Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Next Step

The summer placements at IIML are over and the next two months promises to have some super action. There are Nirvaan - the entrepreneurship summit of E-Cell of IIML , Index - the disguised market research fair, Samvit - the leader's conclave by IIC to name a few. And in the term break, I fly out to Mumbai for the Christmas weekend. But yes, before that I got my mid-terms that start in 4 days. So lets get back to studies. Bbye!
Saturday, October 09, 2010

The other side of Sunderbans

It was my first term-break at IIM Lucknow and I was desperate to maximize the opportunity. So when mom informed me that we were going on a short trip to the Sunderbans, I was excited. Would I be able to see tigers? Will they be in their guarded cages or swimming in the water (tigers are great swimmers by the way)?
So after 6 days of exams, one Loyola 12D - IIM L meet and one day of customary visits to relatives, I was off to the beautiful world of the sunderbans. It was the middle of September and the monsoons were in full swing. We equipped ourselves with enough food and clothing for the trip and at 9am on a beautiful morning, we were off. The route map told us that we had to first visit the beautiful Ramakrishna Mission Ashram at Nimpith which we duly reached within 3 hours.
Now I had been to several Ramakrishna Mission Ashrams before this. But this one really struck me. The way they welcomed us was amazingly heart-warming. Quickly we were allotted a room and asked to freshen up. After about half an hour when the call for lunch came, we were taken to a nearby building. Supposedly, they had a marriage hall on the side and there the lunch was non-veg. Now after 3 months of aloo and baigan and donno what not at the legendary IIM Lucknow mess, I can't tell you how desperate I was to have a proper bengali lunch - the world famous macher jhol bhaath. And boy, was it great! The manager of the Nimpith RK Mission, a friend of my youngest uncle, was telling us some trivia. It turned out that the fish we had were local catch and not imported from the main city, which in this case is Kolkata. The chicken we tasted later was a hybrid of an Indian and an Israeli chicken. Turns out, these chicken grow three times faster and bigger than the ordinary Indian chicken thus providing more yield.
After a sumptuous lunch and a short afternoon nap, we set out to our final destination - Kaikhali, on the banks of river Matla. By the time we reached the Kaikhali Paryatan Abash, it was already dusk. Nimpith Ashram Maharaj had granted us permission to stay there which meant we were allotted rooms immediately. The river bank and some cool weather provided the perfect setting for a relaxed evening walk. But unfortunately, for reasons obvious we were not allowed. So we went off to sleep pretty early in anticipation of an exciting trip to the Sunderban islands the next morning.
7 am and I hear a thumping on my door. The mess boy had brought me my morning tea. It was 7 am and we were supposed to get ready in an hour. The boats were ready. I went over to my parents' room and learnt that they had already had a morning walk around the area. Apparently, it wasn't crowded and the place was beautiful. So we got ready and reached the river bank by 8:30. A motorboat was waiting for us with breakfast packets inside. Within minutes, we were off. The boat cut across the barrage of submerged trees and you could well make out what carnage Aila had done to these areas. The banks of the rivers, which supposedly had a lot of buildings, were devastated by the cyclone last year. As we moved to the island of Jharkhali, I kept looking at the water in anticipation of some tigers. But our guide told us that due to the rains most of the tigers had retreated to the inner forests of Sunderbans. Some kind of relief. As we reached Jharkhali, we headed to the jungle area. Now there were various boards which told us that there was a jungle reserve and a park ahead. So we headed the way of the reserve. The next one hour went about exploring the area. The way a forest was encircled by islands was truly amazing. There were some parks and some villages. But a lot of it was devastated by Cyclone Aila last year. Pity, 'cos what could have been a wonderful tourist destination, was affected so badly by nature's fury.
After about 2 hours of roaming around, we took our boat back to Kaikhali. Our guide told us that in winter we could go to the inner islands as well. Right now, those areas were inaccessible due to monsoons. Also we should never stay in boats in the nights. Tigers are known to have swam and killed locals during the night. No worries for us 'cos we got back to shore just in time for lunch. Meanwhile, I had a short walk round the area. The RK Mission had done an a tremendous job in turning around the area. Locals were employed in bakery, fishing, cattle rearing and other businesses all under the RK Mission banner. Upon return to Nimpith, we saw a biotechnology college, a school and a hospital all run by locals under them. The sheer amount of employment generated was remarkable and truly worth applause.
With some lovely memories, we headed back to Kolkata. Our two day trip was over. Jamshedpur was the next destination and I just couldn't wait to go to meet my mates at XLRI.
Friday, August 20, 2010

A New Start to 'Life

Its now been a month at HEL(L), and am slowly starting to get hold of the changes that have happened after coming here. The distinction between days and nights has vanished, sleep times (if I get to sleep that is) have changed, eating habits have changed, and the ability to sustain any kind of pressure too. Assignments, committee selection interviews, group tasks, reports and quizzes have become the order of the day (and night). Life seems to have suddenly become very hectic.
Exactly 30 days ago, 8th June 2010, as the 12:10 IndiGo flight from Kolkata (actually it starts from Bangalore, then goes to Kolkata, then Patna, Lucknow and Mumbai... Gosh... The pilot and air-hostesses must have been drained) touched down at the calm and quiet Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport at Lucknow, I felt excited. I was at the 'City of Nawabs' - Lucknow, the city which was to be 'my city' for the next 2 years, the city where I was about to start a fresh new life.

