Our 26th…



Photography done by attendees…

Our 26th wedding anniversary on 18 December 2018 turned out to be an extremely memorable occasion, thanks to the meticulous planning and execution of the event by my husband Sukhangshu. Even the invitation format, a specially created video sent through Whatsapp, was specially designed by him with great care and patience. It took him several days to complete it. It was, indeed, a labor of love…And all I had to do was dress up well and be happy and gay on the D-day; which is really the easiest thing to do when there’s love everywhere!

Here is the link. https://youtu.be/Ba_KAh9lK6A

We were completely overwhelmed with the huge amount of love, best wishes, and blessings we received from all our near and dear ones. We felt we were the world’s luckiest couple.

Our happiness would have been, however, more complete if my Mom and Sukhangshu’s parents had also been around to bless us.

Apart from the all powerful Lord Almighty without whom nothing is possible, our special thanks go to Suroshri, Dad, Dimpy, Sonal, Babuni, Prashant, Mani, her little daughter, Supratika, Shampa, Muni, Babu, Rakhi, Kamal, Anubha, Abhirbhav, Ananya, Ashok Da, Titu Di, and Piyush for being present and helping in making our special day more special…

This gorgeous sari that I am wearing in all the pics was a gift from Sukhangshu. He bought it about a year ago from Bangladesh during one of his theater tours.

Sukhangshu’s black kurta was gifted to him by our daughter Suroshri from her first salary.  It is something that makes us both feel very happy and proud of her.

I didn’t want to waste my previous time in a beauty parlour, so Shampa, an accomplished theater artist, tied my bun in a very stylish juda and put white and red flowers into it to match with my garland that I would wear later…

Here are some more pics.

Shampa…Helping me get ready…




My jooda…Amazingly artistic, isn’t it? And I thought my hair was too thin for a bun!




With Babuni…








Shampa and I, after getting ready…




Jaimala (garlands exchange) ceremony…






Going round the holy fire 7 times, a smaller version this time…Babuni played the Shankh…






Blessings from Dad…




With Dimpy, Dad…Missing you, Mom…







































Babuni and Supratika were the first to arrive and came in the morning itself. This pink shawl that I am wearing was gifted to me by Babuni. It remains my favorite till date.




In preparation for our 26th Special Night…



About 40 days later, I sprinkled the dried up petals from my gajra and our garlands over empty flower pots. Let’s see what comes out of them; something very nice, I am sure because spring is just round the corner…

This pic reminds me of my poem “The Withered Petals.” Link: https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-withered-petals/

This time, the petals, by God’s grace, are from a happy, fulfilled life…









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An Uprising






When you work as a middle level manager in a big organization, you find yourself participating in various programs whose significance you understand only much later. You feel you’re being driven and not the one driving.

Take an employee development program, for instance. I never imagined that it could be organized like a sports event until I, with zero interest in sports, participated in Volkswagen’s Sarvottam Skill Contest in September 2018 and won a gold medal! Yes, a gold medal, for the first time in my life!

This contest was organized by Volkswagen India for their Dealer Staff at their Volkswagen Group Academy (VGA) in Gurgaon. The contest results were based on our performances in the various role plays, interviews, written tests, and case study discussions related to our respective job profiles that we participated in at VGA.  Read about it here.

URL: https://jasbirchatterjeephotoblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/18/awards-and-recognition/?preview=true

This gold medal got me the coveted entry into the final phase of this contest, the Sarvottam Skill National Championship, held in December 2018 at VGA, Chakan, Pune. It ended with a glittering awards presentation and closing ceremony ‘The Volkswagen Uprising’ in the lawns of The Hotel Renaissance , Mumbai, overlooking The Powai Lake.

One most striking thing about the closing ceremony, something that I personally felt quite quite flattered about, was that the VIP seats were reserved for us, the Sarvottam contestants, not the celebrities, the rich, the mighty and the powerful ones sitting there as part of the crowd!

The National Championship was extremely well-organized with about 70 participants. All possible efforts were put in by the VW team to take good care of the contestants during their stay and ensure smooth and hassle-free running of the event.

Given below is a chronological account with photos of the National Championship 2018.

Day 1, 9 December 2018:

After a 2-hour flight from Delhi to Pune and a subsequent hour-long cab journey, I finally landed at Hotel Courtyard Marriott, Chakan, in the afternoon. That was where our lodging arrangements had been made. I was all alone when I reached. But slowly and steadily, participants from other cities began trickling in. Immediately upon arrival, we were all given a VW bag and a T-shirt to wear as uniform during our next 2 days’ sessions at VGA, Pune. The bag contained a very stylish black diary holding an equally elegant black pen and a USB. At 8 PM, we all assembled in the Hotel’s banquet hall for VW presentation, introductions, and a buffet dinner. As luck would have it, my room partner moved into another room with someone from her dealership and no one else took her place in mine. So I had the double room completely to myself, an unexpected windfall, which allowed me to soak myself in luxury in complete privacy, peace, and solitude.

Here are the pics.

At the Delhi Airport, raring to go…



Inside my hotel room…



Sight-seeing in Chakan, through the window of my room…





The VW bag and its contents…The diary, the pen, and the T-shirt and the I-card with contest schedule that I wore during next 2 days at VGA…







Selfie with Chakan’s setting sun…








Day 2, Contest Day 1, 10 December 2018.

At around 8 AM, after an early breakfast, we boarded the 2 Volvo buses lined up for us to take us to VGA. We reached there at around 8:30 AM. We were completely floored by the courtesy and warmth extended to us immediately upon arrival. All the trainers were lined up at the entry point with huge welcoming smiles, clapping for us with a resounding applause!

