THE FIRSTS AND LASTS OF MANY THINGS – IIM BANGALORE Stepping out of Bangalore airport, I did the most DJ thing and shouted out - Hello Bangalore!!! Except that, Bangalore didn’t respond, because it is some 500 kms away from the airport…………

These are some of the key punch lines from Rahul Subramaniam’s stand-up stint on Bangalore, and undeniably, they summed up my emotions when I stepped out of Bangalore Airport on 12th June, 2018, heading out for my admissions at IIM Bangalore. Since then, for two years, the agony has persisted, even more so, because after every small trip back home, I have yearned to get back to the green campus, as soon as possible!

As I now pack my clothes and books in cartons, ready to be shipped back home, it is time to reminisce at the lasts of many things, and the beginnings of quite a few, at the place to be – IIM Bangalore.  


11th June 2018

Fretting nervously over packing the last few things right – making sure all my stuff was intact, papers and documents were ready, bidding adieu to home, that I would visit months later now.  I still remember the palpitation in my heart – this was my first proper stay outside home – and outside Delhi, to be even more specific. As a frog in a pond (the less subtle Hindi phrase for it being: “kuen ka maindak”) who had never ventured beyond a few kilometres from home, I was now going to be staying some 2700 kms away, in a distant land. And I wasn’t particularly excited. It is like endowment bias – you are letting go of the comfort zone, all the people you know have stayed and will continue to stay in Delhi, places and faces are familiar, I have dad to take care of so many things I have never even thought about – in short – was all of this worth the effort?

As someone whose’ school had been less than a km. away from home, I think my first big step had been denying my dad’s suggestion to take up admission in a college closer home. I was indignant enough to seek admission in the opposite corner of the city, and vowed to travel every single day by bus, metro, and e-rickshaw, to reach college. The first few days were tough, but I think I will never get over those rides, listening to songs, chatting with friends who would cross paths on the metro or bus, and reaching college few minutes late, begging the teacher to allow me in. 

So was this second major leap in life worth it all? I wouldn’t have known back then, but I surely know the answer now. 

4th March 2020

It has been two years since I made the decision to join IIM Bangalore. Well, to be specific, three months short of two years. And to be very honest, there are more life lessons I have learned from this institution than during the 20-odd years of the life I had lived before this. 

The experience was unique – living in a closeted environment with an ambitious set of 400-+ people from different parts of the country, who share aspirations, love, hatred, fraternity and friendships, live through the biggest and lowest moments of their lives, go out of the way to help each other, and build memories to last a lifetime. 

Everyone of the 430 people in our batch found something here – some people found career success, some people have found life clarity, some people found great friends, some people life partners. What did I discover? I guess many things, a bag saddled with so many memories and life lessons, that can never fit into enough characters. An amazing bunch of seniors, a crazy bunch of batchmates, an adorable bunch of juniors – a great support system to fall back on!

IIM Bangalore was a first for me in many different way – for the first time, I was staying away from home, all by myself, in a city I had no understanding of, a place where I knew very few people, in a room entirely by myself. 

Having been a topper all through under graduation and school, IIMB was a first for me in terms of seeing my grades tank! Well, I still meet people, who keep telling me that I have a decent grade, but whenever I meet people from my “‘old life’”, they are surprised to know I am no longer the Rank 1 or 2 or 3 in college. To be honest, it is a bit stressful to fall – it may be a “beyond first world problem” for many, but at a very individual, personal level, it hurts. At least for a while. 

However, this is where all the gyaan on having a support system plays out. You will find people who rejoice in your success, but the select few, who stand by you through your lowest moments, are treasures to cherish in life, forever! I am glad I did no’t find just one, but many many such people, who are permanent jewels in my treasure trove!

Again, IIM Bangalore was a first in terms of going all out to perform as much as I wanted to! I don’t think I had ever been so forthright in grabbing every opportunity to sing – I had always been content standing in the background, as a member of the choir, as a background instrumentalist. Now, with my newfound independence, and a safe environment void of judgement, I found solace in embracing my first love in life, holding a mike and singing my heart out. 

