PGP97: 25 YEARS ON
By Aarti Narayan and Abhishek Malhotra
Twenty five years, we’ve been waiting for a chance….as the song goes, to reunite in the place where we spent arguably “the best days of our lives”. And after the ravages of the pandemic, the class of ‘97 was determined to celebrate with the party of a lifetime, a truly rangeela-re silver reunion!
The PGP97 WhatsApp group started buzzing in midsummer when the reunion dates were confirmed, and right at the outset, we had positive responses from 120 batch-mates. For a batch that has always been incredibly close-knit, there could have been no more auspicious beginning. After months of preparation, a hundred of the original cohort descended on campus for our silver reunion-New Year party, accompanied by an equal number of significant others and children.
Festivities kicked off with football, frisbee, cricket and kite flying on the tower lawns, our energy fuelled by traditional snacks from the old favourite, Gopi. This was followed by a gala reunion dinner, where the one and only Bagalbhai Orchestra truly rocked us all. As did the fantastic solos and duets from several of our cohort, opening the floodgates well and truly on so many of our old memories. Incredibly, the performances were applauded even by the current PGP1/2 students, and we heard rave reviews from the faculty the next day.
On both nights, the partying continued into the wee hours as we all danced ramp-party style, our enthusiasm and sheer joy overcoming the protests from our middle-aged knee-joints. There was much laughter and groaning as many batchmates found that they were the lucky winners of some rather interesting awards that evening. Best of all, having Rambhai among us again pouring out his signature chai and making us hot Maggi and omelettes really managed to turn the wheel a full circle again. And the proof that this was a party to end all others came when even the most blasé and hard-to-please teenagers admitted to having a fabulous time in the midst of literally a hundred middle-aged folk! Well, perhaps not that surprising since PGP’97 has always prided itself on its watchword of “we will, we will….rock you!!”.
Many of us were meeting for the first time in 25 years and it was a truly nostalgic experience for everyone, especially when our batch photo was taken at the Louis Kahn Plaza. People who had never let down their guard or taken a moment to relax back in the day were finally able to let their hair down, well…the ones who had some hair left anyway! Old photos were re-created with dorm-mates while project groups were all reminiscing madly. The air was thick with “do you remember…?”, “how come you didn’t hear this before?” and moans of “where was I when all this was happening!”.
Is it possible to get FOMO after 25 years? Answer: a resounding YES! Tidbits of forgotten joos were dredged up painstakingly and the laughter echoed around the brick walls just as it had always done. Our bachchas were now connecting with each other in the same place where we had once made friends as fachchas! Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose….
All too soon, it was time to head back, armed with an updated yearbook containing stunning campus photos, and a special reunion T-shirt designed by our batch-mate. We left with a treasure of photos on our phones, precious memories imprinted on our brains and the bonds of friendship renewed in our hearts.
I don’t know if any of us had any inkling back in the day how much our time at IIMA would shape all of us…not just our careers but also our deepest friendships and most meaningful personal experiences. We came here seeking an education but left with so much more.
All we can say is….IIMA ka tempo high hain!
ODE TO THE CLASS OF ‘97
Aarti Narayan (PGP 1997)
If these venerable brick walls could speak
Of all the myriad students that did seek An education in their hoary halls
One batch, they’d say, towers above them all.
But first, we must go far, far back
In the days when we did iPhones lack
Towards the end of the last millennium
To give the class of ‘97 a special requiem.
We came from every corner of the land
Eager young warriors in a merry band Some breezed in; others were asked to wait
Finally, we all entered those brick-lined gates.
Some were nervous about what we’d find
A trifle apprehensive in our minds Hoping for not-too-nasty a vibe
At least until we’d found our tribe.
At first glance, we appeared so different
Varied accents; confident ladies and gents
Some were studious, others oh-so garrulous
Only a few remained gloriously impervious.
Some had worked a-plenty
While others weren’t yet twenty
Many of us were engineers
(Their Quanti skills we’d later cheer!)
Still others were lofty economists Doctors, accountants and even the odd chemist
Some were from SAIL, others from GAIL
Together we made a most mish-mash bhel!
Settling in was relatively no-frills
Though the Case-Mat load did make our spines chill
And for some the additional thrill
Of hunting for the local alcohol-swill.
Those grand brick dorms were rather stunning
To see ordinary walls, we soon were a-running
Freezing in winter, hot-as-hell in summer
Someone really messed up, what a bummer!
We were sorted into sections A, B and C
Which divided us based on personality A Sorting Hat must have been used at least
How else did they manage this clever feat?
Section A was gossipy and rowdy
Even their Talent Night was rather bawdy
Singing and dancing to the tune of “nigodi”
All this lot ever did was party!
Section B seemed to be rather quieter
But didn’t lack its share of fighters Motorbikes, i-schols, a ‘sexy’ T-nite dance
This lot were leaving absolutely nothing to chance!
Section C (we’d heard) was terribly loud
Their CP kings and queens did us all proud
Their watchwords were ambition, competition
And strident class participation.
Came the first real test
Each yearned to show that they were the best
But alas! what a terrible, horrible joke When that first case turned out to be a hoax.
Once classes began in real earnest
There was no letting up, to be honest
What with MANAC, POM, WAC and Quanti
Scaring us witless was the Profs’ modus operandi.
