Time; or rather the concept of time, feels like something of an enigma in itself. It is part of the collective human experience to sometimes feel that time is stretching, where even a single quantum of it bears down upon, crushing you under its unassailable weight; like when you have to sit through a boring lecture where an hour feels like eons and you feel your hair wilt and skin wrinkle. The antithetical experience is another one all too familiar. You pause amidst furiously typed phrases of an assignment and try to recall the last time you went to the mess with your college friends, the last time you played cricket with your school friends or the last time your mother fed you herself and wonder where (and when) did all the time go?
Of late, I have experienced both but encapsulated in one. As the CAT results have arrived, a few friends and aspirants have texted me, asking me for advice and to reiterate my interview experiences.
“What!? Another CAT has taken place after the one I gave?” I exclaimed in bewilderment when I got wind of the fact that interviews were soon to be scheduled. It felt like I had exited my CAT exam hall yesterday and had lamented all the marks I was set to lose in VARC. On the other hand, so much had occurred in the last year that it felt much longer than a year. The fabric of my reality had convoluted my perception of space-time.
I recalled an interview I had given at a reputed college (over zoom, of course). It seemed to be going well, when suddenly one of the interviewers took a contemplative pause, appeared to glance at something on his screen, and shot back a question at me, “Sudarshan, you seem to be a very creative person based on your work and hobbies. Let me tell you, MBA is a very boring and time-consuming course. Your creativity will be killed. Why are you willingly opting for such a course?”
The question caught me off guard somewhat. It was just a variant of the traditional “Why MBA?” question but it had a layer or two that was quite specifically catered to me. To this day I don’t know what the gentleman on that narrow window of my screen expected me to say. In retrospect, my answer was somewhat tepid. I told him I was confident that I would retain my creativity, that I would persist in writing regardless and that I had done it before as well, disregarding the fact that clearly an MBA was going to be different from the other phases of my life that I had traversed. I had the urge to tell him that it didn’t matter how rigid, mundane or taxing an MBA was – discipline, banality and even abject misery would all help fuel my thought and writing. The question didn’t seem to require expressiveness of this order and the platform wasn’t certainly conducive for the same, so I refrained from being as forceful in my retort.
My experience at SPJIMR has been anything but the same. Not only have I been given space to write if I wished (case in point, this blog) but also have been encouraged to try other forms. By virtue of the event MicDrop, being conducted by multiple clubs and committees; I was prodded on by friends from all allegiances to try my hand at stand-up comedy on the stage. It was something I was never naturally inclined towards. I had never really been on a stage before and I didn’t really envision myself as someone who could grab a microphone and address scores of people. Along with that, I wasn’t very sure if it was right to perform any form of comedy amongst mostly singers and poets. It didn’t help that my “comedy” was also of the hit-and-miss kind. For every laugh I got, I would get two people glaring at me, three sets of eyebrows; raised at the scandalous nature of my speech, and four people googling the nearest police station to turn me in for committing thought crimes, if I may be allowed to exaggerate.
In the end, I thought I had nothing to lose; the worst that could happen was that I would bomb and would be booed off stage. My cynicism was proved wrong on that day though as I was greeted on the stage with nothing but pleasantness. I was cheered onto the stage rather raucously by my peers and each time the crowd broke into rapturous applause, I felt myself grow an inch taller on the stage. As I faced the crowd and left the stage at the end of my bit, I could feel the thunderous energy within the Dr. M. L. Shrikant auditorium permeate through my skin. Those 7-odd minutes were a truly unique experience for me, as I engaged in casual banter with my batchmates and esteemed faculty and was appreciated for the same. For that, I have all the people who made MicDrop happen to thank.
As the thought of that professor and his question crossed my mind recently, I hope he was speaking to me in jest. I am laughably underqualified and uninformed to gauge the MBA programs of other institutions but I do hope they aren’t tantamount to an institutionalized stifling and suppression of creativity as the gentleman interviewing me had put it. I am fortunate to have made it to SPJIMR, where there are no barriers on thought and freedom of speech, where diversity exists in all forms of art, and where the MBA environment, the events and the peer groups are there to help one expand their horizons they had never envisioned on their own.
Not only has SPJIMR given me a stage to write, it has given me a literal stage to learn new things as well. In my time remaining here, I am optimistic that there is no way my creative pursuits will get hampered and I hope to make the best of any and all opportunities that I get.