So, how you doin’? With a nod to the most awaited reunion of ‘Friends’, Mridul Nedungottil, from the EPGP Class of 2021-22, shares two crucial takeaways from learning during the lockdown

Two months of this financial year came to completion, recently. Yes, bankers and financial enthusiasts prefer saying ‘financial year’ rather than just using the word ‘year’. It is boring, and as an ex-banker, I will use financial year! As many listeners have told me in the past, I feel it adds a funny layer of sophistication—something required by an MBA graduate, perhaps! Anyway, a lot has transpired in these 60 odd days. We are attending online classes in our rooms (a few of us at Ajmera and others at our respective homes), and I have come across many learnings, of which I will share two of them for now:

First, we can change habits in a day if the need is vital.

Change does not require 21 days, as popularly believed. At least, this is my experience. I used to hit the bed at 11 PM sharp for the past many years now. Not due to discipline but rather due to a family which slept early and, more importantly, awoke early. They made it impossible to sleep late in the morning. It’s just 6 AM and my parents are already up and about. The mixer is turned on most days to make spicy coconut chutney, ready to accompany its buddies i.e., masala dosa or idlis.  Don’t get me wrong. I like my crispy dosas with the chutney, but I’m not really a fan of the loud cacophony that the mixer makes early in the morning. Also, my mom opens all windows on the pretext of allowing fresh air in (as if we were breathing out carbon monoxide). I often feel it is done deliberately so that the excruciating sunlight penetrates every cell of a peacefully sleeping me. To wake me up from a rather deep slumber. Anyhow there wasn’t much to do after 11 PM, which could not be done the next day. So I slept at 11 PM sharp. However, things have changed from the very first day of starting EPGP. Assignments, pre-reads, additional reads, and then cases form an integral part of the day, or rather, the night, because the days are packed with classes—knowledge pouring in incessantly. Please don’t think I am complaining. Not at all. It is fun and enriching. Also, the coffee helps, and in fact, I still sleep at 11 PM; just that, as a classmate rightly pointed out the other day, 3 AM is the new 11 PM!

My second learning was to appreciate the diversity of the batch.

Someone might argue that it is not hard to find diversity elsewhere, especially with India being the second most populous country globally with over 1.3 billion people. What I really meant was that, it is truly remarkable to find a group of really brilliant people of varied background and rich experience at one place. It all began with the Suez Canal debacle (even before the commencement of the program), where the seasoned sailors of our batch fervently shared insights from their experience on what was really the issue. The same peer learning continued once the classes started. One day, the doctor in our batch advises us on what is to be done to ease the adverse effects after COVID vaccination. On another, we are learning how to do a high-level analysis of Tesla’s valuation from our ex-investment banker mate. During the classes, the zoom chat boxes often fill up with insights by former and continuing entrepreneurs of our batch (and others), sometimes challenging age-old management teachings. On a lighter day, ‘Rhythm’ – our Whatsapp group for music connoisseurs fills up with a couple nice tracks to chill a bit. Oh, by the way, some of them were original cover by one of the artistes in our very own batch. There are others – singers, drummers, jazz guitarists, and rock musicians amongst us. Not to mention the poets, sketch artists, and the male cooks too (emphasis on the word male, a rare entity these days!). There are also ex-government employees who did some great work. Their captivating stories add exponentially to the classroom teaching.

A significant event happened a few days ago, for which many of us waited 17 years. The reunion episode of the popular sitcom ‘Friends’ was released. It was much anticipated. So much as that even NRCEL at IIMB posted a message with advice on when businesses should pivot – the last word written in a beautiful calligraphy, replicating how the name of the sitcom is displayed on the show!

Photo Courtesy: HBO MaxPhoto Courtesy: HBO Max

One of the characters of ‘Friends’, Joey Tribbiani (who does not like to his share food), tries to influence people around him by asking, “How you doin’?” If I had to answer the question, I would say, these first two months after joining EPGP were a roller-coaster ride filled with excitement, a sense of wonderment and lots of fun (mainly with the memes shared on Whatsapp groups at the exactly right time of an incident, as if it was pre-destined and pre-planned by an ‘invisible hand’; only those who know, know). Yet, in retrospect, it brings in a strange realization that now only another nine odd months are left in the course; nine months to unlearn, learn and relearn. Joey may not like to share his food, but I would definitely like to share some of mine with my 74 other batchmates. Well, for this to occur, I really hope that things come back to normal and we can attend classes on campus together. Hope the ‘deities’ listen to our prayers, and they give us the most out of the next nine months to have fun together. That was a bit of what happened. So, “How you doin’?”

Mridul Nedungottil is from the EPGP Class of 2021-22. He a Mechanical Engineer and was previously employed as a specialist technical officer with Indian Bank. He is interested in data-driven strategy decisions. He enjoys reading memoirs and practising yoga.

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