“We are moving too fast in Life. ”
Cafe Toffee Day
It’s amazing day when I started from Pune to find cars blocking express highway for the England- India Cricket Match. The roads were blocked and filled with cars of all varieties. Rich and poor all flocking to see a mania called cricket.
I have never been a cricket fan except when one umpire used to say “Earrings” on television and the camera used to focus on faces with Earrings. Somehow television and cricket used to be attractive in those days. I have lost touch after Dicky Bird stopped coming on screen.
The express highway was an out let for exchanging the Rs. 2000 note while paying for the toll. The journey was smooth as it was a lazy Sunday afternoon.
When I arrived at airport I was checked by the security to frisk of any risk before the car entered the airport. My face probably caught his attention while sitting on the front seat. (I had shaved today yaar)…
As I entered the Airport, it was 3 hours before the flight take off which is usually my standard time. I need some 2 hours odd to enjoy Masala Chai and Scrivener to keep typing as I am doing it now.
Mumbai Airport (Domestic) Terminal 1 is quite crampy but has a Cafe Coffee Day Lounge. I entered with a hope of getting a Masala Chai in a Cup and Saucer but to my surprise it was in a paper cup and dip tea as they call it.
Fortunately I could get a space next to the glass for a better view and sipped my tea with delight. As I finished the tea, I took a chance to spend some more time there but the captain was watchful and asked the cleaner to clean up table F-1. Well thats how I knew that I was a F-1 participant.
The hint to give the place to next customer was good enough to get up. I smiled at the captain and got up. He was caught in his act and apologized. I said, no you are just doing your duty. He asked me to wait for a minute, went away and got a chocolate for me. That’s why I call it “Cafe Toffee Day”.
I again recall my Indigo line, “Flying is a serious profession, please leave your worries beyond this point”.
As I boarded 6E446 to Lucknow I was a bit cozy in warm clothes for getting down at ease in Lucknow. It was expected to be lot cooler than Mumbai. Today again I was the first one to board and got the emergency exit at 13C. More leg space always is welcome for me. I was seated then next to me two young guys, one who had a difficult time locating his seat and the other on the window carrying Chetan Bhagat’s book “One Indian Girl”.
The books that come across in your life are also omens. It is upto you how you read them. As I was looking at the book and wondering Air Hostess Sana came and saw that 7 seats on emergency exit were filled in. She took the chance to brief the passengers on emergency safety procedures.
“Are you comfortable in Hindi”? She asked the guys in front row and got a cold response. “Sir emergency procedure hai, main hindi mein bolun ki english mein?” Two of the guys asked for explanation in Hindi. I was on 13C Aisle and 13D there was a Punjabi fellow traveler Mr. Khosla. On seeing Sana a bit confused about multiple languages, we both uttered “You can explain in Hindi to all”. She wondered as she was not expecting probably an explanation in Hindi and seemed to have a difficulty in language. I somehow felt that she was a new recruit. She excused herself and came back after a moment.
“Ok Sir Main Hindi mein batati hun”, She described in detail in Hindi. I guess that was a better explanation than most briefings of emergency safety procedures in English. Or was it me who could comprehend it better?
As passengers were filling up the seats, I noticed that the other two seats also got occupied near emergency exits. One was a lady near the window and other a seemingly looking politician just ahead of me on Aisle. Sana had to come again to brief them about emergency exit procedures.
“Sir, Ma’am I shall be briefing you about emergency exit procedures. Are you comfortable in English?” The lady said she was comfortable with English in second questioning. The politician just nodded. As time was running out Sana was in hurry as captain had started the announcement. Juggling between captains voice and her explanation, she noticed that the politician was instead busy in his mobile rather than listening to her. She hold up and requested him to listen carefully as it was important part of her duty. She had to sharpen up her tone to grab his attention. Ultimately the chap gave in.
With fast explanation Sana gave I was relieved of the confrontation which I was expecting. The taxiing had started and my eyes went on lighted up “One Indian Girl” under the reader’s light.
I took up the 6E in-flight magazine and lighted the B/W cover with the overhead lights. It was the most attractive cover I had seen. B/W has its own charisma. I wondered if the magazines will ever have more reading content than promotional contents.
During the flight I realized that people get up for washrooms more often when the crew serves with catering trolleys. May be they have a habit of loosening up before an intake.
“What would you like to have it Sir?” Sana asked the tall guy with tatoos reading “One Indian Girl”. “I know why you are smiling, it was a poor explanation in Hindi”. She felt guilty of her own explanation which in my view was rather detailed one.
And I remembered the Quote
“Every great business is built on friendship. ~ JC Penney”
January 13, 2017
My first foreign trip
Nepal was the closest foreign country,thats what I learned in geography. It is a country nestled in the Himalayas. Himalayas are mountains which I always wanted to explore.
