It was about time, around ten minutes to 4pm when I took a glance at my watch. The lecture was on the verge of getting over, so was the day at college. It was Marketing Management, taught by our favorite teacher since then, Ms. Shaikh. The peon knocked, entered the class and handed over a piece of paper, in which, written was the announcement to be made before dispersal. This kind of interruption was usual. “Students of S.Y.B.M.S. division A and B are hereby informed that an Industrial Visit from 17th to 21st December to Rajasthan is arranged by the college; those interested can pay the fees”. She read it out loud. The lecture got winded up as there was barely any time left. Some knew the Industrial Visit was coming, their bland expressions proved it. Some like me and my friends got involved in convincing the one who had decided to wait back. Some showed excitement as if the tour would have begun the very next day. Industrial Visits have been one of the best ways to impart demonstrated knowledge to students. Especially for the ones in the field of Management. A student can fetch substantial data if left at the site of work. He can study team work, time management and technical know-hows of an industry, live. In short, real time information.
Exams got ended, months passed quickly, the day we begin the journey was coming near. By then we knew who was coming and who was not, because per head charges were paid. Those days all were excited and subject to chill bumps at the imagination of winters of Rajasthan, repeated discussions every day, “How many layers to carry?” was a question of concern for every parent, some bags were getting packed gradually, whilst others waited for the last day to come. We got informed in the meanwhile; the defined locations namely, Jaiselmer and city of Jodhpur were to be visited. An itinerary was provided to every student, encapsulated in bold letters- ‘5 NIGHTS AND 6 DAYS’, but the Industries to be visited were still kept in suspense.
News was spread out. Friends, acquaintances, relatives and even the newly met, all knew about the tour happening in two days. Families and friends who stayed back were obviously expecting sweets and souvenirs. Well, carrying gifts back home was a long way to go. My bags were not even ready in spite of mom’s everyday scolding. Being done with the packing a night before, I almost lost hope to lift that huge backpack. The next morning, on the day of departure, energy was full. “Take care of yourself and eat your food time to time”, mom said it in a stringent voice while dad uttered in the usual subtle manner, “Enjoy son”. By the time, the lift arrived, “don’t forget my dupattas!”, from other end of the house my sister yelled in a demanding way. I believe every house had a similar story that morning.
At 12 noon we were all supposed to assemble at Bandra Terminus. I left the house at half past ten, met my friend Utsav 1 hour later. We had decided to synchronize our travel to the station. Of course, we were late! The platform where the Surya Nagri Express stood was easy to recognize as students were scattered like a “bunch of hooligans”, in the words of our teacher. We were almost going back home, but got ourselves thrown into the train five minutes in prior. The train departed at 1 with everyone having smiles on their faces. ‘Bon Voyage!’
289 students, 4 teachers and a few staff members spread out across the train. Wandering here and there, some were busy locking their bags whilst some like me were dialing their loved ones to inform, the journey had begun. Some started munching whilst some were still savoring on the softdrinks. Later it was found that a few of them were puzzled in figuring out their seat numbers and some had already initiated gossiping. In short, we had started discovering fun in those compartments. Sixteen hours of journey full of pranks, food, games and gossips made us reach Jodhpur without any notice of time. We had breakfast at Jodhpur as well as goosing breezes while progressing towards the buses. The beginning of the first day in Rajasthan was icing-shivery, temperature: 7 degrees. It was half past six in the morning; plan was to reach Jaiselmer, the golden city.
Everyone was exhausted by the time we reached Jaiselmer. We checked into the hotel and got ourselves the keys of respective rooms. The hotel was beautiful. We got freshened up, had lunch and got freshened up to took a start to the Sonar Fort, also known as Jaiselmer Fort. It was a massive fort, jaw dropping elevation. One of the greatest in the world built in 1156 AD by the Bhati Rajput ruler Rao Jaisal, from where it derives its name. Group by group, led by specialised guides, entered the huge fort and all started exploring it’s vastness from inside. Even after hundreds of years of storage, artilleries were like freshly delivered from the factories and swords still seemed to have the ripping edge, most of them weighed more than 7 kilograms, the king’s sword weighed 15. Those were finely engraved and so, we were mesmerized. The fort is located in the very heart the city, and is one of the most breathtaking monuments in the locality.
