up where the walls met, miserably failing in his attempt to aim for the dustbin. While most of the victims were on their fours – the violent reactions to the Monk following them to their rooms, a very senior figure among us (Bawaa) could not recognise his room in the dark and ended up sleeping on Shounak’s bed. Our tables looked like countertops – pegs arranged neatly and bottles stacked at the corner. We fell asleep with our doors wide open, not giving two cents about the wild flies, the animals or the fathers that prowled the campus late at night. When we woke up late the next morning, a solitary notice loomed large on the notice board – strictly banning the consumption of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and underlining the importance of the dustbin.
Class Participation is an important parameter to judge a student’s on the go understanding of a topic being taught in class. It was also an important parameter to secure five marks – sometimes the thin line between taking a bad test and a very bad test. Emotions were high whenever the opportunity to capitalise on basic questions arose. As such, it helped produce nihilistic discussions between students and professors – including conversations like:
Professor: “On the basis of the brand prism – explain what does Samsung’s logo mean to you?”
Student A: “It enforces the relationship between a customer and Samsung on the basis of trust. Blue has been known to be commonly used as a colour of warmth. You see the colour of the sky is blue, and you feel happy when you see the sky on a sunny morning, which is ironic because are sun is dying and we are hurtling towards death…”
And so on and so forth. The rest of us would be holding our heads in our hands – wondering at the creativity of our peers. I am not going to lie though. I have been on both sides of the table, as with every passing semester, I began to realise the importance of those five marks.
Desperate Class Participation: When you would also mention how, with nil relevance to Samsung’s brand prism, Columbus discovered America.
As MBA students, we often had to present our views and understanding of lessons learnt in class. Presentations were often a group activity – more often than not, comprising people who would otherwise not interact in real life. Luckily, our group shared excellent team chemistry.
Often a group would comprise the following:
The free rider, who’d appear late for the meetings (or remain absent), would contribute almost nothing to the content, and was handed the critical responsibility of introducing the topic to the class in two lines or less.
[The following is an actual conversation that happened during the presentation:
“So this topic deals with the subject of, uh … the impact of the business on the… uh…”
(On the mike, looking at me) “Go on Somak, you take the rest.”
“I am sorry, what?!”
“You know, just say something!”
“You are on the fucking mike!” (I mouthed towards the speaker, as I could hardly believe what was happening.)]
The one who’d constantly fiddle with his or her phone during the meeting, content to handle whatever topic were given to him or her.
The guitarist, who’d carry a guitar to the meetings, keeping us entertained (or distracted) while the rest of us worked on the presentation. He’d stop by two in the morning, when most of the group had left or were concentrating very hard on their content with their eyes shut and heads bowed in deference to the topic.
The one with the serious face, giving the impression that he or she was extensively involved – although, more often than not – he or she would be thinking about food.
The hard workers, who’d work hard to prepare the presentation often at the cost of a good night’s sleep.
Within our group, we conveniently rotated strike.
[The Accidental Road Trip]
Our class representative Sobhan, a dear friend of mine, would often come out with the weirdest of ideas at the most inopportune of moments. Somnath and I would agree to his demands, because at six in the morning – we’d be too tired to protest. One such day (with the semester presentation a few hours away), at the break of dawn, Sobhan convinced us to ride to Puri on our motorcycles for breakfast. We were already hungry – at that time, it seemed like a good idea to trust his motorcycle.
It was a morning out of a dream. Our campus looked beautiful in the lambent glow of the street lamps. The morning sun, akin to a reluctant child who hated going to school, refused to let go of her blanket of fog – as the motorcycles coughed to life, waking up the odd bird or two from their deep slumber. We travelled in the darkness, watching the sun rise, letting our hair loose in the cold wintry wind (enough with the hair now) and for a moment, we had forgotten that there was a real world to return to. It was only when we realised that we were lost, and Sobhan’s motorbike had suffered an indefinite death – did fear grip our hearts, as we realised the presentation was a few minutes away. Eventually, we did make it about a minute before the scheduled start of the presentation.
