If there was one fact everyone in college agreed on, it would have to be that the cold coffee from the cafeteria was terrible. It was a concoction of excess water, sugar, enough to make someone diabetic and just a tinge of coffee expressing itself in colour. Yet, at least twice a day we’d buy that “cold coffee” for a whole Rs 25. Over the course of a month, that figure comes up to Rs 1,500. Over three years, it’s roughly Rs 54,000. I think it’s safe to say that we must have spent half a lakh on just the cold coffee. Many times, we were asked why we even bothered with it, and honestly, we don’t really know.
Let’s give you some context. We were in the best management college of India, or at least that’s what the papers said, and they would never lie. So, we made the call to join this university (deemed to be now). We were both quite the achievers in school and naturally, that made us a bit nervous getting into a room of achievers in the best B-School of the country. Nervous but excited. It took exactly three days for that ‘nervcitement’ to fizzle out, right after the ‘Developing Clarity and Fluency in English’ class where we were taught fundamentals of punctuation and importance of spellings. Quite the opposite from reading Tagore and expressing opinions on Shakespearean tragedies. This shocking tragedy led us to the infamous cold coffee. That was the first, first of many.
So in between momo chats and cold coffee, played out the most interesting and infuriating three years of our lives. From running to class and then running away from it, both of us have jokes to last us a lifetime. The first year can be described as a rude shock when we learnt that what we wore took far more importance than what we learnt. Folded sleeves were sinful and you couldn’t dare replace the salwar with leggings! But that’s okay, you get used to it. The fresh sandwiches followed by fro-yo from the gourmet made up for it.
The nerds that we were, seeing Skill Development and Holistic Education on our timetable pumped us up. We were finally going to learn those skills you need to make it in the world, be an entrepreneur, lead industries. Not far from the mark, we were taught concepts that took us on a nostalgic journey to our Moral Science and SUPW classes in primary school. Loved it! That disgustingly addictive cold coffee got us through classes where professors with illustrious doctorates thought Karen Horney was a man and Freud’s explanation of Ego was described as a synonym for arrogance. But what really was the icing on the cake was a written final for our Public Speaking credits. We shared our sorrows over a piece of cake at the bakery.
Don’t expect much from the classes, extra-curricular is what really matters, they said. Yes, finally we would get a taste of the real corporate world. Sure, if flashing torchlights in your face count as stress interviews and creating embarrassing videos of yourself counts as marketing. The façade of achievements mixed with a misguided sense of pride amongst the “committees” made us sick and in dire need of our go-to caffeine hit. Here we were, hoping to practice functions of business in the best management university, but became surrounded by the pretence that the make-believe games and appointments were actually a stepping stone to success. For some, it might have been. For others, it meant spending most lunch breaks discussing our own case studies and business news over Extra Masala Maggi and lemonade.
The surprising part was that we learnt more in the 6 cafeterias than we did in actual classes or fests. It worked out well you may say, but it was not what we expected from a university that envisions competing with the Standfords and Harvards of the world. Over North Indian Thalis and Schezwuan Dosa, all while exploring the different ways a momo can be cooked – we debated our decision to join this university, cribbed about professors (or lack of), and forecasted where this would take us.
Coming to the good old cold coffee that was hardly ever cold and hardly ever coffee – People may still walk up to us and ask, “Why that cold coffee?” and we still wouldn’t have a definite answer. Maybe over the three years, it became our constant. Good days or bad, whenever a memory of college pops up, that paper cup of a hundred emotions will surely be involved.