Compared to the buzzing activity at Kolkata's Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, this airport seemed very calm and quiet. The officials and staff seemed to wake up to the fact that an aircraft landed. The only passengers at the premises were from our flight. Interesting! Thereafter, me and Rahul (who was accompanying me in the flight) booked a cab which was to take us directly to our home - Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow. A long 45 min ride which clocked a distance of over 30 kms brought us to the entrance of the campus. A serious security personnel greeted us and asked us some details before ushering us in. The logo of the institution was shining bright at the centre of the road and the words 'Indian Institute of Management Lucknow' looked beautiful embossed on stone at the side of the gate. A statue of Arjun greeted us as we entered the campus along with another statue which had a lot of politicians - Mahatma Gandhi leading the pack there. The driver took us to the Student Affair's Centre where we (Rahul and I) both got allotted to H-15. From what I had heard, it was the latest one and the farthest. "Gosh! I would have to run to class everyday" was my first reation. Hmm. Lets see! A short drive and then a 5 min walk and we were at H-15. I got my ground floor room - 1509 where as Rahul got a top floor one - 1578, which in the sveltering heat of Lucknow (the temperature was 44 degrees as we stood at H-15), would be a torture in itself. As I got into my room, I couldn't help but notice how clean and fresh they looked. And the view from the verandah was the beautiful Umang! Wow! I would definitely make use of it. The campus seemed quiet (after all only we 120 had come for the 'Preparatory Course' (Remedial course)  and the seniors were yet to come) but very hot. Working in Bangalore for the past 3 years had my body conditioned to a much cooler climate and compared to that, the campus felt burning hot.

The first two weeks in the campus were a cakewalk. Classes for the first half only (And yes, it was mathematics. So it was cazz!), dozzing off in the afternoon, squash at Umang in the evening and then watching movies / playing games / hanging out in the night. I took up an interesting task in this period. A group of 7 came together to teach a fellow batchmate of ours who was visually impaired. I took up the session on Integration one day with a session of 2 hours. What an experience! I learnt a whole new meaning to teaching. No wonder our teachers have a tough time with us. We also checked out the campus during this period wondering why the institute buildings had such cryptic names like 'Bodhigraha', 'Gyanoday', 'Samadhan' and 'Chintan'.
Anyways, we had our first group hangout to the city in the first weekend when our group of 12 watched Raajneeti together and also tried out the world famous Tundey Kebabs. Saharabanj, Hazratganj, Aminabad (which I checked out with my parents), Charbagh all places seemed good. What astonished me was that even though Lucknow was the capital of Uttar Pradesh, the city seemed clean, the people friendly and the air pollution-free. But if I had thought traffic in Bangalore was a pain, the one here is a torture. No one, absolutely no one follows rules. People just barge in from sides. And the bus drivers don't even care for passengers. I actually saw a bus driver throw a prospective passenger out of the bus using the door even though the guy was half in.
Now back to the campus, things were going steady and the preparatory course was nearing its end. The rest of the batch started coming in and thus came the time for our induction. Now I had heard stories of people not being able to sleep during that time, so was excited. But boy, was I in for a ride! The 4 days had inductions by alumni and faculty members from morning to evening. Apparently the head of the Global Alumni Association had come and yeah, his sessions were really good. Then night 10pm used to be the time for induction by seniors where we were made to do all kinds of stuff. From SOPs to 3 hour notice presentations; from 5000 word reports to role plays, from official teaching sessions by the seniors to formal tests. And if this wasn't enough, we came back to attend hostel inductions which typically lasted from 3am to 5am where we were made to do all kinds random ( censored) stuff. I used to sleep at 6am when the sun was bright up in the sky only to get up at 8am and attend sessions at 9am. Finally on the last day of the induction, to take the torture further, we had a solidarity march at 6am. But all this culminated in a grand 'Insti Party' on the night of Saturday, the 26th which was awesome. The performance by Three.Four (The official band of IIM Lucknow) was amazing and the DJ kept belting terrific numbers. The booze kept on as well as the dancing. Fabulous start to our two years here.
The classes started next. Some subjects seemed interesting, some which routine, in others I somehow managed to keep my eyes open in class. Then came 'Parichay 2010' and till now my claim to fame in the campus. Parichay is the annual performance night by the PGP-I. And I was performing a mime along with a group of 12. Boy, was I excited! The schedule of the practice used to be like 1am - 3am (because of the multiple committee interviews going round) after which the gang used to have maggi and chai together at mess or Gossip & Bites. Then when the D-day came, we were nervous. The crowd was hostile with the seniors booing each and every performance with chants such as "Ek do teen chaar, band karo yeh atyachaar". As we were painting our faces and getting ready, the shouting became overwhelming. But then we had faith in ourselves. As the mime started, we heard a few shouts from the back, but by the end of the 4th scene, the crowd was all silent. Finally when the skit ended, the entire crowd was on its feet. We deservedly got a standing ovation from seniors, faculty, batch-mates alike. I had a speech at the end of it and had planned that if our show would not have gone well I would not say out our names (our faces were postered, so anyways people wouldn't recognize us). But after the response, I had to introduce the team. We became the talk of the campus and the pride of the batch overnight. I lost the count how many people actually came up and congratulated me for the performance. Amazing!
As of now, the order of the day is classes, quizzes, committee selections (I am in the fray for the posts in 7), auditions (Yeah. I sang 3 songs in the first audition), groups for various projects, presentations, long nights in the library, assignments, parties, boozing... Oh yes, did I forget what I have come to this prestigious institution - Indian Institute of Management Lucknow for? Studies! :)
Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Memories

