Number 69

 

Before your imagination runs wild (and naughty) seeing the number 69, let me get it straight, I am talking about these two numbers separately (although the number ‘69’ & the word ‘separate’ aren’t always together 🙂 ).

Most of us have this unique fixation about a particular digit or number and every time we see/hear it, we get a sense something is going to happen. And your mind tells you whether it will be something positive or negative – it may or may not happen eventually but it certainly makes the mind work overtime.

Over the years, I have encountered many situations involving either number 6 or 9. And with each of those situations, my belief has got stronger that there indeed is some connection with these two numbers. Here are some important milestones (personal & professional) associated with the numbers 6 & 9:

1. Post one of our annual monsoon trip to Lonavla 15 years back with Dad’s childhood friends & their families, I was asked if I was ‘interested’ in one of the girl, a certain Ms. Kanchwala – beautiful, bubbly, with a charming smile. Both of us were in our mid-teens & were destined to be soul-mates forever. The year was 1998 when we got engaged – 1998 adds up to number ‘9’ & coincidentally Ms. Kanchwala was also a number ‘9’ – born on the 9th of June (‘6’th month).

2. A decade ago, on a busy September Saturday while I was finalizing few accounting files with a C.A. firm, I suddenly heard my colleague asking me – Momy, would you want to join CGE & Y? I just nodded my head & went back to my accounting files without paying any attention to his call. Later that evening, I asked him what is it about CGE & Y & he told me about this interesting opportunity for someone with MS Excel knowledge at their Vikhroli office – I only knew what MS Excel was & where Vikhroli was – I had no clue what CGE & Y was!

I went for an interview the following Monday, got selected, resigned at the C.A. firm the same day & joined CGE & Y the next day – I just couldn’t believe what destiny had in store for me; from a 16 member firm to 1600+ people company.

It was the 9th day of September (‘9’th month) when I had joined them & I was set to begin my career in Resource Management (which actually started on the pretext of knowing MS Excel). My employee code was 2805 – adds up to ‘6’!

3. Having started an unsuccessful start-up & struggling to manage finances, I was looking to shut shop & get back to the corporate world waiting for the right opportunity. I appeared for an interview with this pioneering ‘Market Research outsourcing’ company & here too I was selected to join the very next day.

It was 27th (adds up to ‘9’) day of September (‘9’th month) when I had joined them & I was set to re-start my corporate stint, this time into end-to-end Talent Sourcing. My employee code was 2373 – adds up to ‘6’, yet again!

4. On one of the usual rainy day during the (in)famous Mumbai monsoon, while riding on my bike, I had received a call to appear for an interview with this ‘Business & Investment Research’ company. Having never heard about it in the past, I wasn’t sure whether should to for the interview or just ditch them. I decided to give it a shot though – same story here too…appeared for the interview & was subsequently offered to join them as a ‘Manager’ – yes, Manager! Difference here was that I did serve my notice & didn’t join the company the very next day :-).

It was 18th (adds up to ‘9’) day of September (‘9’th month) when I had joined them & I was set to begin my managerial stint, expanding my horizons into other branches of HR.

5. Post high school, I had asked Dad to buy me a motorcycle – well, the motor was thrown out & I was presented with a cycle instead! Keeping patient for couple of years (and riding a bicycle to college for those 2 years), I finally pushed through the request for a motorcycle. This time I got the blessings of my Dad & we placed the order at ‘Alibhai Premji’ for a ‘Splendor’ in the month of September (‘9’th month). My first motorcycle was delivered with the registration number ‘582’ (adds up to ‘6’).

Putting a hard-stop on the 5th milestone since I want to reserve the ‘6’th milestone for some other day :-).

Do you have similar stories around a particular digit or number? I would love to hear about them!

Sinhagad Fort…Under the Sun…

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A trip to Pune is always on the cards with family & friends around the city. My Pune trip this time was just a routine one, until my uncle got high on an amazing chocolate cake post dinner. ‘Why don’t you guys make a quick dash to the nearby hill station of Panchgani tomorrow?’ He only got few mummers in response – realising we weren’t very keen on Panchgani, he threw an irresistible offer of going to the Historic Fort of Sinhagad via Khadakwasla.

