I scheduled the extra day in Chennai to complete the formalities regarding the Carnet. I had sent the application form and attachments well in advance to the Secretary of the Automobile Association of Southern India. They receive the Carnet papers from Mumbai. I had to speak to the Western India Automobile Association for them to mail the papers in time to Chennai. Hence, on this day I had to present the car for inspection and verification of the chassis number. I handed over the Bank Guarantee provided by Trans Asian Shipping Services, copies of the IDP, pollution certificate and the motor vehicle insurance to the AASI. Shanmugham, the Secretary, is an extremely helpful person and this time too, it was no different. I requested that the Carnet papers be kept ready by 3 pm. Palani was deputed by the Secretary to take the imprint of the chassis number, as he had done for the last trip too. The details have to be typed in to the Carnet papers, and that makes it problematic. The documents have to be deftly handled by someone who knows typing. Fortunately for me, Radha who handles a variety of jobs in the Association, was equal to the task. Postponing her lunch till 3.30 pm she got the documents ready. Recognising the extra mile she had been to, the Secretary signed the documents only after she had finished her lunch! With the Carnet in hand I was ready with all documents for the South East Asian Odyssey.
I did not have to wait in the AASI office for the papers to be processed. Hence, I used the interim time to meet up with a couple of old professional associates. PC Jain was the first client I met when I joined Container Corporation of India in Chennai to start the domestic division. His invaluable suggestions and support contributed a great deal to the growth of the division and it being the role model for other regions to follow. I have been in touch with him over the years, more as a friend and sometimes on professional engagement. I have been to his home for many typically Rajasthani meals and have every one of them. This day I met him at his home to enquire about his health for he has been plagued by some inconveniences or the other in the past year. Of course, cut seasonal fruits and dal halwa studded the interface. I met NAK Reddy over lunch at the Taj Vivanta. The amazing entrepreneur is a bagful of ideas and childlike in curiosity to understand the latest developments in the country, politically and economically. He has, over the years, built up an enviable logistics based enterprise and groomed a set of ambitious professionals.
When the extra day was scheduled in Chennai I did not ever imagine that I would be attending the memorial mass of Sheelu, who passed away in January this year in Pune following severe aneurism. An extremely pious and friendly girl, Sheelu, was energetically involved in most activities of the church. The mass arranged in their house was attended mostly by family and dinner followed.
One of the challenges on a long journey like this is the laundry. I normally carry stuff to last me fifteen days. Even then, getting the laundry done whenever convenient is part of the logistical requirements of the journey. Abraham’s wife, Rose, graciously offered to do that. When I got back home in the evening, the clothes were kept on the bed, neatly folded and ironed. Rose also gave me some instant coffee mix, a few imported zip lock bags and a Skybag for use as the media bag.