The Schönbrunn Palace
The Schönbrunn Palace.

This is the second in the yearly review series. You can read last year’s essay here.

Getting people together to do anything is quite hard at this stage. I realized that time and again. As the first year at IIMA drew close, we took group photos to mark the last day of PGP1 (the first year of the two-year MBA program). We were heading to various firms for our internships, and we would meet only after two months. It was one of the most beautiful days of my time at IIMA.

Last day of PGP1, with a few friends from NE. A lot of friends missing!

My friends and I went to Pune shortly before heading to Chennai for my internship. NH7 Weekender was lovely. As luck would have it, I met my first-year roommate from IITK and a few more people I met in college. I sang along to Prateek Kuhad, listened to some comedian tell lame jokes about Ritviz, and ate a lot of non-vegetarian food. The trip’s highlight was perhaps the return train journey, where I wrote formulae in Excel to keep score of a card game we played. To top it all – my best friend kept saying “fuck” by accident in front of a kid whose mother clearly wished to throw us out of the moving train.

I showed up in a suit and tie on my first day of internship. That’s when I learned that the Weather app is useful and that I should have talked to other people about the dress code before showing up to work. I also learned in Chennai that the world still runs on cash, and cab drivers can refuse to pick you up no matter which fancy app you use. Apart from occasional hiccups, I had a lovely time in Chennai. When I was not working or writing something, I went on long walks along the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), dancing to various songs.

I was overjoyed when I received my first-ever salary. It does not make much sense if you think about it. I have been working towards it for quite some time, and I knew my employer would pay me on time. And yet, when the bank system messaged me about it, I lost my sleep. I bought some (I strictly mean a very few) stocks just to see how the graph would look over time. Spoiler: It looks beautiful, with a few ups and many downs. I would not say it was my best purchase ever, but I can now say I own stocks and sound very MBA-like.

I did a bunch of things this year; most notably, I came to Vienna for my dual degree. That has been my dream ever since I joined IIMA. When I finally got the opportunity, the paperwork seemed very daunting, but we managed to get through it. I wrote about it in length here. That article does not go into every little experience I had; trust me, I had a tough time. Most people thought I had given up on Exchange, including my friends who kept asking me, “kab nikal raha hai tu?” “When are you leaving?!”

In all honesty, I gave up all hope and was about to resume my classes at IIMA. Then one day, the authorities said they approved my application and that I could come to Vienna. Of course, I was overjoyed. I joined my classes a few weeks late, but the university and the Professors were kind enough to let me attend the first few weeks of classes online. They did not have to do it. But they did, and I am grateful.

Seeing my sister grow up is perhaps the highlight of every year. She reminded me my favorite color is not purple, as I’d thought, but Lilac. “Lilac is lighter and looks like your jersey and this frock. Purple is darker.” None of that made much sense to me. But I learned a lot of things, in explaining things to her. She asked me about LGBT rights – and had a wide range of questions.

“If I like my friends, does that make me a lesbian? You have a best friend, you love him, don’t you? Does that make you gay?” I ended up reading the entire Wikipedia page. I learned about things that I previously would not have bothered to learn. Just recently, we had a debate over whether the toy I got for her was a hamster or a mouse. She said it was a hamster. She even tried to convince mom that it was a hamster. Unfortunately for her, dear mother did not side with her. That’s been the theme; my mother always sided with me and stood by me no matter what. Have a look at the following photo — you can decide for yourself.

I still think it's a mouse.

Did you know I have a constitutional right to consume non-distilled alcoholic liquor? I did not know that either until this year. I am only half-serious, of course. Look at the following clause from the 6th Schedule of the Indian constitution. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Pretty neat isn't it?

A bunch of kids mistook me for a South Korean citizen. My identity did not matter much a few years ago. Still, I am starting to feel otherwise, primarily due to the pandemic and subsequent racism against people from the Northeast. To be clear, I am very proud of my identity – an Indian citizen who calls Tripura his home. I wish to educate more people about my state and the Northeast region. Practically, it would be impossible to convince or inform everyone about the Northeast. Still, I shall at least try to tell those I come across. In the words of a dear friend – chesta nahin karenge to kaisa hoga? How can you expect change without even trying?

As I reflect on another year, it seems even crazier. I am typing these words in Vienna, 6000 km away from home. But what do I call my home? I wish I had a clear answer to that. I was talking to a few Indian friends a few nights ago, and they asked me about my hometown. I told them I was born in a remote village, showed them the sub-divisional hospital on Google Earth, and told them a story.

Mom delivered me somewhere in the middle of the road on a vegetable cart before they ever got her to the hospital. We did not have suitable transport connectivity back then. While things have improved significantly now, the healthcare situation in Tripura is very questionable. I’m told they cut the umbilical cord in the middle of the road, aided by the mustard oil they borrowed from some lady returning from the market.

Of course, they did not use surgical blades; they used sharp bamboo skin or something. It’s funny thinking about it 23 years later, but things could have gone very wrong, LOL. “You’re born on a thela gaadi” is a running joke in the family. Thela gaadi loosely translates to vegetable cart, but back home, it is mainly used for carrying rice sacks or firewood. But I was sunkissed as soon as I surfaced on Earth; that’s so cool xD.

I had not told the story to anyone before, but my friends found it fascinating, so I thought I’ll share it. My essays reflect my experiences, and this assertion seems more plausible if I look back at the essays. I wrote 14 essays in 2022, including this one. I list them below in no particular order.

