Sunday, 29 January 2012

India Trip 2011-2012 - Ahmedabad

The main reason for our India trip this time was the Silver Jubilee reunion of my class at IIM Ahmedabad. Time has flown, and I cannot believe that it has been 25 years since we left the campus to go our separate ways. Of course, we have a fairly active Yahoo! Group in which at least twenty members are regular contributors and the rest are lurkers, but this is the first time we would be meeting en masse and in the flesh.

About 90 people from a batch of 174 turned up for the reunion, with families. It was quite a fun event. Wives and kids spontaneously formed their own groups, and we had 3 days of relaxed activities. (Some of the photos below were taken by my classmate SM Sundaram.)

The kids didn't need their parents anymore once they found their peers

There was some self-congratulation that IIM Ahmedabad had just made a splash by debuting at no. 11 in the Financial Times ranking of MBA programs worldwide in 2011. (The famed AGSM program in Australia was ranked 35 and Melbourne Business School was 53. No other Australian MBA program figures in the top 100.)

Director Samir Barua (above, delivering the welcome speech)
had been one of my professors in 1985-87,
and he hadn't changed much in appearance.

Alumni and families gather for a group photograph at the Louis Kahn Plaza,
named after the American architect responsible for the distinctive
exposed brick fa├žade of the campus buildings.

Only some of the alumni turned up for the group photograph,
which may have been due to a failure of communication,
or else it was too early in the morning for some...

The alumni and their families

The kids

Wives of some alumni had their own earlier moment for a group photograph

There were lots of activities over the three days.

You can't get a bunch of Indians together without having them
spontaneously form cricket teams

Teatime at the cricket grounds - delicious spring rolls, samosas
and chai were available at tables on the lawn

Many of my classmates are (as can be expected in a group of MBAs with 25 years of experience) highly distinguished in industry with a fair sprinkling of CEOs and other CXOs. Some are distinguished academics at leading universities in the US, Singapore, etc. Mohyna Srinivasan (in the purple dress above) is one of those who can also boast an unconventional achievement - as an author of fiction! Her novel "The House on Mall Road" (cover pictured below) is a gripping read, and it's not just loyalty that makes me say it.

One of the significant innovations that have occurred in the institute since I was there last, is a window cut into the wall facing the main road outside. In our day, we used to wander out to have a glass of tea by the roadside, but now the roadside tea vendor has set up shop outside the window, and students can now be seated on the inside and have their tea served to them through this "hole in the wall".

Enjoy roadside tea in the comfort of your own campus...

In the three days we were there, hole-in-the-wall chai became very popular, even with our families. (Nothing beats the strong and sweet milky tea served in roadside tea stalls throughout North India.)

Hole-in-the-wall chai hits the spot

Among the many events organised was a mock case study, and our families could experience first-hand what an MBA class at IIM-A, modelled on the Harvard pattern, felt like. Some of the kids were enthusiastic participants. At least some of them must be preparing to go to management school themselves.

More nostalgia than insight into the case at hand ;-)

I was impressed by the fact that the group photographs that were taken on the morning of the 30th appeared on the 31st on souvenir mugs that we got to take home.

Mugshots on a mug - who would've guessed?

Yours truly in the dark jacket towards the right

The reunion was over almost as soon as it began. We said goodbye to my old classmates and their families and began our independent journey. From Ahmedabad, we went on to Baroda (Vadodara), Jaipur, Mumbai and then back to Chennai from where we caught our return flight to Sydney.

In Baroda, I would learn that the tongue-in-cheek Gujarati expansion of MBA is "mane badhu aavDe che" ("I know everything"). That probably beats the "Mediocre But Arrogant" expansion that I knew from before.

More on those legs of the trip in future posts...
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