A Wanderer's Chronicles

A novice traveller had better be like a Nomad. I'm keeping a diary as I go and writing it up on-line when I get a chance. "NOTHING IS MORE DAMAGING TO THE ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT WITHIN A MAN THAN A SECURE FUTURE"

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Technology with love


How will you feel if you happen to meet innovation, transformation, hospitality and last but not the least technology under one roof? Isn’t it a vague combination? Doesn’t this, combination sounds unique? I am fortunate enough to experience this in a tiny village called Sanasandiram in Hosur town at Tamil Nadu.
Located on the foot hills of a hill temple called Chandrachooda Eswarar temple, this village is located off the Chennai-Bangalore highway and once considered to be the dirtiest till two years ago, no proper roads, electricity and drainage system, is now considered to be one of the eco-friendly and well improved in terms of infrastructure in district. This transformation not only came to the village, it also happened to the rural youths who were working in tea-shops, was taking care of cattle today speak fluent English and are walking with high pride.
Thanks to the entrepreneurship of two personality Dr Santhosh Babu and M. R. Ashok Kumar with a combination of technology which gave birth to “FOSTeRA”, the first rural BPO in the country, the brain child of then Krishnagiri Collector Dr Santhosh Babu and Ashok Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, FOSTeRA.
Spread over in 3000 sq.ft. this rural BPO centre interiors gives you a pleasant and multi-national look. It has over 25 machines with legal software, network connection and employs over 40 local youths doing data entry work and giving voice support back in US and also to the domestic companies, banks and even to the government.
People working here are not only pride but also humble and more than that their patience (every day they get atleast three visitors to whom they have to introduce themselves by giving their background which would consume atleast 5-6 minutes).
Added bonus here is the home food from the attached canteen (FOSTeRA gives food and nice green tea at free of cost to their staffs) and “excellent” support from the people who have associated here. Still i could remember their names Kothandam, Vijay Kumar, Anand and Vijay Shanti.
Inside atmosphere will make you forget that you are in a rural set up and outside atmosphere will make you forget urban life.
It was interesting to note how FOSTeRA was born. Two old friends rather colleagues Santhosh and Ashok met after 10 years in Krishnagiri in 2006. Ashok was visiting District Collector’s office with his family members for his personal work. When he entered the old time Bungalow, which is now converted as the local district administration office, was the display board which carried all the top officials led by Santhosh.
“When i saw Santhosh Babu’s name it was a pleasant surprise and with my own doubt whether it’s the same old colleague of mine (Santhosh) I walked to the Collector’s office. His attendant asked me for a reason to meet the Collector, I told him to just tell my name, it was a pleasant and shocking surprise Santhosh came out of the room to receive me,” recollects Ashok. It was not a surprise for Ashok alone but for all the people including his family members.
After which two friends have started meeting often and one fine day both of them happen to see an advertisement notice which spoke about a BPO centre. Without thinking a moment both of them have said why not we start on our in the district, wise-men thinks alike. This small size advertisement gave birth to FOSTeRA on February 28, 2007 in a small community hall at Sanasandiram.
The rural BPO soon to celebrate its 2nd birthday on February 28, 2009, Ashok who led the journey which has been difficult till last year. Some of the difficult time he faced includes initial opposition and discouraging words on the new initiative, opposition of various sections of societies and bureaucrats. The sole personality who is considered “as the god father” for the 40 youths working in the BPO and happen to see these challenges has no other saying except “don’t care”.
The person known for his hospitality started looking at other villages in Krishnagiri District, which were once considered to be the Naxalites belt till few years back and plans to add another 700 in the coming months. He is also in the process of setting up similar “Azhaippy Maiyam” or rural BPO facilities across the district.
Most of the people who are working here are young men and women in the age group 18 to 25, youths who had been idling time, working as labourers or those whose fathers had joined the Naxal movement.
They were trained for two months in basic English, accent, modulation, pronunciation and soft skills and typing. BPO in this district has gone up significantly, also increased job opportunities for local youths thanks to the initiative taken by the local district administration along with NASSCOM. Today representatives of IT major companies including Microsoft, Wipro, HP, Cognizant, Syntel, HOV Services and US Technology are the frequent visitors to this tiny village.
Until six months ago, R Muraliraj from Chanachadiran village toiled as a labourer, while G Padma spent her day herding cattle. These two were spotted by the district administration and sent for training. Today both speak accented English and working as a team at a BPO cum rural call centre in Chanachadiran.
This back-office of a US-based ASI and EDS and for country’s top private bank helps them to earn Rs 5,000-8,000 per month, and is ushering in a revolution in Chanachadiran.
Padma who was an eigth drop-out from a school use to spend her day with cattle. Today she proudly owns a TVS Scooty bought from her own salary.
G Abilash lot more reasons to cheer up, once considered being irresponsible kid in the village and at home was working in a cattle field. He was found by Ashok’s team and was placed under the training today he interacts with clients in US and looks after his parents and sisters. Among his friends group he is now the “hero”.
The location of the BPO centre is interesting. A dilapidated decade-old 3,000 sq ft samudaya nala koodam or community hall in the village square was converted into an air-conditioned facility with 25 systems, two servers and an investment of Rs 25 lakh.
While the bridegroom's room of the community hall was turned into a server room, groom's room has become a conference hall.
The team agents, managers and leaders can see the village square, the picturesque hillocks and the famous Chandrachoodeshwara temple.
To summarise all I can say FOSTeRA a place of hospitality, innovation, patience, transformation and nature. I wish FOSTeRA spreads her wing and fly globally and can be a free bird and last not but not least gets more project.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Mahabaleshwar


Nestling in the Sahyadri range of the Western Ghats, Mahabaleshwar is the highest hill station in Western India and it as religious and historical associations. My trip to this hill station started from the Bollywood city of Mumbai. I took a bus from Dadar one of the busiest places in Mumbai. The air-condition bus cost Rs. 300 and it will take about four to five hours.

