Thursday, September 24, 2009

Panic Pandemic

Swines passed it on to humans. Humans passed it on to other humans. Some of the other humans came to my campus. Some of those living on the campus caught it by the virtue of ill fate but survived the scare. Some are lucky to have not got it still. Some have escaped it right in time. Those in the latter two categories may still not be completely out of its danger. The clock is ticking. Panic is increasing. People are leaving.

Sounds like a typically d-day scenario of a movie. But it's true! I never thought I would have the opportunity to witness the panic of being stricken by the most hyped illness in the world. I shouldn't be sounding excited about it, but I can't deny the fact I am as excited as I am worried. In an otherwise extremely planned schedule for the next 3 months, most would have thought nothing could go wrong. But it did, and how, and how soon.

If I could analogize the H1N1 virus with the Joker in the Dark Knight, it perfectly represents his ''agent of chaos'' theory. If you didn't get the connection, here is a refresher.

"I just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. Hmmm? You know... You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan." But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!

Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It's fair!"

For those of you who don't get a connection, let me describe what happened in the course of a few hours. Everything was going as planned. The beginning of a new semester. The build up to a very crucial 3 days in our b-school lives. The routine remained unchanged - sleepless nights, dreamy days, endless work, constant cribbing. We heard of one birdie being caught in the net of the virus. Everyone tried to display a sense of composure - Nothing happened, it is just an one off event. The reason I used ''tried to display'' is because the next day, everyone queues up to find out if they have been caught in the net too. Most had escaped, some had not. There were many who didn't know still and guess were in the worst position.

Here is a brief insight into the chain of thoughts.News spreads. Negative thoughts begin to creep in. What if it's me next? How am I going to manage alone? Will I spread it to a few others in my group? Should I go home to eliminate risk of transmission? Should I stay put to avoid taking the virus home? Should I go out? (For the ultra-paranoid living in ignorance:)Will I become like one of those miserable wretched creatures that are seen in movies like ''Resident Evil"? (For the more relaxed souls:) Is the mask looking funny? (For the optimist:) Let's click a picture with the masks on (me! but no one was interested except a good Samaritan).

The amazing fact about panic is it kills rationality. It nurtures fear and ignorance. It is self-perpetuating It is ubiquitous. It has its own mind. It is evil. As evident, even the smartest brains in the country are not immune to the threat so common (panic not THE FLU).

As I prepare myself to go on a welcome 10 days break, I hope I don't have to bear the burden of sharing the love the virus could have for me with you (could be you :P ). On all other fronts, the stage is set. Surprises are planned. A holiday has arrived before I could see it coming. No more fooling (could be 'flu'ing) around with me!

Play safe.

PS: All information mentioned in the post is the personal opinion of the author and should not be taken as an official source of information from the school authorities or the student body of the school.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Time Machine

Though the Time Machine in the H.G.Wells' novella may still be a distant reality, I have managed to discover its not-so-close substitute in the form of a b-school.

It seems just yesterday that I landed at MDI, fresh and full of apprehensions about what the coming few months are going to throw on me. I have become one-sixth of an MBA since then, I have given 14 exams and 28 quizzes in the process, submitted around half a dozen projects and haven't quite realized where was it that the learning has happened, though I am certain it has. It is as if all the actions were involuntarily performed by a unknown side of me.

What has happened more consciously is that I have been promoted from the nocturnal creatures to a qualified insomniac. Seniors say if you are sleeping too much, you are not making the most of your time in a b-school, which I partly agree with. Say for instance the last week from Monday to Friday, I slept for 4,5,3,4,2 hours per day respectively everyday. And sometimes that too was broken into further bits and pieces. In retrospect, time seems to have flied, but each day is incredibly long, not necessarily fruitful.

The word 'fruitful' means different things to different people. For me, a day is fruitful when I have done my share of work (both academic and extracurricular), socializing (which does not always happen when you work) and sleeping (its quality matters when quantity is compromised). In addition, it is very important to be able to make time for your hobbies and your friends back home once in a few days. Reading beyond academic books and playing (especially when you have facilities on campus) should take up some space on your schedule too.

By that definition, I would say the term has been partly fruitful. I have worked a lot, met a lot of new people and interacted with some very talented folks from the industry and slept when I have had the opportunity. The net has allowed me to keep in touch with most of my friends.

But on the flipside, photography has majorly suffered (which my friend's on Flickr would agree with). I haven't been resolute enough to pull myself out of bed early each morning to find stuff to click. Reading has been minimal and restricted to the bare necessities. Playing and exercising did happen with some gung-ho in the start of the trimester, but then the other commitments took precedence.

More worrying is the reason why it has been so. The attitude in a b-school is you have to wait till the dagger hangs on your neck. Everything happens at short notice. And whenever there is enough time, people prefer resting now and sprinting later. As I had explained in one of my previous post, we create crisis situations and then call ourselves good crisis managers.

This is not to put off an aspiring b-school student - it happens everywhere in the country's top schools. It is the ''culture'' of Indian Management Education. You have to accept the culture if you are a part of the community. And in the process, you have loads of fun and loads of headaches and all in the name of 'wholistic learning'. It's charm lies in the fact that it is brutal, hence effective. It is an experience which a few other places of learning can offer. If you like roller coasters, this might just be the place for you!