Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reading Again

Always, at every moment, asleep and awake, during the most sublime and most abject moments, Amaranta thought about Rebeca, because solitude had made a selection in her memory and had burned the dimming piles of nostalgic waste that life had accumulated in her heart, and had purified, magnified and eternalized the others, the most bitter ones. 
                                                                          - excerpt from One Hundred Years of Solitude

I've gotten back to reading. Or so I would like to think. During the winter break, I managed to read 'Love In The Time of Cholera', my first Marquez. I was hooked. Every moment described in excruciating details, the semi-fantastical setting and the heart breaking story of unrequited love was unlike anything I had read earlier. So I decided I would pick up 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' next. I'm a little more than halfway through it and have a feeling that I would finish it this time. My previous attempt during the winter of 2007-08 had been a disaster. In hindsight, I was not in the state of mind required for the rather slow and intense reading.

I'm probably the worst multi-tasker I know. This, despite being almost done with my MBA! So I cant, for example, read and watch TV at the same time. Or browse and listen to music. I don't enjoy it and I invariably end up losing one thread completely. Anyway, the point is, I need time and space to read novels. So last Saturday when I woke up early (8 o' clock) and saw the sun streaming through the balcony door, I decided not to open my laptop and instead pick up the book. For the next 5 hours or so, I kept reading. Stopping only for the cup of tea and bowl of cereal in between. The phone didn't ring and there was no music playing. And the world didn't change because of my absence from Facebook.

Enough talking about reading. Back to doing it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Little Things

At Darden, seemingly ordinary, little things can make your day. And much of it often comes from the wonderful faculty that we have here. So when the professor from first year quarter 1 says 'Hi Atish' in the hallway and then you go on to have a conversation about your full time offer and the new term structure for the first years and the winter break and what not - the thing that strikes you most is the fact that you were a very average student in his class and he still remembers your name even though you haven't talked to him for almost a year. More so when at a charity reception, where there are a couple of hundred people, another first year professor, after playing with the faculty band comes over and says, 'Hey Atish, good to see you again'

People here genuinely make an effort to know you. To remember the conversations you had with them. It's infectious, to say the least. 

First week of classes in January. Financial Institutions & Markets. It's a whirlwind of a class - true to the reputation that the professor has. There's not a dull moment as he cold calls and makes jokes and talks about banks and capital ratios and dances around the class all in one breath. It's like a theater. It's definitely a performance. And I don't care that I will never use all this in my job. The experience of being there is worth every minute. And I leave B-School knowing about how banks and markets work. Win-Win, right?

End of the day.  around 5:00 PM. I'm leaving school. 

'Atish!', I hear someone call out. It's the finance professor.
'So how was class today.'
I mumble something on the lines of  'Great! I learned a lot......'
'Well, see you tomorrow then. It's going to get more interesting!' And he leaves with the same spring in his step which he had at 10:00 AM.

A couple of weeks later, we do a Harvard case on Salomon Brothers and the Treasury market. It's a very well written case and I actually understand now how this thing works. After class, I'm at the cafe ordering a sandwich.
'Good job in class today, Atish'
'Oh thanks! It was a great case. I think it was one of the better Harvard cases we have done'
'What do you mean, MY cases are not good!'
I pause for a second and say, 'Oh no! I meant EVEN your Harvard cases are super'
'Ha Ha. Great answer Atish. You get extra class participation points.' And we walk off with our sandwiches.

Competitive Dynamics Seminar. Same professor from first year strategy. So it's less surprising that he knows me well. He wants to take the entire class out for dinner to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Too bad that the 25 odd students have conflicting schedules. So he decides to have the make up class (due to the half snow day that we got earlier) in the Abbott Dining Room and have lunch instead! Not that we haven't eaten in Abbott before, but having a class is a new experience and more than that, it is the thoughtfulness of the professor to make it a memorable experience for us.

These are not isolated incidents. They keep happening. With all of us. All the time. And bit by bit, they add up to what's best about this place.