While we were still discussing the logistics, my Dad threw a surprise – ‘I wouldn’t be able to come with you guys as I am travelling back tomorrow morning to Mumbai’. Phew…after a lot of hard selling & some emotional atyachaar, we finally managed to convince Dad to stay back…Yippie!!
So the entire gang – my parents, wife & kids, my sister’s family; total 6 adults & 4 kids…we were set for the excitement! 

The start itself was exciting – an XUV 500 waiting for us at the parking lot with my uncle behind the wheels…we were certainly on a ‘Rise’! 

Sinhagad is just 25kms away from Pune – we were late to start our day but we didn’t worry as it was a short journey. Settling in well in our XUV, we soon reached Khadakwasla (famous for its dam & favorite amongst love birds to spend some quality time in solitude). The water levels were down, & there was loads of commercialization around the place – however, the damn retains its scenic beauty at the foothills of Sinhagad Fort.

With a brief stretch of bumpy road, we had a relatively smooth drive upwards otherwise. The entrance of the fort is famous for its ‘Pitla Bhakri’ & we got our first taste of this authentic Maratha Cuisine with a touch of ‘Taak’ (buttermilk). Having treated our tummies, it was time to put our feet on the job. The ascent began along the stairs as my oldies took a break every 60 seconds! Mind you, my Dad was ahead of me, just love, love his spirit & zest!!!

While my Dad found a quite spot with ample shade, I found it a little awkward to put our camp there and went in search of a better place (or atleast I thought I would find a better place) – I returned to the family & announced that I have found a cool place to hang-out…Little did I realize that while the place was good & flat & offered a great view, it had no shade/cover for anyone.

Grumpy faces all around, we tried our best to put a fix for the shade problem but couldn’t do much. It was Mid-day & the Sun was beating down on us like a house on fire. We braved the Sun & opened the Pandora’s box – dishes kept coming out of this giant carry-bag as we had a sumptuous (and ofcourse HOT) meal. As soon as we were done with the meal, we wrapped-up & moved back to the same spot which my Dad had chosen initially.

The spot thankfully still was available & still offered ample of shade. Re-doing our arrangements, we settled in there & had our next round of dishes – this time it was some amazing cake (the same cake which got my Uncle high the previous night 😉 ). 

Kids were enjoying themselves & I made a quiet exit with my wife to further explore this historic fort. The fort offers a lovely view of Khadakwasla Dam, the Sahyadri mountain ranges, outskirts of Pune city (concrete amongst the natural beauty). We came back quickly & finally started our descent (aren’t these terms ‘ascent’ & ‘descent’ sounding like we did some trekking? It indeed was for some of us 😉 ).

Tired to death, we chose to take a power nap as soon as we entered the XUV. The drive back home was fairly quick & it just took a nice shower & ‘Kadak Chai’ to get us going again.

Keep it down…Under the Belt…

Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this article are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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While I was still struggling with some ‘Monday Blues’ (best excuse to avoid work on a Monday morning), I got a call from one of my vendor – Jasmeet. Initially I thought it would be a routine call at the beginning of the week to check for new business, but that wasn’t the case. 

Jasmeet: Hi Mo, I need to speak to you about Vidya who joined your company on Friday
Me: What about her, has she absconded?
Jasmeet: No..No.. She called-up over the weekend and was crying….she told me that one of her male colleague misbehaved with her. She was supposed to go with him for house-hunting in Mumbai.
Me: What??? Is Vidya coming to office today, I need to speak to her & get more details on this.

Although I mentioned to Jasmeet that I need to get more details, I had no clue what I was going to do. Still in a state of disbelief on how someone could misbehave with a girl – she had just relocated to Mumbai a week back & she gets such a treatment! Realising that I was too junior to handle this, I quickly walked-up to my senior & gave him a download.

My senior – Prasad, heard me out patiently was very calm (being an experienced guy, he must have heard such cases this many times in the past); he instructed me to speak to the Project Manager – Devika and then get into a face-to-face discussion with Vidya (the victim), Murali (the alleged culprit) and me (the observer, who had no clue what to observe).

I called-up Vidya & requested her to come to office for a quick chat. Murali apparently was already in office & did not show any signs of being nervous once I asked him to come for the meeting. Devika too was briefed on what had happened & was available for the meeting.

We sat together for a discussion – Devika initiated the conversation with directly asking Murali about where he was over the weekend. Murali replied calmly that he had been out on a house-hunting spree. Next question: “Did you meet Vidya at her Hotel? Yes, we were supposed to go together but when I reached the Hotel, she informed saying she isn’t feeling well & would not be joining me. I had to then go alone”…Grrrrr….Vidya interrupted Murali & said that this guy is a liar….

