Long distance air travel is a mixed bag experience. As much as it confuses the body clock and tires the muscles, it also brings along a few unique thrills, memorable experiences and new ideas
And at times funny things like this condolence message in Khaleej Times dated 27th Jan 2014!
Last evening at La Pizza Del Born (If one thinks the best pizzas are always thin crust, this place will change that opinion. Thick can be just as good when made at this place!), I watched an enthusiastic team of 2 men and a lady serve drinks and pizzas at the buzzing place. Amidst the busy servings, the lady made 3 shots of some drink, went to the men and they cheered with a smile. The next moment they were back to work. One taking orders of pizza, another making tables and the lady pulling vessels from the dish washer. Now, I have no clue if it was an occasion or a daily affair. Nevertheless, the spirit of happiness in the team was warming to watch.
Today, sitting outside the Cactus Bar, watched the lady at the counter walk out to meet a bunch of friends, click a few fun photos, bid goodbye with the customary kisses and getting back to work.
I have no clue if they are really happy but I am happy they offered me food for thought and blog!
This was written on July 2013!!!
The world was seen in just 2 – India and Foreign! It does seem lame and dumb but this was the belief as a young boy. That was an era of postal letters, telegram, (that died recently in India) and newspapers. No internet, no mobiles, one channel b&w TV that broadcasted a few hours in the day! I do not recall any close family relatives aboard those days, so it was just this two dimension view.
Over time the world view started broadening. The geography in school & the atlas (the biggest among all the school books that stood out in the shelf). Pranab Roy’s “the world this week” on TV. Conversations with dad and mom. Memorizing of country capitals (“by heart”) for a school quiz.
With the advent of internet, Wikipedia, maps, knowing and not knowing is a “switch”. Off- I don’t know. On- Yes, I know it now! (Watch this awesome talk by Sugata Mitra on why “knowing is obsolete”). One has to identify what is not known and then play the “switch” act.
Around the time, a golden goose and healthy “cash” cow called IT outsourcing took birth. Why scramble in dusty mines and noisy factories? Air-conditioned swanky offices, annual increments andddddd “foreign travel”. Somebody pays for the travel and accommodation. International laws governing minimal pay and favorable currency movements means excess cash even after paying the bank interest aka EMIs for the overrated real estate back home. I think a heart rate check survey will probably confirm that the word “onsite” excites majority of Indian IT professionals!
So now “everybody loves travel”. Why not? We can use the opportunity to experience cultures, food, people, lifestyles and nature. We become broad-minded & appreciate the clichés.
- This was written to kill time during a train journey from Rennes to Paris with the wife watching a movie and no opportunity for conversations. I love travel too!
This was written on 26th April 2012!!!
Flying by Emirates, it is hard not to plan a stop over in Dubai, a showcase of how big money coupled with a grand vision could create a mystique that man would yearn to experience discounting the odds of nature. If not for the creation of an economy, there is no reason for such large scale human settlement in the desert. Dubai is a open challenge to nature that says “who says beauty has to be natural and cannot be created”.
Thanks to an aircraft engineering fault, our 24 hours in Dubai shorted to 18 hours minus 6 hours of sleep! 12 hours isn’t enough to experience any place. Nevertheless, a glimpse was all in agenda to plan a longer outing.
The newly developed metro made the day all the more easier and thanks to Emirates’ baggage storage service (20dhs for 12hrs). There are no coin-based local mobile calling phone booths! The only way is to purchase a 25dhs calling card. Local calls to land phones are free.
We started with a walk through the tradition spice and gold souk, followed with a short ride through the Dubai creek. Burj Khalifa, the 800+ mt tall building is crazy and literally looks to be connecting land to the sky! 100dhs takes one to the viewing deck at the top. It is not a view to die for since its similar to the view from a plane. We missed the Dubai fountain by a whisker.
Soon it was time to leave and as expected, it did seem incomplete.
My take on Dubai:
All the “learned” market analysts, brokers, media is telling us not to invest in equity now! If not now, when?
“The time of maximum pessimism is the best time to buy and the time of maximum optimism is the best time to sell.”
- John Templeton
“The most common cause of low prices is pessimism. We want to do business in such an environment, not because we like pessimism, but because we like the prices it produces. It’s optimism that is the enemy of the rational buyer.”
- Warren Buffet
“What we learn from history is that people don’t learn from history.”
- Warren Buffet
“The key to making money in stocks is not to get scared out of them.”
- Peter Lynch
For those who say “Oh, I don’t have the capital NOW to invest”, think past! Think of the time when you carved money out to invest when markets were zooming high! If it was possible then, it must be possible now. Try harder.
Recall the last time one said “Oh, I should have bought it that time”. “That” time is now.
