Tuesday, October 30, 2007

first taste of independence!! - the series

I have no words to describe how my last 4 days have been... even now as i sit down to put in my experiences i dont know how to begin. If i were to begin with what i am feeling right now... I would say i am hungry, extremely sad and frustrated and helpless! Just now faced a girl-fight over who should cook, who shouldnt... how typical :(
To begin at the beginning, I set out from the Bombay airport on 27th Oct at 0235 hours and as i waved to Ma and Baba, I was so sad and yet excited about the new journey I am embarking upon! As i settled into my seat in the crowded economy class, I was thrilled to see a BA plane taxing away :) Life is never a bed of roses and my journey certainly wasnt... the first leg was made memorable by the extremely fat gentleman sitting beside me and the extreme cold inside the plane! That night felt interminable... but day did dawn and i had the first taste of American breakfast which certainly was not fun! Nyways i spent the day drifting in and out of sleep and didnt really get bored and soon it was time to get off and board the next flight (11:30 am IST but 7:30 am in Frankfurt)

The airport at Frankfurt certainly left a lot to be desired... It was neither too big nor too fancy and thankkfully I didnt have to spend too much time at the airport. Got over with the security check and was waited in the lobby, chatting up another Indian traveling to Phoenix before boarding flight LH430 to Chicago...

The O'Hare airport is lovely and huuuuuuge... it has its own rail system to travel from one terminal to another!! Though i wish there was a easier way to get the baggage of the carousal... whew! that was really tough... almost got dragged away by the bag as i clutched it, trying to get it off the carousal... thankfully was able to haul off both pieces of baggage the next time! and quickly walked off for the emmigration check as the flight was already an hour late leaving me with around 2 hours only... But the emmigration check was not too difficult but the security check was... the guards threw out my Nike deo because it was too big for the cabin luggage but I was able to salvage my face wash from disappearing into oblivion!

The flight was again delayed at Chicago because.... a truck had banged into the plane!! Wow, what next? Finally the flight did take off and I looked down over Chicago for the first time and as I looked down the thought whether this was the best decision crossed my mind but I quickly put it out of my head and got out my novel! Next watched the Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix movie and when even then the flight didn't seem to get over, I started getting bored and impatient. After traveling half way across the world I really couldn't wait for the journey of a thousand miles to end!

Finally the journey did end and I walked out straight towards the baggage claim area only to see Dada already waiting there for me... that brought a smile on my tired face :) We then collected the baggage or rather Dada collected the baggage while I chatted to Ma and Baba telling them about my allergy, my blocked ears and my cold :D

Dada rented a Hertz car and we reached the Holiday Inn hotel at around 9:30 after getting lost a couple of times and as I wasn't hungry at all, we decided to call it a day. As I tucked in for the night I wondered momentarily that was I really in America? Was the journey finally over or is another announcement over the PA going to wake me from my dream?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

all set ( i think!)

  • Got the offer letter... salary not what was promised (but thats not too suprising, is it?)
  • Raised the TR after getting the go-ahead... the powers-that-are took forever doing it and now while my PM enjoys his holidays I get the taste of leadership and management first-hand!
  • My tickets are booked... flying Lufthansa, Bombay to San Diego via Frankfurt,Chicago... will be leaving on the 27th Oct 0235 and will reach SD at 1735 the same day...
  • Submitted the docs and obtained my calling card and transit insurance and also my tickets
  • Sent the mail for FOREX release and will be getting it on the 24th
  • Opened a new Citi account (not because i wanted to but because it is a must for some unknown reason!)
  • Got the stamp and sign on the loan docs.... finally! Can you believe it that a company as big as I** does not have a official seal on its premises!!
All said and even more done, I think I am done with all the official documentation and formalities... Now i can go back home and enjoy the two days of Durga Puja....

Friday, October 12, 2007

Anecdotes on Leadership....

This will be a running post on anecdotes I hear/read/experience on what leadership means and what makes one a leader :
1. ' A manager is the one who sees to it that the trees in the forest are being cut right; a leader climbs up the tree and sees to it that the right trees are being cut!' - Unknown
2. 'Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.' - Dwight Eisenhower
3. 'Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men -- the other 999 follow women.' - Groucho Marx (one of my favs :)
4. 'Delegating work works, provided the one delegating works, too.' - Robert Half

5. A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way - John C. Maxwell

Monday, October 8, 2007

Nashik sojourn!

