Thursday 15 November 2012


Greek mythology , Philosophers , Olympics... were all well known to me . Greek salad , Olive oil , Wine ...were reasonably known to me ....I did not know about Ouzo, the local Greek liquor. But the info that one of the best pistachios ( they call it -  fistiki in Greek ) of the world is grown in Greece was a news to me and Geetha having lived all these years in the middle east. A short trip made by us recently to Greek saronic isles of  Hydra , Poros and Aegina was a marvellous experience.......

As a teenager , during pre Internet, pre TV days ,  I used to enjoy James Bond movies because of the action , presentation of new 'scientific gadgets' , scenic and exotic locales and beautiful girls. Still I do , Skyfall being the latest. It was scenes of  one of such movies that enchanting beauty of the  Greek islands' was registered in my mind for the first time . Prior to that , I have vague memory of scenes (photos) of those islands, while I was in school , which has come in travelogues published by Readers Digest, my appa used to subscribe.

When the cruise liner Playtera Ton Ouranon left the shores of Athens , it was house full .  Mostly European crowd  from Spain , Italy , France and Balkan countries . From Asia it was mostly from Korea  . Few Americans .  Hardly any Indians . Surprisingly more than three fourth of the crowd in the ship was upper middle aged /old ladies of different shapes and sizes - as if there is a conference for such in one of the islands!!  ( യൂറോപീന്‍  അമ്മിചിമാരുടെ  സംസ്ഥാന സമ്മേളനം ?)Thankfully they were all decently dressed!! Aegean sea was calm , slightly cold breeze was blowing. 

The ship was a typical vessel used for such purposes , a bit old but well maintained . It comprised of three decks - the upper , the level 1 and lower deck where the dining is located . Passengers can sit and rest any place as they wish or move around , lunch included . All beverages /sandwiches/water are to be paid extra, for which outlets are conveniently located in all floors.
Hailing from Kochi , sea and ship is not something new for me .First two hours was boring for me , since the ship was cruising in the mid sea with no land to be seen near . . May be to contain that , the ship had arranged live music and dance in the upper deck during that time . But as we came nearer to different islands , the scenario changed . Tens of islands started to emerge from no where . Hilly landscape with not so thick vegetations. It seems there are numerous islands in Greece . Some are  habituated but many are not ,all earth quake prone areas. Each island is different to another in life style , I am told.

Hypnotic Hydra...

As we approach the island , the scene of a natural horse shaped harbour -  full of old fishing boats and modern yachts, lined up with shops , taverns and restaurants , mostly single storied , narrow stone laid curved roads going up to the hill , old typical Greek villas located in the hills - is definitely something any one will enjoy. As we got down and walked , the scenes became more enjoyable . Each building whether a shop , bar , hotel or home has its charm .No wonder a lot of Hollywood movies are filmed here including one of Sophia Loren .

One old  church building was  standing out among the others , which all stood in harmony with the landscape . There are no cars or buses in Hydra . Means of transportation is either by donkeys or bicycles .Of course one can walk. Population is around just 3000.

Harbour is the heart of the village .We could see a fisherman selling his catch live in a boat. A family of mother and two children were  fishing with rods right in the harbour . As we walked to the museum , a statue is prominently displayed - around which local children were playing with the old guns -  that of an admiral who played a major role in Greek war of Independence , who was born in that island.

Panoramic Poros...

Poros is another picturesque island . The harbour road is lined up with cafes, taverns and  restaurants . Orange trees are planted in a row by the side of the harbour which again full of yachts and fishing boats.    Slightly bigger and busier than Hydra , the population is less than 5000. A historic clock is imposing on the highest point below which there is  a sort of court yard  . For some reason for me , Hydra looked more closer to nature than Poros. 

