Wednesday, 24 September 2008

GOONJ - A mission I feel strongly for

I'm a tiny part of this huge organisation... yet I am happy to be there!

Visit the following link if you care.

Singapore, January 2008

Going to Singapore was one among the many wish lists I have had while growing up. However, the trip to Singapore happened rather suddenly because Joy's favourite band Dream Theater was coming to perform there. Had it not been for the band I would've had to wait for some more years to get there. Also, it was our first international travel together!

After a lot of deliberation we worked out our travel itinerary which turned out to be a little more expensive than we expected. Well, there was nothing in this world that could've stopped Joy from going, so I decided to go along with the plan.

We reached Changi Airport around 9 in the morning, completed the immigrations formalities, and headed towards the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station. It was easy to find the way out as there were direction signboards everywhere. A two-compartment train from Terminal 2 took us to the MRT station. When we reached there we found ticket vending machines. Though we knew which station to go to, we found it a little difficult to choose the route we had to take as there were 3 of them. An elderly gentleman just came by and showed us how to read the MRT map and decide on the route. It was a very helpful tip; we picked up a map from the counter.

Since we were travelling very light we decided to go to Mustafa and Little India before checking into the hotel. Did not think travelling in an unknown land could be so easy. If one knows how to read English one can find and go to any place in Singapore. It is a very organised city, none that I had heard of in India.

It was afternoon and we were feeling a little tired and hungry, so we headed for the hotel which was 5 or 6 stations away. We chose one of the Hotel 81 group of hotels; they are reasonable and quite good. Our hotel was in Paya Lebar.

The same evening we had planned to go to the zoo to experience the Night Safari. We travelled around the city on our own completely, thanks to the internet, we had every detail worked out. We went to Mustafa as there are buses that take visitors to the zoo from there. We knew the bus timings too! We stood there for a while and saw no bus to only realise that we were standing at the wrong point. We asked a few people around, and took a taxi to reach the next pick up point. While waiting we were wondering how would we recognise the bus. In a short while we saw a very colourful bus with pictures of animals on it. We knew we had get on it. It was a very comfortable ride and we paid a very nominal fare, considering the distance we covered.

Nestled in 40 hectares of lush secondary forest, the Night Safari offers visitors the unique experience of exploring wildlife in a tropical jungle at night. We were told that there are 1000 nocturnal animals of 100 species in vast naturistic habitat.

As we entered the premises we saw a tribal performance with fire.

Then we proceeded towards a show called creatures of the night. It was held in a small amphitheatre. We saw a variety of well trained animals and birds performing to the instructions of a great team of animal trainers. It was a very nice experience to feel so close to nature.

After the show we came out to get on a tram ride to see the zoo. Joy and I had to wait for some time as there was a big queue ahead of us. I took advantage of the time and quickly ordered for some food and stuffed them inside my bag.

Our turn came, and we board the tram. It was a 2-compartment tram with a driver's small cabin in front, open from the sides. There were no tracks; we moved on a slightly bumpy road which gave the feel of moving in a jungle.

There were subtle lights everywhere and we saw many different kinds of animals; we weren't counting though! There were lions, tigers, rhinos and many animals moving in the open. We were approximately 30-40 feet away from them! I knew we were completely safe and the animals wouldn't harm us, yet I felt a little fear deep down me; after all animals are animals. What if they wanted to get back to their wilder lives! Photography was forbidden here, and I followed the rules unlike many others!

The tram ride lasted about 45 minutes. It was an experience I had never dreamt of earlier; it was wonderful! By the time we finished visiting the zoo it was almost 11 in the evening and the last bus was about to leave, so we almost ran. While returning, I realised the distance we covered to get back to the city, didn't feel it while going to the zoo. Joy and I got off near Mustafa and took a cab back to the hotel.

I was not very happy with the food I picked up in the zoo for dinner, so Joy went and picked some chicken fries and soft drinks from a restaurant near the hotel. He found out that the food joints were normally open till midnight, wish we checked earlier, anyway the dinner wasn't all that bad.

The next day we went to Sentosa, Mustafa and Swaminarayan Temple in Little India, China Town and various other places. We used Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) primarily to travel around. We hardly needed cabs and that way we saved a lot of money.

One evening we went to St. James Power Station, a music and night life destination in the Harbour Front area. It has 10 night clubs, each playing different genres of music live! The club we went to was playing Latin American music. Great music, great ambience! A litle later we moved around the entire place; I had a ball!

Needless to say that we had a great time. I don't think anyone will disagree with me if I say that Singapore is one of the finest places one can go to.

All blue...!!! we forgot to change the night mode on the camera!

P.S. We chose not to click photographs at many locations as Singapore is a very eco friendly place, and we wanted to follow the rules.

Random pics of Malaysia

If only...

While I was growing up my teachers always said that I was poor in English grammar. Actually no, it was not just me but almost all of us, with the exception of a few good students. With my best effort I could not figure out what was wrong and none of the teachers said anything beyond that. Therefore, I grew up with a feeling of rejection as I was poor in English grammar! Strange though, I was fairly good in Spoken English. I never participated in any form of public speaking, never cared to write anything with the fear of making mistakes. My confidence level was definitely much below average standards.

Life went on, and at one stage in life I realized that no one ever pointed out any mistake while I spoke. In fact, some people felt I spoke well. Honestly, when I heard that for the first time I was shocked!

Today, I am a communications trainer by profession. Over the years I have learnt, it’s not always about being a brilliant student with a very good knowledge of language that one can become a good speaker or a writer. Nor does it ensure one's confidence level. I have read many books, including grammar books, to fine tune my English grammar skills. I am a confident person today as I wanted to be one. It was not easy as there are many people in this world who are born to criticize.

I find many youngsters who are extremely diffident to speak, especially in public. I get reminded of my school days when I so wanted to say something, but I wouldn’t with the fear of making mistakes and feeling humiliated in public. In all my training sessions I make sure that every participant gets a chance to speak. They are encouraged to speak their mind and they are assured that they would not be mocked at if a mistake occurs. It works, and it works well. Those introverted withdrawn participants start to talk with no reservation!

If only people were a little less biased, a little less critical, and a little more encouraging…