Off Season Tourist - India Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta
Two weeks in India, 2003 Notes from the Off Season Tourist
IIMC World War
OH Rulz, OH Rawks, even though NH won (by only 10 points!)

Well, the World War for the 40th Batch was fought on the weekend of August 9th. It's a three-day long battle between the three hostels - OH (Old Hostel), WH (White Hostel) and NH (New Hostel). It's fought by the valiant 1st year students -- the freshers, the facchas, the juniors, the fresh blood... and is held on the weekend after their 1st midterms are over. IIMC culture has loads of events like this throughout the year, designed to help the students cope with the academic pressure. After a week of intense midterms, the World War helps the students forget about the exams they just took and blow off a little or a lot of steam. It also serves another purpose: to channel the ever-present sense of competition into a healthy arena. Competition runs rampant at all IIM's in India, but at IIMC, the students have managed to create and maintain a community that fosters healthy competition. Interesting events were the hostel raids, followed by the tyre raids, and the week of sports competition that followed. The hostels win points for every event and when all is said and done, the hostel with the most points is proclaimed the World War Winner!

OH Spirit OH spirit continued

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Hostel Raids

One of the ways the hostels earn points is through different raids on the other hostels. By "raid", I mean who can make the most noise and earn the most attention from the onlookers. WH invaded OH's badminton court (baddy court) to blow noisemakers and yell their lungs out. To their chagrin, OH was ready for them, armed with the metal plates used in the mess and banging either spoons or tin cups on the plates. These raids can get very physical, with the guys pushing each other off a table in the middle of the baddy court. The table even got turned over and one of the chairs destroyed.

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The Tyre Raid

Digging the hole for the tyre
One of the main events that takes place over the three days is the "tyre raid". The picture on the left shows a 1st year student from OH beginning the age-old tradition of digging the hold for the tyre. The tyre is in the background. It's party filled with concrete and weighs about 250 kg. Essentially, the freshers from OH bury the tire, adding cement, sludge, bricks, anything they can to make it hard to dig the tyre back up. On the first day of the World War, freshers from WH had to come to dig it up. Then they bury it at their hostel and NH has to retreive it. The last day, OH has to go reclaim it from NH. This event is timed and the hostel with the best time wins considerable points. Doesn't sound so difficult, does it? I thought so too, until I actually witnessed the OH tyre raid. The below pictures just won't do the situation justice, but try to imagine... 40 or so 1st and 2nd year OH students on the top of the roofs above the buried tyre. Their job is to do whatever they can to slow down the WH students from digging up the tyre. Buckets of water, a soupy mixture of left over food, and wetted newspapers were at their fingertips to dump on the WH team when they came to dig up the tyre. However, WH came prepared. They entered the scene with a tarp that 20 people would hold stretched out over the team members digging out the tyre. This worked well to protect the diggers while they concentrated on their task. OH did what they could, dumping bucket after bucket of water and chanting hostel slogans at the WH students, but WH successfully extracted the tyre in about 45 minutes.

Julie feeding monkeys Julie feeding monkeys Julie feeding monkeys Monkey takes pig for a ride Monkey takes pig for a ride Hungry monkeys

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World War Sports

Although I did not participate in the World War raids (as I was not a 1st year student), I was asked if I wanted to join in for the sports weekend. This is the second half of the WW - a full weekend of inter-hostel rivalry disguised as athletic competitions: cricket, volleyball, carrom, snooker, football, field hockey, bridge, badminton, and more. The teams are mostly first years, but second year students fill in the gaps when needed. The gaps I filled on the girls teams were in volleyball, basketball and a game that was new to me -- throwball.

Well, if you're a friend of mine or really even slightly know me, then you know I tend to be slightly (read: very) competitive. Having grown up playing sports, I was entirely comfortable in pressure situations -- this is important, as part of playing WW sports at IIMC means having to endure "slagging" or intense teasing and unsportsmanlike conduct by the members of the hostels that are watching the games. The first match we had was in throwball, against the WH girls. This game is only played by females in India and as such, reminded me of type of basketball my mother grew up playing in the 1950's. Back then in the States, women were not allowed to run and dribble the ball, rather they could dribble and take three steps but would have to then pass the ball. The game seemed designed to keep them dainty and lady-like and not at all athletic. My first impression of throwball was that it too was designed for this purpose. However, after a sweaty game or two, it seemed that athleticism indeed was required to be good at this game.

Throwball involves catching a volleyball thrown from one side of the net and throwing it back over. The ball must be thrown with one hand. You catch the ball with one or two hands, but it can't touch any other part of your body. You're not allowed to take any steps after you catch the ball and must throw it back over within 3 seconds of catching it. Simple enough, right? The throwball games were funny because every other point someone would be arguing with the referee over a call. It took longer to play the throwball matches than it did the volleyball! Overall, it was actually quite fun. Once we started playing, the competitor in me came out and I forgot about it being a "girly" game. When we would play, the guys lined the sidelines, cheering on the girls from their respective hostels and slagging off on the ones from enemy hostels. One of my favorite throwball moments was when I was serving and my team was behind 4-5. In throwball, you're required to say the score before serving. This time, instead of saying "Four - Five" in English, I said, "Char - Paanch" in Hindi and served. I don't think it was an amazing serve, but it went untouched because the other team was slightly confused by the Hindi words coming out of the American's mouth. It was quite funny. I'm proud to say that the OH girls won both matches of throwball. Mridula, Radhika, Anindita, Archana and Ity were great team members. Remember girls, "Ooooooooo Hhhhhh Rocks!"

The next night we played volleyball. It was an experience truly different to what I'm used to in the United States, as only a few of the Indian girls have even played volleyball competitively. There were one or two of us on each team who were expected to return ALL the serves and make all the plays. It reminded me of middle school volleyball, where the ball goes across the net on the first hit every time. We used to call it bumpball instead of volleyball, because that's all you were doing was bumping the ball over the net. So I had a mental shift to make - from bump, set, spike, to just bump. Mridula was especially intimidating when she served. Cheers of "Sexy serve" and "Toooo much!" were rampant when Mridula was serving. I think she served the entire second game, leading us to a 15-1 victory!

I'll never forget that night, as we ended up starting our last game around 3 am... by the time we finished, twilight was dawning and the birds had started to chirp. I suddenly stopped, looked around and thought, "How did I get here? I'm in India, playing volleyball at 4:30 am in the morning!" It was a truly joyful experience and one that I'll always remember. Thanks to everyone for those memories!!!

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