It was one of those times when I was taking
dictation from our late Chairman, Sohrab P. Godrej, for his memoirs. While
talking about his travels, he suddenly asked me: “Have you ever travelled
anywhere out of Bombay??Before I could respond, he added: “Yeah, where do
Parsis go? All they can think of is going to Valsad, Udvada, Navsari and
Billimora!?These comments were typical of Sohrabji. When I told him that I
had travelled extensively within India and named all the places I’d been to,
happiness writ large on his face, he said: “In future, when you have the
money, go abroad and see the world. It is worth it.?br>
Although I was merely taking dictation, I learnt a lot from Sohrabji ?the
small but useful travel tips he’d generously give, the unheard-of places he
would point out on the world map, the interesting anecdotes he would share,
all with a twinkle in his eyes.
When our Company (excluding Godrej Appliances Division and Precision
Equipment Division) gave us a maintenance break from 15th to 17th May, I
went to Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Pratapgadh and Sherbaug. It was my second
visit, after a gap of nearly 25 years. My mind raced back to the dictation I
had taken from Sohrabji on 9 February, 2000 (barely three-and-a-half months
before his sad demise) on his visit to Mahabaleshwar, excerpts of which are
“Mahabaleshwar, as the name suggests, is ‘Maha? meaning big and ‘Baleshwar?
meaning Ishwar (God). It is ranked among the most attractive hill stations
in the world.
“Some stupid reasons are given that since it was the British who created the
hill stations, we should not have anything made by the British in
post-independence India. If we want to destroy everything that the British
gave us, then why are we carrying on with the railways, armed forces,
judiciary? Why did we not destroy everything and become a miserable, more
backward country? Even if they were ‘created?by the British, people would
still like to enjoy a salubrious climate! Hill stations enhanced the status
of our country.
“The lovely drive between Panchgani
and Mahabaleshwar is completely marred by high-rise buildings, bridges on
rivulets, introduction of city sports, elimination of beautiful strawberry
and wild rose gardens ... One could squarely blame the Forest Department and
the Government in general. Perhaps Raj Bhavan should be situated in the
midst of those illegal stalls, which have marred the beauty of the lovely
lake (referring to Veena Lake) used for boating more than swimming!
“Mahabaleshwar meant lovely walks and rides beyond the motorable roads.
Although the roads were made and cars were allowed, I still recall
nostalgically the Mahabaleshwar of yore without electric lines, plumbing,
septic tanks ?I always objected to septic tanks.?br>
Although I have not seen the age without electric lines and plumbing, it was
still worth a visit. As soon as our luxury coach approached the Western
Ghats towards Mahabaleshwar, I knew that I was breathing different air ?
sweet and fresh. As the sun rose at 6.00 a.m., I admired the magnificent
views of the deep valleys, the majestic forests, the wild flowers, the
different species of twittering birds which are never seen or heard in
Mumbai and, of course, the flat-topped summits covered with mist. Somehow, I
felt the presence of the Divine Being.
I also felt a deep sense of gratitude to all those men and women (whom we
call kamatis) who toil day and night to construct roads for tourists like us
who would have otherwise had to come on horseback from different parts of
the country to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Mahabaleshwar!
What amused me about this beautiful hill station were the names of some
tourist attractions. Take, for instance, Monkey Point. The three monkeys ?
see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil ?supposedly carved out by
nature in a hill were left to the tourists?imagination. Tiger Spring was
just a puddle of muddy water beneath the earth’s surface, which years ago
was a watering hole for tigers. No guide could explain why sunset point in
Mahabaleshwar is called Bombay Point. Visiting this Point was a joke. The
approach to the Point had been commandeered by a Bollywood unit. One of the
spot boys shouted to the tourists: “We don’t have Amitabh Bachchan and
Govinda over here, it’s only Jimmy Shergill, a small actor. So please stop
crowding the place and return!?The tourists shouted back: “Nobody is
interested in your stupid film. We’ve come to see the sunset and not to
admire Jimmy Shergill.?The unit members were left with no option but to
allow the tourists to pass. However, it was a sad state of affairs. The
terrain at Bombay Point was hilly and there was very little space, so it was
not possible for all the tourists to stand and enjoy the sunset.
