Sunday, March 16, 2008

D-Day 3

March 9th, 2008 - Around midnight, we decided to celebrate Elvis's B'day. I'm just going to let you watch the video and enjoy the sublime moments. This was also our turn to thank Rahul for all the wonderful years of friendship he gave us. He will be truly missed.

After those wonderful Thanksgiving Speeches and sharing the B'day cake, it was time to hit the bed again, only this time some guys decided to play cards and from what I could make out (while I was trying to sleep) Kris was being rogered once again. The guy did have a hard time reacting to the verbal volleys this time around. Around 4:00AM I got up and some guys who still had some "FUEL" left in them from last night decided to go out and have breakfast. As you can guess the only place you find stuff to eat around that time is the roadside. It was me, Hemu, Amit S, Elvis, Parag and Rahul scouring for a place to eat in a chilly morning in Lonvala. We finally got a stall that was serving some bhurji and omlets and we had our share. We teamed it up with some chai and we were ready to hit the bed again. This time only to get up and bid adieu. Time 1:00 PM. Karan and Amit K had already left early around 10:00 AM

We packed our stuff and hopped on to our cars. We planned to meet at Vashi before breaking up and going our own ways. The feeling that the SJ-QBR was over started to sink in as we drove on the Expressway and reached Belapur. Here I suggested to the guys who were going to travel to Mumbai to take a break and get some refreshments. We checked in to an Ice Cream parlour and the guys treated themselves to some desserts and sandwiches. It was time to finally say good-bye with a promise to keep in touch and meet again.

Well, thats how it all happened, hopefully this Blog will remain until such time we retire and look back upon our cherished QBRs. It is not possible to capture every moment we spent in as many words but this Blog will serve as a reminder to a tradition we wish to keep alive till death do us apart. Amen.

D-Day 2

March 8th, 2008 - Around 2:15 AM we stepped in Elvis 's bunglow and even though it was locked up for almost a year, it was pretty clean and we settled down. The guys couldnt wait to unscrew the alchohol bottles and quite rightly so, it was time to celebrate.

We were well stocked and the drinks started to flow. Parag came in from Pune and immediately got his usual "BROKE-BACK" comments from the gang. It was good to see him in shape, usually you see that when someone hits the gym, in his case he hits the hospital :) It was not so cold as you would expect in the dead of the night in Lonavala and we spread some chairs in the porch and started to reminiscence the good, the bad and the future that beckons each of us. We were wired this time and there were like 3 laptops. I hooked up mine to a speaker and we enjoyed the music as time passed. It was like the previous 2 QBRs we spent at this place, everything still seemed the same, the fun, the bonding, the slapstick comments, the howling (dedicated to Tanveer). And now we all know how inspired we can get, so when someone asked Hemu why the hell wasnt he picking up our calls, he gave some lame excuse and we told him probably he felt crippled like SK in the film Sholay and should immediately hire "RAMLAL" (SKs domestic help in Sholay) to attend to his calls. So the next time you see Hemu across the street, just mention "RAMLAL" and he should get worked up :)

Now admist all this fun and hoopla there was something very unplesant that we had to brace ourselves with, the unceremonious exit of one of our HKs, Mahesh Karkera. It is one of those things you wished never happened but it did turn out otherwise, in a way it is a good learning experience. But hey, we got the number to go even with the introduction of a new HK, Amit Khanna, so there you go, you win some, you lose some.

We were out having the time of our lives well in to the dawn and then one by one we hit the bed, it was time to catch forty winks. Before we did that, some of us headed out for a quick breakfast, we feasted on the misals, omlets and bhurjis and topped it up with piping hot chai.

We were up by 1:00 PM and decided to fill our tummies and headed straight to a local restaurant, Hotel Lonavala. Javed hooked up with us during this time, he drove from Mumbai straight to the restaurant in Lonvala. The food was reasonable and filling. The next plan was to play a game of cricked, sweat enough and jump in to the pool, as you can guess, the uncles and daddys that we had turned in to over the years, we couldnt pull our ass up to the playground and rolled over in to the pool instead, like a hippo in fresh water lake.

