If my IIM L were a Person

Shaam bhi koi, jaise hai nadi...

Shaam bhi koi, jaise hai nadi…

If my IIM L were a person…

He would be my toughest good bye.
I would keep going past his home,
Wishing for one hug good bye
Waiting for that beautiful high

I would memorize each and every corner
Like I am burning him in my memory
Learn his contours, his smile
Like my own reflection, my ‘chokher bali’*

I would stare into his eyes
And speak a thousand silent words
I would wake up to the impeccable beauty
Of him as the gorgeous night ends

I would steal his perfume
Capture it in a vintage flask
It would be my refuge, my escape
When tough questions, life does ask

In his loving, warm embrace
I would find my peace
The world would stop for a moment
And I would melt and ease

He would teach me true love
Unconditionally, like an unbreakable vow
He would keep loving me
No matter when, no matter how

I would see him through times good and bad
Through praise, through criticism, through scrutiny
He would still always be my person
Through years, centuries, many a destiny

I know this is not the end
With some, there is a life time
It’s not just him I love
But his existence too, through space and time

If my IIM L were a person…
If my IIM L were a person…
I would wait for that final kiss
One final hug good bye!


A small ode to my beloved beloved campus on my very last day. What started as a brief affair, is ending with the beginning of a life time of romance ahead. As much as I try, I am not able to put in words (or even my own expressions) the terrible amount of love I have for this place, what it has given me, who it has given me as people in my life. I am leaving a part of my soul behind in this place. And carrying a little of it with me. Forever.

Is it normal to love a place so much?

I guess it is. Because IIM Lucknow is not a place anymore. It’s an emotion. It is love. It is home. It always will be.

Ending with a line that I have come to love so much,

जितनी तू मिलती जाए
उतनी लगे थोड़ी थोड़ी…


* Chokher Bali –

a. Literally translates to a dust particle in the eye
b. One of the many famous works of Rabindranath Tagore; love that costs you but you still keep loving

A Lifetime of Hell

I had decided to write this post 4 years ago.

Because that was when I stepped into IIM Lucknow as a PhD student for the first time. And I knew I have to write about it when I complete 4 years on 16th June, 2018. And here we are today!

What a wonderful 4 years it has been. So much so that I have been making drafts of this post in my head for 10 days now. That’s what I do now – make drafts. Because, PhD. Which reminds me – 4 years of Hell. And what a beautiful, stunning hell to be honest! I have lived as much in these 4 years, if not more, as I had lived in the 24 years before coming here. Yet, it feels like I haven’t lived at all.

It’s a long time and PhD is a long journey for anyone to think about who they are and what they want with life. A lot of people believe that PhD is a lonely journey and it is. But it also is a time that if managed well will bring you closer to yourself. In the last few years, I have met some brilliant people, some not so brilliant people; re-discovered the meaning of friendships, learned to let go of things and people, realized that I cannot chase anyone in my life (except maybe a few friends), understood that one cannot stop living while one anticipates about ‘what next’… and much more.

It might look like I did everything except my PhD work! But I am about to finish so I also did learn – deadlines are okay in life 🙂

From surprise birthdays to not-so-surprising birthdays, dinner and dance parties to terrace nights, movie marathons to Varanasi trips – it’s been one lifetime of beautiful Hell. The winters of Hell are typically akin to the phrase – ‘Hell freezing over’. But as Albert Camus says, “In the midst of winter, I found there was within me, an invincible summer” –

The one thing that I am most thankful to this place for is that it gave me an opportunity to devote quality time for learning meditation and Kriya Yoga. It has been life changing, life affirming, ground breaking, and much more. I do not have enough words to phrase together what it means to have found this path in life. It’s like an invisible insulation, a talisman that I carry within myself. I could talk for hours about this, but that’s for another day.