Sherbaug, a theme park, was lovely. Situated four miles from Panchgani, it
is a bed of roses with a wide variety of other flowers, cacti, a waterfall,
birds such as white pigeons, turkeys, swans and some rabbits. A wonderful
exposure to nature.
The sad part of my trip was the commercialisation I came across in the name
of tourism. A cup of tea that would normally cost Rs. 3 in a tea stall in
Mumbai cost Rs. 8 in Mahabaleshwar. The numerous food and drinks stalls
permitted inside the Pratapgadh Fort were a real shame. All around I saw
people eating, eating and eating ?as if they lived to eat. I was shocked at
the noise pollution at Table Land, Panchgani. One-third of the area was
filled with parked two- and four-wheelers, food stalls, games ?a mini mela
of sorts. It was best to be at the extreme end of the plateau away from the
noise, to enjoy the cool breeze and the sunset. Needless to say, the
pleasant weather was the best healer, the best stress-reliever. Back in
Mumbai, I’m rejuvenated to sweat it out.
Did You Do During Your Holidays?
It was business as usual! We had a Board of
Directors meet on 15 and 16 May, which I had to attend. Went to work on 17
May to catch up with my pending work, especially the mail. However, I did
manage to spend time with my family on the 18th. Shopped for provisions and
then spent the day with them ?and that by itself was wonderful!
Anil G. Verma
Personnel & Administration Department
Challenges faced from time to time cause stress. It has become part of our
life. But stress is not necessarily unhealthy. It is our response to stress
and our ability to cope with it that can transform stress into positive or
I thought shifting my residence in our Hillside colony during this welcome
four-day break would deprive me of the rest and relaxation I badly needed.
But I was mistaken. On the contrary, I found that this was the best way for
me to relieve accumulated stress by allowing myself to react to change in
the environment as a result of my shifting to a new house. And I’m surprised
to find that this experience of moving house has been in fact a good
I’ve also learnt that stress, if dealt with positively, is neither stressful
nor distressing. I felt I succeeded in transforming stress from a
pathological phenomenon to some sort of achievement.
After hectic trips to dry Surat and hot
Hyderabad, the morning of 15 May was a great relief. I woke up late, at
around 8.00 a.m., and went straight to the Nagla forest block of Sanjay
Gandhi National Park (SGNP) along with my wife Anagha and five-month-old
Nagla forest block is separated from SGNP by Vasai creek. The forest is
particularly hilly, with mixed vegetation of evergreen and deciduous
varieties like kusum, kokam, ficus, mango, arjuna, dhavda, ebony, acacia?
On the creek side the forest is covered with mangroves. We were accompanied
by the Assistant Conservator of Forests, Pakhare, an enthusiastic forest
officer of the SGNP. The eight-kilometre drive by jeep was extremely bumpy
but productive. On the way, we saw several feathered glories like
flycatchers, bulbuls, orioles, woodpeckers, kingfishers, etc. Little Vyom
was also appreciating the forest through wide open eyes. During our journey,
Pakhare took us to a water point filled with mineral-rich groundwater. It is
amazing to see such waterholes overflowing even in the hot days of mid-May.
At the waterhole, we saw a Paradise Flycatcher, a sparkling white bird
slightly bigger than a sparrow with a black crown and a foot-long white
tail. What a beauty! After some more birding, Pakhare gave us the exciting
news that tiger pug marks had been spotted in that forest. It was really
welcome news because the tiger was visiting the area after almost 75 years.
We then spent some time looking for more proof of the existence of the super
cat, but found none. However, the mere excitement of being in tiger country
is superior to watching the magnificent killing machine in an enclosed area.
We then visited the mangrove interpretation centre at Sasupada, a tribal
hamlet on the creek. Since I had designed most of the displays of this
centre some years back, I was quite excited to revisit the centre. After
half an hour spent in the serene environment of the Sasupada mangroves, we
headed back home.