Vidya broke into tears…Devika tried to calm her down, she slowly started narrating her side of the story – “I landed in Mumbai on last Thursday & was provided a Hotel accommodation. I was introduced to Murali (who too had joined with Vidya on Friday). While talking to him during the day, we realized that both of us were in search of a flat in Mumbai. We decided to meet over the weekend & take this hunt forward. He came to my Hotel & called me from the reception. While I asked him to wait there, he asked if he could use my washroom. Reluctantly, I said yes to him & he came over to my room”.

“He went to the washroom, came out & walked towards the main door to put the latch from inside – I raised my voice & asked why he did that. He rushed towards me & pushed me down on the bed. While he was about to overpower me, I started screaming vehemently – he got scared, got down from the bed & ran towards the door. While moving out, he said he will get back to me. I sat on the bed in a state of shock & could not believe what this guy just did. I was wondering whether it was a right move to come to Mumbai. I decided to call Jasmeet & gave her an account of my nightmarish experience in the city”.

By now, Murali was looking a little tensed but kept on denying doing any such thing with Vidya. Devika looked at me & asked what do we do (as if I had all the answers with me) – I said let us meet separately & then take a call. Both of us walked into Prasad’s cabin to seek his opinion on this. His message was straight & clear – a girl wouldn’t want to tarnish her image in public by putting such allegations forward to us. We will have to support her – and the decision was taken to ask Murali to leave the company with immediate effect. Both the agencies for Vidya & Murali were updated on the status respectively.

While Murali was asked to leave, he still insisted that he was innocent – whether he was guilty or not, the truth is that this case of a Man trying to get fresh with a Woman wasn’t the first one & certainly wasn’t the last one as well.

Towards the end of the day, I met the Operations head in the corridor & he asked me about Vidya & Murali – I gave him a quick overview & he put his thoughts across to me very simply – ‘if things under the belt were kept down (or were in control), the world would be a better place to live’.

Learning with Fun…..

Last day of January – it was an early morning ride to Borivli & after parking my bike outside Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), I saw a hand waiving at me from the dark glasses of this swanky Honda City – I cautiously looked back to confirm if indeed someone was waiving at me or was I walking in my sleep (you literally sleep at 7:25 AM on a chilly winter morning in Mumbai, don’t you?). 

I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw familiar faces – Couple of colleagues chilling out in the car. I tagged along with them as we waited for the main gates of SGNP to open for vehicles. Once the main gates opened, we saw more team members coming in (the flood gates had literally opened as people started pouring in from all directions). The most hilarious entry was of this colleague running in cutely (like a school boy running in a Sack Race 🙂 ) – we were rolling on the floor!

Hey wait, where is our Captain? Should we check with him? As the team anxiously waited for him, there were discussions going around about cycle ride at SGNP, what we were going to do that day, how did someone manage to travel so far so early…et al. Finally, the moment arrived when we saw the first signs of our Captain & the team geared-up to welcome him – greeting with the loudest applause ever in a National Park, the team was quick to quip – “We are fractured!” – (the Joke was that anyone who doesn’t show-up would be fracturing the team & we didn’t expect the Captain to do so 🙂 ).

Looking to put a “Cast” onto the fracture, our Captain quickly led the Convoy to our base camp – a quick 5 minutes drive inside SGNP.

Our 3rd edition of Rewards & Recognition (with the added dimension of ‘Outdoor Learning’) had begun!!

We started with the first planned activity for the day – a 500m trek upto Gandhi Tekri. Upon conquering this small milestone, we were in for a surprise as we were introduced to our ‘Outdoor Trainer’ – dynamic & goal oriented – with many emotions hidden behind his ‘Shades’. We took a pause as we waited for the last of the late comers to join us – a real test of patience!

Delivering the opening punch, our Captain emphatically said “those of you who feel you would not want to do the next activity – you DO NOT have a choice – you HAVE to do it. Period.” It ran a shiver down our spines….& in came the first words from our Trainer – “Chill, Chill, Chill guys – this is not as scary as it sounds”. Our Spines were up on its feet again 🙂 . Those words by both our Captain & the Trainer stayed with us throughout this activity. One helped us identify the challenge & another gave us the courage to beat the challenge.