As I reach the penultimate few months in these ‘hallowed portals’, I can’t wait to write the acknowledgement of my thesis. I have kept it for last; as a symbol of wrapping up the big adventure I undertook 4 years ago. All set for beginning new chapters, ready to fall, get up, and laugh (though probably not immediately), to soar (not much of a roarer anyway), and to see what’s in store next.

And if you ever want to do a PhD, don’t hesitate. You will probably have the time of your life. Or, a great story to tell 🙂

4 years! PHEW !!!

Lost and Found


You know – every crowded place has this section. They don’t put a noun behind it. Just adjectives – lost and found. For it keeps a track of lost and found things and people.

It is specially interesting to observe that places of worship with a lot of belief, have elaborate lost and found sections. Albeit, only literally. Not figuratively.

For thousands throng those floors and doors – but they only go to the lost and found section for their shoes or kids, never for their souls. That’s not what temples are for. Probably.

Dakshineshwar, Calcutta – is my all time favorite. I just love that place. It is not just a tranquil place but a deposit box of memories for me. And every time that I have been there, I have found myself more at peace by the ghats than while at the line for Deity Darshan. The divine feels more around on the solitary banks of the mighty Ganges than the hustling, bustling, jostling line for the temple.

Come to Banaras (Varanasi). I have found myself more on Shiva while sitting on Assi Ghat, than I have inside the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. I am not saying darshan is not great. But the true meaning of Darshan is to realize the divine in you. How will that happen when you are being kicked from all sides inside the Bihari temple in Vrindavan, that too if you choose to go there during Holi 🙂

You know – we are the biggest lost and found items on earth. If you go into flashback and rewind mode you can count – the number of times you have lost yourself and found yourself. Sometimes the alleyways are huge and it takes times to come out. But you invariably, mostly do.

My campus did that to me. I see most people coming here and losing themselves. The environment does that to you – the parts of you that you were pretty sure you will never lose – you do. But if you try hard enough, they also come back to you. For this place has a lot of silence – within the lot of noise that is there on the surface. It takes away, but it gives back a better version of you – if you give yourself an opportunity.

Guess – life is the same. A series of lost and founds. Every time you lose something of yourself, you realize the parts that you can do away with and should do away with. And every time you find yourself – it should be a slightly better version – a good repair work that you do on yourself.

But I think what’s really important is – to not lose it twice in the same dingy by-lane of life. Not twice. Once is enough. Why be stupid enough to get lose twice on the same road?? And the question is – where do you find yourself really? Where is that lost and found section of life?

It is inside you only. When you look for answers all around but you don’t find them – you know the last place is where you will find it. And it is within your stupid little soul only 🙂 … It always tells you deep down – whenever your detours are not right. But you shut it up. For you want to enjoy the detour, even though you know it will later bring you misery only.

Amidst all that chaos inside, deep below there is silence. And that is where the ‘found’ part is.

Guess what I am trying to say is – no matter how crowded a place you lose yourself into – you will find yourself only in silence. And it is the quietest inside you 🙂


Calcutta is Love!

Yes it is.

And what a feeling it is, to be writing this from my second home, my Calcutta, my room in the city which is witness to a version of me that only I had the privilege to see. A version that I saw through the 85 years old yet “shiny-as-new” mirror in an equally old, “built during the British times” building that still stands, a little less strongly, but in well-preserved pride and glory.

Such is the Calcutta I know. It stands tall on its heritage, it takes pride in the era gone by. The city breathes its past to sustain its present. It keeps you bound to your roots, while giving you all the chances in the world to fly. We Calcuttans have a saying – “Once a Calcuttan, always a Calcuttan”. I have found it to be very true. Calcutta is love. The essence never goes out. Any walk in any part of the world, reminds me of my Park Street strolls. Any bookstore anywhere, reminds me of College Street. Any boat ride anywhere, reminds me of Dakshineshwar, Belur Math and Princep Ghat.