That was very touching indeed, the kind of honor and respect that few OEM setups in the Indian Automobile Industry give to their dealer employees. It could be because of VW group’s realization that in an industry with stiff cutthroat competition and differentiated only by the quality of customer service, it makes sense to invest in people. Because only happy people can create happy customers and happy customers are the keys to the success of a successful business.

Nevertheless, many contestants had their anxious moments, sleepless nights, upset tummies, fevers, and migraine headaches, which is, I guess, inevitable when you come out of your comfort zone for a while and invest so much of yourself in playing the winning game.

And I was probably the only one who was completely chilled out, happy to be alive, enjoying the lovely weather of Pune at this time of the year. I kept on reminding myself and everyone around that life holds so much more beyond all these contests. 

Far, far away from the anxiety, tension, and excitement down below, the sun, moon, stars, flowers, rivers, lakes, the sea, the mountains and valleys at Chakan obliviously carried on their lives as usual; calmly, peacefully, looking gorgeous, unbeaten…

We were brought back in the evening at our hotel, around 5:30 p.m. I clicked some pics on the way and outside the hotel. After playing table tennis and carrom in the hotel lounge, we returned to our rooms to take rest.  Buffet dinner began at 8 p.m. and by 10 p.m. after reading a few pages of a novel,  I fell asleep.

Here are the day 2 pics…

All set to go to VGA Pune. Here I am with VW Dealer staff (After sales) from Punjab.



Going towards the buses…



Inside the bus, with Surama from VW workshop, OSL, Kolkata…



At VGA, in between sessions…





Other pillars of Volkswagen Group





At the cafeteria…



Tense, pensive faces….




 
On the way back to hotel…




Outside the hotel….

















Day 3, 11 December 2018, Contest Day 2:

Like the previous day, we were brought to VGA again as 2 bus loads of contestants after an early breakfast. The contest ended at around 12 PM. After lunch and a photo session, we were transported in the same 2 buses to Mumbai’s Renaissance Hotel. The long ride across the expressway, contrary to my apprehensions, turned out to be really enjoyable with great scenery on both sides, as in a painting. I had a great time clicking their photos. At a brief stopover on the way,  I got the chance to buy Pune’s famous Maganlal chikkis as well as per my husband’s suggestion. We reached Mumbai at around 5 p.m. By 6:30, we were all ready and assembled together in the Hotel Renaissance lawns. We were joined there by other invitees, the senior personnel of VW dealers and VW India.

The star attraction at Mumbai, in keeping with the flavor of the event, was our famous Badminton player Saina Nehwal. She started off with a very inspiring speech about her own struggles through all these years, injuries and surgeries, etc, to win the Olympic medal and many other trophies. The audience was completely bowled over by her earnest girl-next-door style of speaking right through her heart. It was a great experience indeed as far as I was concerned.

During the Q&A session, a somewhat elderly gentleman asked her for how long she intended to play. She said she would like to ask him the same question. She didn’t know, she continued, and didn’t want to think about it. Badminton is her job, her life, something she loves and worships, and nothing can equal the joy she gets when India’s National Flag goes up with her on the podium. She echoed the sentiments of many out there, including me…

Though I didn’t win any medal this time like the regional round, I consoled myself with the thought that I managed to get this far at least within such a short tenure with VW and got the kind of exposure that not too many get.

After dinner at The Renaissance, the same 2 Volvo buses drove us to Hotel Hilton, Mumbai, where we spent the night. The hotel is very close to the airport, which turned out to be a blessing the next day. We reached there in just 5 minutes. After 3 days of feasting and constant mental activity, I was now feeling exhausted and yearned to lie down in my own bed…

Here are the pics…

In the morning, just before boarding the bus to VGA…




Photo-session at the end of contest…







On the way to Mumbai…





Sceneries, like paintings, on the way…






Maganlal Chikkis, bought on the way…Turned out to be very tasty…

After landing at Renaissance Hotel, Mumbai…




After changing into formal dress for the gala night…





Pics clicked at Hotel Renaissance lawns…






















Ssssh….The Great Night has begun…









Brief speeches by the Directors…Mr. Stephen Knapp, Mr. Boparai etc…







Saina Nehwal…In heart-to-heart talk…





Watching expectantly from the VIP seats…




Awards function…





A dance performance on wheels…



At Hotel Hilton with my room mate Smita Podwal (Parts Manager, VW Kolhapur)…



Day 4, 12 December 2018, Going Home…

Here I am in GoAir flight on my way home to Delhi from Mumbai with my colleague and fellow contestant Pushkar Nath (Technician), a gold winner in both rounds…



That night, while I slept comfortably in my own bed with my familiar quilt around me, I suddenly felt a little tinge of disappointment. If only I had won a medal, I thought, I would have had something to celebrate about, both at home and in office…I could understand better now how sportsmen feel after returning empty-handed from major sports events like Olympics, Commonwealth Games, etc…

Anyway, like Saina, I now have a goal ahead to work for; a gold medal in the Sarvottam Nationals 2019. A big uphill task indeed…

Wish me luck, dear Readers…








Sandwich Art

Here are the step-by-step pics.

Prepare Pomegranate Chutney: Blend a cup of pomegranate seeds with 2 green chillies, some gur, and amchur. Add some water if required. This is what you will get.

Cut sandwich into 4 pieces. Garnish with chopped carrots.