Sunday, June 15, 2014

OTHER Preparations

Top of the heap was to register a Company so that we could build a brand and develop a niche segment in the travel industry. The object of the formation of the company was to carry on business of doing Adventure Tourism related activities, producing documentary films related to adventure and tourism, conducting Exhibitions and Events and management of the same, engaging in Hospitality Services, operating equipment shops, etc. it was also decided that contributions received for the journey would be received on behalf of the Company. The actual issue was with naming the Company. The three of us debated various names in Lal’s house one morning for quite some time and then adjourned to think some more. Then I went to meet Mary, of UPM Advertising, about branding, visibility, etc. It did not take her more than a few minutes to come up with ‘Nomadination’ when I told her about man’s inherent nomadic nature and travel across nations. The tag line was decided too on the spot: Indulge Your Imagination Across Every Nation. The Company was registered in that name and we decided to brand it too. Later, due to paucity of funds we decided against any major thrust on that front. Since Record Drive was already up on the Fb it was decided to go along with that.
There has to be an objective for travel. We felt that it would be most appropriate to take goodwill across nations, spread the word on Kerala tourism and celebrate 75 years of Malayalam cinema, with one of the most gifted artists travelling with us. Intolerance is spreading across societies and nations like an uncontrolled canker. Intolerance is the result of wanting to either preserve a status quo or to protect segmented and narrow interest. Travel, we believe, is one of the right means by which this can be sorted. When we travel we become more aware, more conscious of the thread that connects us as human beings. The Universality of man and the brotherhood of man alone can take us on the path of progress and human development. In this we have decided to make the London trip an annual affair, motivating youngsters and mature people, regardless of gender. This will be done through the Company that we have formed and will leverage the partnerships that we have built and will build.

After registering the Company it was necessary to open a bank account quickly as we were already dipping into our personal savings and the first installment of Coral Buiders was waiting to be handed over. I approached HDFC for I had been banking with them for nearly a decade. Despite the best follow up I had to face humongous delays and a totally non-responsive attitude. Therefore, I shifted my attention to the ICICI bank and its Thevara branch, due to its proximity to my residence. Things went smoother there, but certain delays could not be factored in.

When one goes on a trip as prolonged as this and that too across different countries a comprehensive packing list is a must. What has to be taken and what should be avoided is critical. Research and experience make for important companions when deciding this. Must we take oxygen cylinders? Would additional fuel tanks be required? What about chemical toilets? Should we have a tent and sleeping bags? Debates and discussions later I drew up a packing list and circulated for compliance. Certain common factors would be the responsibility of the team leader, such as First Aid kit, essential food items, etc. most important were copies of ID proof, International Driving Permits, etc. Of course, we could have left the originals behind. We also had to limit the size of personal baggage for we have so many other items, some voluminous, to carry in the boot of the car. When we aggregated the items for the journey we thanked our lucky stars that we had decided on a car with such a lot of luggage space.

It was my intention to meet up with high officials in London. Towards this end I sourced the email addresses of the Prime Minister of UK and the Mayor of London. I was unsure if my mails would receive any attention at all from these officials, given my experience with the worthies in India. I was in for a huge surprise. In a couple of weeks I had responses from both. Even though both requests were regretted, I was happy that I at least got a response. Then came my experience with Malayalee associations. The internet provided information of their email addresses. I addressed as many as I could, along our route. To this day not one has been responded to! Departure from that was my experience with the Indian Missions abroad. I have very encouraging responses from them – I even rerouted to go to Prague, thanks to the response from the Ambassador of that country. Mr. Ranjan Mathai was the first to respond from London. We look forward to meeting up with these high officials during the journey.

The rest of the arrangements included that for accommodation. In India my batch mates have booked us into Railway Officers’ GHs. The contribution of Sharat Jethi (CCM West Central Railway), Anup Dayanand (Sr. DOM, Bangalore), Arvind Kumar (CCM North Eastern Railway) and JN Jha (COM South Central Railway) are critical in this. Mohan, an old colleague from CONCOR, has taken on facilitation in Nepal, including border passage. The Chinese guide will assist us in China while accommodation was booked in Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Schengen as part of the visa procedures. This was facilitated by Mirus, our travel partner.

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