Cover Illustration by Amlan Barai
Imagine setting out on a train journey across India, not across its land-mass but across Time, what would you notice as you looked out the window at the changing landscape during your life-span? If you’re feeling really adventurous, put yourself in someone else’s skin for a bit and picture what they’d see. There are over a billion versions of reality dotting this land, a never-ending raucous multitude of stories eagerly waiting to be noticed. This is one such perspective.
No, not that type of fan– the star-obsessed weirdo, the one who tried to attract Jodie Foster’s attention by shooting President Reagan decades ago, or the jilted look-alike trying to destroy his idol in SRK’s 2016 Bollywood release.
Not the old–fashioned wooden or cane punkha either. Neither the small hand-held ones we used during power-cuts a few years ago nor the majestic ones described in old novels – those that presided over the dinner table at parties and solemnly swayed to and fro when the fan-boy tugged on a rope.
An attractive opportunity develops: About a decade ago, during an evening visit to the neighbourhood garden with her friends, my mother heard about a Vitamin E supplement that improved the quality of one’s skin and hair. One of the elderly ladies in the group had been prescribed the tablet by her doctor. My mother and all the other ladies in that group ended up checking with their doctors and then taking the Vitamin E supplement too.
After a tepid release of ‘Diamonds are Forever’ in 1971, Sean Connery is reported to have vowed that he would ‘never again’ play ‘that’ role. Yet, in 1983, there he was again, suave and swashbuckling as ever, Agent 007 in the rather cheekily named ‘Never Say Never Again’. Although Sean (may I call him Sean?) took more than a decade to realize the error of his ways, I learned this precept right at the start of my entrepreneurial journey.
A decade ago, when I was just a tiny cog in the wheels of a large consulting firm, I swore off consulting forever and decided to start a ‘real’ business, manufacturing and selling products.
In most large companies, we barely know most of our colleagues – we see only the professional side of their personality (if we’re lucky) during the typical work-day. We may learn more about them during office parties and off-sites, sometimes with assistance from ethanol. The process of forming deep friendships (or enmities) usually takes a long time, sometimes many months or even years. Travelling with them is one way to accelerate this process, to its bitter end perhaps? As I’ve mentioned earlier, Mark Twain was no doubt prescient when he noted, “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”
I’ve often heard someone casually parrot the cliché ‘travel is a great way to get to know people’ and felt a wee bit uncomfortable about letting a glossy half-truth pass without a murmur of dissent. For I feel that friendships are either strained or strengthened while travelling – not by any dramatic event, but by a succession of small incidents that throw the spotlight on hitherto unnoticed flaws or virtues.
About a GBF volunteer who couldn’t resist dropping pearls of wisdom much to the chagrin of others.
Our SIG was blessed with an eager young student volunteer who not only managed tons of work but also had us in splits every so often with his foot-in-the-mouth comments. On one such occasion, a group of us, of varying vintage, were chatting about the food available on campus.