During my trip I did various activities I visited ancient temples, beautiful points of Mahabaleshwar, unforgettable trek to Pratapgad Fort, a stronghold of the Maratha leader Shivaji, boating at lake and finally roamed through the tiny lanes of the bazaar, and did some shopping from luscious strawberries, blackberries, jams and jellies. (Click here to read full text)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Rothang Pass


Reaching Rothang Pass will probably remain as the best adventure of my life. Driving in Tata Qualis in the challenging roads and landslides gave a thrill that I guess is not achievable anywhere else except in Himachal Pradesh. Himachal (Him+Aanchal) literally means a dupatta or cover of snow. (Click here to read the full text)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Following River Cauvery


Following River Cauvery was an thrilling and nice trekking experience. In these three days i have seen different flows and look of Cauvery and i visited (stopped at) Nisardagama (bamboo forest or island in the banks of river Cauvery), Bylakkupe (small Tibet and second largest Tibet settlements outside Tibet), Coorg (on the Western ghats), Bhagamandala (meeting point of three rivers), Talacauveri (origin point of river Cauvery), Abbi Falls, Harangi Dam, Somnathpur (which speaks about Hoysala Dynasty architects Sivasamudram Falls. (Click here for the full text of the tour)

The hardest and most dangerous trek at Parvathamalai


The hardest, tiring and the most dangerous trek in my life was at Parvathamalai – Hill of Hill on a full moon day. It took almost 10 hours inside the deep hill forest to trek without any lights, water and food in the hardest rocks to reach 3,000 feet hill top.

There's a Shiva temple at the top of the Parvathamalai hill. Devas and spiritual beings from other lokas worship here every night along with Siddhas.
(Click here to read the full text of the trek)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Rajasthan - Land of Maharaja’s


Rajasthan the Land of Maharaja’s is the homeland of the Rajputs, who are known for their chivalry, valor and heroism. In battle, the Rajputs preferred death to dishonour. Rajasthan not only famous for it’s desert, forts and palaces it is know for it’s hospitality.

My 3,000 km journey to Rajasthan started from the Indian capital city of Delhi to the cities of Mandawa – Bikaner – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur - Mount Abu – Udaipur – Jaipur and finally I concluded the trip back in Delhi. (Click here to read the full text of the tour)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Somnathpur finest example of Hoysala architecture


Talakad and Somnathpur is one of the finest examples of Hoysala Dynasty architecture. My drive started from Mysore and it took more than 2 hours to cover 32 kms by road since roads are heavily damaged.

Talakad is situated on the left bank of the River Cauvery. It is one of the oldest towns in the state. It was capital of the Gangas [6th century A.D.], Talakad has a number of temples including Vaidyeshware. Most of the temples are buried by sand, a few buildings, including a 12th century Hoysala temple, still poke through the surface. Once every 12 years this surreal temple is dug out for the performance of Panchalinga Darshan, though it doesn’t take long for it to be smothered once again by the sand. (Click here to read the full text)

A fort built in 5 days - Panchalankurichi


A fort in Panchalankurichi tells us how our great and brave freedom fighters fought against the British and died for our freedom. One among such a legend was Veerapandiya Kattabomman, a brave warrior who laid down his life for his motherland. Panchalankurichi Fort holds the greatest record - it was built in five days with new techniques.

I started my journey to know more about this legend and about the fort to the town of Panchalankurichi from Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu . (Click here to read full text of my trip)

Samode Palace Rajput-Mughal architecture


SAMODE PALACE, a magnificent example of Rajput-Mughal architecture, it boasts some of the finest frescoes and mirror-work in Rajasthan. The 150-year-old Samode Palace stands in serene sprawling splendour on a hilltop at the end of a dusty road and bad road, an hour's drive from Delhi - Jaipur highway. The palace surrounded by Aravali Mountain.

I was travelling from Delhi to other places in Rajasthan via Samode Palace i spent two nights in this royal palace which is the best place to experience desert hospitality. (Click here to read the full text of my trip)

Drive to Himachal

Himachal (Him+Aanchal) literally means a dupatta or cover of snow, my drive to the hill stations of Shimla, Kullu, Manali and Rothangpass in Himachal Pradesh started from Delhi via states of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Click here to read full text of my 7 day drive

Matheran


Imagine a world with no tar roads, no motor vehicles, no phones, no papers, no smell of gasolene, only green trees and trees all around, clean fresh air and aerial views that are breathtakingly beautiful. The world is not very far away just 140 kms from Mumbai then you get Matheran. It was discovered by British collector of Thane Mr. Huge Mallet in 1850. My journey started from Mumbai by car after two hectic days in Mumbai towards Matheran. (Click here to read the full text of the trek)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Tibet in India- Bylakuppe


It was a pleasant evening that led this lush journey by crossing the mountains, cut through the forests looking for Bylakuppe, which has a little more than four decades of history to it a charming village presents itself to the unsuspecting traveller.

A diversion from the Kushal Nagar highway lead to Bylakuppe. My first stike to see gaggles of road-cloaked Buddhist monks wandering down the lanes, prayer flags fluttering in the wind, sign boards saying “Long Live Dalai Lama” and slogans against Chinese. (Click here to read full text of my trip)