Jon Snow. Frank Underwood. Gunther. Where can you find them all? IIMA.

Over the past months, I have met a lot of interesting people. I met people who left their startups, to search for something more engaging yet familiar. I met people leaving jobs whose pay-scale is greater than an average IIMA grad gets, in search of excitement (or learning). I met people ditching plush campus offers, to leverage the brand of IIMA while still young. So, what is common among them all?

One, everyone is clueless. Everyday, I keep meeting more and more people who do not know what they want in life (including me). The above reasons were the ones we all told in our IIM interviews. But I see all of these slowly fizzling away with an air of uncertainty. All that remains is an image of Jon Snow saying ‘I know nothing‘.

Two, everyone is afraid. You ask a child if he would be afraid if he were among the top 0.01% of India and he would say – No. You ask a PGP student the same question and he/she will give you 10 reasons why he/she will end up in a dumpster in life just because his/her CV is not ‘spiked’ enough. Combine this fear with an ambition (just high enough to crack IIMA) and you get a herd of Frank Underwoods justifying their blood-thirst with ‘Hunt or be hunted‘.

Three, everyone is unhappy. This, perhaps, is the deadliest of all three. People are unhappy with the competition which pushes them so hard. With the academic system which magnifies their errors. With the professors they think ‘not good enough to teach’. With friends they feel ‘not true enough’. With peers they believe ‘not smart enough’. With the subway ‘not short enough’. You get the idea. Combine these three and you get a Gunther, sitting in seclusion behind the bar, dejected, because he doesn’t have the courage to pursue the woman of his dreams.

For my part, I can say there have been moments of ecstasy. I am one of those people who enjoy when the classroom discussions transcend the realm of the subject. For that part, I have easily loved the way LAB was taught to us. I love it when the case discussions get so involving as to get personal. So, I have loved the nights I stayed up till 3 just to discuss a case with my friends. But such moments wither away quickly when I come back to my dorm and start staring at the Placecomm schedule or the frivolous assignment deadlines.

I don’t know if I have the guts to say ‘Fuck off’ to the rat race.  But I know one thing for sure. I can definitely picture my 40 year old self, looking over the red bricks, reiterating Gordon Gekko’s dialogue “Are all the people out there nuts?”.

– Nishad Shah, yet another brick in the wall.