IIM Ahmedabad was, is, and will always be, a dream for me.
Not in the least because it is one of the best places to learn about managing businesses or because the shine of its illustrious alumni is unparalleled.
As a freshman in college, I was trying, sometimes albeit with failure, to make sense of who I was as a person as much as I was trying to get a hold of the ‘new’ college life. In that tender phase, where the mind is as impressionable as the wet ground after a spell of gushing rains, I was immensely inspired by some individuals. It wasn’t so because they were good at what they did. I mean, that’s the bare minimum you anyway expect. But the pursuits I took a strong liking to, in college, were the ones these souls inspired me to do more of. That only ensured I continued learning, I had lots of fun.
Anybody who has had even a fleeting conversation with me would know my love for the written word. In those impressionable days of initial college life, if there was somebody who wrote with incredible discipline and panache, it was Aviral Bhatnagar. Thanks to Quora, I kept consuming his pieces. Later, he would make conversations happen around the whitespace of Startup Ecosystem in India.
In my sophomore year, my sense of exploration only grew. I did anything and everything that had to do with public speaking. In the process, I realized, how it was so very ubiquitous- Slam Poetry, Toastmasters, Project Presentations, Debates, Case Competitions, Hosting, Class Participation (Couldn’t resist plugging this!). The personality whose public speaking technique I learnt from, day in, day out, was Harsha Bhogle. His unfazed equanimity while he delivered something sour, and his childlike elation when words of praise left his mouth, would leave me endlessly fascinated, much like a boy who discovers the world of video games for the very first time.
Being an active reader on Quora, one can’t miss coming across Deepak Mehta. One of the things I genuinely appreciate, and try to indulge in to an extent, is the ability to have deep conversations on a wide variety of things. I would feed this curiosity of mine by devouring on Deepak’s posts in the quiet of the night. I didn’t agree with him on a lot of topics. But, the osmosis of knowledge and an itch to know the world, continued.
As a perpetually aspiring novelist, who also recognizes his mediocrity all too well, I would look at Chetan Bhagat every now and then. As much as I enjoy reading the classics now, I can’t not admit to enjoying his novels in my teenage. I was one of those guys who had cried reading Revolution 2020. Cringe much? Well, it depends on how you view it. The smartness with which he has become the most published Indian author in the English language is something to learn from.
As I progressed further in my college life, I always had this nagging feeling- I have too much on my platter, I should cut down on ECA. Those days, I came across this amazingly cool person. Rohan Jain. A consultant (he must be a busy guy) who pretty much found out time to do things that somebody like me would find difficult to manage even if I had 48 hours. He danced, he travelled, he wrote, he spoke. He lived. I wanted to live too.
For the intelligent folks who don’t see it coming, the common thread amongst the five is IIM Ahmedabad. Then when it was clear to me that I wanted to do an MBA, it was natural for me to dream about IIM Ahmedabad. The coaching industry, the YouTube world and the like, talk a lot about IIM ABC. But I don’t think it was what I bought a lot into. For me, all the top b-schools were the same. Maybe because of the background I came from, I saw any top-10 b-school as a good next step. But then, IIM A was different. It was a dream, one I never really believed I would see coming alive.
And now, as I write this, a feeling of immense gratitude washes me over. I am truly thankful to the ones I have mentioned above.
Amongst the number of things that happened to me over the past three years, there’s a special place in my heart for some of the noble souls I met. They enriched my being, they made this happen. My efforts and my good fortune were mere ingredients. The catalyst then, to every action and subsequent outcome in my life, has been the people. As anybody who has the awareness of being here on LinkedIn to increase the chances of professional success, knows it is practically impossible to enlist the names of these stars without missing a few. But then, one cannot not mention the few names that pop up even in the chaos of the mind.
Family and friends were the comfort I snuggled into as the world outside became unbearable. They were my sleep, my food. A few moments with them and I could see the fluctuating mock scores and sweating mock interviews, differently. They were my entry to this world that exists beyond b-schools, which by the way, is so real and beautiful. So many of them I know I have received so much from! I am not mentioning the names, but you know who you’re and how much you mean to me! 🙂
I will always be eternally grateful to CET and especially the CSE department for being so very supportive, and for providing me the launchpad I could leverage to go big for my dreams.
While in my first attempt, Rajesh sir’s teachings helped drill the basics into my muscle memory, and Sangramjit sir guided me on what kind of mental attitude to possess, in the second attempt, Patrick sir and Rochelle ma’am’s classes equipped me with the wherewithal to crack the interviews. Whenever I was gripped by a wave of anxiety, I would call or text Rochelle ma’am. Moinack has been the compass to my ship at times when it was astray. THEOMI, a home, knit together by Sohum, Rishi & Karan, was where I met a lot of amazing people. The three answered my queries with the earnestness of a student-first mentor. Rishi has also been a dear friend to me.
If you’ve reached till here, I will let you in on a secret. Anxiety. I understand talking about my weakness may not necessarily be a very wise thing to do. But like the youth who, despite the red signals, is driven by a charm of the heart, I will go on. This was my second attempt and having let go of an offer from XLRI in the first attempt, coming from the background I do, I put CAT a little higher in the priority list than what it deserved. For example, CAT > Mental Health. I got the most anxious in November when I was barely able to think clearly. There was an incessant restlessness in me. I couldn’t sleep on many nights and even anxiety pills were taking time to kick in. January and February, the initial interview phase, was even worse. I relied on writing, jogs, friends, to stay afloat. To be honest, I don’t know how I actually survived. Fortune? Destiny? I did decently in the interviews. I got admits from IIM LIK.
What about the dream then?
Well, I had to wait a bit for it. I honestly thought I wouldn’t make it. But as Paulo Coelho wrote, and SRK helped it spread, ‘When you truly want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.’
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