Contributed by Mr Om Naik (PGP 2019)
While scrolling through the flood of pro-CAA and anti-CAA emails on the alumni email group, I paused for a few more seconds than I generally do. The reason – one of the email subjects mentioned Harvard Steps. But the moment I read the words, inviting articles, I closed my inbox. After all, two and a half years is too short a time to recover from the trauma of getting a D+ in WAC. Anyway, here I am, for the love of Harvard Steps, secretly hoping that Prof. Kaul doesn’t read this.
I had never given much of a thought to the Harvard Steps during the first few weeks despite passing beneath them every day on my way to the classrooms (Dorm 16, 17, and 18 folks would know the importance of this route, traversing LKP diagonally to save some precious seconds, especially for Prof. Ghosh’s 8:44:59 AM classes). So, I clearly don’t remember my first rendezvous with the stairs. After settling into Term 1, I started going for walks around the campus to gather some rare moments of calm at the end of the day. After one of these walks, I ended up sitting at the Harvard Steps listening to my playlist, and before I realized it, I had already spent close to a couple of hours sitting there. I think this was the start of my courtship with this special place.
These walks and the subsequent moments spent at Harvard Steps slowly became an integral part of my schedule at IIMA for the next year and a half. Even though I have started writing this piece, I am still not sure what exactly made Harvard Steps so special to me. Was it the cool breeze at night? Was it the calmness of the place? Was it the view? Or maybe all of this (or perhaps the fact that it was on Harvard Steps that I had the first good conversation with the girl I liked). Frankly, I don’t know, and I think I cannot pinpoint a reason for that. I just loved the feeling of being there, and I think that’s where the secret lies – being at Harvard Steps made me connect with the present without any qualifiers.
I remember my friends waking me up at 1 AM in the night to catch-up. There was no necessity to mention the venue of the meeting; it had to be Harvard Steps. It was the obvious meeting point for all the outings with my group and the place for all post outing gossip and discussions with them before dispersing to our respective dorms. Some of my fondest memories at Harvard Steps are of the countless hours spent there with my friends, talking about anything and everything under the sun (or do I say the moon?). I hope we were not the only ones who had thought of sliding down the slope on the sides, only to be stopped in time by a sane voice in the group.
By the way, we haven’t yet talked about the most exciting part. Don’t ask me how I already knew about some of the prospective couples in the batch; I had definitely not seen them walking around the LKP and cricket ground and obviously, there was no chance of me noticing them going out together! The connection of Harvard Steps with the corridor in front of the Library makes it all the more special (and convenient to attend PGP2 classes). How can a single place have so many things to offer?
It has only been a year since I walked down those steps for the last time, after submitting my room keys at SAO, but it feels like ages have gone by (quite mushy, I know). The rustling of those mango leaves, the breeze, the plants on the steps, the moon, and the music is still fresh in my mind, and it always will be. After all, we never forget that special corner in our home, and IIMA will always be home.