Gerhard and Beate Schreiber discover the incredible in India

This interview done by me, originally appeared on our timeshare website: http://www.airda.org

Gerhard and Beate Schreiber came on a long planned holiday to India – they were coming back after 35 years, which is a long, long time. This endearing German couple has fond memories of their first holiday in the country, and always looked forward to coming back to retrace their first vacation trail and revisit familiar tourist spots.

According to Gerhard, India seems like a country that has moved into a whole new era. I can see progress, I can see advancement and I can see a whole new pace in terms of lifestyles, architecture, entertainment, sport and travel.

For us, it was like an experience that can be described as back to the future.

Q: Most people from abroad have problems with the food. What was your experience?

Having worked here earlier, I’m familiar with the food and the aromas of desi cooking – but my stint in the country was a long time ago. I must add here that my wife is discovering new things every day.

For the international tourist, Indian food is different from many points of view – taste, the way it’s served, or traditionally eaten. What also we need getting used to is eating with our hands – without cutlery. There’s a learning process I guess, but the people here are so helpful, that you learn and adapt very quickly. We were clear that we would not insist on the kind of food that we were used to, back home – we wanted to be local and think local.

Q: How did you personally like your stay at a timeshare resort in India?

I must say that we had a really nice time – fortunately we had good friends in India who gifted us their weeks at a few timeshare resorts and helped organize a nice round-trip. This was a holiday that will be permanently etched in our minds. Overall, we found the standard of service to be good, and the food was excellent. We come from a predominantly wine growing area, and by our measure some of your Indian wines are pretty good.

Based on our experience in terms of staying at a timeshare resort, we found very little difference between a hotel in India and a timeshare resort – in terms of properties, quality of service, food and the little details that go into making it a pleasant, comfortable experience.

Q: How popular is the timeshare concept, back home?

If you look at the European belt, you will find that timeshare is growing in popularity – and Germany too, I’m sure will gain from this in the years to come. We have excellent locations for timeshare resort activity, and that is useful to build on

But I guess timeshare needs to be sold and marketed differently in my part of the world, because the whole of Germany, for that matter, the whole of Europe is like one gigantic holiday destination.

Q: Would you consider a timeshare plan when you go back to Germany?

Now that is something I must really explore when I get back home, but if I were a resident of India, I would definitely invest in a timeshare membership. Timeshare is a ticket to an exciting new world of holidays, and spending quality time with your family and friends.

I am also aware of the extended reach, worldwide through global exchange partners – and this I’m sure can widen your horizon by thousands of exotic resort locations dotted across the world. And that can be exciting.

Q: What are your takeaways in terms of memories and observations?

We were working within a very brief holiday calendar and wanted to pack in as much as we could. And I must say we were delighted with our stay at the timeshare resorts where we were lucky to obtain confirmed dates. I was particularly impressed with the efficiency in which these resorts were being managed, and the attention to detail being paid to each guest. At one resort, our host actually sat down with us to find out about our menu preferences, the kind of activities we were interested in, and other ways of making us comfortable during our stay.

Q: Any other thoughts that come to mind?

That’s a good question, and we will do our best to answer that. Now, while most resorts do a good job inside their premises, things may not be the same on the outside. My feedback to these resorts is to take some ownership of the spaces around you. Spend some CSR time and effort on local communities – teach their youngsters language skills. Teach them English, teach them work skills. You never know, eventually you might just be hiring them.

Some more feedback – please find ways to use alternate energy sources for your needs – re-use, replenish, recycle. Also consider joining hands with other players in the tourism industry to help improve infrastructure.

While “Namaste” says welcome, your visitors must experience that in more ways than one.

Cats on the couch, and on your armrest

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Last week I met up with an old friend after 30 years – while that was supposed to be a happy reunion, the visit had me on tenterhooks. Viju Menon has four dogs and 18 cats – all living happily under one roof. So in between sips of tea, I had kittens (and cats) darting though my feet and jumping over my shoulder. One little devil even got into my rather roomy shoulder bag and settled in for a cat nap.

There were times when six of them would snowball together and shoot across the room. Quiet moments were punctuated by the clamor of pots and pans besieged by an army of kittens. And right in the middle of all this my friend was calm, collected and eager to catch up on the last 30 years – while his wife looked heavenward, each time a stack of plates went crashing to the floor.

Looking back at that episode, I begin to wonder about people, and pets.

What’s a good number of dogs, cats, birds, and other animals? (In terms of normal / not so normal.) How do people actually manage to look after and feed them? What happens when the wife is a pet lover, and the husband is not? How do you go on a holiday, if you can’t find someone to feed four dogs and 18 cats? How much would your vet charge on home visits?

And lastly, one math question – how many liters of milk do you need in a day to feed 18 cats? (I didn’t see a milk vending machine in his house.)

Sharath Bhat

Image (c) sharath bhat

Sharath Bhat also blogs at http://www.bigontalent.in & http://www.laffetaria.com

Big on Talent > Vihan Damaris

Another beautifully rendered video by Vihan Damaris. We asked her what inspired her to do this, and why she picked this song.

I heard this song by Hollyn (a new Christian artist), and something about the genre and vocal style struck a chord in me that few Christian songs out there do. Not to mention the lyrics which, combined with the music, exhibit a strangely appealing mix of fierce vulnerability.

I had to do it.

Though it was different from what I’ve done before, it felt true, like I was unearthing a part of me that was waiting its turn. The video again tries to capture that wild spirit realizing its own mortality and pleading to be embraced by its maker rather than being left alone. In fact, I had to lock myself into a room of a room to be able to film the desperation that could be if I really was deserted by God. It’s a desperation that throws to the wind any trace of self consciousness that might have otherwise been there.

In the video there are many takes put together which you could say are different parts of me all joining hands in that one request- that God would not leave me alone with myself.

We interviewed Vihan in January this year
on the Big on Talent blog – here’s the link to the interview:

Talking to Vihan Damaris

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Did you go on that vacation, last year?

People need to take their breaks from busy work schedules – as often as they can, and as often as they can afford to. Sounds exciting, but can be difficult if you’re in a high-pressure job or part of a team that has key deliverables right through the year. But I’m sure most of us can take that annual vacation to get away from regular work, and enjoy the outdoors – the wilderness beckons.

But from what I have seen, many people either choose not to go, or find some trivial excuse to give that vacation a miss. A vacation can work wonders, in terms of revitalizing your entire being – your mind, body and soul. You come back refreshed, and you come back wrinkle-free and smiling ear to ear.

Source: Q&A: Talking to Arathi Venkatesh of Bangalore