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What's the first year at an IIM like?

Deepali Bhatia | December 30, 2005

One of the best things about being at a residential B-School with participants (as students at IIM-Indore are called) from across the country, is the close brush with culture it offers.

illustrationLet me go back to June, when I landed at IIM Indore. As a part of an introduction of the fachchas (freshers), we were asked to prepare a presentation on 'I came, I saw, I cleaned'. We assumed the topic was plain and smooth, until we realised the Cultural and Social Affairs Committee had changed a few slides. The results left quite a few of us embarrassed. There was lots of word play and displays of different talents by our new classmates -- from singing to animation and karate. The evening was a lot of fun, of course, with people really getting to know each other.

Next was the Water-Fight, a legendary ice-breaker at IIM-I. We were getting over the fatigue of our first week and would retire to our rooms at around 2 am, then an ungodly hour. On one such night, I heard a knock at the door. Assuming it was someone in need of medicine or something, I opened the door only to find myself completely drenched with water. Angry at first, I soon joined my seniors and classmates in the fray. The one hour stir ended with a quick party at the Melting Pot, hub of all our action-packed jamborees.

There was then a salsa workshop and talent night. But the real tryst with culture came with Janmashtmi. One event I will never forget is matkiphod. A string with many matkis was tied between two hostels at a height of about 20 feet, with boys from different sections challenging each other to get to it first. They kept forming human pyramids, while girls from the opposite section kept throwing buckets of water on them to make the task more trying.

At the end of the day, we were all clones, caked with mud from head to toe. For someone like me, not from Mumbai or UP where matkiphod is an annual event, it was unforgettable.

Durga Puja called upon our resourcefulness once again. I had heard of beautiful pandals in Kolkata and elsewhere in India, but this time I actually contributed to building one from scratch. Practising with dandiya sticks for three days, from 1 am to 4 am, I felt as if I were living in the heart of Gujarat. The student-exchange program participants from France took a while to understand how the game of sitoliya was played, and were quite amused at the gulab-jamun eating competition. My diet went for a toss, but who cared? The three-day celebration ended with an elaborate Bengali Bhoj, with participants taking turns to serve others. Dining tables pushed aside, we all sat on duris in a row, eating off banana leaves.

Diwali came next and, even though it was my first big festival away, I simply didn't have much time to miss home. We made a grand and elegant rangoli, managed a puja in our common room and burst firecrackers.

I can go on and on. There was Antakshari, a Retro-party, movies at the newly built auditorium, performances by the in-house band Diet Smoke, rural marketing contests with villagers as judges…the list is never-ending.

I truly believe that, apart from the knowledge, this bonhomie is what B-School learning is all about. When I graduate, I will have a suitcase full of books, truckloads of memories and gratitude for CULCOM, for making all weekends here special.

Deepali Bhatia is currently a first-year member of the post-graduate programme at the Indian Institute of Management, Indore.

Do you have an interesting experience you'd like to share? Post your take on campus culture.

Don't forget to mention your name, age, location, the name of your institute and stream of education.


Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

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