Ironically, Shounak missed the entire presentation as he overslept – the effects of the night before – and the bastard ended scoring higher than any of us.
Recruiters would routinely visit our university – looking for the right fit for their roles on offer. During such times, a frenzy would grip the entire university. CVs would be crafted to perfection – the poets, writers and the narrators in each of us would flourish during those times. Take for instance the phrase: “efficient workflow monitoring at site” – which basically meant, I was good at begging the incompetent labourers to work.
Group discussions conducted by recruiters had the unique ability to bring out the intrinsic aggression in us. Men (and women) of few words would drown out the rest of the world, as we’d struggle to express our thoughts in the stipulated ten minutes – that could make or break careers. GDs would also see action – take for instance the infamous elbow to the solar plexus that knocked the wind out of one of my batch-mates, just as he was opening his mouth to make his point. Or the pull of the blazer – that sent the perpetrator and the victim into a frenzy – resulting in the entire group getting scrapped. I was once guilty of scratching my socks in the middle of a GD – thus effectively ruining my candidature for the said role. It is said that phrases like “With all due respect,” “I agree with your point,” “I would like to add one more point” and their likes were used in GDs long before they found their way into the hit courtroom dramas that you pay to watch on Netflix.
End sems meant, group study. If it were finance, we’d flock to Adit’s room – one of the few respected wannabe CAs left on earth. His room would be like the Eden Gardens – people would climb up on branches, on top of roofs to listen to what he would teach. In the midst of all this, Asim would wage a lonely war against esoteric topics – too proud to seek help. Fruitless hours of battle later, he’d appear with a stoic face – resigned to his fate and joining the likes of Bawaa and me – who’d be intently playing Need For Speed on his TV and I’d be closely tracking and criticising his performance in the game. Ansh, the naturally gifted singer – would keep us engaged through songs between chapters. This would in turn awaken Shounak from his stuff induced sleep, who’d appear like an emaciated ghost with a guitar (that was almost as big as him) in the corridor. At the end of the half hour hiatus – we’d return sadly to our books, while Shounak would return to his bed.
On the other hand, Saarthak was the most intelligent of us – he’d strategically organise his topics between educational videos that provided him the right form of motivation. Be careful now, this technique requires a lot of experience. For instance, Asim – who once tried to emulate Saarthak – ended up watching educational videos for hours, ultimately sapping his energy and drive. Or take Monty for example. He’d study the first chapter from the book, the second chapter from the notes and the third from the slides, leaving the rest to his imagination – confident of his abilities to outshine the world. We could only but wonder at his genius and confidence. During the final hours, we would chalk out seating strategies to pool and exploit our knowledge bases in the exam hall. The accepted gestures were: thumbs up for a yes, thumbs down for a no, and the middle finger if you didn’t know the answer.
Arjun, nicknamed Takatak or Chatpati was the most organised of us all. He was a tall, lanky chap who was gifted in the midfield. He was also notorious for his fear of lizards and chameleons. He would generally ask the elderly Bawaa to help – the gentleman that he was, Bawaa would oblige. His gravity defying leap on seeing the chameleon in the corridor will be forever etched into our memories.
Meanwhile realisation would strike Babula later than everyone. At exactly two o clock in the morning, on the day of the exam – he’d appear at our doors, the face of a man who’d seen a ghost – imploring for help; far removed from the confident, energetic Babul that matched the pretty women in our university functions, step for step. He was their darling – an adorable man with a heart of gold. Unlike Asim, who’d tactically select targets and fail miserably every time. I still owe him an apology for having barged in on a target that he had almost acquired.
At least that’s what he tells us.
[ P.S – It was recently brought to my notice by Sattu that Ansh would be terrified of lizards as well. Unlike Chatpati, he had a more dignified approach in dealing with such undesirable guests. When grilled about his discomfiture very recently, he asked a very logical question, “Why should someone else share a single-seater with me?” We can’t but agree with his POV.]