So it was the grand opening. The Dean was there to give his opening speech. The eager batch of 2007 students had assembled in the Hale Auditorium with bated breath. It was the beginning of a momentus experience spanning 2 years. Possibly a life-changing experience. There was a round of applause, nervous excitement. The buzz, the energy, everything was there. We can safely say that "Things were happening" at 5:00 PM Wednesday, Aug 24, 2005. It was a moment no one should have missed. And where was I at that time?
At the Bus Stop.
I was sitting all alone (completely alone) in the sun looking at cars whizz past me thinking "There you go! Late again". I remember Mr.Natarajan(who is no more now) at the Lakshmi Coaching center. I attended Math Phy, Chem coaching class conducted by this center at Guntur Subbiah School, T.Nagar. The class was at 5:30 on weekdays and everyday for the entire year, I walked in at 6:10 ( MASH was on TV from 5:30 to 6 on weekdays). On the penultimate day of the tuition class, just before the 12th exams began, as I walked in at 6:10 PM, he said, "Please come on time at least for your last class. You have been late for every class this year". I sort of looked at the old man and felt guilty and decided to skip MASH and come in early the next day.
I came in at 6:10 the next day too.
So here I was sitting at the bus stop and except for the cars passing by occasionaly, I was surrounded by complete silence. I was reflecting on the hectic last 20 minutes, where I was shouting "where is my towel?, where are my keys?, where is my wallet?, where is my sox?".I thought (with a shudder) that when I walked into the auditorium late, the Dean would point his finger at me and embarass me by saying "students don't come in late to class like this fellow here". Then I thought "Wait a minute! Thats happened to me before." From 12 Std till my marriage Janavaasam, I have been late. I pretty much concluded if I didn't change now, I never would. I thought "Man! you are in MBA. Professional World. Look at your class mates, they are all on time. They are profesisonal. Indians, Americans, Chineese all have started becoming punctual and you are still behaving like a 12th grade kid.". I felt lonely.
Then 4 more desis walked into the bus stop scratching their heads as if to say "we are late".
If You are a desi there is always company :-). I was actually happy that those 4 others were late too (Hey.... I am allowed to). When I went in, the auditorium was full, I had to sit on the floor. The deans speech got over before I came (So I don't know if he said the "MBA is like drinking champagne through a firehose" cliche that every B School seems to say). The speaker made references to Michigan's rise in the rankings and the wonderful recruiting activity for the past 2 years. He showed statistics that said Michigan was ovarall ranked at #6 in Businessweek Rankings, #10 in U.S News and # 1 in Wall street Journal. It appears that we were ranked #3 in Marketing, General Management and also ranked #4 by all recruiters. It seemed as if we were pretty favorite with our recruiters. It was all nice to see that at least 85% of the class got placed while at school. So it at least looks good on paper. Added to that my initial impression of the school tells me that its much stronger in finance than it has been given credit for. Then he said "We are on at #6 now. The next thing we gotta do is knock one school from Boston, Chicago or Philly and get in to the Top 5 schools". And there was a round of applause. I'll just stop with the factual narration and offer none of my own opinions on this.
We are having a 5 day pre-term leadership training course. The first two days just got over. While the first day was long and pretty much sucked, today's stuff pretty much salvaged the program. Our leadership case study yesterday was a movie (Stand & Deliver). We could take our spouses and go watch a movie and answer some leadership questions on it. I should say the group discussions were fun. We were asked to discuss personal stories and how we changed as a result of certain events. The group discussions really had an impression on me. In conclusion, I think this era of MBAs could turn out to be slightly different from the previous eras. While a few were rich kids who came here to spend daddy's money so that they can take over daddy's company. Many are pretty determined and come from regular backgrounds. A big chunk of the class have tried to set-up their own start-ups and failed. Many have worked in start-ups that got closed later and have lost jobs as a result of it. A even bigger chunk have been laid-off from their jobs at least once in the past 4 years. Behind the smiling exterior of these people, what I could gather from conversations (there were many intense conversations for the past two days) was that they are prestty pissed off. And I felt (on more than 5 occasions yesterday) that some of those I talked to wanted to get back at somebody or something or just get back at life itself. There was quite a bit of " I wanna prove myself" going on. However, I still think my cynical mind is not allowing me to get sucked in by all this energy and enthusiasm. Anyway the point is -- A lot of people have been hurt or have had bad experiences in their lives (Makes you wonder -- Why do people have to undergo bad experience to learn something deep? Why can't people learn from happy experiences?). And finally the class discussion on the topic concluded that people are more mature and much better as a result of bad expereinces. What do I personally think?
That much I can understand in the past 2 days. There certainly seems to be an intensity or a restrained fury that people want to unleash. It seemed to me that they were looking for the MBA to channelize that kind of energy. I think its a perfect setting for a wonderful experience.