Friday, August 13, 2010

Atithi Devo Bhava

A much talked about event in management school circles is the IIMC-XLRI sports meet. Now I know why. Undergrad education in an REC has its advantages. Along with the degree, one comes out of the gates with a lexicon - a compilation of the learning of many generations of bright and wise minds. And deep learnings they are, about humans and their profound relationships. The uninitiated call them expletives.
But if all these days, I was carrying a dictionary, the sports meet gifted me an encyclopedia. Here is what happened.

Lets start from the beginning.
Friday 31st of July, 2010: The campus was abuzz with enthusiasm. Banners of the genre shown below and the shrill of Vuvuzellas shattered the tranquility, creating a feverish pitch around the campus.
(Ahem- that 34-5 you see is a mere statistic showing the distribution of overall tournament wins between the two institutes over the years. Who is 34 is just anybody's guess)
After some prolonged but necessary check of credentials at the gate, by around 10 pm, the guests started entering the campus. The banner read :

Our campus is a beautiful one and we take pride in showing it to outsiders. The route to the registration desk thus ended up being slightly longer. The guests had got their drums and drummers in an attempt to create their own din. Pity, there was no event for these skilled chaps. They would surely earn fortunes playing in marriage parties. We do give credit where it is due.

A Howrah bridge divides our campus into two halves, one half housing the PGP folks and the other us, along with the faculty. As our dear Colonel has aptly put it , it was the commonality of the spirit of the two halves that was in full display when receiving the guests.
We prepared Mashaals and got fireworks as our bit of the contribution from PGPEX. Later we added a few impromptu welcome sonnets of own to add on to the huge list already in existence. As you would understand, none of those sonnets could pass the eligibility criteria to be printed here.The aptly named hostel, Annexe was the chosen spot for the registrations.
The stage was set and so were we .

The actual reception ceremony soon began as the XL junta started streaming in, and chaos and mayhem procreated in gay abandon. Imagine a 1500 crowd screaming at the top of its voice. Add the influence of alcohol and you got yourself a party. A big party with firecrackers bursting where they ought not to, human relations being bartered thick and fast and the mere mirth of being a student. A human chain on either side of the exit corridor ensured that each and everyone of the guests got individual attention as they moved out. It was fun.

The first event was supposed to start at 2 am in the morning with Softball and Tennis. Just to ensure that the guests could make use of the morning freshness after their surely tiring journey from Jamshedpur. Such cordiality is also extended when IIMC visits the XL campus and it is this bonhomie that makes the event such a super success. The Rain God was in a bad mood and heaven relieved itself of many a cat and dog. All events were cancelled for the night.

We reached back to our hostels and realised that some of the XL junta had been housed there. One of them came searching for water in my room. Some of his other friends also were thirsty.
15 bottles of beer at 4 am in morning to quench their thirst and ours.
I went missing after some time and a search party checked ditches and drains but failed to find me. I was later found sleeping in one of the rooms, sharing the bed with a person of gender not to be associated with my sexual orientation.

Obviously Saturday started late but we missed nothing as the overnight downpour had messed up most of the schedule.
Tennis is one of the prestigious events and we had added interest in it as we had our very own representation from PGPEX there. That she is a former national level player helped. In short, the female on the other side of the net was butchered. Sledging from the opposition camp was hard and intense but there was little they could do to stop the bleeding. In the parallel basketball court, our men's team stream rolled theirs and before the guests could lick their wounds, our women's team smashed their counterparts too. The football team returned from their match. 4-0 in our favour !!
The unique feature of any game was the interruptions that happened after every fifth minute. The friction of sporting rivalry often reached tipping point and all it resulted in was two groups of men rushing at each other's throats baying for the other's blood. Only to disperse in a couple of minutes whereafter the games resumed and the cycle followed. Encyclopedia got new chapters at each such creative intervals.

A few of us who did not have their marketing project presentations that afternoon filled the gallery and soaked in the atmosphere. We had our own small contributions to make to the happenings as well, you see. And we certainly did not disappoint. Knowledge grows only when shared. The women's basketball team from XL may have lost the match but they gained so much more from our sideline discussions (primarily one-sided) with them.
Men's tennis was probably only of the two events, (the other being badminton) when the guests tried to prove the below point wrong .
Injury to our chap and lashing rains overnight led to a hung result. To be fair, the XL chaps showed a lot of gumption. In the background, chants and poems eulogizing relations among family members were bartered at will, defying the basic laws of supply and demand. Supply obviously far exceeding demand.

We had to present our project on selling TV over mobile phones the following day and so we took a break while an alternate team who had missed the day's proceedings filled in for us. The girls softball which we missed was equally Fab(ia), I hear.

Dinner, Beer break, Excessive rains.

2 am - Women's Badminton. The atmosphere was curiously polite with measured sledging. We lost, despite the heroics of one of our multi-talented player pursuing her Fellowship here and needless to say, her Fellowship of admirers saw a quantum boost during the games. She surely was one of the players of the tournament for us.

3 am- Mens Singles badminton. Superb start by both players. Excitement builds. Rain drips from the roof onto the court. Dampener. Relationships exchanged with more intensity. Bonhomie over smoke, the regular and incensed. Rains continue unabated.
We call it a day. The matches happen later in the night and XL save some face by winning them.

Rains played spoilsport with most of the remaining events including the much awaited cricket but all in all it was a grand experience to be a part of. Exhilarating and wholesome entertainment. Hats off to the organising committee who managed to stage a wonderful event in the face of an inclement weather. The spirit surely rose above the elements.
"Atithi Devo Bhava" - Guest is God, is a concept integral to our Indian culture and ethos. And I'm sure each and every one of the 250 odd XLRites who visited the campus during the 2 day event would have no reason to feel that they were treated any lesser. We made every attempt to live true to our traditions in letter, spirit and vocabulary. The final scoreline of events that read 13-3 in favour of IIMC stands testimony to the fact. I mean even God would not have expected them to win 3 events !!

The night after, was the celebration party. I have spoken enough. Let pictures do the talking.

Cheerio !!

Photographs Courtesy : Sameer Karkhanis, Utkalika Badu, Hriddhi


Siddhartha Prakash said...

The 2 AM plot was ultimate :)

arundhati said...

"chants and poems eulogizing relations among family members were bartered at will, defying the basic laws of supply and demand" takes the cake!!!!