All posts by Jasbir Chatterjee

Poet, writer, blogger, corporate professional

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…








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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.

Official Bougainvilleas

I call them official bougainvilleas because they live and breathe inside the office premises. Their blazing, bright colors add soul, poetry, innocence, and freshness to their surroundings and inspire us to continue blooming; to be happy and creative in spite of the oppressive work life in the private sector and its inevitable politics…

These words are now part of a poem…Read it here…https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/official-bougainvilleas/?m=0

Jimikand Stew

Jimikand (Elephant Yam) is an ugly duckling among vegetables.

Pure vegetarians don’t like it much because of its meaty flavor while pure non-vegetarians don’t like to waste their time and energies on something that masquerades at being what it isn’t.

And those who love it don’t eat it very often either. In my complete life of 5 decades so far, I remember having eaten it only 4 times; first time as a child when Mom made it. Second time was when an office colleague brought it for lunch. I ate it with great relish on both the occasions. Third time, I tried to make it myself. It was during the Google-free era when recipes were not always readily available. Though I put in my best possible efforts, it turned out to be awful! I thought I would never cook it again.

But, as destiny would have it, in around October 2018, my husband bought some jimikand along with other vegetables at a local grocery store. It was because of one of their special offers. For several days, the jimikand sat in our fridge. Finally, when all the other veggies were over, I decided to make one more attempt at cooking it. I gathered a lot of ideas from Google.

To my great surprise, the dish turned out to be very tasty and it was made in a jiffy.

My husband said, “It tasted somewhat like the way my Mom used to make it.” I took that as a big complement as my mother-in-law was a highly-accomplished cook.

It gives me a lot of joy today as I share the recipe with you all in this post.

Process

1. Wear gloves while peeling jimikand as it causes itching on bare skin.

2. Soak the cut pieces in water and squeeze some lemon juice into it. Keep the vessel aside for about 15 minutes.

3. Take out the cut jimikand pieces and wash them well in water. Deep fry them in batches in a pressure cooker till they turn brown. Take them out out of oil once done.

4. Take out excess oil and leave just about two tablespoons of oil in the pressure cooker. Turn on the gas again. Put a half teaspoonful of whole cumin into the hot oil. Once they start crackling, add chopped onion. After they start turning pink, add chopped tomato. When the oil starts appearing on the sides, add the spices as per your taste (turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, jeera powder, etc). Stir a little bit. Then add the fried jimikand pieces followed by salt according to taste.

5. Add water as per required viscosity and some green coriander leaves.

6. When the water starts boiling, cover with the lid and place the whistle. After about 4 or 5 whistles, the jimikand stew would be ready.

7. Open the cooker once it cools down. Serve hot with rotis. Enjoy!☺️