Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thoughts on Being an XLer

Recently, I've been thinking a bit about XL and XLers in general.

Perhaps it was the alumni party last month. Perhaps it's the fact that my juniors recently joined the company I work with, so I'm seeing a lot more XLers these days. Or maybe it's just the fact that I completed a year recently at work, and one of my juniors asked me, "Don't you miss XL at all?"

Of COURSE I miss XL. Though maybe not as much as in the months immediately after I reached Bangalore. Back then, it was a constant throbbing, an absence of something inside me. Sometimes, in the afternoons, I used to just let my mind wander back to Jamshedpur, to those few acres of green trees and golden sunlight - it felt so good, that bittersweetness.

While at XL, I used to wonder - how do these alumni handle it? Don't they know that they've left Heaven behind forever? That they're always going to have to look back upon these years with a mixture of longing and a wonder that they were allowed to be part of the magic at all?

But now I know how it is. Either enough time passes by that you get used to it, or you realize that you don't have an option, so you better just get yourself to deal with it. Over time, XL fades from your system, it becomes muted, sometimes for days. But inevitably, something or the other will remind you, maybe a photo on Facebook, or a horrible dosa that makes you pine for those early morning visits to Mad Sam, or - hell - just the way the sunlight plays on the trees! And then you feel that familiar ache again.

I'm told that people from other b-schools undergo the same thing. But somehow, I refuse to believe that their experiences were as good as ours - there's just no way!

Most of the reason being, of course, Jamshedpur. Objectivity be damned, there's no way an Ahmedabad or a Bangalore or a Calcutta can compare with Jamshedpur. The orange of the sky in the nights, the endless rain, the sheer cosiness of the place! And of course, the fact that there was zilch to do outside the campus, which ensured that XLers always created their own entertainment!

XL's magic has remained a secret for generations, known only to the ones who've experienced it. Plus maybe the ones who've read a certain incredibly well-written book (let's not take names here) on XL.

Unfortunately, I've discovered recently that it's not just the magic, but XL itself that seems to be a well-kept secret. Despite being chosen number 3 on India's best b-schools list, the fact remains that most people would know an IIM (even the new ones, though I've lost track of those now) way more than an XL. Recently, I was introducing myself to somebody when he asked me, "Oh, but you're from Kerala. Why did you go all the way to Jamshedpur for your MBA?" And this guy was a 'Learning Consultant' with a reasonably well-known firm. So much for the 'Best HR Couse in the Asia-Pacific', then.
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