Rain, Rain come our way
Don’t play a game of sway
India needs the pouring shower
To keep up the minimum power
Rain, Rain come our way
Posted by: Rajiv in: Travel & Vacation
“Skied to Roland Garros to watch a play!”…. Does sound weird ah! Pick the 3 key words – Ski, Roland Garros & a play and it summaries the last trip to Paris.
The first weekend, we drove about 500kms from Paris towards the south of France to La Clusaz on the Alps ranges. Our good friend, born in the area and grew up skiing, created a life experience for us over the next 2 days. Lovely people, great food, variety cheese & wine, unmatched hospitality and of course, the ski. We began with getting on the appropriate jackets and visited the store to hire the equipment. The massive boots, weighing about 5kgs, was overwhelming on the feet to begin with. Next, these boots were placed in right spot on the ski and pushed down with the heels to clip them firmly. All set! While the expert friend could balance himself in snow just as how we do on land, for me it was like walking on a hanging rope! With some pushing and pulling, we took the ski lift to the top to begin the course. Doing my best to follow the instructions from the expert friend, I slowly but surely learnt to balance on flat and mild slopes. The key was to control the speed and that helped us to relax & enjoy the slide. After about 2 hours and many rounds, the brave hearts moved to a steeper slope and that kinda straightened the over-confidence that had built within us! The highlight of the second day was to learn turning and negotiating the track smoothly. For lunch, we skied to the restaurant and its felt very good. In all this, I fell, lost control, crash landed __ number of times in many angles and dimensions! Getting back to feet, rather getting back feet on ski was a mammoth & creative effort that was fun & boosted the confidence.
The next weekend, visited the Roland Garros, venue of the French Open. Who is Roland Garros? Your natural guess is probably that he was somebody in the French tennis history. The unnatural correct answer is that he was a French fighter pilot & hero in the World War 1! Clay courts, unlike grass do not create the wow factor. Further sand was irregularly put over the court to absorb the moisture. Preparation for the French Open was getting underway. The fascinating part was the visit to the backstage areas. The most pampered seem to be the press with TV rooms, covered sitting area in the courts, bar and even a massage room! Finally, finished with shopping for the usual suspects – key chain souvenirs.
Later that evening, it was time for an English play called “How to become a Parisian in one hour?” by Oliver Giraud. House full audience of about 250-odd Parisians and foreigners from 16 countries, laughed out loud to the tune of the chef turned standup comedian. If you are the kinds who like to experience a place by its people & way of life, this is a must-see. Else, you are better off waiting in the queue to go up Eiffel tower!
We made a short drive out trip to George Sunshine Village for the last couple of days.
About 100kms of good roads from Bangalore on NH209 and a last stretch of rugged terrain (about 5kms), Georgia Sunshine is close to Talakad & Shivanasamudram- Ganganachukki (bluff) and Barachukki falls. It is a small cozy resort, passionately run by the couple, Georgia and Leonard. Just about 10 rooms spread out yet within a close reach to the central area. The rooms are tidy and well kept. Aashira was delighted to find kids’ bunker beds in the room!
The central area is tastefully done with some lovely artifacts and collectibles. The couple cook themself and it shows up in every lip smacking meal. (The last day breakfast, we guess they got some of it from outside which was a bit of a downer). Though they don’t advertise it on their website, they are pet friendly (and child friendly). They have about 9 dogs, all so well behaved that Aashira was petting them without hesitation! There are also ducks, rabbits, and pigeons.
Ideal destination for those with young children or in the look out for a quiet spot with abundant open space & fresh air.
The trip to Srilanka last year was our first long & far vacation after Aashira joined us. Srilanka was an experiment- travelling with a tiny tot, accommodating her interests & needs. We realised soon, she had in fact taught us to relax & unwind. Otherwise, we would have kept it busy and tight to ensure we do not leave any stone unturned at the destination!
Based on this and other learning experiences, Malaysia was not really handpicked though it was on top of the wish list. The trigger came from a zero-priced (genuinely zero priced) ticket sale by AirAsia in November 2010. Some smart & quick moves sowed the seeds of this vacation to Malaysia. Another post will follow soon on the details and internals of the deal clincher. So it was a 9 month countdown to the vacation!
As the d-day in Aug 2011 approached, Aashira’s severe throat infection almost jeopardized the trip. To our delight, she recovered just a day before the travel date. At the airport, check in with AirAsia and other formalities are simple & smooth but for a little hiccup with baggage overweight. Aashira arrested in a small area for 4 hours in the flight was easier that we imagined (or probably we were over-prepared). At Kuala Lumpur, AirAsia almost exclusively uses the low-cost terminal. The setup is impressive and success of the low cost airline is visible. (In India, we attribute the air travel revolution to Capt Gopinath & his Air Deccan. However, Air Deccan had service quality issues & always lost money and continues to do so post its acquisition. On the contrary, AirAsia has not only revolutionised low cost air travel but also maintained high standards of service and is a profitable business.). The long walk of nearly 2 kms from the aircraft to the immigration counters without Aashira’s stroller was not the great experience. Passage thru India, the Indian restaurant helped us many times in the trip to secure Aashira’s specific food needs. For sleep, we booked the only hotel near the terminal – Tune Hotels (another venture by Air Asia’s Tony Ferdanes). So small was the room (100 sq ft!), Aashira had more space in the flight then in this room!
