Thursday, September 4, 2008

Westward Ho!

One morning in March, a mail from the Director of training for the Outsourcing vertical in Capgemini informing me that I had been nominated for a 1 week residential course in Les Fontaines( in Chantilly in France was a welcome surprise in an otherwise predictable work environment. It was an indication that my superboss(boss’s boss) who had nominated me believed that I was deserving of that opportunity and considered it a wise investment as well which was reassuring and comforting in its own way that I was valuable to the organization and to him for considering such an investment in my development! The bonus was a possibility to experience more of the beautiful country of France and also a possibility of realizing my dream of visiting Paris. My Parisian CEOs comment that Paris was the most beautiful city in the world and comparable only to Rome had ignited this inherent deep need to experience the beauty of Pari ( as he called it)! There was an additional opportunity to visit Krakow in Poland , another beautiful country in the East Block of the Iron curtain making the opportunity very attractive.. almost a dream come true!

The fact of having to leave my wife back in Guangzhou for 11 days while I go about experiencing my dreams without being able to share it with her along with me was a certain dampener to the whole scheme of things. I reconciled myself to the fact that this was a business trip which was necessary and unavoidable even if I did not want to do it! I reconciled to the fact and decided that I will make the most of this opportunity to experience every aspect of these places to the extent possible and share with my wife to make her experience the same through me.

The day came when I had to finally leave for the trip. The Murphy’s law has been so accurate in my life in many cases , I could be a living testimony to it and be a scientific evidence to people who doubt its existence. I managed to leave home late in spite of having 3 hours of lead time to reach the airport. As Murphy would have it, I managed to board the flight without any RMB, USD or EURO and 3 plastic cards which I did not know will be usable in the countries I was visiting! I realized that I don’t have a penny and didn’t know how to manage if I needed one! This is where the survivor instincts in me awakened and instilled affirmation that I would be able to manage in spite of my situation! I don’t know how this happens, but this happens always! My banks website and the agent who I spoke to from the Bank’s call centre informed me that the card would be accepted in Paris!. I realised on arrival at Paris that there was not a single ATM in any of the Charles De Gaulles Aeroport De Paris did not accept my card. I realized that I was now on foreign soil without a penny and without a way to arrange for any either.

In between the racing of my heartbeat and the sheets of perspiration breaking on my back out of anxiety, anger, stupidity and helplessness, it dawned on me that I had a Visa debit card! I realized in the next instant that I had received a mail from the bank stating that the card had expired last year and I was required to renew it. The bank had sent me the new card in India while I had been in China and the Bank decided to disable it as it had never been activated in 1 year after issue. I decided to take a chance with the old card risking losing it to a hungry French ATM tummy!

The hand of god that has always helped people like me in such circumstances came to my rescue and luckily I was awarded with the permission to withdraw cash from my India Account with the old ATM card. I don’t understand why I had always carried it. Maybe because I was destined to use it and appreciate the hand of god from Paris! Or maybe in the scheme of bigger things, this was the design sketched to add to my experience in life! My heartbeat and perspiration came back to normal and I realized that in between all this chaos, I had been drawing energy, reassurance and support from my wife via ISD calls all along to maintain my sanity and to get me through this situation. It had worked for me and I feel that is special!

Author - Pallassana Vadassery Vinod Kumar
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