The time spent in the pool was awesome, as it always is, imagine hippos playing water sports, I had to pay the price for not stepping in the pool, I had to keep running around taking pictures, capturing video and throwing the ball back in the pool. The guys played the sport in true spirit, cheating, sledging, getting pysical, thank god we are all Indians and share the same race. As the game went in to the twilight, the inevitable happened. Rahul shared his special announcement. He was leaving us. This was going to be his last QBR and he and his wife were heading to the US to pursue their dreams. It was an emotional moment and the guys hugged, shook hands and finally hoisted him in the air, still in the pool.

With a heavy heart, the guys stepped out of the pool and headed to the bunglow. You could make out the sudden turn of events had its impact on the guys, they went silent and it was pretty much the same for a few hours until it was time to celebrate Elvis's upcoming b'day (March 13). We decided to give him a suprise since we were all together. Over to D-Day 3.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

D-Day 1

March 7th, 2008 - The D-Day finally arrived and as was expected there was a last minute rush to confirm who the hell is coming with whom and whose car. So this is how it turned out, Rahul, Karan, Elvis, Tanveer and Kris came along in Kris's car. Amit S, Hemu and Dinesh came along in Hemu's car. Priyank and I got in my car. Javed, Amit K and Parag came on their own, Javed did not arrive until the afternoon of March 8th. Phew!! This is the first time 13 HKs (HK is aka HaraamKhors) gathered to celebrate the SJ-QBR and as you can guess it was quite a riot when we reached the spot.

The entourage (Kris and my car) started from Vashi and we made the first stop at a R & B in Belapur, Mahesh Lunch Home around 10:00 PM. Now all through the trip from Vashi to Belapur I have been telling the guys this place is cheap and not the expensive MLH they think it is, they didnt believe me until they saw the signboard. Well double whammy for the guys coz there was Wine Shop just adjacent to the R & B. We thought, to make this pit-stop was the best thing to do since there was no gurantee what F & B Lonavala had in store for us in the dead of the night

The pit-stop at MLH was the beginning of what was going to be a laugh riot for the next couple of days. While we were busy ordering F & B, we overheard someone at another table saying "HE HAS COME THE HARD WAY" and that phrase just got stuck with all of us and every now and then we would use it when mentioning someone in our gang. Ironically, we did come up the hard way, 5 years back (March 15, 2003) we use to bundle ourselves in a couple of cars and head to the cheapest gateway available in town and today, believe it or not, we had 6 different cars for 13 folks and our spending pattern, less said the better, dont want some IT guy to read to this :)

Hemu, Dinesh, Amit S and Amit K arrived an hour later at the R & B. Now since Hemu has been acting pricey lately, we decided to give him a cold shoulder when he arrived but eventually had to kiss and make up. One man that was under the line of fire from the word go was Kris, he got quite an earful from Dinesh, for ignoring him and acting like what we term as "CEO HK". We all had fun at his expense. It was time to leave. Time 12:45 AM

Moment of Truth, we hit the Mumbai Expressway and I was pretty impressed with my driving skills, I reached the first Food Court point in 20 Mins. Not until I hit the ghats and I kept sliding down in peak traffic, thats when I realized I still have a long way to go. Well, we all touched at the base around 2:15 AM. Over to D-Day 2

Sunday, February 3, 2008


February 3, 2008 - 8:00 AM and while I wait for the first ODI between India and Australia (CB Series 2008) to start, I thought I'll pen down the planning process we follow to choose first, a Date and then a Venue. We use this POLL funda a lot within our group to take decisions like allowing a new member, banning a member, QBRs etc.. etc...

Now planning a QBR within our group is easier said than done, reason? As is with every social network, some members simply disappear, choose not to vote or speak, get bogged down with personal or professional reasons and so on....despite this some members keep the spirit alive and meet more often than others. Ours has been a similar predicament.

Anyways, for the SJ-QBR we reached out to every one via our group network on Yahoo and started a POLL first to fix up a date and wether you believe it or not, we started this activity in Jan for a possible QBR in March 2008, thats the kind of foresight you need to plan this out so every member can make it and even then it wont be known until the last day ;)

Well, we proposed the dates as Mar 7, 8 and 9. We got a confirmation from 9 of them, 8 in our favor. Count of 8 (out of a possible 13) by now is considered as a "premium quoroum" to go ahead with the trip and so we settled down on the dates. By the way, we usually choose a date thats a Fri evening, one full day thats Sat and then come back home Sun afternoon-evening.