In the bus, we found a pass time activity ‘Napoleon’, a card game during our journey to the next destination being the Lake of Gadisagar, one of the major tourist attractions of Jaisalmer. Contrary to the popular belief, it is not an oasis but a water conservation tank made around 1400 A.D. by the maharaja of Jaisalmer, Maharwal Gadsi Singh. Can you believe, this nature’s structure just outside the city’s walls, once acted as a reservoir that controlled the entire supply of water to the arid city.
Later in the evening we were left in the market for shopping. I rushed to the ‘Dupatta’ store and selected the best ones for my Sis; I could buy only two as I wished to buy a ‘Jodhpuri Kurta’ for Dad and‘Bandhni printed typical rajasthani’ dress for Mom, which I did. As soon as I heard the word shopping, I could remember my sister’s roar and so could I buy all the presents in the shortest time possible, or else she wouldn’t have taken me home.
Day 3 began with the delicious breakfast all over again. Fascinated were the students to realize, the next attraction was another Royal premise. What else could be expected? We were in Rajasthan after all. ‘Patwon Ki Haveli’, the haveli that overflowed art from its every view! The Haveli was constructed in the span of 60 years, strengthened and beautified from top to bottom. In those times, owned by Patwonji and administered by his five fortunate sons who were extraordinary managers of their times, the guide explained.
Eventually, we caught ourselves lost in the art of surfaces. It was amazingly crafted, in and out. Later, when the lunch got over, we rolled to the next attraction. Everyone was curious to know the whereabouts. ‘The Dead Village’, not as scary as it sounded, rather it gave resemblance of Bollywood films so did the story linked to it; as narrated by the guide.
Attractions-touring was integrated with the Industrial Visit. In the bus, just before I could conclude an almost winning game, the driver slammed the brakes and we were asked to alight. Some of us were curious to know about the equidistant elevated fans whilst some thought; it was just another tourist attraction. But no, it was 1st half of the industrial visit. We had reached one of the largest windmill farms of India. Windmills so tall, those looked like touching the skies! All gathered at the base of one of the windmills, facing the platform occupied by the presenter. “Hi I am Ali, civil engineer at Enercon GmBH., the care taker of operations and maintenance at this windmill farm.” The speaker introduced himself. He started talking about the technicalities of windmills that included electricity generation and generation rates. 24 megawatt was the capacity of one windmill to generate electricity which was enough for a month’s supply to a village.
From the crowd only a few of them were interested in the generation of electricity until he mentioned about the money it generated. We were BMS students after all. Astounding! A tall fan could generate Rs. 1 crore every year. He then claimed, windmill industry as one of the most upcoming industries in the world both in terms of market share of electricity generation and growth. Hearing this, a question evoked in my mind. “How much money do you earn in total?” I asked. He answered, “Including this one, we have 9 other farms so you can do the math,” he replied smilingly. I was stunned.
We all friends got back into the bus, giving each other the feedbacks of the windmill class of which Mr. Ali was the lecturer. We didn’t talk much on the technical specifications but being a common interest of all, we talked on how lucrative the windmill energy business was. The interaction was fruitful. Everyone settled back to their spots, the driver put on the ignition and we continued to play. It was early evening when we ended up reaching a sandy region. It was time to get off the wheels! Who knew how would a Rajasthani sporty ride be? It was traditional and tough to be mounted on. We anyhow climbed onto the camels, and took off for the bumpiest rides ever.
After getting off, when we began to walk, some who had knowledge in prior pointed out the place to be. Sand Dunes: for me it resembled nothing less than a military camp.
We were welcomed by ethnic women of Rajasthan with strokes of tilak on every foreheads, making us feel one amongst them. Atmospherically open, big tents built in a row to the left and the right. It was dim. Center was more like an amphi-theatre projected by halogens, and the premise had a stage a few steps ahead. The folk dancers performed at the center. They moved to the tunes played traditional orchestra. Flexibility like never imagined. To keep us more engrossed, they served hot pakoras with tea. The orchestra players had magical hands I must say, magic which could give goose bumps. Delightful of an evening, in fact it turned out to be the musical era of the visit.
Later, disco lights got discovered, huge stereos were found and also the students of MKS were talented enough to mix some tracks up. It was darker by then and ambience was favoring. So what were we waiting for? Dj night it was supposed to be. Folk to western in one single night. Yes we are the students of MKS and can’t afford to waste time. Lunches and dinners with ice creams, gulab jamuns and khirs as desserts were familiar by then. Later that day to fill the gap of uniqueness, to tickle the taste buds, followed up, the Royal Rasoi for dinner, I mean the daal baati and churma.
