Thursday, July 17, 2008

An experience to remember... GO Plus program

What an experience it was... the program was well organized and all of us reached the destined spot ICRISAT on Thursday evening (10 Jul 08). ICRISAT (http://www.icrisat.org/) stands for International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid tropics. Hyderabad being a semi-arid land was chosen by the United Nations to setup headquarters.

Located at Patancheru Village, unruffled by the hustle of the city, this place makes the ideal spot for a company outing. With good food, accommodation and acres of land available for crop cultivation and research, housing the research institute's employees and students, ICRISAT seemed like the perfect place to be with your coworkers and let go of any pseudo-professionalism that we display in our work life. Being a new team, this was the opportunity to get to know other facets of the persons on the team. This was something I was looking forward to for sure.

The weather that evening was pleasant, and the short drive to the destination was a pleasurable one. Once we reached we were directed to our rooms and were asked to assemble at a designated spot for coffee and snacks. The trainer was observing us during this break, and once we were done he got introduced to us and got us onto the icebreaker for the event. The task was to get into the conference room with the legs of all in the group tied-up! Imagine a group of 17 with tied legs trying to enter a room from the exterior of the building... incredible isn’t it? This was fun and we managed it well… Once inside the room our trainer Sree Kumar (Sree) told us the agenda for the 2 days and then got us onto our task-based learning games, each of which at the end had to be reiterated and analyzed for things like ‘what went well’, ‘what did not’, ‘why’, and ‘how could it have been better’. This was done over the 2-days time period we had allotted to us.

The games were each directed to a value that the company wanted us to imbibe and implement in our work and life. The mode of teaching was experiential learning in a simulated environment. So here we get to make the mistakes and learn from them, without the company paying the cost of the loss. The biggest point getting reinforced in each game was teamwork, and learning to cope with a team containing people with varied skill sets, performance levels, and still achieving the goals set for each team, which in turn benefits the company as a whole. Smart strategy, but excellent learning each one was. So after each game we would derive the values of the company from the game. Except for the extremely early morning events, and the record-price I ended up paying for turning in late, it was an exhaustive training, and the points our company wanted to make got drilled in pretty well. Thanks to our trainer Sree…

But events like these seem incomplete without any real eventualities. Such eventualities make the event memorable, and unless they lead to extremely negative situations, they leave a lasting impression in all the attendee’s memories and urge us to reminisce days, months and years later. So what kind of eventualities can occur in such a beautiful, serene and perfect holiday spot? Now let us look at the details of the event… the games allowed us time for breaks where we were given time to explore the place and use the facilities at our leisure time. Some of the things we did as a group were indelible—from cycling around the facility, to gathering in the moonlight outside our flatlets, to photographing the landscape, to organizing two different surprises in advance for a team member’s birthday, to learning the Birdie dance and the Hustle from an instructor in the team, dancing to music from a car stereo at 11 PM at night—there was little that we left undone in two days and it was truly a remarkable experience overall. Amidst this blissful time be fell a few unforgiving moments. While we were all gathered at the poolside, me with my camera, trying to cover to my best effort all the fun and frolic happening, one team member survived what could have been a pretty bad accident. Now this one was scary… imagine me with my camera trying to capture my best shots of all the happenings and all of a sudden someone there in the pool is almost drowning in front of my eyes! He was promptly rescued by the poolside guy using a long stick with a lasso…a very narrow escape. No sooner than I had recovered from this shock, after we went back to our rooms, that I managed to crush my finger of the right hand behind a door, and had it bleeding and hurting till the next day. The pain was excruciating and the cut was a nasty one… Imagine my skin split up with the impact of the door on it… quite a bewildering experience it was. My finger later became a topic of jest due to its real world significance, what with blokes coming up with comic analogies and illustrations of the ordeal. On being asked about what happened to me, I would point my ‘right-hand’ ‘middle finger’ at folks to showcase my affliction… funny isn’t it? Thankfully I was fortunate to have someone dress up the wound frequently enough.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Traffikkiiiiiiiiii

TrrafficKKKKK... do I need to say more... I know you would say... now don't get started. I understand why one would say this; it is a never-ending discussion! Does anything ever change the situation, no matter how many times you crib in a day, regardless of how often your car is kissed by another 'body of mass' constituting traffic! Uhhh...how ridiculous!

