All companies don`t take their associates to far-flung places for team building exercises. Mine did, and I used it to the maximum.
The place was Vishakhapatnam, and about 30 of us were to travel to the place together. We were to travel by the Vizag Express train; in the 2nd class (my favorite). The same evening, I told my wife Rekha.
“I will be going to Vishakhapatnam.”
“Wow…finally you get to travel at work.” My wife sounded enthusiastic.
[Rekha has always thought that it is only the senior management that travels when at work]
“Yes. I begin traveling at work.” I reassured her.
“When are you flying?”
“Flying?” I didn`t understand her question but then it struck me. She was thinking that my company was paying for an airplane ticket. “Ohh…yes, flying…I would be taking the 9 p.m. Jet Airways flight to Vishakhapatnam.”
[How could I let down my company. My wife works for my company`s competitor]
With Rekha convinced that I was traveling at work, I could rest assured that all my relatives (and hers) would come to know of my trip to Vishakhapatnam. Sure enough within two days I started receiving calls from grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces wishing me Bon Voyage. I am glad nobody decided to send me off at the airport. Even if somebody did decide, I wouldn`t have known for I was at the Central station getting into a 2nd class compartment. More on this later.
Packing for the trip was quite an exercise. We had to dust the bag we hadn`t used since our honeymoon, 14 months back. Both of us took a day off and finished with the packing. For the record, among the 30 associates who traveled with me…my bag was the largest. Pssst…Rekha still doesn`t know 30 other associates traveled with me. She still thinks…there was a Vice-President and then there was I…and we had gone to Vishakhapatnam to broker a million dollar deal with Microsoft.
After a million parting kisses and hugs, I left for the station. Luckily, from our house, both the airport and railway station are in the same direction.
I reached the station half an hour earlier. The others started coming in too. They looked an enthusiastic bunch (mind you, I will meet them daily at work). For every ten young men, there were three girls. “Survival is going to be tough,” I told myself and sat on the bench as an observer. Meanwhile, I also called up Rekha and told her that I reached the airport. She did ask me about all that background noise…I had to convince her that with all the cheap airlines like Deccan and Spice Jet coming up, the airport was looking (and sounding) like a railway station.
I put a reminder to call Rekha in another half an hour and tell her that I was getting into the airplane. The second reminder was for calling her up after one and half hours and announcing that that I had landed in Vishakhapatnam. I have always believed that a well-planned lie, could end up be becoming the truth.
The train trip began on a good note. Even before the train started rolling (at 9 p.m.) I had strategically positioned myself next to three pretty girls. Unfortunately…a certain Mr Anand and a certain Mr Atanu also landed right next to me. Competition.
Thanks to this competition, when I went to sleep at midnight… I realized I had ignored the reminders I had set earlier…and Rekha had also given me six missed calls. A lot of explanation was pending. But first…some sleep.
Part 2 – Coming up on Wednesday