I just wanted to capture in a list, all the 100 Indian cities I have visited so I’m motivated to visit some more.A visit means at least spending the entire day or staying one night in the city. Passing by does not count :-)
Karnataka: Mangalore, Karwar, Bangalore, Mysore, Udupi, Manipal, Shimoga, Hassan, Chikamagalur, Madikeri, Mandya, Tumkur,
Kerala: Kasargod, Kannur, Trichur, Kottayam, Munnar, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam,
Tamilnadu: Chennai, Coimbatore, Tanjore
Andhra Pradesh: Hyderabad, Kazipet, Warangal, Vishakapatnam
Goa: Panjim, Margaon, Dona Paula
Maharashtra: Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Vasai, Karad, Matheran, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Alibag
Madhya Pradesh: Bhopal
Himachal Pradesh: Simla
Rajasthan: Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota, Jaisalmer, Neemrana
Punjab: Amritsar, Bathinda
Haryana: Karnal, Gurgaon
Uttar Pradesh: Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Agra, Varanasi, Meerut, Khushinagar, Sardarnagar
Jammu & Kashmir: Jammu, Srinagar
West Bengal: Calcutta, Durgapur, Kharagpur, Baruipur, Malda, Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong, Asansol, Siliguri, Bagdogra, Jalpaiguri
Orissa: Cuttack, Bhubaneshwar, Behrampur,
Jharkand: Ranchi, Jamshedpur
Gujarat: Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Bhuj, Gandhidam,
Uttarakhand: Dehradun, Mussourie, Nainital
Sikkim: Gangtok, Namchi, Pakyong
Assam: Guwahati, Kaziranga, Karbi Anglong, Dispur
Meghalaya: Shillong, Barapani
Union Territories: Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman, Pondicherry, New Delhi, Mahe,
How many have you been to?
Since my blog is an open diary of things I like and think about, here is celebrating a milestone of travel – 25 countries, 125 international cities and all major continents at age 35. I’m a travel buff. I try and visit one new Indian city and one new country every year. Here’s the list of the latter.
- Nepal (1992) – Bhutwal, Bhairwah
- Thailand (1999, 2008, 2014) – Bangkok, Hua Hin, Petchaburi, Pattaya
- Jordan (2000) – Amman
- Israel (2000) – Jerusalem
- Palestine (2000) – Bethlehem, Nazareth,
- Taiwan (2001) – Taipei
- Hong Kong (2006)
- UAE (2011) – Dubai, Abudhabi
- Malaysia (2011) – Kualalumpur, Genting
- China (2011) – Shanghai
- Bhutan (transit in 2001)
- Singapore (transit in 2001 and 2006)
- Srilanka (transit in 2014)
- Italy (2000) – Rome, Assisi, Foligno, Cassia
- Vatican (2000)
- France (2000) – Paris,
- Belgium (2010) – Brussels, Brugges
- United Kingdom (2011) – London
- Germany (transit in 2010)
- USA (2010) – 30 cities*
- Canada (2013) – Toronto, Quebec City, Montreal
- Brazil (2013) – Sao Paolo, Rio de Janiero
- Australia (2014) – Brisbane, Sydney
- Tanzania (2015) – Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Tanga, Moshi
- Kenya (2015) – Nairobi
30+ cities in USA – New York, Chicago, Miami, Indianapolis, St Louis
Cedar Rapids, Milwaukee, Dearborn, Washington DC, Seattle
Boston, Buffalo, Gatlinburg, San Francisco, Las Vegas
Grand Canyon, San Diego, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Austin
Charlotte, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Davenport, Atlanta
Madison, Springfield, Omaha, Portland, Philadelphia
1.Feeding Kangaroos & then eating Kangaroo meat (cruel)
2.Cuddling Koalas in Brisbane
3.Walking on Bondi beach (fab)
4.Chilling out at Sydney Opera House
5.Flying on Malaysian Airlines despite warnings (scary)
6.Hanging out in Pattaya’s walking Street
7.Discovering Goudinhos in Panjim (yum)
8.Joining candidates on the election trail
9.Flying with a chief minister in a charter plane and on helicopter (thrilling)
10.Publishing my first book
11.Checking out the mismanaged Wagah Border
12.Winning the PR professional of the year award (real surprise)
13. Fighting with the one you love and then making peace
14.Hosting 20 PR head honchos for lunch and a brainstorm (humbling)
(this blog is about my journey in the last six months)
Last summer I decided to return from Chicago in the winter of 2013 (the plan was to spend two years in the USA and the resolve was to stick to the plan). I was to work full time on weekdays with the Gurgaon office of my employer and volunteer on the weekend (for 25 weekends) with a political party, in the run up to the elections. The first part of the plan did not work out because my Indian handlers dropped the ball miserably in terms of role, location and compensation. The second part of the plan was proposed because of my passion for politics and the possibility of me getting full time in either political strategy or electoral politics in the near future.