As the 9:15 am Jet Airways flight (which was delayed 15 mins due to some idiots who turned up late at the check-in counter) turned to face the runway and start its run towards the sky, towards its destination - Kolkata, my eyes fell upon the words “Bangalore International Airport” and I closed my eyes, tired and somewhat moist. Somehow I felt empty, somewhere there was a void.
36 days ago when the GD/PI results for Indian Institute of Management Lucknow (IIM Lucknow) came out, I was overjoyed. They were published the day before but I didn’t have the courage to look them up (yeah... I too can be scared at times, especially when it’s a life changing event). Moreover the site was unstable and results inconsistent. So I waited a night to see my results. It turned out to be the second longest night of my life (The longest being the night before my CAT exam). My roommate Navoneel was the one to tell me the good news. In a split second, my life had changed. No more was I a struggler. I had made it. I had fulfilled my dream. I had triumphed, finally. What made the news even more sweet was that my childhood friend – Adarsh had made it to IIML too (We were in the same class in high school too. So we were going back to school, albeit a b-school, together).
The celebrations had started before that. We had had an amazing IPL match outing (even though Kolkata Knight Riders lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore, overall the match was fun) in mid-April. That was followed by a crazy Loyola Reunion which included beer, tequila and marijuana (kudos to GVS for that). I bet we ‘took it to the next level’. But things went berserk after the 29th.
The month that followed included trips to Hard Rock Cafe (one on a Thursday to watch a live band performance... awesome \m/), numerous movies (mostly the Friday 10PM show at Big Cinemas), countless lunch/dinner parties (especially the one at Koshy's), my first birthday party where I didn’t touch alcohol and had vegetarian food (veg. food can be lovely too), my career-best performance at Amoeba bowling (right after my career-worst performance), some lovely cooking at home (we made Chicken curry one Sunday afternoon), farewell parties with amazing gifts (that show-piece was beautiful, thanks guys) and fantabulous IIML achievers and alumni meets. I don’t know how it could have been better.
Then the time came to bid goodbye to MindTree. I had prepared 5 versions of my ‘bbye mail’ and even a video of my days at Cadence (my last project in MindTree). Last day included some tearful moments (from the girls of my project who saw the video and the mail) and some hurting ones (from the last day bumps that is). I surrendered my tag and finally lost my MindTree Mind status. At that moment, I didn’t know whether it felt good or bad, but somehow it felt very different.
So, now I am at the 'Bengaluru International Airport', waiting; waiting for my flight to Kolkata; waiting for the journey that I had planned to make long time ago; waiting to end a phase of my life (so that I can start a new one); waiting for a 'change' in my life. But somehow a part of mine didn't want to make that trip, partly because of the fear of torturous weather which I later get to know in Kolkata was atrocious, partly because of the wonderful party life I was enjoying in Bangalore (How I wish I could have had more... :( ) and partly because of.... I don't know! Am I missing something or am I missing someone?
Saturday, May 15, 2010

हमारी ज़हानत

क्या समझोगे आप हमारी ज़हानत को,
आपसे नाता हम तोड्द देंगे |
ना बर्दाश्त करेंगे ऐसी ज़िल्लत,
एक दिन इस दुनिया को ही छोडद देंगे |
Monday, April 12, 2010