Studying legally in Vienna is a guide for students coming to Vienna to study. It is the sort of guide I wish I had while figuring out the paperwork. I am proud of myself for seeing through the whole thing and getting better at handling paperwork.

What my IITK-IIMA journey taught me about India, the world, and myself. The title is quite self-explanatory – I talk about my experiences and how the journey shaped me. For some reason, many people found it relatable and said sweet things about it. It makes me very happy to see comments/emails from readers.

CAT Q&A contains a list of questions people asked me on the Common Aptitude Test and my responses. It is an evolving list, so make sure to drop your questions. It’s not a conventional essay, but I wish to uncover the mystery surrounding B-School admissions in India as best as possible. That’s my way of paying it forward because countless seniors helped me out when I reached out to them.

Review of every first-year course at IIM Ahmedabad is a collection of my honest feedback on every course that IIMA offered me during my first year. Some reviews might sound a little harsh, but I think they capture what I felt. I found some courses excruciating, sucking the life out of me. But, on the whole, the first year at IIMA was a wholesome experience. I made friends amidst all the coursework and grew a year older.

Review of Term 4 courses at IIM Ahmedabad is an honest review of Term 4 (my last term at IIMA) courses. I enjoyed all the classes I chose, except for Strategy Capstone, which I had to take as part of my coursework. I spent much of my energy and time getting my paperwork to come to Vienna. Everything worked out well in the end, so I am happy.

Confession of a so-called CAT expert resulted from my own insecurities. In fact, most words in this blog result from my insecurities. I had barely prepared for CAT, and when IIMA did not seem all that different from IITK. So, getting into IIMA did not feel like a big deal for me. When people ask me how it feels and what I went through to get to where I am, I usually do not have much to offer. Putting that feeling on record would be better for everyone.

Dear IIM Ahmedabad was inspired by a few experiences I had on campus at IIMA. They sounded quite non-sensical to me at the time – the “sign the register to meet your girl friends” rule still seems very non-sensical to me. For an institute claiming to be expanding the frontiers of management research, leadership, and education it seemed a little regressive to me. Don’t get me wrong, IIMA is a magical place, but some practices within its magical walls are worth pointing out. I wrote something similar about IITK too. Read Dear IITK.

Artificial Intelligence and Digital Platforms also called AIDP is one of the best courses I’ve taken at IIMA. But, the essay is not a review of the course. Instead, I talk about the strange experience I had during biometric verification as part of IIMA’s admissions process.

Lessons from my first-ever corporate internship outlines the few lessons I took away from my internship. I had a lovely time in Chennai, and I am ever grateful to Tata Consultancy Services for taking a chance on me. A few years ago, I was pretty sure about continuing in academia and becoming a professor, pushing the boundary of human knowledge. While I still have that dream, my first corporate experience helped me dream about things other than academia. Let’s see where life takes me!

Of Luck, Ancestors, and Descendants is my little tribute to my ancestors and a deep acknowledgment that whatever I am today is because of a fair bit of luck. My friends tell me that it may not be all luck and that I should give myself some credit for getting to where I am today. That is fair, but I will never forget how many things had to align for me to do reasonably well in life. I mean, the few stories I shared above should make that plenty clear.

Year 1 of MBA at IIM Ahmedabad sums up my experiences during the first year of my MBA at IIMA. The essay surprisingly resonated with quite a few people. The article reflected my sentiment at the time – it seems very hard at times. Still, I was fortunate to be part of a supportive group of friends. And eventually made it. Although, I was like to point out that it is not as hard as people go around saying. Certain things are expected of you, and you can get by quite decently.

Some people just know came from my insecurities and admiration for people who seemed to have things sorted in life. Some people just seem to know what they have been doing (technically, all of us do but still) and what they want to do in the future. I am not one of those people – my life is chaotic, but sometimes I find meaning in the chaos.

IIM Interview advice for people exactly like me attempted to inform B-School aspirants a little better about what happens in IIMA/IIMB interviews. A lot of advice seemed to paint an inspirational and rosy picture. I wished to write an honest essay without any BS. I’d be happy to know if it helped you somehow; please leave a comment.

Forward looking statements

2022 is like any other year, in all honesty. I spent most of my time in academics (like every other year since I started school). But I also learned a lot of things, managed to do something that I only dreamt of, and when all doors seemed to be closing, things worked out in my favor. I do not expect things to get easier from here. But, as I am growing up, my experiences – both good and bad, instill a sense of confidence in me. No matter how bad things go, a few things actually work out in the end. And that is all I wish for – for things to work out in a few crucial cases.

I do not have any resolutions for the new year. My life seems stable – I am happy to have a supportive family, a close-knit circle of friends, and a few degrees to validate my claims – that I know a few things. I hope my first-ever corporate internship will not be my last dance in the corporate sector. I will hopefully work at an organization in 2023. As for my dreams, I would keep dreaming for as long as life allows me. After all, what are we without dreams to look forward to? Lastly, I hope to be kind to everyone I come across, treating everyone fairly and with dignity.

Happy New Year to you and your family. Thank you so much for reading till the end. May the year 2023 be a prosperous year for you, and if things do not work out, I hope you will be kind to yourself. I hope you get a lot of rice this year. Have a great year!

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