Aesthetic Aegina                                                                                                                                 
Aegina is an island not far from Athens . It was a sea power in the by gone era which was a rival to  Athens.As the cruiser approaches the island , the scene is just beautiful . The harbour is lined with shops and restaurants ... with a church having typical Byzantine arch dome for the roof , against the background of  rocky hills . After hoping into a bus , which is part of the cruise , we were driven to the hills  for sight seeing. As the Volvo bus started going up the hill through the narrow but good roads , one will be attracted to view  vast olive and fistiki gardens . Pistachios here , the  guide spoke in length,  is one  of  the  best in    the world , can rival those from Iran and surrounding countries in quality and taste. The cultivation of the same is here since 1896 . Fistiki of Aegina has become so important to Greece that every year a Fistiki Fest is  conducted attracting all from the rest of the world during harvest time.In 1996 the name Pistachio of Aegina was registered in the EU gazette as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             


Dilapidated pre christian temple of Aphaea can be seen on the hill top  but what I enjoyed more than that is the view from the hill .Simply stunning as you can see below  . Another attraction of the  island is the church of Saint Nektarios , with its magnificent Byzantine architecture. Greek in general are orthodox Christians and unlike in some other parts of Europe , they  are theists.                                                                                                                                                                                     


After few minutes when we boarded our cruise ship to get back to Athens , wind started blowing                  and  waves  rising . All passengers were told to get inside the halls and the doors were kept locked. The ship started swaying , to not that normal levels .To make matters worse , they were playing the title song of the film 'Titanic' through the loud speakers for  some reason ! Geetha looked a bit uncomfortable and showed the  same on her face . I was in the same state but did not show it . It was almost the same situation until we got back to main land. As we climbed down the ladder from the ship the captain and the first officer were  standing by the side, smiling  and telling each  visitor "Thank you. Good night". When our turn came the officer told us " Good night .Namasthe" with folded  hands.                                                                                       
As far as conduct of tours are concerned , I think Greece has come a long way up , may be due to decades of their exposure in the field of tourism . We felt the same professionalism in the arrangements of the tours in the  mainland whether it is  to Delphi (Oracle), Acropolis or  visit to Athens night  life .When
Mr. Nicholas Economobulous, chauffeur of the limo van , picked us up from 'Grande Bretagne ' at the exact time to drop us at the airport , the way he had collected us when arrived , he was in a conversation mode . He replied to me my general questions about the past and current status of Greece in acceptable English and contents . Finally when I asked "What do you know about India ?" His answer was crisp . "I know that it is a large country with large population .That's all ". But he then loudly said as if he knows something more about India ." Yes, I have heard about TATA " . Although India has not marketed well , Tata has marketed his company in Greece well, it seems !
Before we parted at the airport he asked us "Did you enjoy Athens?" We confirmed affirmative. He continued politely."I am glad to hear that . We want every visitor from outside world come to Athina ( Athens) and  enjoy the land ". Sure,  Athens assures that to any visitor.        

Note : All photos are clicked by me .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                




Thursday 1 November 2012


Everyone,young or old, wants a speedy climb in the career ladder.It is understandable and advisable.But most of them get confused how to go about it.There are no short cuts, although one can read or listen to scores of lectures on the subject.In fact for many, making such lectures itself is a good growing career.What are the possible 'rungs' of the career ladder?I would like to share with you based on what I have learned in this matter over the years.I am 62 but still learning everyday in my corporate and otherwise life  and  as such this is not the last word on the topic, but could be almost there.I would be more than pleased if any aspiring executive anywhere in the world can make use of  this guide lines..... This article can benefit  all  but could be more fitting to self driven executive careers.I have written in the order of importance,I think it should be ....

Change the definition,if need be...
What is the definition of  your dream job or career ? Define it now precisely ."A job with excellent salary/ perks, limited working hours and little or no responsibility " - if this is your definition,you better change your definition because such executive jobs does not exist in business.Your career should be your passion,your love.The more you are attached with it the more you should be able to enjoy .

Be positive,Be ambitious
Naturally being positive and demonstration of such an attitude is essentially one of the keys of career growth. I am of the opinion that this attitude reflects in one more by birth but can be trained to a reasonable level by practice.Being positive is highly influenced by the circumstances one is brought up or one works.To put it in one sentence , positive people look for solutions while the negative people see only obstacles when confronted by a situation or problem . Always be positive , ambitious and confident in life and work.

Not only work hard but see that it is delivered in time
One should clearly understand the difference implied in this.Working hard is fine but ensure that what is expected from you is delivered in time.Timely delivery of your job/assignments/target is essential for your career growth.Keep the timings sharp.You can be rest assured that without this being practiced no one has come up the ladder or could have gone more faster had this in place.

