29th August 2008

If you are from a low-income family and a student of humanities with high aspirations, then you are bound to hit some major roadblocks in India. Something happened on 29th August 2008 which made this deeply entrenched in my mind. Those who know this, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture (RMIC), Golpark offers a 1 lakh rupee fellowship every year to a few students who have successfully been selected for any university abroad. There is no subject restrictions, or at least there weren’t back then. At the time I applied for the fellowship in March-April 2008, I was already holding unconditional offers for MA Archaeology from 6 major UK universities. This was even before I completed my final BA exam, so an unconditional offer was quite something, and was beyond my expectation. My father asked me to apply for this fellowship as it would help us fund the airfare and pay the deposit and advance for the University accommodation. I applied for the fellowship and waited until the end of August for a decision. In the meantime, I had accepted the offer from the University of Exeter.

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Being a “Them” in Indian Archaeology

I often get emails from young students asking if they should do their Masters or PhD’s in Archaeology abroad. I ask them one thing, and this is something you should really consider. I ask them what do they plan to do after their courses. I ask them to reflect hard on this, because this can be a make or break decision.

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This Verse in the Bhagavad Gita Changed My Life

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।

मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥

Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2, Verse 47
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Truly, Madly, Deeply: Why is Immersive Trails sticking with Virtual Experiences as travel opens up

When COVID19 related restrictions hit last year, the travel industry worldwide was decimated. Many boutique experience curators moved online doing Virtual Experiences. We did that too at Immersive Trails. But was it a knee-jerk decision?

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Innovate, Empathize, Remove Conjecture: The Post-Covid Way Forward for Indian Travel Businesses

There is a lot of anger brewing over the last year among everyone who’s livelihoods depend on Indian travel businesses, which contributes to 8% of the total employment in the country and a whopping US$234 billion towards India’s total GDP. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the tourism sector in India, as it has done throughout the world. It forced many large and small businesses to shut shop and hundreds of thousands lost their livelihoods. It was rather shocking for me to receive a call from a renowned tour operator one day, selling, not tours, but PPE kits and sanitization solutions.

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Empathy is Everything in Customer Service

My wife and I dread the tea aisle of our local supermarket chain. The supermarket is always crowded with staff on the floor, and they keep on changing the location of the shelves now and then, making it very difficult to find anything each fortnight. But the tea aisle is just worst. The customer service staff there, or as we have code worded them “the TA girls”, are always there to pounce on you when they see you enter the aisle. We, and other customers, get constantly followed and badgered with a flurry of questions: “Green Tea Ma’am?”, “Darjeeling Tea Ma’am?”, “Try this new tea sir.”, “Chamomile Tea Sir?”, and so on and so forth. We dread the TA girls and therefore my wife has decided to avoid the aisle altogether and rather buy tea online. Much less hassle, we get what we need, without the constant badgering or hard push to sell.

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Thrive, Don’t Survive

“I survived” is becoming a very common phrase in life and in business that we keep on hearing more and more every day. But think about it, if you think you are having to “survive” something, is it not more of an ordeal for you? Is the situation not causing you stress. Stress enough that it is preventing you from thriving? If you are in that situation, introspect and ask yourself what are the things that are making you “survive” rather than thrive? Now when I say “thrive”, I do not mean you have to be the best of the best in every situation, in every place. What I mean is that you should feel motivated and energized to do your best and be your best. That what you do should make you content. You do not have to be the best in what you do, but at least you can go to sleep at the end of each day knowing that you try your best to be the best, and that way you feel happy, content and you thrive. If, after introspecting, you see that there is something under your control to change from “surviving” to thriving, then you will feel immensely powerful, and you will know what to do. Yes, often the situation will be beyond your control. In those cases, do not keep “surviving”. It might be fun to say that you “survived” something for so long and came out of it bruised but alive, and people might even praise you for that, but ask yourself, do you really need to be in a work, in a business, in a relationship, in an institution that bruises you? You deserve better.

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Know and Say “No”

When Leicester City went into the 2016 New Year, top of the English Premier League table, it surprised everyone, including the longtime Foxes fans, its management, the owners and some new fans like me. Leicester was almost relegated the previous season and had miraculously pulled up a “Great Escape” in their last 10 games under then Manager Nigel Pearson.

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Tourism in Post-COVID19 Bengal- Rebrand, Empathize, Go-Micro

Immersive Trails Co-founder and wife Chelsea McGill and I have been to several tourism meetings in the last 4 years about branding and marketing Bengal. The two topics of discussion were common in these meetings.

1. Branding and marketing targeted at the “inbound”

2. Tourism=Durga Puja

In our limited experience in building an experiential tourism company from scratch, I think this has been our Achilles Heel in branding Bengal.

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