Any happy conversation anywhere with a friend, reminds me of the conversations I have had with some of my most favorite people in the coffee shops of Calcutta. Some I don’t talk to anymore. Some don’t talk to me anymore. What would I not give to talk to some of them again! 🙂 … A city is all about the people you have memories of in the streets of the city, don’t you think?

I know, not many people enjoy the slow, laid back Calcutta, the Calcutta that holds on to its roots so strongly, the city that is still neck deep in its past stories. Probably they are right. But I am not concerning myself with Economics (ironical, given my profession). It’s the poetry in the city that makes me fall for it every single time. Speed is thrill. Slow is peace. That’s the kind of poetry I enjoy… With a slow rhythm, a beautiful meaning. Something you can hum along while a tram crosses by with its ‘tan-tan’.

This city sings to you, a tune that only you can understand – while you are walking on the howrah bridge, or sitting on the banks of the mighty Ganges. While you are having a quiet breakfast at Flury’s or while standing at the edge of the local train compartment to feel the wind in your hair (and dust in your eyes!). This city sings to you while you live in it. I think every city has a song. Calcutta has Nobel price winning “Rabindra Sangeet”. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but those who get it never find anything more soothing that could talk to their souls.

I don’t know about the people of Calcutta in general. They are okay I think. My two and a half years of doctoral studies have taught me not to generalize without concrete proof and rigorous validation. But I know about the specifics. And they are brilliant! Calcutta and the people it gave me, have made me who I am.

Like the old British building I live in. It keeps you bound to your roots, but also nurtures you. Like grandparents do. It is not a backward city. It is a city that knows speed is not everyone’s answer. It is a city that loves you like your nani. While giving you history lessons, it teaches you to learn from the past, and grow with the realization – “home is where the heart is”.

Calcutta steals not the easy hearts, but the difficult ones, I guess. It keeps those who know how to rest. Maybe it’s not good for the city. But I don’t think Calcutta has ever cared about opinions. And that’s the kind of people it breeds. Carefree and beautiful. That’s the kind you find in the city of Joy.

Thank you second home for all the love and lovely memories, for the literature and the books, for the losses and the lessons, for your sheer yet subtle beauty. You heal me a little every time I step in. You are love!

(P.S – I have lost count of how many times I have written and deleted this post in my head. Finally, it’s up.)

Writer’s Block

I am choosing to write about “Writer’s block” because had I had a topic to write about, I would have written one in the last 15 months. It has been that long since I wrote something for myself!

calvin n hobbes writers block

And I am writing this out of my nothingness on agenda (although, I would surprise my own self if I look at my mental list of To-Dos right now. You know, those lists that you make when you are fed up of your oh-so-many To-Dos?).

And I am writing this from a lonely corner in the library, with an antique, musician kinda ceiling fan for company. And dear reader, you are forewarned – this is probably just going to be a long ramble about how and why I have not been writing. Although, none of you have ever pointed out how I suck at writing so I would take my chance. And the last tit-bit about my rendezvous with my surrounding situation (i.e. the secluded corner of library) is that I actually came to work on my dissertation, the deadline for which is looming large on my head and needless to mention, I have miles to go before I sleep; and I am taking time out for this blog from my warm-up period before I actually get down to serious (and for want of better word: dirty [my scholar friends would sympathize]) work of model building and hypothesizing.

Can you blame me for not writing? A PhD beats that out of you probably. Or maybe I am just lazy. Although, my forgetful tiny little brain remembered the blog’s password. I am surprised at and impressed by my own self. (Trivia time – did you know your brain is the size of your fist? I have small hands…. Oh wait! That’s the heart. Too lazy to google brain trivia right now! No wonder I have writer’s block; the worst I have seen in my 6 years of blogging existence so far.