So what’s this activity all about – well it was ‘Rappelling’ (a technique to rope down a mountain or a cliff). Most of us like me had only heard about the term but had never done it before. Someone asked me – “Rappelling is climbing the mountain, right?” – Not knowing a sweet shit about it, I just nodded my head in the affirmative hoping that it indeed was to climb the mountain!

As we reached the starting point of this activity, we were greeted by a group of professional ‘Rappelling experts’ with the requisite equipments & accessories. Speculations around the depth of the cliff were ON as we were given a quick crash course on Rappelling by the Trainer & couple of other instructors. Excited as ever, each one of us had just one thought – hell yeah…we can do this too!

We were divided in 2 groups of 11 each – with one group to start Rappelling & the other one to learn how to tie knots effectively (as if being knotted for seven years wasn’t enough!). I was in the 2nd group, learning various tricks/ways to tie the knot (and stay knotted). With one eye on the Knotting tricks, we were keener to find out what the first group was doing in Rappelling.

All the best…come on you can do it…go for it…the entire team had come together to support Imran – one of our specially abled colleague to complete his Rappelling round. And boy, he did it in style..hats off to him!

The wait just got longer for me as we took a quick ‘Chai’ break once the first group was done with its Rappelling activity – enjoying the Poha & Chai, the excitement & anxiety was building up every minute… Our Trainer announced, ‘okay the second group can now come forward’…I took the 3rd turn in the group (albeit reluctantly)…the Harness & Helmet was ON. Armed with so many gears, this was no less than a battle ground with brave soldiers all around. I started walking towards the blind spot – the starting point of Rappelling.

A quick smile for our shutterbug Captain, tummy tucked in, knees straight, a glance to the heaven – it was like looking UP while going DOWN! Go MoLo…and I was in the game…started the slide down the cliff…took a 10 seconds pause, mid air, with a 90 degree pose swinging in the air…jumped on the rocks – one, two, three & I was at the BOTTOM touching a new HIGH…woohoo…Kya baat, kya baat, kya baat!!

The Captain was there on the ground to capture each moment – YEAH!! Quite a feeling when you look up & say, ‘Oh man… I just climbed down from this height’. Certainly a moment to cherish all my life…the New Year had begun on an adventurous note…and it surely looks like the year of ‘Adventures’ for me.

The day did not end with Rappelling…Part 2 of this story later…Keep watching this space 🙂

 

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Zipping through…

“So everyone, there is an important announcement for Friday: post our sessions, we have frozen on 2 options – 1. Tour of the historical ‘Mehrangarh Fort’ and 2. Zip Lining around the western side of ‘Mehrangarh Fort.” 

Having spent few vacations in the ‘Blue City’, option 1 was certainly out of the window. I opted for the one which sounded more exciting (or rather dangerous of the two options) – ‘Zip Lining’ managed by group of professionals from ‘Flying Fox’.

As a build-up to the activity, few of the colleagues were sharing their previous experiences about ‘Zip Lining’…’I have done it at this place’, ‘its exciting stuff’, ‘why do it in Jodhpur when you can do this in Borivali National Park as well’ (hell yeah, if only National Park had the rich heritage value attached to it 🙂 ).

While moving towards our vehicle, I realised that only 20% had opted for this activity – would the 80:20 principle hold true here? well..let’s see…

Our coordinator lay down the instructions – people who are doing ‘Zip Lining’ please come to my left and people who are doing ‘Fort tour’ please come to my right’ (reminded me of ‘Angrezo ke zamaane ka Jailor – Aadhe idhar jaao, Aadhe udhar jaao…aur baaki mere peeche aao 🙂 )

We were pointed towards this tall lanky fellow – our instructor for the activity. We followed him to reach our base spot. After a brief hold-up, we were given our safety gears and we proceeded for a Trial run…Ah..that’s freaking easy..I can do this!

Divided in 2 groups, our group moved towards our 1st (of the total 6 Zip lines) Zip Line. First look at the view and I was like ‘WOW’..that feeling didn’t last for long..as we saw the long rope connecting the fort to a mountain overseeing a Lake..while the view was breathtaking, the fear of Zipping onto that thin Zip Wire took away my breath!

I was the last person on the group to do our first Zip line…’Take your position, hand on the pully, legs crossed, knees close to your chest’ and in comes a quick question from the Instructor – Are you ready? (Well that’s a question everyone seem to be asking these days 🙂 ) – I looked at the other end, looked down on the lake, took a deep breath..and finally said – ‘Yes, I am Ready!’