For someone like me who loves to drive, the 'traffic' just takes away the fun of it. In some unobtrusive moments I mull over the ordeal, and try to add a punch of humor to the whole situation.

One perspective is to look at the road as a F1 racetrack and with the attitude; I get there no matter what comes dude! Watch out fellas, am coming! Start from home in full vigor, ready to take over the world, turn on your music real loud, turn on the air-conditioner and get ready to hit the road. The first encounter on the way, the 'infamous' auto-rickshaw (
aahhh my fav topic in trafficK) The bloke thinks he rules the road himself as he just has a 3-wheeler and can get through the narrowest lacuna you create. Now your objective is to avoid any such eventuality and make ‘your’ way first. You start the despicable honking, yeah man, behold, my horn is louder than yours and am gonna blow your ears offff!!! honk honk... honk honk... annnnnnnnnnnddd wheeee he's forced to move left now you zip around him from the right-side and yippppeeeee... I made it!

Now am on the main road, and driving amongst other 4-wheelers, all very solemn and sedate; wondering where they would be able to make it on time for that 10 AM meeting, or have to show a sorry face. We drive on much slower now, the number of cars only increase until we come to that ill-fated halt! Now I have a ton of cars in front of me, to the left and the right; even behind... could one get into a stickier situation than this??? This really kills the morning spirit... does it... duh???? What next? The best thing to do in a situation like this is to find comfort in another’s travails. Its really simple actually, just look around at the drivers of the other 4-wheeled masses around you; some totally placid, other lackadaisical, and interestingly some on the
qui vive, waiting to take off at that slightest stir.

But we’re not done until we add the icing to this wonnnderful chocolate cake we’re in the process of making. Us on the 4-wheeled masses often tend to go amiss, as we tend to ignore the trivia—introducing the 2-wheeled roadies! These dudes have just always excelled in the art of ‘making their way’ through the smallest fissures you despairingly leave for want of a little space or just from getting your ‘manually’ controlled side view mirror from closing like an automatic one! Oh how could we have missed them??? Amidst the intergalactic masses, neatly parked; after having put a lot of effort into ‘not’ leaving that last inch, you per chance hear that little zoom n zippin sound, and alas he is here, parked right in front on you and that too at an angle, so he can ‘fit’ the gap!!! After all that effort, he still makes it!!! They’re all aliens…Uhh God! life is unfair… And that’s not the end there again; everyone behind is now following the leader, and before you know it, you find yourself surrounded by a swaarm of bees!!! Zip zip zip, one behind the other they all wrench their way through!! But everyone’s not perfect there now, so there’s needs to be that little causality, oh stop stop, there goes my side view mirror, turned a 180 degrees in the opposite direction!!! The blighter just looks back at you with this half unapologetic look and pushes off!!! What a bummer!!! It transcends my imagination how 'closely' we miss each other, when we do of course; just by inches and centimeters! We spoke about killing the spirit earlier, and I will have to reiterate that… this kills the spirit dude! What’s next now?

We finally break off from that intergalactic mass and move on, the jam is tardily freeing, but we’re still inching, with foot on the clutch, pulling up the remnant enthuse, we move on, with the 2-wheeled body guards escorting us omni-directionally!

Suddenly, what’s that noise? Ambulance? Police? Oh no, I know that sound, it’s the VIPs. Of course, it had to be them, office time is the time they choose to make it to the venue of their mass gatherings, addressing the common man before the election time. No wonder we were parked like the army waiting for the king to make his way first… and then the commons!

Finally, when one does get to work, one is nothing short of some delectable tangdi kabab or over cooked barbeque chicken or??? At this point of time, the thought of the journey back home is just another incomprehensible one....

And thus one makes the relentless effort each day through this mad mad congestion, and still survives it… aah life is a miracle, we survive most of the things no matter how frustrating!! You look on and so do the incapacitated traffic police. Now lets not start that discussion ... :)