I began the new journey I had set out for by taking up a three month assignment as a consultant with a PR firm which was a frontrunner to work with a political party. I refused the overtures from another PR firm who turned out to be the underdog in the race for the same mandate. By then I had met Rahul Gandhi accidentally and was utterly disappointed with his style and approach. A meeting thereafter with a senior party strategist shocked me further, as I realised how ill prepared and chaotic they were. The situation was grim and the writing was on the wall. With that disillusionment I took the call to observe few individuals who I thought were promising Parliamentarians and learn grassroots campaigning and community outreach first hand.
In the meanwhile a friend of a friend got me in touch with Arvind Kejriwal himself to work on AAP’s content and communication. This was the second disappointment as the man is an awesome human being but a novice in politics who himself is learning the ropes. I got connected with a bunch of interesting men including Dilip Pandey and Yogendra Yadav but they were finding a method in the madness and I was impatient. So with no influence whatsoever, through twitter and email I decided to reach out to a few candidates and requesting them to let me be on their campaign trail for a few days. And thus began a journey of watching these candidates up, close and searching for signals of what the future had in store. I saw a Modi wave emerging and was not sure if I was overestimating what I was hearing on the ground. Or maybe I was in denial.
But the time I spent in these few constituencies watching how these young celebrity women candidates handled crowds, fans, voters was fascinating. I could sense they were not in a comfortable position in terms of winning but I could see their ardent desire to fight a system of patriarchy that was staring at them. I’m glad I decided to follow my heart and take the road less travelled. As this was happening a bunch of PR firm head honchos were beginning conversations with me to join their companies at the end of the election season and I had made up my mind that I certainly did not want to be employed as the entrepreneurial bug had bitten me. I knew that I wanted to start out on my own. And I had two ideas I was willing to experiment with. I will share these ideas in detail in a separate blog but one of them is to start a specialised communications firm exclusively for Members of Parliament.
In the last six months I met several of my old connections and at least 50 new people who support the idea of working out a hybrid model. With that advice I am taking up a consulting assignment where I’m offering my time, two days a week to a leading PR firm to be the advisor to its leadership on strategy and insights. And the rest of the time is mine, to build my ideas into commercially viable entities. Thus starting Monday, the 19th May 2014 I embark on a journey into the unknown but with a clear roadmap and Plan B that gets activated if my ideas fail which I will evaluate at the end of the year. For now, I am excited about the new contours my professional journey is taking. And I’m looking forward to this next chapter of my life. Onwards and upwards!
Today was not like any other. It was result day after a well fought election. And very few expected the kind of result that we saw. This was also an election that was projected to be a watershed and indeed it was. Here are my ten takeaways of the outcome –
It was severe anti-incumbency and the way cabinet minister after cabinet minister lost and in some cases coming third and fourth was a story in itself. The External Affairs minister, the Telecom minister, the HRD minister, the Home minister and several others had to all bite the dust.
It was a vote for credible change and we saw it in the way the voters gave a decisive verdict ensuring the leading party got all seats in some states and almost 95% seats in few others. The ruling dispensation was wiped out in states where it is running a government.
It was a clearly laid out war and every trick in the book and every tool in the kit was put to good use. The opponents were caught unaware as the onslaught went on and on. There was one side charging along and no one to lay a counter offensive.
It was well packaged and that is something to marvel about. Political packaging and communication has come of age and BJP showed everyone how it is done and how it is done in utmost style. From merchandise to event properties to road shows.
It was stealthily executed which is how battles are fought. The enemy doesn’t have a clue of what is going on. Most of all does not smell that something is a miss and the ground beneath it is shaking.
It was a disgust for dynasty and across the board. There were exceptions in the ruling dispensation. But in UP outside of the Sangh Parivar only ywo families won – 2 seats to the Gandhi family and 5 seats to the Yadav clan.
It was a no risking on fringe players by what I mean BJP did not let potential allies slip by. They built the right partnerships including bringing back certain elements back to the fold as we saw in Karnataka.
It was divisive. The numbers were far from what the BJP had imagined. They won in one state more than what the Cogress got in all states. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Porbandar to Dibrugarh they won hands down. The Congress did not get double digits in any state. Their final national tally was almost half of what BJP got in one state
It was everywhere and sometimes over the top. The in your face advertising on outdoors, on social media, on print, on TV. They played to win. The Congress played because they had no choice. They did not fight and most of all they did not communicate right.
It was unstoppable. This goes without saying. The juggernaut rolled like a well oiled machine and it made a mark, proved a point and is here to stay.