Off I went, hitting the Wind, looking down at the Lake, FLYING HIGH..literally!! 25 seconds in the air and I was on the other side…PHEW…What fun these birds must be having in the sky…

I completed 6 such Zip Lines one after the another…The longest and the most amazing being the last Zip Line…The 2 groups met at the end of the activity and I can safely say that the 80:20 principle did work..20% of the guys had 80% of the fun!

These experiences can only be felt when you do these adventure activities yourself..

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Train to Vasai….

Its a 7:18 AM Fast Local to Virar from Bandra…In an otherwise quiet compartment at this hour, I hear a group of men chattering at the doorway.

Interested to know what was going on I changed my seat…I couldn’t understand their language, and on a closer look, I could figure out that these men were ‘Idli Wada’ sellers from Dharavi..starting their quest to earn their livelihood.

With their utensils stuffed with fresh Idlis and Medu Wadas, it was time to stuff themselves 🙂 Out came their paper plates, napkins and ofcourse the ‘stuff’…. A group of 6 men with each serving himself with 4-5 Idlis / 3-4 Medu Wadas and the awesome looking ‘Khopra and Tomato Chatni’…My mouth surely is watering..ssrrrp..

Enjoying their breakfast cum lunch, it was good to see them quiet as well for a while 🙂 Interestingly, they were carrying a pouch of water to drink as well as quickly wash their hands.

‘Next station Andheri..Pudhil station Andheri..Agla station Andheri’ – these guys were done between Bandra and Andheri..as they alighted..they had left me High and dry 🙂

Next station….

Back to the ‘Last Bench’….

Hello, we want a Cab to Bangalore Airport at 6:00 PM. Yes Sir, Easy Cab (it’s an irony, it is never Easily available) will be there at 6:00 PM. 

Its 6:10 PM as the 2nd call goes to Easy Cab – ‘Yes Sir, the cab is just 5 minutes away; it will reach there in 10 minutes’. As we took a quick ‘Kit-Kat break’, the clock ticked to 6:30 PM and that’s when we finally saw an Easy Cab approaching us. 

Wanting to break the chauffeur’s head, we instead jumped into the car. While the ‘tallest’ guy took the front seat, the 3 presumably short guys squeezed onto the back seat – it was a ‘touching’ moment!

We had to drop a colleague on our way to the airport and we moved ahead. The back seat finally had only 2 guys as we both quickly ‘distanced’ ourselves :-). While the ‘tall guy’ had estimated a 15KM run to the airport (thanks to his smart phone and Google uncle), the cabbie shocked us when he said the airport is still 46KMS away 😦 

The instruction given to the cabbie was clear – ‘do whatever you can to ensure that we reach the airport latest by 8:30 PM’. While he nodded, we saw a series of vehicles stuck in the infamous Bangalore traffic ahead of us. The cabbie took all the possible shortcuts (he wasn’t the only one to do that) only to be stuck in tiny bylanes than on the freeway (another irony, one cannot move freely on these roads). 

With silent prayers & Google maps ON, we were preparing ourselves for the worst case scenario (thanks to our upbringing in the company!) – Is the flight on-time; If we miss the flight, then: what time is the next flight, how much deep will be the hole in our pockets, blah blah blah…

With just about 2 hours left for the flight to take-off, I decided to ‘Check-in’ online (probably the worst decision of the evening)….it was all booked, only the last row (30th) had 3 seats together & wanting to sit together (why on earth on the last row would we sit together), I hit the confirm button. 

Weaving our way through the insane traffic, we somehow managed to reach the airport just in time. As we approached the counter, we requested to have a change of seats, only to be handed over our boarding passes with a straight face saying ‘Thank you’. 

We knew what was coming our way; the last row which doesn’t recline, doesn’t have the leg room but instead has the wash room behind! My seat – 30F (although a window seat, was the last seat possible on an aircraft). Being cursed by my colleagues, I was cursing myself too for doing this. 

I always thought last benchers have all the fun until seat 30F (felt like being ‘F*****’ 30 times). The only silver lining on the flight though was getting to see the island city right from its tip at Cuffe Parade till it’s shores at Bandra…oh, what a beauty! 

Ladies & Gentlemen, we are now ready to land in Mumbai, request you to fasten your seatbelts….

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