Many readers ask me to write more articles stemming from personal experiences. Of course, a blog titled ‘Cyber Diary’ should necessarily contain more personal stuff. I do like to write a lot on my experiences rather than on my views, observations and attitudes that I post more often. But my wish, not to publicise my multiple roles in real life prevented me from narrating personal experiences. May be, once I am out of the Weberian iron cage, I would be able to share with you the real life musings. However, I started realising one thing. As one grows old, one tends to have the propensity to share more of his experiences and less of his views. Here is a short note on my recent Kerala trip.
I scribble this sitting in the Thiruvananthapuram airport terminal-2 waiting for the much delayed flight to Bangalore. The only flight by the government carrier to Bangalore was an International one, going to Male. As I was about to write about why they did not inform the passengers about this delay earlier over phone, I get a call from the Bombay call centre that the flight is delayed by more than two hours. I told him that I have already reached the airport and had it been informed an hour before, I could have spent some more productive time in my home state. Though I got annoyed a bit, I continue to have my faith in Air India. (click here to see my article). I hear people say that ‘the business of government is not to do business’. But I always felt that the presence of state is desirable in some sectors for strategic reasons.
But, should State be in the hospitality sector? After my experience in staying in a government luxury hotel for about three days in this city, I feel it is not worth to have mismanaged hotels in the public sector. Though I had an option to stay in posh hotels in the capital city of Kerala, I chose to stay in one of the well-known government-run hotels. But my experience was very bad and I found that the service offered by them was pitiable as compared to the tariff they charged. I had to carry the luggage myself to the room and the room-boy waited just outside my room to pick up the luggage so that he can drop it inside the room and scratch his head. Complimentary buffet breakfast menu was almost the same every day. The staff is untrained to run the hotel owned by public sector tourism corporation. Flies feasted on the confectioneries, fruits and all those food items which were not covered. Food was insipid and devoid of manifestation of any particular culinary skills for the huge price charged. The flooring of the dining area was designed by someone years back and I found a number of persons tripping as they couldn't make out that some part of the floor is at a slightly higher level.
When many hotels give free wifi access, this hotel charged Rs 100/- per hour without ensuring network in the room. Huge resources and facilities in this hotel in the heart of the city are wasted because of very poor bookings. The dining hall was almost empty, but for the groups of people clad in white attire. The worst thing during my stay was spotting a centipede in the night in my room. While leaving the hotel to the airport, the taxi driver gave me much more information about the hotel as narrated by many guests and I felt why government should waste its resources in the hospitality sector if it can’t ensure quality and efficiency. I am writing this as a concerned citizen and hoping that things will improve so that everyone who is surviving on this establishment get benefited. (You can see some reviews about this hotel here)
During my stay in the city, I was delighted by the dynamism, enthusiasm and sincerity of the staff of two broadcasting companies in the public sector. One was the television channel where I had to give a live telecast and the other was the All India Radio where I had to give an interview. I found some friendly and creative souls who sincerely worked in both places amidst several resource constraints. I am not sure how many persons watch the channels aired by Government corporations and how many advertisers are interested in sponsoring their programs. But these corporations are doing wonderful work by airing valuable programs for the welfare of citizens, when other channels focus on programs that give them big sponsorship. (I saw a news report that the state government wants to start its own television channel to add to a large number of Malayalam channels vying for advertisements for survival)
During my trip, I had a quick visit to a post graduate college specialized in teaching social sciences and interacted with senior faculty members who had misplaced worries about the future of social sciences as a discipline offering satisfying careers. My suggestion to those who have such fear is to read the article ‘The end of Sociology?’ and also a position paper on the role of social sciences in governance. I gave a talk to a bunch of post graduate students who have been the products of an educational environment that never trained them to think, react and respond. It is high time they take serious steps to equip themselves to be on the demand list of many employers rather than pinning hopes on the next PSC test.
My indefinite wait for the flight continued. Meanwhile my friend called me and asked how the new Thiruvananthapuram international airport terminal is? I said: ‘Nothing much to say. Passengers are looking at the air conditioner vent wondering whether the A/C is really switched on. People are hunting for a proper plug point to charge their laptops. Passengers find it difficult to hear the announcements because of the very loud noise from the televisions sets. Toilet stinks. There is a long queue to collect cold samosa and tea offered by the airline as an excuse for the delayed flight’. (see my related article on Bangalore International Airport).
In spite of all the above experiences, I enjoyed being in the God’s own country!
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Read below my related articles on Kerala and Mallus:
Of Sunanda Pushkar, Mallus and the Sexual Escapades
The Sensual Mallu and the Web Culture
The Festival of Bandh