But I have given it more thought than my decision of making a pathetic attempt at humor above. I tried thinking at all the places I could imagine. Inside my own silence, outside in the din of the traffic, in the hustle bustle of the student’s mess, between the droplets of rain (and once in a hailstorm too), among the desolate, beautiful orange night lights of Lucknow while the windswept hair kept getting into my eyes along with the polluted air particles, effectively forcing me to wear goggles at 11 pm in the night – everywhere. And what I have found is –

It is not that I don’t have inspiration to write. And it is probably also not true that I am out of ideas. I have had hundreds which I did not jot down somewhere. And the reason is not laziness. The reason is – I probably didn’t want to write. The reason is – that the reason I started enjoying writing in the first place is now lost somewhere. I always thought I was writing for myself. But during these 15 months I have realized that I was wrong. It was not me. Or was it?

writers block

But the truth is, writing doesn’t wait for anyone. And words don’t have time for this confusion. Words, have a world of their own which does not run on the whims and fancies and troubles of a 26 yr old who cannot put them on paper. Words don’t care what you are feeling. Words won’t bother themselves with your fear of letting too much on. What is it to words, if someday, you are too scared to choose them in such a manner that your deepest secrets come tumbling out to people you don’t want to share those secrets with?

What do words care… If not you, someone else will keep making the choice. Someone else will keep writing. People will keep writing. Because no matter whom you write for, in the end, the love for writing will catch up with you. Your writer’s block won’t last for long (I say this because I have one draft ready and one WIP. So convenient! 😛 ) … Let the writer in you win, even if you write crap. Let the writer in you win, even if you write in a locked diary in the dead of the night. And write, because it will keep you sane.

Write when you can and when you can’t. When you want to and more importantly when you don’t want to. Because when you sit back and look at your choice of words, they will always tell you what you were going through and how far you have come!

Write. For the love of writing. And in the process, if you can also manage to write for yourself – nothing like it!

Silhouette Memory

A little background:

It’s a poem that I came across while taking a walk down the memory lane. In a not-dusty corner of an old drawer (because, you know, mothers clean everything 😛 ) back at home, I found my dusty, yellowing old diary. It smells of old pages and childhood stupidities. And it also looks like my progress report, from literature that has appealed me as a naive kid to literature that has appealed me as a useless teenager 😀

Not much progress, if I must say.

I found this poem among those pages. It was written in 2004 on a train journey back from a one day school trip to Bhubaneshwar (a luxury and a delight back then). The idea of listening to the ‘discourse’ of teachers back then somehow appealed to me a lot (kind of explains the career choice I have made for myself). And that’s why, one would have found me on that cold winter evening sharing a coop with a few teachers and some unwilling, reluctant friends whom I dragged along with me. Best 3 hrs of my life!

It was in this time, this era, that this poem was written. Patro Sir (our Odiya teacher) wrote this, in what seems like a thoughtful, ephemeral epoch which was inspired by an undisturbed seating beside the window with the cold winter wind stirring those deeply settled emotions. He retrieved it from the fathoms of his thoughts on paper in Odiya. And then Mishra Sir (English teacher) translated it for the benefit of the less able like me. I am having to assume that he knew Patro Sir fairly well (they are neighbors, till date) for the remark that “It’s almost as if I have written it.” had been made after he went through the translation. For only the one who knows the poet well can translate poetry with such accuracy. Rest is just speculation.

As for me, I quickly copied the poem because I knew there will be a day, far away from that day, when I would understand the poem. I am just glad I had access to paper that day. Needless to say, this was the best part of the trip.

Enough with the background. Here’s the poem:

Perhaps thou…
To this unification of time
These ecstasy and sensations
In this eternal kingship
Of rope
Will tie


Being selfish
To the ingredients of solitary progress of longings
Gathering & gathering
Will wipe it out.

Today’s memory within
Self centered endless deeds


I will store in my mind
With secret care
In an iron box,
Or made of silver
In a gold covering
Today’s memory.

If I get relaxation,
From the materialistic world’s
Fixed routines
I shall open
Very often
In solitude,
When you will come
To my memory
In your present
Or past.

Your silhouette memory. 

