Friday, June 30, 2006
When dreams turn to reality, the first reaction is of disbelief. Then comes the realization that you’re experiencing what you’d always dreamt of. And yet, the feeling is mixed. The ecstasy is overruled by fear; a fear that you somehow don’t belong to the place – a fear of failure; what if you don’t prove yourself from hereon?
It’s a proud feeling to be chosen to represent some of the brighter brains and smarter people of the lot. And yet, it is a humbling feeling; humbling - for no matter how smart you’re - you always have someone smarter than you here. No matter how intelligent you’re, there is always someone more intelligent than you here. Every brain has a better half here. Every pride meets its vanquisher here. Every wit has a repartee here.
I had always dreamt of doing an MBA from a premier B-school. After quite a few years of toil and unsuccessful attempts at entrance exams, I made it to SP Jain Dubai. Having worked with IT industry for a few years, I had seen IT industry from close quarters. Through projects, products and consulting, I had seen IT vertical at the micro level. I now wanted to work at the macro level. I was sick and tired of being directed by the organization; I now wanted to direct the way the organization went.
I left my home in India on my birthday. That might not seem too emotional a farewell until you know that I was spending my first birthday in ten years with my family. As fate would have it, I just couldn’t have left a day later – or earlier – as the session was starting soon thereafter.
So here I was in Dubai; dreaming, like everyone else, and visualizing how it all is going to turn out. The next day, Sudeep Jain, my batch mate, took me to the college and then to the hostel which actually is a villa.
Then started the real nightmare. I was the first person to arrive in the by-now-infamous ‘blue’ villa. The villa was being readied for the students who were to arrive that night and the preparation were running late even for them; I arrived that afternoon. I entered the premises of the villa to a shocking sight of carpenters and labourers going about their business. If it were not for the girls accompanying me to show me the way to the villa, my entry would not have surprised many and I would’ve been mistaken for another labourer at best or would’ve had to share their load at worst. I felt like a chief guest who arrived for the function before time. After a few hours of moving around like a zombie, I got some water to drink and freshen up. By late evening a group of about forty guys arrived in the villa and it suddenly was not a bad place to be in.
But that by no means was the end of villa ‘blues’. For more than a week we had a torrid time in the restrooms. I once had to ask my roommate to pass me drinking water bottles so I could wash the soap foam after the shower had so dramatically stopped when I needed it most. Restrooms were never the reason we prayed so hard. Luckily the prayers were answered and water never played truant when I was on the closet. The sale of deodorants in the adjoining grocery had suddenly seen a spurt. But thanks to our woes, I learnt some early lessons in economics – outside of my class: The increase in sale of a commodity may not always be due to excellent strategies of companies but due to unexpected exigencies of totally unrelated societal dynamics.
Our dean Mr. Vijay Sethi had, on our first orientation day, told us – perhaps very intentionally – to look at the bigger picture and ignore the teething problems. This advice stood us in good stead, for the administration issues put a shoddy picture in the initial week but the professors at the same time were excellent to say the least. I didn’t get worked up for I wondered what my condition would be had it been the other way round.
The professors at SP Jain Dubai need a mention here. They are sincerity and commitment personified. This stands true atleast for those we’ve seen in this short span. I was talking to an alumna the day I arrived at SP Jain and she told me that the best thing about this place are the professors. And I thanked heavens. A man of knowledge is of no use if he doesn’t know how to impart knowledge. The assignments, tests and group works ensure that we keep awake till late in the night. We have pre-session tests that ensure we read our stuff so there is a better class participation. But that also means, we’re kept on tenterhooks.
The other day I asked my roommate, “How many days we’ve been together?”
We both were shocked to realize that it had been only three days since the classes started. And it looked like we hadn't slept for ages.
I was to learn another management lesson the hard way. My earlier stint here in Dubai got me in touch with a few good caterers. I approached one of them to deliver food in the campus. He charged a very reasonable Dhs 5 a meal. It so turned out that he delivered so much in one meal that we ended up sharing the meal. There was such a downpour of people taking the meal that a lot of those who paid had no meal left for them. I started supervising the distribution but to no avail. I did not take lunch for two days so others who had paid could eat. It took me three days to realize the discrepancy and solve the problem. Now the students eat a meal at Dhs 2.5 which by all means is cheaper than what we get in India. I struck a golden deal for them; the flip side of this achievement was that I became so famous for food management that I was hand-picked for food committee instead of the ones I would’ve loved to be a part of.
Just as I’m writing this article, I get a mail asking the food committee to meet. My feet just can’t get ready to move on. And I plod away wondering at my predicament…
I take refuge in the thought that God doesn’t always give you what you want, but He sure gives you what you need; and I be happy - as is my wont…