Next in line was the Venue, the choices were between Kashid Beach, Murud Janjira and Elvis's bunglow in Lonavala. The POLL is in progress but the winner is clearly turning out to be Elvis' s place and part of the reason why besides that being a emotional choice is the other two venues will require some back-breaking driving on pathetically maintained roads and common sense thus prevails

I guess now the only thing that remains to be planned is, who is going to pick who while heading to the Venue, most of us own a car and that should not be a problem. Looking forward to the ride on Mumbai-Expressway. Vrrrrooom.


February 03, 2008 - Its 6:30 am on a cold morning, sipping a piping hot coffee, I sit down to write a little background on what has been a tradition of sorts for a bunch of guys who have come a long way and been through some of the most fantastic moments in their life. QBR is certainly one of them.

QBR for the lesser-known is Quarterly Boys Review, the term when coined was very apt considering our own professional background where our world revolved 24 X 7, 365 days in meetings, reviews, sessions that came with all sorts of names and one of the them was QBR (Quarterly Business Review). We were inspired to use the term for our re-unions. Interstingly, QBR was not the first term we used for our re-unions and it was called something on

So who are we? How did the group come together? Where did the previous QBRs take place? Chill..chill, I'll give you a drilldown.

This friendship, this strong bond dates back 7 years when all of us met each other for the first time to work together in a Contact Center, Stream Tracmail (now Stream India). Back then, it was considered to be a pioneer in Customer Service industry and it truly was, graduates out from college with a flair of technology, the Internet and raring to make it big, on their own. Another bond that tied us together was the account we were working for, Hewlett-Packard. Almost every one in our group joined at the first level in this account and by the time we left, we were 4 levels up in different roles, in different departments.

The first set of members in our group were yours truly, Rahul, Hemu, Parag and Javed. Then came...Priyank, Elvis, Amit, Karan, Kris, Chandra, Tanveer and Mahesh. Now what is intresting to note is that we have become so close-knit over the years that getting to be a new member of this group is near impossible :)

The first QBR was at Elvis's place in Lonavala, its a beautiful bunglow in a quiet neighbhorhood with a pool view nestled in lush greens. Perfect setting for what we used to call a Boys Day Out (again inspired by Babys Day Out and now in its present form as QBR). We decided we will meet at least once in a Quarter and relive the memories of the past and the future that awaits us. Of course all this living in the present with spirits and food to give us company on lazy Weekends.

We have been there (Elvis's place) second time and it felt just as good. On a third ocassion, we met to celebrate my b'day in Andheri, Mumbai at a Family R & B (thats not Rhythm and Blues). Oh yea, meeting up on my b'day has also become a permanent fixture and has been accomodated as a part of the QBR schedule. On the fourth ocassion, we met again in Lonavala (yea I know, its a tad bit too much and we are working on it) to celebrate my b'day and this time we put up at a cozy Hotel, complete with log-style cabins. Lonavala is the most amazing place, as we discovered, with rains, mist, waterfall and chilly weather in the month of June. Looks like it is going to be on our agenda for sometime, we like it or not. Now on the fifth ocassion, we decided to head out for Daman, a quiet beach destination. I personally enjoyed it the most coz I never drove my car so far away from the city and the experience on the NH roads was quite something. The Hotel, was great with studio-cabins, pool-side and beach views.

And now its time for the upcoming Silver Jubilee QBR and though it may sound overrated but we thought the best place to bring together all the QBR memories (and a emotional decision at that) was back to Elvis's place in Lonavala.

Well, I hope you got a fair idea on how the QBR came in to existence and though revealing the intricacies of each trip is not possible (you will get to see the details for the SJ-QBR on this blog), you can go through the pictures from the previous QBRs and savor them. From hereon, the posts will include planning, the trip and back home. Happy reading and good day or nite depending on when you read it :)