I’m very late with this post, but in case anyone’s still interested …

Fifty-two hours on the train, minus delays. That’s all I was thinking of as I huffed and puffed up the stairs at the Nizamuddin station. Shadan called frantically, ‘Where are you? The train is about to leave!’ And I reached, the very last person to board the train, but board I did. I was greeted by happy faces who looked all set for Goa.

Hmm … so was I the only one dreading the long journey back and forth? I had been on another such train journey to and from Bhubaneswar in 2007, which was an adventure of sorts—but that’s another story. I did, however, vividly recall Vibhor’s agitation during that journey: he was not long back from the US and couldn’t imagine how a trip between continents could take less time that it did between Delhi and Bhubaneswar. He was better reconciled to the travelling time during this journey. I guess he managed it by finding himself a job on the train: standing by and guarding the loos! As you can see, the angelic Mukesh helped him.

The others also seemed to have a well-planned agenda for the long journey, mostly involving cards ...

... or just generally sleeping through it all …

… but also some very serious reading.

And then there were those who seemed to be catching up on current events …

… but actually spent the time looking at pictures of hunks!

It’s quite surprising how quickly time flies when you’re with friends, and the hours did pass by pleasantly, listening to music, chatting, playing antakshari and watching movies.

And yes, I was the one who recommended Turtles Can Fly (it really is an excellent film), but poor Ashish and Anindita looked as if something had hit them, while Jonaki and Preeta just shook their heads at me, looking doubly disapproving because I had watched the film while listening to Springsteen on the iPod. (Don’t be too hasty in condemning me, dear readers: the film had subtitles and I’d seen it before!)

For some strange reason, Airtel had decided to paint over all the windows of the train, thereby blocking our view of the outside, so we kept the doors open to the beautiful scenery and hung out there.

And then we reached, our co-passengers clearly looking relieved that we were off the train, while the onslaught was about to hit the hotel. A blush of bougainvilleas greeted us, and despite the initial mayhem of finding our rooms, we were keen to find out more about Goa. We started off in the afternoon, a gang of us, and walked down to Dona Paula, a lookout point near our hotel. It was cloying, muggy weather, but the walk, the view of lovely Portuguese-style houses on our way, and our first view of the sea refreshed and excited us. We were now prepared (or so we believed!) for the days of presentations ahead.

On the next day, after Vivek started out with a look at the company’s performance through the past year and what we’re looking at in the coming one, Sanjeev, Hitesh, Saravanan, Naval, Sanjay, Srini, the regional sales managers and Angshuman talked to us about performances in their respective divisions. I’m always surprised, given Saravanan’s reserved nature, at how funny and quirky his presentations are. And though I did know that the warehouse was being upgraded, Sanjay Khanduja’s presentation was an eye-opener in terms of the amount of work involved in the upgrade.

In the next couple of days, our editorial presentations did go well, despite last-minute revisions late into the night. I won’t bore everyone with the details, but since most of our department had stayed back in Delhi for work, the HSS presentations were being handled largely by Praveen (Dev), with a couple of us pitching in.

Anindita presented with us, and she completely impressed me with her thorough product knowledge and precision.

And so the days passed, ending with an awards ceremony, which for the first time included editorial awards. Jonaki and Shabnam from development and Praveen Tiwari, Sachin and Praveen Dev from commissioning got well-deserved recognition for their work. Thomas got kudos for making ESM the most successful department. Among the other awards, we were all impressed by Tapan Saha’s proaction, which served the company well as a whole (instead of particular divisions) and set a great precedent. Way to go, everyone!

While during the day we were sober, rational people, in the evenings, the full moon and the waves transported even the most hard-nosed and sceptical amongst us to another world. Fire-eaters and limbo dancers helped us stay in that heady world. We partied hard, dancing away into the night, playing in the casino and singing as if there was no tomorrow. Even Srini joined in! You must see the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3jRdkb3jIU (Thanks, Ashish, for uploading the videos!) You'll find more NSM videos on Youtube under 'alexblooz'.

Vivek was caught in this FM fever, and I’m sure at least initially wondered how he could make a safe escape …

… but he seemed to have made peace with it later.

On the last day—our day off—there were the water sports (I had the most marvellous time watching the sunset at Baga beach while high up on a parasail), the trip on the Mandovi river, the snacking at the beach shacks, and loads of fun doing everything. We also went to a quiet and picturesque beach called ‘Coco’ to watch dolphins and found that it houses the central jail of Goa.

As I travelled back from Goa, heavier by a wealth of information from our sales teams, two Portuguese wine bottles, and many great experiences, I felt that every bit of the 52 hours on the train had been worth it.



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This blog is for all employees of Pearson in India . We hope to share updates - both personal and professional - from the worlds of education and publishing.