Ashok called up to enquire about my schedule in the morning. I did not hesitate even for a nano second when he offered to send me a few parathas for breakfast. Time hung heavily till the paneer-stuffed paratha arrived. The homemade paneer, as Suman told me later it is, in the paratha was unbelievably tasty. And when it is hot it virtually melts in your mouth. The mango pickle complemented it perfectly. The carrot halwa was the ‘icing’. With the stomach in good order I was ready for BN Shukla when he arrived to accompany me to the Northern Railway HQ, the 11th Zonal HQ during the journey. Manoj Srivatsava, Chief Freight Transportation Manager of NR, has been one of the major supports in my travel through the northern belt. He had made arrangements for the ORHs in Dehra Dun, Chandigarh, Shimla, Palampur and Jammu. I was pleasantly surprised to know that he was following the blog as time permitted. After a few exchanges on what we ‘understood’ of India I met with the Chief Operations Manager and Chief Passenger Transportation Manager of NR.
Shukla had taken VRS from the Government of India in early 2005 and joined the Adani Group. I used to meet him regularly when he was posted in Karwar and I was with the Railways in Hubli. We had worked in CONCOR together on deputation too, where his innings in TKD will be remembered for some time to come. He is an officer with a “Can do, Will do” attitude. He is terrific at infrastructure building and is an excellent team builder. He is presently the MD of KRIL, the infrastructure arm of KRIBHCO. We headed to his office in NOIDA to appreciate the plans that his Company has in shaping the logistics future of this country. I met the Finance Director of KRIBHCO and discussed KRIL’s plans with Shukla’s team. The trip to NOIDA further brought home the terrific improvements that have happened to the road network thanks to the CWG.
I went to the CRIS office to meet SB Roy and Dharam Singh, my batch mate. SB Roy was in charge of the Domestic Division of CONCOR as GGM in HQ, when I came into the organisation to start the Division in the Southern Region. Beating a new path in a structured environment is not easy unless you have support from those who supervise your work. I had that in ample measure from SB Roy. I took the liberty of fobbing a lunch off him. In the meanwhile Dharam Singh returned from lunch with a precious memento. I had, with a few batch mates, attended the wedding of Dharam’s son on 11th February 2005. I remember having taken a photograph then. He gave me a mounted copy of it today. I ‘discovered’ pleasantly another colleague from CONCOR working in CRIS now, Sharad Mathur, a brilliant IT professional. After spending considerable time in the CRIS office I went with Dharam to visit Boota Singh as I would not be able to attend the function he had invited for on the 9th. We spent a lot of time there to understand the circumstances leading to the unfortunate incident and to provide Boota with a ventilation mechanism, which is often required in such situations.
I spent the rest of the evening loading up the car, as efforts to trace/meet two other batch mates in Delhi – KN Choudary and Amrit Mathur – proved futile. After arranging the huge lot of luggage in as organised a manner as I could, I went to Ashok’s house. Over a few shots of Old Monk I got a glimpse of the amazing entrepreneurship of Suman. She has been in customized ‘festive’ wear business for the past 11 years and has conducted many exhibitions. The room in her house where she interfaces with customers has an exciting display of elaborate work on special fabric. She sources the material all by herself and manages the workmen efficiently. All this does not mean that the home front suffers; it’s quite the opposite. The well maintained and done up flat is efficiently managed and the husband and children receive more than the attention required for a warm home. After the Old Monk was ‘rested’ we decided to go to Ignis in Connaught Circus for dinner. I chose to have a Hummus platter with Pita bread. The Lebanese food is light and easy on the tummy.