The second day of the plant visit was fruitful. Toured around the plant and observed the great procedures and practices. Noted a lot of them were applicable to GSPI, but also observed that some could be improved. One of the things that GSPI could contribute to the Indian plant would be the improvement of its documentation of its standard operating procedures.
Also, it could improve the Guest House lunch and dinner menus of chappattis and several servings of kidney beans with red curry; some leafy cauliflowers in white curry; a lot of cups of tea and a bottomless refill of coca-cola. The same combination was offered from Day 1 to Day 3. Even on the third day’s breakfast consisted of the same as what was served at lunch.
Fortunately, a very friendly Deputy General Manager [DGM], who was our plant tour guide, invited us to a dinner at Nagpur. He wanted to treat us a break from all the vegetarian menu offered at the Guest House. He chose one peculiarly named hotel: Tuli International Hotel. The place was cosy. The DGM ordered us a roasted chicken, a plate of peanuts with chili and sesame seeds, and some bottles of Kingfisher Strong Premium Beer. The chicken was tasteful. The peanuts was roasted hot. The beer, exclusively sold only in Maharasthra, was great! I believed we had about four bottles each. The discussion was lively: from working with steel to being a humanist then to religion then economy. The night ended early the next day. I asked for a Tuli matchbook, just for a keepsake. I pointed out to my boss that tuli in Tagalog is circumcision and even the hotel’s logo proved to be highlighting that scenario: verify the position of the fleur-de-leis superimposed on a man’s silhouette.
The morning after, our third and last day, we exerted all our efforts to summarize the plant visit; bid our goodbyes to our host; and prepared for our 4 p.m. trip to the airport. Two ex-GSPI personnel who had resigned years ago and repatriated then worked for the Indian plant came with us and promised a short tour to their homes before taking us to the airport.
The two tourist guides assured us that their homes were situated near the airport and it would take a minute or two drive from then to the airport. The first tour guide shown us his condominium in one of the high-rise apartments. Served us an assorted home-made snacks with coffee, then tea then soda; plus cold and refreshing water. The second tour guide insisted on passing by his newly constructed bungalow where he shown us the other fruits of his Iligan adventure: a new car; a new flat-screen TV. At one instant my boss and I heard a plane taking-off. My boss exclaimed: "That’s our plane!" The second tour guide remarked: "See, I told you that my home is near the airport. And don’t worry, I could even have your flight delayed for your sake!"
On our ride to the airport which the tour guides claimed would take a few minutes only because they knew of a shortcut; turned out to be a long ride after finding out that the shortcut was a dead end. With all the coffee, tea and soda in my body; I felt the urge of relieving myself but contained it until we reached the airport. We reached the airport forty-five minutes late, and the plane we were scheduled to board had already taken off. I wanted to go to the comfort room, but the guards denied us access and was instructed to go out of the departure area unless we had tickets for another flight. Outside, there was no comfort room; thus instead of focusing on relieving myself; we had to contend to the issue at hand: getting a ticket. I lashed out to the tour guides regarding the short detour which cost us being left by the plane at takeoff. Had we not succumbed to their invitations, we would have made our boarding time ON TIME.
We had to wait another hour for our second departure time on another flight. My boss had to use company money to buy another set of tickets in lieu of the company issued ones because of the lousy timing of the tour guides. We reached Mumbai about 11P.M.; hungry and less angry, I guess. We haven’t eaten dinner because all we carried was dollars and no rupees; and the snacks on the plane were for sale!
A company driver fetched us from the airport and made the three-and-half ride to Alibaug for our plant tour at another plant site. We reached the Ravikiran Hotel past three in the morning. Asking the front desk for something to eat was met with wide eyes in amazement and an unintelligible sorry the restaurant is closed. They don’t even have coffee or something to drink, except water but without any tumbler.
Morning came, and breakfast was served: eight hard-boiled eggs and a too-sweet coffee [or was it sugared water laced with some bits of coffee]. Yes! there were no palatable dish available except hard-boiled eggs.
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