Waking up at an impossibly early hour of 4:45, I sleep walked most of the next hour getting ready to head out by train to University City Philly. Exchanging text messages with a friend from my class I was sharing a room with, I was excited and anxious as always. The day went past in a blur of guest lectures, filling lasagna and meeting new people. For three hours, my team and I pored over a case study and noted down points we needed to create a presentation. That was it. The crux of the two and half day residency. Analyse a case and make a business presentation to a board.
Halfway done we wrapped up around 5:00 and headed out to the New Deck at Tavern near the University. Entering a packed dim lit space I could see my classmates already there. I felt the familiar anxiety rise up. Quelling those feelings, I said thanks as a another friend bought me a lemonade. Sipping and watching, the next couple of hours flew past. I was tired, sleepy and just wanted to be home. Patiently waiting for my friend, I could hold out no longer and gently asked her if we could go. I felt guilty for pulling her away from an obviously good party. We reached the hotel and realized we had been bumped up to a suite. Grinning, we went upstairs and found the room to be real nice. A dining space, a living space, a huge double bed and a sparkling clean bathroom. The sofa in the living room was a pullout bed. Like a kid in a toy store, I took in the surroundings. I loved it.
As my friend headed out for the evening, I changed into pjs and sat with my laptop, then it came to me. Somewhere in the course of the day, we had done group exercises and for one of them, I volunteered to make a speech that would inspire people to join my army. I stood there with four other volunteers facing a room of about 80 people. Mic in hand, I felt it course through me, the adrenalin. My voice rang out clear. “Dear men… ” I started and went on to make a very short speech on being part of a bigger mission. Something grand. Done, I handed over the mic and headed back to my seat. Through the day, I had people come up to me and say “I would have followed you.” I felt thrilled beyond belief and it reminded me of school days. My constant fascination with the stage. I loved the feel of standing at the podium, looking into the eyes of a crowd. I loved the rush of adrenalin and the quaking gut. I loved the my voice booming over the speakers. Where did that part of me go all these years I wonder. It has been ages since I held a mic leave alone make a speech.
Hidden behind layers of unsureness, there was a part of me that craved attention, that loved the limelight. A side to me that was the flamboyant Leo. Parts of that personality peeked out occasionally. In the raised hand in class. In the eager questions about Vedanta in eighth grade. In the debating club at college. On the board of the college magazine. In checking out places to hold our annual extravaganza at Wipro Chennai. In fixing the all day outing near Mahabalipuram. The list could go on and on.
Today after ages, I felt like my old self. And I enjoyed every bit of it.