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ashokbhatia

Those who happen to know me personally are often deceived by my polite manners. They often wonder as to why I never opted for a diplomatic career.

Allow me to set the record straight. P G Wodehouse played some role in indicating that my Guardian Angels had planned my life much unlike that of Eustace Mulliner, who was a part of the British Embassy in Switzerland.

Jeeves’ psychology-of-an-individual factor has also led me to believe that the diplomatic corps on this planet are better off without me.

My limited intuitive faculties also tell me that life as a career diplomat could not be as glamorous and hunky dory as it might appear to be from the outside of an embassy building.

The Eustace Mulliner saga

Wodehouse fans might recall that the splendid idea of Eustace Mulliner joining the British Embassy in Switzerland was dangled before him by his godfather, Lord…

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Many of us these days are fed up of quiet a few things – handling lockdowns, an overdose of the Work From Home virus, a torrent of depressing news from all sides, being bleary-eyed owing to movie/serial binges on online streaming platforms, to name only a few.  We wish to hedge our bets and take wings. We are looking out for a well-deserved vacation.

If you fall in this category, here is a guide which can help you to choose the country of your choice and plan the gig in advance. What follows is a review of the book by yours truly. 

 

When life puts a human resources expert and a history buff together, one gets a formidable team which loves adventure and believes that the routine and the mundane is lethal. Provide them with an insatiable urge to explore new cultures, discover new places, savour different cuisines and make friends in distant places, and they treat the world like an oyster. They keep falling in love with places they have never been to before. They end up making memories all over the world.

Here is a sumptuous offering from the team of Rajeev Varma and his wife, Meenakshi Varma. It is a meticulous record of their travels to countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, Russia, Norway, Belgium, UK and Switzerland, to mention only a few. The book here covers as many as 23 countries, with the tantalizing promise of few more to come!

Other than the places and their famous attractions, the couple have often taken the road less travelled. By chronicling their travels, they enrich our understanding of the countries captured in this book. Behavioural traits of many of the countries have been captured lovingly. As one joins them in these wanderings, one gets a sneak peek into each country’s history, the evolution of its cultural and racial potpourri, the collective behaviour of its people and the kind of staple diet they relish. Written in a lucid style, the book offers a vivid description of distant places on our planet.

In fact, one of the outstanding features of these memoirs is the mouth watering description of a wide variety of delectable local dishes on offer in almost all the countries. Even names of restaurants have been captured at places, prompting one to catch the next flight and land there to taste the savouries!

There are several other ways in which these memoirs stand out amongst the otherwise readily available tourist brochures, travelogues and the kind of details available over the world-wide-web we humans have spun around ourselves.

One, these are first-hand accounts based on relatively objective observations, sans any value judgements about any of the countries or its denizens.

Two, given the details etched out so very painstakingly, one can plan one’s next visit to a specific country far more knowledgably.

Three, a realization dawns – that the purpose of travelling to a different country need not always be ticking off the list of ‘Places-To-Visit’ of the more famous of its attractions – the monuments, the palaces, the relics and the museums. Admittedly, these do have their utility as fodder for our public relations and ego-boosting drives on social media and amongst our circle of relatives and friends. But the key purpose of travel is also to get a first-hand initial feel of the soul of a country, rather than merely exploring its physical body.

These memoirs also offer some underlying lessons. If life enables one physically, emotionally and financially, it makes eminent sense to avail opportunities to forget one’s own champagne and caviar at home and instead venture out to taste the world! Moreover, to extract the best juice out of such opportunities life gifts us with, meticulous planning in advance helps, just the way Rajeev and Meenakshi have done in their several sojourns described here.

Travel amuses, entertains, educates and enlivens us. If the book in your hands serves to whet your appetite to explore our beautiful planet, its purpose would have been adequately served. But budget your travels wisely. With similar compilations to follow in the times to come, you may run the risk of splurging on the first few trips, thereby making future escapades relatively dreary – a prospect best avoided!

Another word of caution – every trip could make us realize that we seem to know less and less about more and more. So, keep vacationing, continue to explore newer places and keep following the sequels to this maiden compilation!

 

About the author:  

Rajeev loves travelling, conversing, writing and singing. He is a lover of arts and is fond of theatre and documentaries. He values human interactions and likes to reach out to long lost acquaintances and re-forge relationships.  He has re-connected with friends who were his closest some five decades ago!

A Human Resource Management practitioner by profession, Rajeev was associated with the TATAs in India for nine years before relocating to the Middle East. Initially working for 15 years as Corporate HR Head for organizations in Dubai and Oman, he later managed his own Training & Management Consultancy Company in Muscat, Oman for 10 years.  He is a qualified coach and a counsellor. He is a University topper.

He now lives in NOIDA, India with his wife, children and grandchildren.

His next venture is to write a book on life of expatriates in the Middle East.

He can be reached at: rajeevtheomnist@gmail.com)

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ashokbhatia

An ever-changing discipline, though surely not the only one. When conceived and described by Philip Kotler, it consisted of the famous four Ps – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. With due respects to the great man, one may safely add one more P – Password (used for viral marketing).