Be informed
Knowledge is power, everyone knows this but I may add up - information is success.Well, one has to be definitely knowledgeable but keep abreast of what is happening in the world.Prime time spending in this direction can be given to the field of one's own career,but do not limit to it.Try to spend at least half hour daily to read something you do not know other than routine stuff  in newspapers, periodicals and  net. Refresh your skills.

Let us consider the cases of two individuals,graduates from the same Alma mater in the same year, having more or less same grades. I can assure you that one who keeps informed will out smart the other by  100 % in ten years! Right information,at the right time,in the right direction hits the bulls eye always . Graduates having lesser grades while  in college or those  from not-so-known-schools/institutes overtake those who come out from premier institutes  can be attributed to this reason .

Keep yourself fit
'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy !'
What ever be your age you have to be physically and mentally fit to deliver what your management looks for. Good eating habits and regular exercise will give you the physical energy.

But it is equally important to keep mentally fit as well .Concept of ' home, sweet home' plays a role here.Live in a happy environment,indulge in recreational hobbies/activities during your weekends /off hours.Enjoy your breaks. Remember that right and fast decisions can be made from relaxed minds,not frustrated minds.Frustrated and infuriated minds will make someone to produce his/ her contribution in arts and literature but not in business!

Be trustworthy
Be reliable.Be trustworthy. If you are looking forward for your growth in career, do not compromise on this matter.Be reliable to your own junior staff, colleagues, management , clientele.Before you say 'yes' to something , big or small - a contract , a request - try to fathom the implications.If the request is unrealistic from the other side, politely address it.But stay committed to what you have agreed.

For some reasons,beyond own control if you cannot meet what you have committed,please apologize earliest possible and get a revised date or time .But ensure that this is not repeated very often and remember that such a revision cannot be done in many occasions.

Take (allowable) risk
Any thing good and worthwhile can be shrouded with  risk.Growth and success in career comes along with risk to be taken.Believe in yourself.Be confident.Take risks to the level it can be taken. Professionals can be with different opinions but I would not advocate to take ' blind risk' in your career but to a level of     'calculated risk', which can help you.

When problems arise when quick and effective decisions are to be taken, study the problem well, study the pro and con of the issue, draw a line to the level one can go with calculated risk and go ahead identifying clearly the risks taken. It is more likely that you go through what you want than not.If you are waiting for your senior to take the risk part or you think you are not paid for that,then you are not eligible to be a senior.

Walk that extra mile
This is where almost everyone slips .For any successful organisation there should be a system for working.While falling in line with the system, let it not restrict you to work the best of you . Mentors and bosses can guide you but you must be your own manager.Regardless of the prescribed working hours and environments,if one has to go a bit further to achieve what the management looks from you, do that .Volunteer.

Mind the basic rules
Always mind the following golden rules , which everyone knows but rarely practices .
* Share the credit with others .
*Offer solutions to the problems while you must take to the boss.
*Stop comparing yourself with others.
*Be patient enough.Keep producing .Any intelligent management will notice for sure a job well done and recognize even if it can take some more time , at times. Focus on long term goals .
*Don't talk bad about your boss ( even if he is bad)or company to anyone if you intend to continue your job there. Doing that to your own colleagues could be  'harakiri' .
*Appreciate good job done by others in open and loud , do exactly opposite in case of a bad job done .

That sums up the subject which I have made short as possible . Again , I have listed in the order of importance .As I have indicated earlier , there are no short cuts.Being from premier professional schools / universities will definitely help one to have good breaks,good start in the career.But unless the person practices in one way or other what has been stated above,eventually someone who indulges(need not necessarily from a premier institute) in these takes over the other. All you do is verify yourself what type of persons have climbed the ladder of career fast and effectively in each company to the top , you will be surprised! Grab the opportunity ....

Now that you have read this article , relax and try to fully understand each point once again and get it digested in full . Please review with what you have been already practicing and what you haven't .. If you think you have to make changes in working style , do that . If  you think I have to amend the points, you can suggest  !!

courtesy: goggle images for illustrations



Writing about the end of own life, that too after knowing that it could happen any time is hard to write for anyone. I am not an exception. ...