It’s almost a decade since a group of us from Xerox travelled in a Tata Sumo from Pathankot to Dharamshala, Amritsar & Chandigarh in Northern India to inaugurate the Outsourced Service Agents (OSA) Operations in these cities. I have wonderful memories of this tour .Meeting the first generation entrepreneurs we had helped create and experiencing these infrequently visited cities and the nearby places of worship was a delightful experience. It was a feast for the senses to be treasured; the warmth and friendship shown to us by the young entrepreneurs and their families added to the experience. I sensed we were laying the foundations for a worthy movement and knew that I would carry these memories deep within me and revisit these places again to see if the promise that seemed evident then would be fulfilled.
Dharmshala was a quaint town, more so McLeodganj .We stayed in a simple but comfortable lodging where the rooms over looked the snow clad Dhauldhar mountain ranges, a beautiful sight in the mornings. We visited the Buddhist Namgyal Monastery and saw a large mandala being made out of fine coloured sand and each of us received a pure white silk shawl, which I still have in my prayer alter in Charmwood Village. En route to Amritsar we visited the Swami Chinmayananda Mission, where the Swamiji’s body is interned and the Brahmakumari’s Ashram .At Amritsar we visited the Golden Temple and on the drive down to Chandigarh briefly visited the Radhaswami Ashram at Beas.
The places of worship and the ashrams had a lasting impact on me .The country side in Punjab was lush green and we got to eat yummy stuffed parathas with blobs of butter on them and washed it down with tall glasses of lassie , at popular Dhabas along the roadside.
At each place we were warmly received by the OSA Partners, their family members and team members. There was Sharad at Pathankot, Jagmohan at Dharamsala, Jatinder & Harpreet at Amritsar and Kuldeep Dogra at Chandigarh. All of them were enthusiastic about their new role as entrepreneur partners, though their family members were apprehensive and needed our reassurance that all would be well for their sons on this untried path.
Partly because of the emotional connect to these places and partly because I thought it would be a novel experience for Corinna and her parents, I planned a road trip from Delhi to Dharamsala, Dalhousie & Amritsar for them. In retrospect this was not the best sight seeing trips to have planned for this group, as the road journey was long and tiring and at several places, heavy monsoon rains had spoilt the mountain roads making the drive scary for our foreign guests .In addition we didn’t prepare them for the less than 5- Star accommodation at most of these locations, baring Amritsar, and this was a let down for them.
Dharamsala didn’t offer the same quaint charm this time. It seemed as if it was “off season”, so there was less activity on the narrow streets of McLeodjang .Even the activity at the Monastery seemed low key, with several parts of the monastery undergoing renovation.The narrow roads and traffic made for uncomfortable travel from point to point .Lunch at the Club Mahendra resort was good, as was the ambience of the place. It would have been much better if we could have stayed here rather than the Asian Health Resort we stayed at. The Norbulingka Institute was a good place to go to with classy interiors and product displays, though the shops were very expensive, and meant perhaps for the western tourist.
I had wanting to see Dalhousie for a long long time and finally did so on this trip .However the place where we stayed Peace Channels was at a secluded place and made our guests un-comfortable. We could have enjoyed the stay if we were better prepared for it .I had wanted to meet Suvir Ahuja, my colleague at Xerox , who now runs a school ,The Hill Top school ,at Dalhousie .Unfortunately as we decided to close our visit a day earlier and depart for Amritsar, couldn’t meet him. The stay at Dalhousie would have carried warmer memories for all of us, if indeed we had met Suvir and his wife Dolly and spent some time at the school. Besides the walk around of the school, I’m sure they would have shared tit-bits about Dalhousie which would have enabled great share of hearts for this little hill station.
Jatinder and Harpreet, as always, made our trip to Amritsar very special .They had taken great pains to ensure that our visit to the Wagah Border and the Golden Temple were experience to carry away. I didn’t expect the level of “state sponsored” jingoism at the event!!! The Border Security PR mechanism wiped up a lot of cheerful patriotism and crowd participation. There were VVIP guests in Navjot Singh Sidhu and Sri Ravi Shankar that would have got the official machinery to put up a “decent” show!! The Golden Temple as always was a great experience and even our foreign guests were moved by the experience.
The OSA’s had palpably grow their personal wealth and assets .Both of them i.e. Jagmohan and Jatinder had built large homes and where in the process of building extensions .They had added to their business lines and were scouting around for additional opportunities. Both were enterprising and well equipped to run business establishments of their own .To that extent the they represented the success of the OSA Programme