I did my Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, way back in the late 1990s!
While I have gone back a couple of times, the last one was well over a decade back, and lots of things have changed at the institute. For one, they now have a large, ‘new’ campus that I had never visited before and was quite curious to check out.
I started my visit at the old campus. The first thing that struck me was how the city of Ahmedabad had grown in just the past 10 years. Even when I last visited the campus, it was on the outskirts of the city. A dusty road passed through the main gate, with tea stalls on the side, and barely any traffic on it. Now, the institute can be considered to be well within the city limits. The tea stall has gone and the dusty road has been replaced by a busy thoroughfare with a flyover just in front of the main gate.
Inside though, the place looked exactly the same. The buildings and lawns were just as well maintained. However, what really stuck me was the complete absence of any kind of atmosphere. I am pretty sure I visited during term, but I could hardly see any souls around. It almost felt like I was in a museum, albeit surrounded by structures that still retained the power to awe and inspire.
I then made my way to the ‘new’campus, crossing the busy road that separates the two campuses through a subway. The history of the institute and its famous architecture has been excellently told through a series of posters along the walk. As soon as I climbed the steps up to the new campus, I felt like I was in a different place altogether.
The architectural style of the new campus is quite different to the old, with concrete replacing bricks as the primary construction material. However, the architects have retained quite a few nods to the original style, with liberal use of red bricks, as well as in the overall layout of the various buildings.
Surprisingly, for a modern campus, there were very few maps around. So I pretty much had to walk around and guess what purpose the different buildings served. There was no single dominating structure like in the old campus. And there did not also seem to be any obvious central hub, unless I missed it altogether. What it did have, though, was the feel of a world-class, modern academy of learning. The last time I felt the same was at the campus of the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney.
I would have loved to spend some more time at the campus, maybe interact with a few of the students, etc., but I was running out of time. I did make a note to revisit the place with my family. Until that time…