~ U. C. Patro (Translated by Sribatsa Mishra)

P.S – For the ones with a challenged vocabulary, Silhouette [sil-oo-et] means an outline or a shape (for e.g. taking a picture against the sun would give you a beautiful silhouette. For reference, check the blog header.)

The Night. Tonight.

The night is cold.
Kind of bitter. I don’t know why …

Probably it has lost its warmth.
Probably it is in pain, of something slipping away.

As if, trying to search for a lost treasure,
A treasure that’s worth more than constellations,
A treasure that’s worth nothing to anyone else other than the night.

The night is silent.
Kind of like a lament. For having become the night.

Probably it misses being the morning,
Probably it needs to mean the same dawn to someone’s eyes.

As if trying to stash away all the hurt,
In a dark, empty corner.
As if trying to keep all those words on bay, that mean everything yet nothing…

The night is solemn.
Waiting to be the morning again. Waiting to be itself again.

Probably it wants to hold on to dawn, but doesn’t know how.
Probably, it wants to love the dawn and its skies, in it’s own twisted, selfish, dark way.
And it doesn’t know how.

Probably the night, the silent, dark, cold night – wants too many things.
And doesn’t know how to get any. That’s why it is silent.

The night is lovely too.
And kind of ordinary. Among the more extra-ordinary nights.

Like every lover, it believed it is extra-ordinary. But it is not.
Today it has shattered its own reflection.

Cold. Solemn. Silent.
The night is, tonight.

The ‘Wanting More’

There are various kinds of ‘wanting more’. While we all agree that aspiration is great, the kind of ‘wanting more’ that I am talking about is the expectations we have from people. The problem is that it is never ending, that we always want more.

And the real problem is not even about wanting more. It is about wanting what someone else has because it looks so good from a distance.

Regardless of what we say or make ourselves believe – we always want someone else’s life. We want to be friends with someone like they are with someone else because what we have is not enough. We want to be loved by someone in a way we think is perfect because we have seen someone else through the perfection setting of our lenses. The word here is, ‘OUR’.

We want things that we think are perfect in other people’s lives. Because we can’t make peace with what we have. We want to be in people’s lives in a way we want. We forget that it is their life and their right to decide who is going to be in it in which level of importance.

We basically lack the courage, to let people have their own way of being with us, of loving us, of being friends with us, of being there for us. Not everyone’s way is our way. We lose our peace of mind when we forget that. We should never forget that.

Find that courage. Make that peace with your own self, else it will meddle with many other important things. Because, people are always irreplaceable. You can’t really judge them on a scale of importance.

We struggle all our lives to keep it simple. The key probably is – not fighting for the most important place in someone’s life. Rather, creating your own small place that is irreplaceable, however small. Aim for a unique place, not necessarily the top most. Besides, topping every list could be a daunting task!

Let me share a small story with you, mentioned in the book ‘Adultery’ :
Wanting more is great. But, in the process, we shouldn’t forget that we can change our circumstances, the ways in which we can improve and be our own version of perfect rather than being someone else’s perfect. There is no use chasing perfection. Because, perfection, like truth, cannot be absolute. Not when nothing else is absolute.

“There is your truth and there is my truth. As for universal truth, it does not exist.”

Our perfections and our truths – and our perception of someone else’s perfections – all exist in our psyches only. These are all benchmarks. And benchmarks, like opinions and time on our wrist watches – are relative, different, unique.

Want more – but want more in terms of your own reference points. Chase your own perfection, not someone else’s.


Gone With The Wind

… We will all be. One day. Everyone knows that.

But we don’t see it even if it keeps staring right at our faces, day after day, year after year. We forget.

I lost 4 family members in the last 2 months. 3 of them, unexpectedly. 2 of them on the day after the auspicious ‘Diwali’. That was my hard fall to the ground. And a bitter yet important standing up.

We all know we need to live everyday to the full. Blah! We are probably even bored of it.