It took us time to settle down
By then we’d had time to look around
And drink endless cups of inky chai Outside the gates at the one-and-only Rambhai’s.
Thrice each day we went to the mess Where the usual fare was mostly soulless
Except on Fridays – when special Harvard dinners
Were the fate of all undeserving sinners!
There were many restaurants in the city
To satisfy all tastes (not just Gujarati) Abhilasha, Mirch Masala, Tomatoes, Gopi
Take your pick, no need to go hungry!
Our b-school had the dreary fate
To be situated in a very dry state
Not just the weather, but also the booze
Getting hold of it needed secret queues.
Now these brick walls had a long-standing tradition
To dunk passers-by with ultra-precision
With enormous buckets of ice-cold water
Provoking shouts of rage amid roars of laughter.
Of all the classes, WAC took the crown
For poorest overall grades hands-down
With a ‘C’, most were usually content
Woe betide those to whom a “Re-submit” was sent!
MANAC – we’d known nothing like it! What was credit and what was debit? Our smart CAs certainly had a field day While we struggled, they could all play!
QUANTI frankly might have been palatable
Maybe you disagree; it’s certainly debatable
But the Prof’s howling laughter was such an affliction
It reduced us all to a pitiful condition.
Many widgets in POM were made and sold
They ought to have fetched their price in gold
Truth be told, ‘twas a nasty sting
When we realized there actually ain’t no such thing!
MARKETING courses could not guarantee
That some wouldn’t over-estimate the market for ACs
Though some of us tried, few of us did thrive
For our bare-foot Prof loved to skin us alive!
Now the FIN prof was venerable, witty and wise
But some of his statements resulted in watering eyes
Do you remember the laughter we shared
The day he claimed to see someone’s underwear?
IIMA Profs were a tough and seasoned bunch
(Though some were ready to invite you home for lunch)
If you asked – were they sharp and witty?
I’d say: “I don’t know, you tell me!”
Now some Profs were extremely polished
While others had a laugh that was rather ghoulish
Some doffed their shoes, others were downright scary
But one and all, unhone hum sab ki leli!
It wasn’t enough to attend class
Or to take the tests and try to pass
Oh no! We were graded on class participation
A ghastly form of verbal repetition.
Lest you think we were on our own
Into several groups we were thrown Motley crews all trying to flee Everyone’s motto: kiski pehle phattee!
As if all this wasn’t enough
Surprise quizzes made our life truly rough
The sudden shouting outside our class Was enough to make everyone panic en masse!
Finally, we all got a wonderful reprieve
That even we could scarcely believe
When we were able to dance, shout and stamp
At the first of many parties on the Stanford Ramp.
So many reports to type and print
To the computer centre we often had to sprint
Where the ancient printer went clack-clack-clack
Making us all want to run right back!
But when it all started to take a toll
All we needed was just a gentle stroll, Play football or just wander around
The LKP and its jade-green grounds.
Our dorm rooms weren’t really all that bad
Though living with the lizards often drove us mad
We usually had lots of entertainment Provided by the visitors to D1’s basement!
And how can I forget the M-A-D club? IIMA’s one & only cinematic hub Whence came moans, groans and various noises
That were enough to scare D11’s lasses!
The guys usually were quite gentlemanly
(Except for the inhabitants of LechPoint Charlie!)
If any help you ever did need
To your aid they would quickly speed.
This batch didn’t lack stalwarts gallant
Nor was it short on musical talent Golden-voiced singers, or someone playing the flute
Let’s give them all a hearty salute!
Time to now speak of the women in the batch
Fewer than thirty – and mostly unattached
What these ladies lacked in quantity They certainly did compensate in quality!
Many a romance these walls have seen Broken hearts that have since mended been
Some found here their ‘beginning, middle and end’
While others dreaded to hear…. “let’s just be friends!”
We managed to survive that first year Bruised and battered, but full of good cheer
We drowned our sorrows in the chai that we sipped
Even as we forged bonds of deepest friendship.
We were back next year with spines of stainless steel
Though SMDA and O&F made most of us reel
But since we’d mostly lost the ability to feel
That saved them from being such nasty ordeals!
It wasn’t always all work-no play CHAOS, Combos and a Marketing Fair Did ensure that we had a lot of fun Before it was again time to rise with the sun.
At the end of Year 2, for jobs we did hanker
Whether consultant, corporate, marketer or banker
No Sorting Hat for us this time
The entire batch had to be fully primed.
Each of us made some memories here
In class, on the field, or with someone dear
A part of IIMA in our hearts we’ll carry Even though our lives and career-paths now vary.
Though it’s decades since we rocked the campus
And are no longer around to cause a rumpus
We left part of ourselves here, one and all
So that we’re not ‘just another brick in the wall’.
After twenty-five years we’re now back to make merry
From Singapore, India, and even from Paris
Dubai, America and of course Hong Kong
To find one of us, you needn’t journey long.
Well, we made it (almost everyone!) And as we relive our seasons in the sun To those of us that couldn’t be here
We silently raise you a cup of good cheer.
Thank you for all the memories
We’re lucky – they’d fill a whole treasury
And in the spirit of Auld Lang Syne… Damn! I still need a permit for my wine
ll need a permit for my wine