Geography was my favourite subject in school. In fact social science was the subject I always used to like. Wish they could chart a career based on school marks and subject a kid likes.
Somehow General Knowledge (GK) was a topic of my interest. I used to read Competition Success Review and Times of India which were mostly a day late in reaching Jabalpur city as they were not printed locally. I used to ride my bicycle and visit the only paper distributor in the town to read the Times of India. There was an experience of attending SSB (Service Selection Board) NDA Interview in 1990 and this was four years later, I saw the advertisement for Air Force Technical Entry.
“Benaras, thats very close to Kathmandu (Nepal)”. I tried convincing my classmates. “Lets all apply for this interview, we can visit Nepal from there”, and they were sold to the idea. That was probably my first memorable sales pitch and a deal clinched.
As it turned out, five of us were called on the same dates to visit Benaras for the interview from our batch.
On day one Sanjeev commented seeing me in T-Shirt and Shorts. “You look like a fit sports person”. I said I just had few eggs more today. Let us not fail the test on day one. “If we have come so far let us all attempt interview seriously, then we will see about going to Kathmandu via Gorakhpur,” Shridhar suggested. We all agreed to do the same.
For me it was a know process as I had already appeared for NDA at the same AFSB 4 Varanasi. But the goal was to finish it fast and visit Nepal. One of the privileges of knowing the rules of the game is that one becomes casual in approach. Somehow for me, I am successful when I am more casual.
It turned out that I was in a last batch which was of candidates who had appeared for SSB earlier. The experience of 5-6 days of selection process is unmatched. But somehow I could understand the psychometric screening and loved the way group discussions and tests were held. I had always been an observer, a keen observer. The mettle of fresh blood is tested in a week long process by looking at overall aspect of the personality.
I had been regular in sports club for badminton, table tennis, chess and billiards. They kept me sharp and agile for this particular interview process. The last part of attempts at clearing physical obstacles was better for me this time which included monkey rope, height jump and few minor obstacles. I could do some at ease, others I did not attempt.
“Number 304”, it was repeated again, I suddenly was reminded that my number is was called as the last selected participant. “Come fast, there are lots of forms to be filled up”. I couldn’t believe that I was selected. So were my friends with shattered dream to visit Nepal. “Let’s call the visit to Nepal off” Shridhar looked dejected. “We are going back to Jabalpur should we book your ticket as well”. Bhaskar asked. “I said Yes”.
It was an overnight journey back home and atleast I slept soundless sleep and was woken up by Shridhar at Jabalpur station. I reached home and informed that I was selected. I do not remember the reaction at home but I also never calculated in those days that it was a great achievement being selected in pre final year and there was a scholarship of Rs. 7000 per month for final year of study in college, to be received on joining Air Force.
What are you doing in the back row? Prof. Xxx asked in the class. “Sir he has been selected in Air Force”. Umesh announced. “Yahan se nikaloge to Air Force jaoge na”. “Padhai pe dhyan do”. Xxx was my favourite teacher. Not because I understood what he taught in class but because I used to see him carrying share certificates of companies. I used to see Jaiprakash Associates, BSES, Reliance, Tata Steel etc. more often that the AC/DC currents flowing in the motors.
And I really could not come out of my BE. I decided not to join air force and pursue my dream of joining IIM. But I did not put in efforts to really make it. I was just selected in IMS Indore, in a new course Master of Financial Applications. Though I had few more alternatives like TAPMI and Goa Institute of Management, I decided to join IMS as it was the only place where I had relatives.
What I haven’t told my friends is that important reason for selection in Air Force was that, “I had picked up a Bomb”. A bomb was a heavy material pseudo to be carried forward from one end of the obstacle pit to another along with the team. It was a group activity. All the members in the group were unknown to me. As we were given instructions only thing I knew was that it had to be some kind of team play.
Steps were easy and a participant who had a heavy built picked up the bomb and allowed all of us to cross the pit. He said I will come last and will carry it. I was the second last. As my previous participant was standing on a stone, I called on the last guy, “Pass me that Bomb”. He initially hesitated as he wanted the credit to carry it himself all alone. He said, “Nahi aap chalo”. I shouted back “Pass me that Bomb”. He then handed over it to me. As I took it I realized it was too heavy for me to hold for a long time. I asked the next person “Just pass it one to the next guy to you” and tried to relieve myself of the heavy object. As a team we could accomplish the task.
I think sharing that burden with team mate in time really helped me in showing officer like qualities and were decisive for selection.
“In testing times how we carry ourselves is a reflection of how we are tuned to that situation and subconscious”.
We did not travel to Nepal but I could see how mountains have a calling. Mountains are not conquered but mountains allow you to have a sense of connectedness to the earth. For that feeling of rising high, one has to climb one step at a time, into the unknown and ofcouse the descent is always easier as the way is known.