But, if we know that we’ll probably be gone with the wind in a swoosh, why not make the most of it. By maybe having to do a few unwanted things everyday. But definitely by doing some of the things we love doing daily. With all our heart.

From our jam packed calendars, let us find time everyday, even if just for 5 minutes, to do something that gives us joy that money can buy, lesson that a classroom can’t teach, peace that nothing else can give. Read, dance, run. Write, create, play. Sing. Something. Anything.

Because sometimes you don’t get the flashback you deserve. So why not make sure you don’t need one!

You never know. When you will just be – Gone with the wind.

P.S – I wrote today. I’m going to read something everyday. Yeah, those are my things! 🙂

Falling Gulmohars

falling gulmohar at iim lucknow image

That is what I have been waking up to, since the last month. Everyday.

And that’s what I will probably be waking up to for the coming few years. Yes, completed a month @ HeLL (IIM Lucknow is lovingly known as Hell – though I do not see the point. When you choose to be in a place, be it hell or heaven, it has to become your heaven. Right?)

Anyway, I was thinking about why I notice these fallen beauties. Every morning, beside the hostel, there is a corner full of leaves, lying like dreams that fell from the branches and paid homage to the soil; the place they were destined to reach. Like all the temptations that the tree discarded because it felt smart and intelligent and knew the importance of letting the temptations go. But they came back every night. In a new shape, with new elements but essentially the same. The same flowers, the same beauty, the same temptations. The same fall.

These gulmohars are beautiful. But they are tempting. The tree sheds them everyday. Yet grows news ones. Everyday. These gulmohars are trying to teach me a few things. Or maybe I am just choosing them to learn it (or simply write it here :P) . These beautiful little red leaves have started signifying life @ IIM L for me and this is what I have learned so far:

1. Be yourself. Whatever kind you are – just be yourself. Introvert, extrovert, helpful, shy, studious, bookworm, idiot, talkative, shrewd, outgoing, party animal, lover, philanderer – whatever. Just be yourself if it works for you. Because if you try to fake, you will end up keeping your feet on two boats. Oops!

2. There will be a lot of temptations to not study. And a lot of incentives and motivations to do so. Be like the gulmohar tree. Shed them everyday. Don’t worry about them coming back. Because they will. That’s the law of nature I guess. They will knock your doors, try to flow in through your window, honk at you, haunt you. But do not give in. Decide what you want and they get on to it with doggedness. The choice is yours. Whether you open the door or sit with earphones and your fav music and your list of most important to-dos and ignore the vicious beauty of temptations.

3. Discipline. If that’s not there, nothing is going to work for you. You could be focused, passionate, hard working and all the other awesome things. But if you cannot discipline yourself, none of those plans will fall into place. You will never wake up on time, you will never be awake in class, you will never pay attention if you do not tell yourself – I need 6hrs of sleep to function normally. (The one thing common with all hallowed and non-hallowed portals of learning is “sleeping beauties” and “sleeping Benedicts” of the batch 🙂 ) … Point being – there is one thing you cannot compromise with and that is – discipline.

4. Eat. And don’t eat junk. Being away from family and the care you are used to, this is your only ticket to soundness. If you eat crap, only crap is going to come out of you! After the initial paneer everyday for a week, you gotta move to the daal and green veggies and fruits because – let’s face it – the body needs what it needs ( I am talking about food here!)

5. The constant reminder of “Why are you here”. Knowing that helps. A lot. During your moments of crisis. And these moments creep in everyday. There will be people who are better than you. Much better. That’s when you need to remember – your best competitor today is the person you were yesterday. And that’s why you are here. To become better each day.

Never knew gulmohars could teach me so much! But now that I think about it, you could gather cups full of knowledge from things around you or could gather buckets or tankers. The choice of the vessel, the source and the will to observe – are all yours. You just need to make your choices. Everyday.

Because here at HeLL, everything is an everyday business. And that’s why Gulmohars fall everyday!

Ciao. Study time.