|All work and no play....is not what L was about:|
Lest you start believing that life at L is all work and no play, let me tell you that amid all the pressure of being in one of the finest B schools of the country, we had tons of fun! On the rare occasions that I realized that life is also about having fun, I did manage to have a good time. Significant among these were our 'Gunjing' trips for essentials & juicy kebabs! Lucknow's main market place is called Hazratgunj which to us was like the Blessed Land. Let's face it – we were a bunch of 20 something old individuals stuck in a school cut off from the rest of the world faced with schedules that gave us absolutely NO free time!
Gunj was our place to let our hair down, shop particularly for the exclusive Lucknow Chikan wear and, most importantly, eat a meal or two that did not originate in the insti mess. To get to Gunj, you had 2 options - take a long winded journey on the insti bus, a vikram (maybe even a second - a vikram is a noisy seven seater rickshaw that plies on the roads of most cities in India) and finally a rickshaw OR if you were lucky, grab a bike & head out!
But life within the campus also had its share of fun. Festivals in a hostel are always a hoot, but the Holi celebrations at L are something that I will always remember. The entire campus including the hostel buildings would be soaked in color and so would we in our attempts to bathe others in the colored water in the overhead tanks. Diwali celebrations were perhaps more sombre; there was a competition to decorate the different hostels which was judged by the profs after which we satisfied our sweet tooths with yummy laddus. Also during Puja, most students (Bongs or non Bongs) would get together & visit the different pandals in the city; Lucknow has a sizable Bengali population & so there were at least 4 – 5 pujas to visit. On Dasera, us deprived souls would visit the different profs & fill up on the yummy home cooked food. Saraswati Puja is celebrated on campus by students, teachers and other staff.
Birthdays were celebrated in the hostels where you would be smeared with cake and dunked with bucket loads of water. And if you think you can get past that just because your birthday is in the winter, forget it! What are the solar heaters in the bathroom for? While these celebrations were no replacement for the fun and good times at home that is associated with them, they certainly alleviated our longing for home. And then the insti parties held almost every two weeks - our excuse to unwind, socialize, dance like crazy & drown our sorrows...in water, of course (hic!)
Home away from home – the hostels at L. As any individual who has spent some part of his or her life staying in a hostel will tell you, hostel life is one big party! I had never stayed longer than 2 months away from home till I came to L and I was filled with fear due to all the horror stories that I had heard about hostel ragging, particularly at the Engineering colleges. But once I got to L, I realized that the experience would be anything but scary. There were 10 hostels when we entered the campus each having 30 rooms; these were all connected through common terraces. Hostels 11 and 12 came up later while the FPM students had a separate hostel which housed some of the PGDBM students. H1 and H2 were girls hostels located very close to the mess as well as the shopping area.
The rooms in all the hostels are spacious & house a bed, a closet and a study table. Each room has two big screened windows and a small balcony. Each hostel building has a phone on each floor, at least one washing machine and two toilets on each floor. But these are after all merely brick & mortar. The actual life in the hostel comprised the crazy & sometimes bizarre actions of the inmates. Stayed up late & worried 'bout missing an important class the next day? Your friendly neighbor at the hostel can ensure that you don't...or actually do, depending on how well you have treated him or her. Walking in to another's room, taking stuff that you oh so badly need, screaming, laughing, pillow fights, silly pranks – all ensured that life at the hostel never had a dull moment. During our second year, the Intranet was set up and this served a crucial need – the need to share games, movies, episodes of Friends and so on :-).
There was very strong hostel solidarity which ensured a healthy competition at Sikandar – the annual sports meet and Tansen – the annual Arts festival. Also like I mentioned before, H1 is bang opposite the mess and so served as an easy location to pop down for early breakfasts and meals. However even though the mess at L was always trying out new menus, thanks to our enterprising Mess Secys., there are times when you badly need a break from the regular fare. Thapas was one resort. This basically served the non academic staff on campus, but we students could hardly resist the lure of great parathas served here. Another option was the Nestle outlet which came up during our second year; the steaming hot maggi and cups of coffee or tea offered some comfort during the cold winters. CP or Commercial Plaza is the shopping “arcade” on campus. This had a Kendriya Bhandar and Sonu's shop. Between them, one could easily procure the bare necessities needed for existence until the next trip to Gunj. There is also a telephone booth at CP serving as connection with the outside world. Also, CP formed the venue for most get togethers like Holi, Diwali and other small events. Further if you ever wanted to spend a few quite moments with yourself, CP was one of the many nooks you could go into.
Classes and Classrooms:
And who would have thought that classes in a B school could be so entertaining! There were those innumerable pranks that we pulled on on the profs & those that they pulled on us. I, at least, would never expect Prof. Ashok Banerjee, our MANAC (Management Accounting) professor to dupe us into a quiz that even the CA students of the batch could make no sense of, and that too on the first day! The students in turn planned elaborate escapades from the classroom after giving attendance just to catch a few winks of sleep; one of my poor classmates brought down the curtain, the rod & the window on one such attempt! On those rare occasions when we did stay back in class, we HAD to “maaro” Class Participation or CP as it is more notorious as. Let no one underestimate the importance of this activity, it is a lesson in saying stuff and sounding intelligent about topics that you have no clue about, a skill that may come in handy in later life! And trust the ever ingenious mind of a B school grad to come up with interesting variations of this so that even the dullest classes turns into an interesting & enjoyable session! CP is just one word off the distinguished vocabulary at L. If you were studying for an exam you were said to be “mugga maroing”. Studying hard & aiming at the highest score? Then you were “RG”. Business in today's world is after all global, so anything that went beyond our understanding was “Globe”.
Coming up: all's weLL that ends weLL