IIM Bangalore was also a first for me in terms of working for a cultural fest – by joining Media and PR team of the Cultural Committee! Working for a cause larger than yourself, where you lose a sense of who you are, and work towards a goal as huge as organizing the biggest B-school fest- well, it was quite new for me!

The ‘place-to-be’ also introduced me to a systems view of management, where I undertook courses which I would never even consider taking in my undergraduate programme – a study of Bhagwad Gita Principles in Management, a course on Leadership Presence Through Improv Theatre, and so much more, a lot of ideas and concepts from realms totally unrelated to business, yet thoughts which could quite easily be applied to management.

There are so many firsts of my life, like attending L-square parties, making it a habit or a lifestyle choice to stay awake till 4 am every day, procrastinating on deadlines and submissions, and much more, happened in IIMB!

Now, let us come to the lasts. I don’t believe in lasts, so “‘probable’” might be a more appropriate prefix here. This is probably the last time I would stay in a hostel, study in an informal set-up, celebrate so many occasions and festivals on an almost daily basis with friends, be as expressive of my emotions as possible with others, sit to study one day before exams (I hope, that if someday I choose PhD as a career option, I get to work on research papers)!

There are so many life learnings that I have imbibed from my MBA programme, but the five key takeaways (again, bulleting is a learning I have sought here, and tried to implement religiously, albeit with meagre success), that I keep close to my heart are:


  1. MBA, and Life, are more than a two-decimal GPA:– If I had been super concerned about my grades all along, I would have missed out on several good experiences- –  working for clubs, trying out new extra-curriculars, following what I really love, making so many friends – again, it is a personal choice people make, but diversity in exposure is always appreciated everywhere. 
  2. You don’t just pay your fee for academics: A lot of people think that the money they spend is just tuition fee. I have tried to move away from this perspective. The kind of infrastructure and facilities that IIM Bangalore offers, is one-of-a-kind, not easily found elsewhere, including. world-class sports facilities, cafeterias, music and gym facilities, and so much more. Most importantly, you pay the premium for an exceptional network – in terms of your batchmates and friends who would be working in different corners of the world, yet be connected to you by that one IIMB bond that would outlast years!
  3. No experience is meaningless: I still remember the countless times during the first year when I felt the immense mental pressure, but that was uncalled for. However, that mental priming was much needed for my internship , the countless sleepless nights- although again, it is a personal life choice one makes- it may not be very useful to many people who don’t choose career options in certain other fields. There again, it helps them take a call on “what they do not wish to seek in life”, and gives a little more clarity and perspective. 
  4. There is no true right or wrong, ethics are a person-to-person phenomenon: Often we come to a place with our pre-conceived notions of right and things, and we see different versions of the same reality perceived in different ways, but in hindsight there is no true right or wrong. Each of us comes saddled with our upbringing, our value systems, our ways of dealing with things, and work with that perspective. What may be wrong to me might very easily be right to someone else, and it is important to deal with the circumstances keeping judgement and emotions aside. There isn’t a particular example that comes to mind now, but yes, you might encounter this dilemma when you come across certain circumstances. 
  5. Humility can take you miles: Being surrounded by highly accomplished people all the time helps in one respect, it keeps you grounded, and makes you realizse that there is so much to life that you haven’t even seen. And trust me, when you see more than 400 exceptionally talented people, it feels humbling and gratifying to be a part of the cohort! I remember a story told by my teacher at SRCC once, to fill more in a cup, you have to empty some of it, and to learn more, sometimes you have to unlearn a lot more! From random conversations about quantum physics to ASMR and lipogramatic novels, there are just way too many new things I have learnt here, and that only goes to reinforce my belief that there is so much more to learn. 


Humility is not just a key to learning, but a key to dealing with tough circumstances in life. Someone who has always seen only success in life may not be very adept at handling failure – which requires humility. There are way too many things that one deals with in the course of this two-year MBA, and that makes you humble. Making humility a part of life is what counts.    


Well, yes that pretty much sums up my two years at the best place on planet earth (am I exaggerating? Probably not :p)! As I pack my bags again, and prepare myself for the next phase of life, another major leap, I often wonder if I am making the right choices in life. I wouldn’t know now, I would probably know a few years down the road, but all I know, now is that the past two years have made me all the more prepared to embrace this new phase in life!


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