Most Memorable Travel Journey

In this age of sophisticated planning, GPS and Mobile, we travel for the sake of uploading pictures on Facebook and pushing tweets on twitter. At least i do it now.

However, my most memorable travel journey was in the pre- technology dominated days when we (5 friends) decided to travel at the snap of fingers. The nearest hill station was Pachmarhi and there was no google in those days. We just heard that it’s a tourist place.

In my earlier Facebook post “The Dark Train and a Bottle of Rum” , i just gave a glimpse of the journey to Pachmarhi.

Little did i mention in this post about the freedom given to us by our parents for adventure. In teenage years and as youth we even don’t count the pocket money and moral support given to us by our parents in these growing years.

Looking at the current generation, such trips are business ideas being en-cashed as travel and tourism grows up by various entrepreneurs.  For us it was a natural process. Now it’s a school or a company customized travel trip which allows an access to natural places such as hill stations or a hike in the valley.

To explore some awesome travel journeys which are unplanned and at the snap of finger, please follow this link to join my WhatsApp group:

Age group for this above group is 25-50 and you must be an active contributor to website and WhatsApp group to be invited for such trips. So please do participate proactively.
I look forward to your comments about your childhood experiences and especially the current generation facing a gap of such adventure activities.  Ciao and Enjoy your weekend!!

How about putting some breaks in life?

“We are moving too fast in Life. ”

When my friend commented, i was comprehending it with full attention. I myself have been a technology  slave and still i am to some extent. The speed of information which was supposed to save time is demanding more time from me.
“When we were kids we had all the time and luxury. When i was earning Rs. 3000/- a month salary i was enjoying it much more than currently being country manager of an MNC.” My friend commented.
The information rich have gone time poor. Time poverty is asking us to slow down in life and look at things with a pause. If you feel the same please do join us in a movement to look at life from different perspective.
On this platform we would like to discuss about Slow Movement. Basically everything with slowness and mindfulness rather than a hectic pace of life.
With this background we would like to propose a series of WhatsAppinars to discuss slowness as a skill in the contemporary settings. The first WhatsAppinar is being planned on this Saturday April 29, 2017.
The idea is not to eat away your time on a weekend but you may join at your will. However we would request your 15 minutes of contribution on what you think about “Speed of Life”. Share your experiences.
I would recommend you to have a look at this video from Carl Honore, Author of “In Praise of Slowness” before joining in.
We can sync in for the WhatsAppinar on the following link
Join WhatsAppinar this Saturday 29 April 2017 between 10 am- 5 pm
Please do share your suggestions if any.

Cafe Toffee Day

Cafe Toffee Day
January 15,2017
Mumbai Airport

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”

Tales from the real Life

Tales from the real life
January 13, 2017
I opened up the talk for one hour drive from Udupi to Mangalore Airport with driver Monu. I was wanting to hear the story of Udupi restaurants which are famous across India.
Monu like few of the early aspirants of the foreign shores was in Saudi Arabia as driver. He has been driving since past 35 years, 7 years in Saudi and then in India. To my amazement he was able to survive now with paltry 5000 per month salary, sending his kids to government school and getting free ration for being below poverty line. He did lose some money by taking risk of his travel business.
He opened up a story for me which I am sure can be taken up Madhur Bhandarkar for Bollywood Movie. “Haji Abdulla” who was he? I asked as Monu uttered this name. “He owned the whole of Udupi land, he also set up corporation bank with 25 takka.” How old is the story, I asked. He replied 100 years ago…
“Sir, He was getting things from Mumbai and selling in Udupi. Things like lanterns, rice, dal, brooms and what not. All the daily supplies used to come on his ships from Mumbai. He was a trader. Britishers were his friends and he used to make tea for Britishers by burning stove with notes.” (Tea and Notes made me curious as these are important in these times in India as well).
Monu went on, “He was so direct and helpful that as a Municipal Mayor he used to burn lanterns on big khambas on the streets of Udupi upto Manipal.” He did lot of charity for people but people took advantage of him. He had no kids, only wives.”
“He died by consuming his diamond ring.” “Why”, I asked?
“Sir many people like those Konkani people who were made payments in Cheques used to change figures in the cheques which he used to sign. He was not literate, His only connection with pen was that he could sign.” Figures of 10,000 was made 100,000 and en-cashed. He became bankrupt. His bank was seized and he took decision to leave his body”. “You know how people are Sir.” I could hear the undertone in his voice.
Haji Abdulla of Udupi was famous as he was a rich merchant and a bank founder. But Monu, I knew he was talking something from his subconscious. He was narrating story of Haji Abdulla in his voice and depth of his heart. The story was of Haji Abdulla but had few emotions experienced by Monu in his lifetime.
I allowed his to speak and he narrated me the story of Mangalore docks, the survival of Vijay Mallya, Kingfisher debacle and the growth of Mangalore as a trading hub. He was a boxful of historical facts. “This dock gets lots of foreigners as tourists by ship. That’s the time when all taxiwala make lot of money. They pay a good tip to us”. I could hear him well.
Few miles before Mangalore International Airport he turned from History to Geography. “ Sir, This Airport is made with lot of kickbacks. The land between mountains has been filled and a runway has been created on top of the hill. It’s an architectural mistake”. Monu went on. He then narrated incident of an International Aircraft landing into “Pataal” by skidding the runaway a little bit. “This airport has only 4 toilets, eatery giving dosa at Rs. 50 and is called International Airport. I have to come down 3 Miles to eat dosa Sir to save money.”
I was mesmerized by his storytelling oratory skills. I am sure that’s the skill a driver needs in a sector like Tourism.
He dropped me at Mangalore Airport in time, handed over a ready made bill and had exactly 90 seconds to be at dropping point for avoiding a penalty of Rs. 500 for being at Mangalore International Airport.
What I learned was that the stories are in real conversations. The ones on google are text whereas the ones heard properly are backed with emotions as well. The tone of the voice tells you a better story than the text.
Monu like most drivers had the story inside him. I took a chance to open up the conversation with him and learned so much which as was simply not possible had I been browsing Internet and searching for keywords “Mangalore, Udupi, Manipal, Airport, International, Tourism”. The character of the story was “Haji Abdulla” and the scenes were 100 years ago during British era which neither Monu nor me had seen in our life time. He was narrating a story which he might have heard in his life time.
So the epics of 1000 years of folklores are also stories passed generation after generation. It is our judicious decision to believe fully or partially on them. Treating them facts and then fighting over it will be useless unless we have the wisdom to accept them as pure stories.
I will surely read more about Haji Abdulla and verify the facts before being biased on the story. It is a great research topic on historical facts and genesis of a bank called Corporation Bank.
Had I not asked him right questions, I was assuming Mr. Abdulla to be a smuggler and a don of Udupi.
My original flight had to be canceled and a new booking had to be made to the maximum city for minimum fare. On board on emergency exit seats 24D-F I saw 3 shaukeens sitting and chatting with each other in elite English.On a flight of Jet Airways they must have requested Air Hostess for on board facilities more than 10 times unlike other common passengers who ask it only once for refreshment. These shaukeens want black tea with lemon, some extra chocolates, favour for extra attention to their wives sitting on 24A-C and a some extra time to talk to the ladies serving 240 passengers. They had a birthright to be attention seekers.
The crew handled them all with grace. Now you can hear my story in above paragraph as well…… Can you?

My first foreign trip

My first foreign trip
January 03,2017

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.