Tag Archives: sports

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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Misplaced Priorities

This recent photo of mine became a photo-prompt for my latest poem today, 12 October 2017, on Poemhunter.com, “Misplaced Priorities.”

Click here and read on: https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/misplaced-priorities-2/

An Unhealthy Side Of Indian Cricket 

At the outset, I must hasten to mention that I am not a sports buff. So if you find anything offensive or inappropriate in this article, please accept my apologies in advance.

If given a choice, I would prefer to curl up with a book than watch a cricket match. But there are certain aspects of Indian cricket that are glaringly obvious in their murkiness. Even disinterested people like me can’t ignore them.

On Sunday, 18 June 2017, India and Pakistan cricket teams locked horns with each other for the second time in the ICC world cricket tournament in UK.  This time it was the final round. The Indian team’s entry into the final was very much expected as they had played consistently well throughout the tournament. But the manner in which the Pakistani team rose up from the bottom position to the topmost was really amazing and to a certain extent unbelievable. Was the final match also fixed? It is quite possible, considering the huge amount of money that is being pumped into cricket in this region currently by corporate groups, film personalities, and underworld organizations. The media these days only toes the official line, so this matter was a topic of hot discussions in whatsapp and secret Facebook groups.

In the backdrop of internal politics within cricket organizations in India, cross-border terrorism, and our soldiers losing their lives daily at the Indo-Pak border, one can easily understand the mental state of players of the Indian team in a highly emotional, supercharged, jam-packed stadium with abusive boos and catcalls from the audience constantly falling on their ears.  In spite of everyone’s best efforts to remain normal, the venom of political hostility invariably suffuses itself through a India-Pakistan match and the game no longer remains just a game.  It takes on sinister dimensions.

An Indian Army officer reported recently that a defeat of the Pakistani national cricket team at the hands of their Indian counterparts generally leads to a violation of ceasefire by Pakistani forces at the border, so the Indian security needs to be extra vigilant in such situations. Was it perhaps to avoid this kind of confrontation that the Indian team ultimately lost so badly to the Pakistan team on 18 June 2017? Was the Indian team threatened or bribed to literally give up on the match and appear as a happy loser? There’s no proof. So you can only keep guessing and speculating.

When playing professional cricket turns into just another ordinary job and day in and day out, that’s the only thing you do, it is perhaps natural to set aside patriotic feelings and blindly follow your superiors’ orders without considering whether they are ethical or not.

Just a few hours before the match began on 18 June 2017, the Indian team captain Virat was asked on TV how his team felt now that they were in the final. He said very diplomatically with a straight face that he has instructed his team to stay calm and composed, since it is easy to make mistakes when you are worried and tense. Winning and losing is all part of the game. You just need to accept the outcome and move on to the next match. Well, nothing wrong with this; it was quite a sensible thing to say. But the manner in which he said what he said introduced an element of doubt and gave me a premonition that the victory crackers being burst outside by my neighbors well in advance were probably all in vain.

As the match progressed from 3 PM onwards, my husband and daughter remained glued to the TV while I carried on with my Sunday chores as usual, washing, cleaning, and cooking. By the time I woke up from my Sunday afternoon siesta, Pakistan had already made a sizeable score of runs and it was clear that India was going to have a tough time catching up.

During the running commentary and panel discussions by Kapil Dev, Virendra Sehwag, and Sunil Gavaskar, a female reporter also participated. Her provocative bearing and physical appearance were in stark contrast to that of the fully suited-and-booted male commentators and gave the impression that her sole purpose of being there was to provide the much-needed eye candy during those boring moments and to grab eye balls for the advertisers and sponsors of the tournament.  Why can’t female sports commentators come in as individuals, as experts in their chosen field, just like the men, on their own terms and conditions? Why must they dress to please anyone? Isn’t it enough to sound knowledgeable and look nice and presentable? These were some of the questions that I asked myself that day. Things will perhaps improve in future when women’s cricket also becomes popular and more and more women get the chance to call the shots.

When the match ended, Virat was asked how he felt as the captain of the runnerup team. He declared with a beaming smile on his face that he didn’t feel any shame in losing to the best team and Pakistan team really played well. India also had a great tournament with several wins and that’s fine! Not a single iota of regret or remorse there. Compare this with the scene at the end of a world Soccer final match where the intensity of display of emotions of both the losing and the winning side is always on the extreme corners of the pendulum.

It was for the first time in my life that I saw a losing captain in an international tournament looking so cheerful. It looked very unnatural. That’s why the needle of suspicion points to our Indian team. They have all probably made the kind of money they wouldn’t be able to make in a lifetime of cricket. The only player who displayed some sign of disappointment on the field was Hiren Pandya when he was run out at a time when Indian hopes had just started building up.

A few days after the match, Times of India newspapers reported that the Indian team’s Head Coach Anil Kumble gave his team a sound scolding for their dismal performance and added that he was unpopular with the team because of his ‘high-handedness.’ Some of the players’ injuries during were not ‘cricket-related.’ Kumble subsequently handed in his resignation because of serious differences with Virat Kohli. Kumble had kept a low profile throughout the tournament and had not spoken to any media person whereas Virat did not mention anything about Kumble in any of his press conferences. Kumble and Virat hadn’t been on speaking terms for as many as 6 months! What can be worse than this?

The organizers, we have been made to understand, allowed Kumble to leave because they can’t afford to lose the captain, Thats’s very tragic indeed. A trend has now been set, it seems, for future coaches of the Indian team to be spineless people who would always be scared of taking new initiatives to improve team performance.

God save Indian cricket! Mera Bharat mahaan…

Copyright: Jasbir Chatterjee