The next day, we hopped on to another AirAsia flight to the islands of Langkawi, 1 hour north east of KL. At Langkawi, we rented a self-drive car. I love to drive but never had the opportunity to drive outside India. This was one of the highlights of the trip. The drive to the Berjaya Resort gave the first picturesque views of this beautiful island. En route, a monitor lizard in the middle of the road welcomed us. At check in, the upgrade to sea view room brought in broad smiles among the 2 of us. Berjaya is made luxurious & comfortable but has to manage 450 individual accommodations spanning a massive area and steep terrain. This makes the resort operations run like a machine, losing out on the personal touch & lack of flexibility. Among only adults or even grownup children, we may not have felt but with Aashira it was sometimes a challenge to get the staff to met our off-the-book yet basic requests. Aashira had a good time in the pool but was not a great fan of the beaches. Guess she did not enjoy the feeling of the sand sticking to her!
The 500 sq km island is duty-free (you know what it means :) & consists of many man-made attractions (including water sports & yacht marinas) to keep visitors busy apart of its lovely beaches & fauna. The 2.2km Langkawi Cable Car with the steepest gradient of 42 degs, the Seven Hills waterfalls & Aquarium were good fun. The last night dinner at the Telaga harbour was memorable, more so since we discovered it by chance. Apart from Malay cuisine, we found pretty good Japanese food & well-made pizzas. We missed a drive to the supposedly lovely hidden beaches in the north west coast around the Tangung Rhu area. Never mind, we will make it again soon.
After 4 days in Langkawi, we flew back to KL for the next 3 days. We stayed in Novotel. Aashira missed the balcony but the enjoyed the view of sky scrapers especially the majestic Petronas twin towers. We were lucky to get the limited tickets (800 per day) to go up Petronas without much effort. The next time we would try to make it to the top most point of the tower for which tickets are very few (200 per day) and harder to find! The planning of the Petronas towers and area around it (referred to as KLCC i.e KL City Centre) is interesting and a good case study for India to learn how to take up an integrated and not piece-meal approach to town planning & infrastructure development. The KL Bird Park is colorful with huge birds within a massive area covered by one huge net spanning the whole park. I don’t know how animal rights consider it but we felt it was far better than cages. The photos & videos speak for the experience. Street food (satay, soup noodles, fried stuff, boiled chest nuts, barley water to name a few) & shopping areas in China Town & Jalan Alor in Bukit Bintang are an experience. Aashira enjoyed the monorail journeys. She was relieved to have rice, sambar & rasam every day & night, courtesy Saravana Bhavan while we were delighted with Japanese food (Ramen, Okonomiyaki, Curry Rice)!
KL is not duty-free (you know what it means :). Experience with people was a mixed bag – some kind & helpful while others not. Traffic is disciplined & follows lanes. Metro and monorails are quick but coverage is not extensive. Taxi by meter is inexpensive but not easy to get them to use the meter! Found Incredible India ads in a few streets.
Return was smooth but the 2 hour commute to home from Bangalore airport was selamat datang (welcome) to India!
Photos @ Picasa
Get in touch with me to assist you to plan a vacation to Malaysia
Picture this- You receive the much awaited email from the HR recruiter. You click into it, download the attached offer letter and open it to find the offer match or even exceed your expectations- the designation sounds sexy, the salary increase ranks you on the top of the chart among friends, the salary structure is friendly, the employment terms (annual leaves, insurance, perks) are balanced. All sounds great.
(If you are the kind of person who likes to secure multiple offers, picture the above multiple times! :)
Next step is tough and important- to make the decision, to take the plunge or hang on.
Here is one idea to help your decision making toolkit- Make a request to speak to your future line manager/boss in the company. If not the manager, as close you can get to somebody senior in the business unit. Many times, it is the interviewer. Most companies do not have a standard procedure to facilitate such a discussion. So expect resistance, ignorance etc by the HR recruiter. Insist, if request doesn’t work.
Resort to simple, open-ended and honest questions about the role and future opportunities. Do not hesitate to ask about his/her experience in the company. Don’t probe or investigate.
Why and how does all this help? New job, new organization are career opportunities, at the same time are risky too. A right move can catapult you to a higher league and on a fast lane to meet your goals. A wrong move can set you behind by a few months, if not years.
Such a conversation helps mitigate the risk to some extent by providing-
-Insight into the job content
-Sense of the company values
-Subtle unwritten commitment from the company
Further, it creates a situation for the company to “market” itself and the position.
You prick my ears, give me all pain & trouble me more!
(Mar 29, 2009, 4:27 PM)