So far we had accepted the cold snap but who knew about spending a night in a tent. The temperature had dropped to 4 degrees. At that point of time it wasn’t a tent, it was an icebox. The next morning we took a U-turn to our hotel. We were asked to pack our bags, get ready and assemble at the breakfast site. “Why pack bags?” I asked my friend. “Don’t you want to go home?” He cross-questioned. And I realized it was the last day of the tour, in fact the last few hours.
We left to Umaid Bhavan; though we were not familiar with the palace but it was easy to recognize from the windows of the bus. The palace was once owned and named after King Umaid of Jodhpur. It resembled a neat mixture of beauty and royalty, the view of which was jaw dropping. No one bothered to utter a word and kept gazing at the appealing structure. We were allowed access to the chambers at fore front of the palace to note historical events associated with the Bhavan. Some went inside whilst some like me just enjoyed the beauty from outside. “There are vintage cars as well.” I overheard. Always wanted to see, how the Phantoms of Rolls Royce looked like in those times. The cars were infatuating. I had been eagerly waiting for the final day to come, for me it was the ultimate reason of visit to Rajasthan.
The last wave at the beach of industrial knowledge was the visit to textile industry. One of the oldest and highly staked amongst the businesses in Jodhpur was the business of textiles. We entered the premises of Kiran Textiles. I had never heard its name before unlike Wardhamam Textiles and Arvind Mills. We were given around ten minutes to accumulate as much as information possible. Thankfully, I was carrying a book and pen to jot down important points. The industry from inside was not as small as it look from outside. The only reason it looked small was the economical and judicious use of space. Not even single minutest corner was left vacant, was the first thing I noticed. Some of us were clicking pictures of the operations being held, whilst some were just rambling. “Who is your head?” I asked a random worker. The worker pointed out at a person and replied “His name is Girdharji.” Thanked him and I walked towards the experienced old man. I called and introduced myself to him and let him know my purpose of visit. He had served 37 years of his life to Kiran Textiles. The old man could comprehend my need and asked me straight “What do you want to know?” I asked him a series of questions. The details can be summarized as follows:
-Kiran Textiles- established in 1971, owned by a Marwari named Dorimal.
-The industry took orders of printing different types of cloths viz., siphon, reon, cotton, ojri, wile and moscrape.
-The industry was run by 30-35 workers. It had designated areas and designated number of workers for different steps in process of printing.
-The steps were Bleaching, printing, silicating, washing, drying, softening, stitching, and cutting, in that order.
-The design department of the company was not in the premises but at a different location. Rs. 100-125 was the average range of everyday wages given to workers.
-Rs. 9000- Rs. 10000 was the range of salaries given to the heads.
-Lastly, he also introduced me to his co-heads and other workers.
-The owner was not present or else I would have him about the turnover.
The knowledge was immense on how a textile factory runs. The economical pros and cons were known and so were the operational functions of the factory. The buses were about to leave, gave Girdharji a farewell and thanked him for being grateful to share knowledge of his work premises without any hesitation. Later, on the way to the station, we got ourselves involved in a quick revision of management witnessed at Kiran Textiles and discussed like businessmen. Management was the core subject of the Industrial Visit. It could have been learnt from the mega illustrations of the Kings, being the real executors in their minds, which managed to build monuments both bold and beautiful. The windmill energy plant gave another example of management of producing profitable electricity. How Kiran Textiles portrayed efficient management of people and space was noteworthy. It looked tiny in size, but management was efficient. “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Someone has rightly said indeed. Management is always in a state of flux, the ongoing tour could be taken as an example of which the organizers were a few authorities of MKS and volunteering students. We didn’t turn into managers overnight but at least, we were given the exposure to the aroma of management. Taking interest was the student’s choice. The significance of the visit: it invoked the hunger of learning management more and more.
We were on our last ride on the roads of Jodhpur. Being habituated to see a new monument every day, the frequent bus rides, prolonged gossips and never-ending mischiefs, nobody thought the journey would end so soon. The same Surya Nagri Express was waiting to transport us back to Mumbai. In spite of the forceful nature of time, our hearts were singing, spirits were lifting and faces were glowing. Thanks to togetherness and Thanks to the glory of Rajasthan.