The trip to Nashik, which Baba had been planning for almost 6 months, finally happened last weekend (6-7 Aug 07) and though extremely tiring, it was also enjoyable!!
Visited a number of places in the two days and what follows is a description as seen through my eyes :)
1. Tryambakeshwar temple - This is the biggest and the most famous attraction of Nashik. had heard a lot about the temple and its unusual 'shivlinga' and we reached the temple in good time... not too long a queue and the crowds quickly dispersed. The unique shivlinga had 3 holes instead of the usual ling structure which is said to signify Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. Also the darshan was by viewing the ling in a mirror because the actual ling is set deep down!
After the darshan, I stepped out to take some photographs of the temple but I was prevented from doing so by the guards... but that wasnt to stop me, was it? ;) I stepped behind a tree and clicked a snap nonetheless!! With that the visit to the temple came to an end and we returned to the cool interiors of the waiting Scorpio....

2. Godavari dam- Next stop was the dam across the Godavari river... though not originally in the plan, we made a stop nyways. Not much to look at but the lake was huge and the cool breeze rippling over the surface was refreshing! Spent quite some time by the lake, dipping my feet in the water, posing for a few pics :)

3. Panchavati We then moved on to our next stop, Panchavati, the place which was witness to the cause of many a great events.... The ghat and the Rama (kalaram/goraram) mandirs were on the agenda and they were duly visited... What wasnt on the agenda and turned out to be the highlight was the 'Sitaguha'... It was a temple with a difference, it was a guha but again, with a difference.... there was a low, extremely low entrance through which we could pass only by sitting down and moving on our butts and then were steep stairs down... and so thats how we went, one step at a time on our butts :D Right outside the sitaguha was the site of the famed 'panch vat' from which the place takes its name!

By the time we were done with our sight-seeing, the sun was in its dying stages and it was time for us to bid adieu to Panchavati....
4. Phalke Smarak - There is a museum and smarak dedicated to the great Dadasaheb Phalke who hailed from Nashik and I was enthused to go visit it, hence we decided to take a slight detour and go inspite of it being late in the day.... but alas, it was not meant to be! Due to some unscheduled load-shedding, the musuem and the entire premises had already closed for the day and we had to return dejected!
5. Adhikari dinner - By now, I was completely tired and all ready for a good night's sleep but there was still one item on the agenda - a dinner invite at Baba' colleague Mr. Adhikari's residence! Though the dinner was nothing to write home about, I did meet two extremely smart and talented young girls - Pratyusha and Priyanka. Daughters of Mr. Adhikari, they had many awards and credits to their name and I even got to listen to a marathi elocution from Pratyusha!
Dinner done we finally returned to the hotel room and I tucked in for the night!
Day two dawned ( a bit too early, if u ask me!) and we were all ready for another day at the road...
1. Gargoti mineral museum - First stop for the day and I was spellbound!! The unimaginable beauty of stones/minerals.... who could imagine that within the inocuous looking stones are sparkling amethysts, radiant rubies and the like!! It simply was unbelievable... spent quite some time in the museum and took a lot of photographs and even bought a beautiful blood-red pendant!

2. Shirdi - Well, the trip would have been incomplete without a visit to the Saibaba temple at Shirdi... so there we were, racing against time to make it for the 12 o'clock aarti but we missed it by just a few minutes! This was the first time I was visiting Shirdi and I was pretty amazed at the sheer number of people I saw... hundreds of devotees waiting patiently in queues stretching over a kilometre to pay their respects to Saibaba! I also asked for his blessings for the new innings in my life and after spending some time in the environs of the temple, we had our lunch at a nearby restaurant and were soon on our way...
3. Shani Shingnapur - We were now in the last leg of our trip and wanted to make the most of it... our driver suggested visiting Shani Shingnapur temple since we had come so far and shouldnt leave without seeing that as well.... There is also a famous saying that goes with the place - no doors, no windows to the houses in this area, anyone daring to steal turns lame!! Well, a place with so much novelty had to be visited! But nothing had prepared me for the sight that awaited me!! Only men were allowed to offer puja and that too only wearing a saffron cloth tied around their waists... also a purifying bath was a must and so there were I was in a sea of half-naked, fully drenched men waiting for the darshan!! The Shani god (not an idol but a piece of rock!) was being bathed with oil and all the women had to watch from a distancewhile the men made the offerings.... Strange sight, indeed!!

The trip to Shani Shingnapur officially concluded our Nashik trip and we all bundled into the waiting Scorpio and left for home, sweet home!!