आंसू

कितने ही आंसू झलके हैं,
कितना ही रोया है दिल,
ईतनी चाहत से जो पाने निकले थे,
वोह ना हुआ हासिल |
Sunday, April 04, 2010

या खुदा

या खुदा सुन ले मेरी पुकार,
सिर्फ तुझी से रखता हूँ मैं आस |
पूरी कर दे मेरी मोहब्बत,
या बुला ले अपने पास |
Wednesday, March 31, 2010

बारिश में भींग जाने दो |

आज मुझे बारिश में भींग जाने दो,
फिर उस गीली मिट्टी की खुश्बू को महसूस करने दो,
कब तक रोक के रखोगे,
कभी तो इस दर्द में थोड़ी उमंग भरने दो!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Change

It was 5 in the morning. The taxi was running at breathtaking speed. The sound of the motor accompanied by the infrequent honking was tearing the morning calm which lies on the roads of North Kolkata; Jessore Road in this case. Occasionally, some homeless street dweller peeped out of his rags with scornful eyes scolding us for breaking his sweet sleep. It was cold and misty outside but I felt warm. Partly because of the wonderful 'Pepe Jeans' jacket that I was wearing but mostly because of the fact that I had had a peaceful week long vacation away from the hectic life in Bangalore and the atrocities at work.
The taxi took a turn towards the approach road of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport. Within an hour, I would be heading back to Bangalore via a 6:30 am IndiGo flight. And it was then that I realized how much 'change' I had witnessed over the past week. Attitudes, cultures, music, roads, transportation, Kolkata; in short, Life had changed. I was like the NRB (Non-Resident Bengali) coming back to his homeland wishing to see it as it was - untouched, unstained, pure; just as he had left it only to realize that it wasn't. It had changed. It had evolved. It had moved on.
10 days ago when my 10 am SpiceJet flight from Bangalore touched down at the NSCBI airport in Kolkata, I was relieved. Not because the flight had landed safe but because I had successfully managed to escape. Escape from office, from ever-demanding bosses, from the harrowing life that I was leading in Bangalore over the past month. Then when I came out of the airport, I saw the first 'change'. Beautiful Volvo buses waiting outside ready to whisk us away to whichever corner of the city we wanted to go. We got on one which was going to Tollygunj via the VIP Road. It was similar to the ones we travelled in in Bangalore; just as comfortable, just as fast and just as smooth. But that was not all. Most of the old 1970's/1980's private buses had been replaced with JN Nurm buses too. Cool!
So had Kolkata finally grown up? Had it changed its mindset and started accepting the norms set worldwide instead of creating its own and following it?
There was so much more which had changed in the city. Kolkata Metro had added more stations and renamed some of the existing ones to its legendary Bengalis' names. There were station names like Mahanayak Uttam Kumar, Kavi Nazrul and Masterda Surya Sen. Some way to uphold Bengali culture! Ah yes, the legendary CPI(M) leader and ex-Chief Minister of West Bengal, Jyoti Basu had expired; but he was still in the hearts of the people (as claimed by the "shouting" posters all throughout the city). To my amazement, Bengali film industry fondly known as Tollywood had started incorporating Bangla Rock in its songs. Wow! Thats some advancement.
Now lets cut short to 4th of February. I was in Kolkata (somewhere near Dum Dum) attending my dear friend - Raja's wedding. In between I had made a 3 day trip to Jamshedpur, met up with our 12D's King KC - Joshi who is now enlightening XLRI with his amazing "skills", taken some friends out for dinner, bitterly broken up with a once-dear friend and yes, got some much-needed car driving practice. The wedding was a wonderful ceremony, the typical traditional Bengali wedding complete with the Subho-drishti, mala-bodol and basi biye; nothing different from the other ones that I had attended before. But somehow it got me thinking. Was it time for me to plan for my other life, the one apart from my career? Was it time to come out of that pub-hopping, weekend timepassing, HIMYM (for those who don't know what it is - its the acronym for 'How I Met Your Mother'; if you still don't know what that means, leave it.) watching life? Was it time to get serious about stuff other than my profession?
So there I was at the NSCBI airport in Kolkata, waiting for my flight back to Bangalore. Back to that hectic life. Back to that daily struggle albeit with some new energy. But what occupied my thoughts were those questions, those "changes". Kolkata, people there, my friends had "changed". So do I need to do the same? Do I need to "Change"? Or had I changed already?

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Abhishek Saha
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
A NRB (Non Resident Bengali) or rather a 'Probashi Bangali'; born in Kolkata, brought up in Jamshedpur and now trying to make his mark at IIM Lucknow.
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