Till the 1970s, Indians had to wait for years to get to ride their own ‘Hamara Bajaj’. On the car front, there were just three manufacturers in the fray then. Now, the automobile market has global brands wooing the customer and competing cheek and jowl for a slice of the great Indian market pie.

With the advent of the Internet has come a virtual democracy in information. Changes in technology have brought in a new way the customers and brands interact. Marketing has undergone a sea change and will continue to do so in future as well, what with social re-engineering…

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ashokbhatia

After the 2008 economic meltdown, the management world has discovered that CEOs need to follow not only the Business Compass but also a Moral Compass to steer the enterprises they happen to run. Improving one’s Spiritual Quotient is now a sheer business necessity, and shall be more so in the decades to come.

It is here that Indian scriptures and sages provide a ready template for managers of all sizes and shapes.

The bookSurviving in the Corporate Jungle’ covers some lessons from the following:

-Ramayana

-Mahabharata

-Bhagavad-Gita

-Thirukkural

-Chanakya Neeti

-Sri Aurobindo

Managers with a Western Mind and an Eastern Heart

The success of the likes of Satya Nadella (currently the CEO of Microsoft) and Sundar Pichai (currently the CEO of Google Inc) goes on to show the growing importance of managers who are not only exposed to the Western models of management but also steeped in Eastern…

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Leaders

ashokbhatia

Management can be learnt; leadership is inborn. The good news is that in most cases, leadership styles trickle down the organization and get copied. This spawns leaders in the same genre and also improves behavioural consistency across the entire set up.

Successful leaders have several outstanding traits. Their intuitive faculties are well developed. They do not say one thing and do another. They handle tough tasks themselves. They take responsibility for their failures, often shielding their team mates. They do not have henchmen to execute their dirty plans so their own hands look clean. They put everyone on the same pedestal. They never encourage yes-men. They always encourage no-men to speak up.

CEOs who rank high not only on their Intelligence Quotient and Emotional Quotient but also on their Spiritual Quotient go on to make super leaders. Their concern for business ethics is as high as their concern for business…

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ashokbhatia

Managements are well known for their propensity to give priority to business targets, and to hell with all the systems, controls, and procedures! So, go in for systems which are simple and can be operated by idiots. The acid test to be applied to check most systems would be KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

Auditors will keep coming up with new Standard Operating Procedures. Before rolling those out, a manager would do well to first go in for a pilot run, debug the process, and only then formalize it. This would eliminate the chances of a smart aleck junior coming up with innovative shortcuts to brow beat the system!

(Excerpt from my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, the English version of which was released recently. The Portuguese version of the excerpt follows.)

BEIJE COM FREQUÊNCIA

Os executivos são conhecidos pela sua propensão para dar prioridade aos objetivos…

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ashokbhatia

Tired of time-worn designations? Try these:

·         Chief Worrying Officer: Normally, the Chief Financial Officer who is worried sick about legal compliance in all areas of business.

·         Chief Listening Officer: A Vice President – Human Resources who is always ready with a bucket and a towel to help employees facing emotional distress.

·         Chief Results Officer: The Chief Executive Officer who believes that ends justify all means.

·         Chief Dreams Officer: The Research & Development head who keeps dreaming of new products and businesses.

·         Chief Conscience Keeper: Keeps a strict eye on fraudulent behaviour anywhere in the organization.

Here are some job labels which appear to be on the horizon:

·         Chief Risk Officer: Ensures corporate governance criteria are met and regulatory frameworks respected.

·         Chief Counselling Officer: A legal eagle who can vet…

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ashokbhatia

It makes sense to follow the golden rule, ‘the boss is always right’, even when he is absolutely wrong and is a perfect fool. However, sycophancy has its long-term limitations. Once in a while, if you do not agree with the boss, find the courage and the right time to register your disagreement. This way, you end up becoming a more effective and a healthier manager.

Beware of juniors who are ‘yes men’. They could be pretty dangerous to your career progression in the long run.

(Excerpt from my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, the English version of which was released recently.)

(This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016.)

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ashokbhatia

An annual get-together where families also get invited is a good idea to make people feel the humane side of the organization.

Plan entertainment of all kinds– primarily focused on kids–and see how much the parents love their day (or evening) out. Ensure that spouses hog the limelight – it is they who support the company’s operations in a silent but effective manner.

(Excerpt from my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, the English version of which was released recently.)

(This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016.)

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ashokbhatia

Females of almost all species would go to any lengths to protect their cubs. If you falter, they would be quick to tick you off. Let someone else get funny with you, and see how they react.

Never have qualms about reporting to the fairer sex. Take it easy. They are far more professional (and also compassionate) than you imagine. Multi-tasking comes easy to them, what with their having to juggle various roles with aplomb at all times – being a daughter, a wife, a mother, a home maker, a daughter-in-law, and a company executive at the same time. How they still manage to retain their sanity of mind is a potential subject of academic research.

Nature also gave them the exclusive rights for the perpetuation of our species. Encourage those who wish to re-start their careers after a post-delivery sabbatical.

However, managements would do well to avoid getting swayed…

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