The Wait and the Plunge

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It was a fine October evening in the city of Trichy, and I was out shopping in the bustling NSB Road with my wife and four-month old daughter. Though I am from Bangalore, Trichy holds a special place in my heart since, as a child, I spent most of my summer holidays there with my maternal grandparents. Going to Trichy has always felt like meeting an old friend who receives you with all the warmth in the world, and I have never failed to immerse myself in this city of massive temples, towering spires, busy bazaars and markets, and amiable people. This particular evening, however, my senses weren’t attuned to the sights, sounds and chaotic energy of NSB Road, for my mental faculties were concentrated on just one outcome of momentous significance. The ensuing anxiety wound around my brain like a barbed wire, tightened by every passing minute. My consciousness hijacked, I walked the well-trodden path to my in-laws’ house that my legs knew intimately well. (Of course, my wife was with me, so there was no danger of me getting lost; but I was oblivious of her presence at that time.)  I reached my in-laws’ house and I turned on the WiFi in my phone. In the very few seconds that it took for my phone to chime away with electronically sterile delight at my notifications, I felt my entire mortal frame, at once, being inflated with an irrepressibly mounting sense of expectation and dragged into unfathomable depths by the fear of facing again inexorable anxiousness.

The tumultuous seconds passed and I was hit right in my face by void! Utter nothingness! That nothingness from which Time itself springs, and now Time stopped! And all of sudden, I was thrust back into more familiar dimensions and was gasping for breath, mouth dry. My mailbox contained an email from Indian Institute of Management – Bangalore (IIMB), and faintly visible through my adrenaline-clouded vision was the word ‘Offer’! With trembling hands and a pounding heart I opened the email – I had been offered a seat to the Executive Post Graduate Programme in Management (EPGP) at IIMB!

As the euphoria slowly began to diffuse and sink in over the next few days I joined a WhatsApp group of prospective EPGPians. Initially started to get to know one’s future classmates better, this group played host to passionate debates, wild yet extremely utilitarian entrepreneurial ideas (such as the JBH bar), and fun and frolic. The ceaseless chatter and unbounded banter on this group in many ways embodied the spirit of the class, and gave me a glimpse of what was in store for me. The group also helped in planning meet-ups of candidates clustered in a particular city, and was also instrumental in organising an informal meeting with the then-current batch of students (EPGP 8). The months soon flew by; most of us had either resigned from our jobs or were on sabbatical. I resigned from my job about fifteen days before the start of the programme and I had decided to spend much of this time with my daughter. However, I was already given a glimpse of what was in store for us during the course through the online courses and Sunday classes that we had been recommended to attend. As the D-day approached there was a flurry of activity in our WhatsApp group regarding transportation from airport/railway station to Ajmera, the facilities available, maids, cooks and a zillion other trappings that make up the civilised, urban Indian. Being a local, I had to worry about a significantly lower number of these zillion trappings, yet the last couple of days were spent drawing up shopping lists and shopping, drawing up packing lists and packing etc. Ah! I almost forgot to write about the nerve-wracking experience that I, and many of my classmates, went through while paying the first instalment of the fees. Most of us had got our loan effortlessly sanctioned through a bank in close proximity to IIMB, thanks to its consummately professional Deputy Manager. This led us to believe that the disbursement of fee would also be as smooth. However, we had another thing coming. There were no signs of the fee being disbursed (though we were assured by the banker that we had nothing to worry) even as the clock made its inexorable march past 18:00 on the due date. I refreshed my mailbox every ten minutes in the hope of seeing a mail confirming the disbursal of the fee amount and an all-too familiar anxiety was taking hold of me. Thankfully, it was slayed in its infancy when the email arrived a few hours later!

March 30, 2017 finally dawned and it marked a new chapter in my life, and poignancy engulfed me at the thought of leaving my family behind. I tried to shrug off my emotions and focus on going through my packing list, yet it kept hitting me repeatedly like the waves of the infinite sea. Soon, it was time for me to leave. With the help of my father I loaded my entire luggage into the waiting cab, waved goodbye to my parents, grandmother and my daughter and got into the cab along with my wife. Much of the ride was spent in silence, and despite the peak-hour traffic it seemed very short. Soon we reached Ajmera, and as soon as we unloaded the luggage the practical-side of my mind prevailed over the emotional side, as it often does when the situation demands, and I went straight to the IIMB office in Ajmera to get my apartment key. As my wife and I were wheeling the suitcases I met at least a dozen of my classmates, and it was fascinating to attach faces to names with whom I had interacted on the WhatsApp group but had not met. After helping me settle down in my flat my wife left, but this time my emotions were rather muted, for the excitement of new flatmates, new classmates, and a new life prevailed. With one year of action, mystery, surprises, fun and learning ahead there will be plenty more to write about. But now, I plunge into the storm, for, as Lemmy would say we are ‘born to raise hell’

Karthik Ramanathan 

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