This was the only day available for me to relax as the Annual Business Plan
on 16th May and completion of the Clubhouse garden before Sunday, 18th May
took up most of my time during the four-day vacation. Had these commitments
not been there, I would have perhaps visited the Tadoba National Park, one
of my favourite forests. However, the one-day trip to Nagla was a
fascinating experience, enough to recharge the body and soul for another
I think we need a break from our routine life so that we can spend time with
our loved ones by either staying at home or taking a short trip out of town.
But this sort of leisure was not in store for me, since my wife, who is an
employee of our Company’s Appliances Business, was working for all the three
I had a rather boring holiday. The first day of this short break passed
without any boredom since I finished some of my personal work, which had
been pending for quite some time. The remaining two days simply dragged
since I had nothing much to do. I either browsed the Net and chatted with
friends online or whiled away my time watching a movie. In short, I could
not put these three days to material use. Had the Company’s policy been
uniform for all its businesses, then I would have spent these three days
with my family by taking a much-needed short trip out of Mumbai.
Rohinton D. Tampal
Corporate Finance & Treasury
a painting by
On 15 May, 2003 I went to Udvada for a
day. Standing in front of the sacred fire gave me immense peace of
mind. On the 16th and 17th, I pursued my hobby ?painting ?two hours
in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. When painting, I’m
totally at peace. Dutifully, I helped my wife with some household
work. Both evenings I went out with my family. I also read Gitananda
Brahmachari’s The Dialogue Divine and Dramatic. The dialogue is
between Lord Krishna and the heroic warrior Arjuna. The psychological
conversion that Arjuna underwent at the battle of Kurukshetra, and
Lord Krishna refuting all Arjuna’s arguments of affected pity and
idealism, made very interesting reading. The 18th was my son Zubin’s
birthday, and I spent quality time with him ?cycling, visiting a
cyber caf? shopping and having dinner with my family.
Nowadays, people resort to a host of facilities like yoga,
swimming and attending other de-stress programmes to help de-stress
But for me to de-stress? The very idea of being at home and not having to
report to work as early as 7.00 a.m. is enough of a stress-buster. The
three-day maintenance break given by the Company was a welcome break. While
colleagues planned a trip out, I preferred to “chill out??an expression
used by my kids ?at home. Besides, one could have done with the chilling
part, what with the discomfiture caused by the high humidity.
I enjoyed entertaining my relatives and, after they left, I just caught up
on my sleep. Evenings, being the cooler part of the day, found us venturing
out for a drive or, generally, taking a breather.
I believe that all work and no rest causes stress. A short welcome break is
adequate cause to de-stress ?so cheers to a short break, call it
maintenance, de-stress, anything ?but give us a B-R-E-A-K.
was great to get four days off ?off from the daily routine.
I had made elaborate plans right from cleaning the house to cooking new
dishes and even going out of town! I went to Panchgani for one-and-a-half
days. It was beautiful, not very cool, but a welcome relief from Mumbai’s
hot weather. I also visited Table Point, which is a famous sightseeing spot
in Panchgani. My first reaction was that it was really, really crowded, as
if the whole of Mumbai was there that day to take a break from their hectic
I returned to Mumbai on Saturday. Did some cooking and cleaning on Sunday.
So, finally, the weekend was wonderful as I managed to do a little of
everything and, most importantly, got my well-earned rest!
Hetal S. Iyer
Marketing Department, Furniture & Interiors Group
my 25 years of service I had never taken leave or gone on holiday in the
month of May. But this year the management gave us a pleasant surprise by
announcing a maintenance break in May. I’m constructing a new house at my
native place, Ambrad. Ambrad is situated in Sindhudurg District, Kudal
Tehsil of Maharashtra. Because of the construction work going on, my
presence over there was important. My children, too, were very happy at the
thought of going to Ambrad as it would mean a short outing for them.
I’m happy that my children could enjoy the fresh, natural environment. They
got to taste the local delicacies of the season such as mangos, jackfruits
and cashew nuts. I, too, could complete all my housework. It was a totally
different experience with my family.
Digambar Ganesh Parulekar
Paint Shop, Security Equipment Division