I had the privilege to be part of the Industrial visit to Surat. When the schedule was announced, I thought it was a great opportunity to visit Surat, one of the commercial cities of Gujarat. I had never been to any part of Gujarat before. These days, with so much national politics being played around Gujarat, I felt it was the most opportune time to visit Surat and see if there is any merit with the continuous news being flashed either in favor or against the development model of Gujarat. Secondly, the visit was planned to some of the important industries of the country – Donear, NTPC and Batliboi. Thirdly, it is always nice to go on overnight trips that combine fun, pleasure and learning. Thus with three aims, I enrolled for the value added activity of an industrial visit to Surat. It was going to be a two and half day trip starting on Friday 19th July 2013 and ending yesterday i.e. Sunday 21 July 2013.
On Friday we gathered at the institute around 4.30 pm. We were 17 of us (see the list below) – 14 participants, 2 organizers (Roshan Jha and Poonam Bhatia) and one faculty member – Ms. Kirti. Of the participants, I knew Manish and Bhushan through earlier interactions and had briefly met Pravesh at one of the earlier events. The rest of the guys I was meeting for the first time. We were all seated in a comfortable air-conditioned bus. The bus left Welingkar Institute at 5 pm. We took the western express highway via Bandra. We reached Fountain hotel (at the junction of the western express highway and the Thane Ghodbunder road) at 7.30 pm. We played a good two and half hours of antakshari along the way. We had some snacks/ tea and left Fountain hotel at 8 pm. We started playing dumb charades. It was fun watching people do funny things while enacting movie names. I think the time we spent playing dumb charades got us going as a group and set the tone for a fun filled trip. We reached Hotel Sahyadri on the Maharashtra and Gujarat border about 10 pm. We spent an hour having dinner and taking pictures. It took us another three hour drive to reach Hotel Alfa in Surat. It was a very good hotel to stay and was bang opposite the main Surat railway station. We checked in and by 2.30 am were asleep.
Waking up at 7 am on Saturday was tough. Yet I did manage to pull myself out of the cozy bed. By 8.30 am, we were at the breakfast table munching on bread butters and poha. A nice breakfast in our tummies, we set out for the first plant visit to Donear. At Donear, we were given an introduction to the textile industry by Mr. Purshottam (Textile Consultant at Donear). We were then shown around the plant by Mr. Deepak Joshi. Mr. Deepak seemed to know everything about the textile industry in detail. He was able to explain to us the in and out of every big and small process. The process of converting a thread into a piece of cloth was a fascinating watch. Once done with the plant visit, we had our lunch at the plant canteen itself. By 2 pm we left for our next destination – NTPC.
We reached NTPC at 3 pm. We were given a good brief about NTPC and the power generating capabilities by Mr. Mansukhbhai (the plant in-charge) and Mr. Sachin Sharma (the chief engineer). We spent the next three hours looking at the huge infrastructure at NTPC and learning so many astonishing facts about it. A learning session I cannot forget. I was lucky to be part of it.
We left NTPC in the evening around 6.30 pm. The plan was do some shopping and have dinner before we went back to the hotel. We reached the famous Bombay Market at 7.30 pm. The market is famous for sarees, dress materials and kids wear – at prices that are very reasonable for the quality on offer. Most of us bought something for our near and dear ones. We had a sumptuous dinner at Navjeevan hotel. It was a well-deserved dinner after a long but enjoyable learning day. We reached Hotel Alfa around 10 pm. I quickly had a shower, freshened up and went around the Surat station for a walk with myself. I must say that the vicinity of Surat station is a sight to behold, especially at nights. Being Ramzan, there was hustling and bustling of people out to enjoy the delicacies like milkshakes, fruit salads and sweets.
I was tired and knew that if I did not get a good sleep tonight, I will have a weary next day. I slept early into the midnight. But I also know most others were playing cards and having fun into the wee hours of the morning. I missed that part.
Sunday was a little relaxed day. We woke up late and only by 9 am, we were at the reception for breakfast. Poonam had arranged for some lovely dhoklas, jalebis and papdis which we all had. There is a sweet shop – Mohan Mithai – close to the Surat station. We all bought sweets and farsan to carry home. I tasted the sweets and all of them were made of pure ghee. I did buy a lot of sweets, khakras and farsan for my family back home.
We were ready for the third industry – Batliboi. We reached around 11 am. They have a huge campus of about 1,80,000 square meters. We also saw some peacocks in the vast open areas amidst which the factory is built. For the next three hours, we were shown the various aspects of the manufacturing plant – right from foundry to the machinery and then the assembly. Mr. Pranav Ghosh (In-charge – Foundry) and Mr. Ramesh Kotian (Division Head) were very forthcoming on explaining to us the details of each division. Once the plant visit was over, we quickly finished the exam (yes, we answered questions on the visit).
A good Punjabi thali was what was needed and we got it at Sarvottam hotel. The meal helped us regain our energy back. We left for Mumbai at 4 pm. Being in the bus gave us an opportunity to get back to our favorite activity – dumb charades. We spent a good three hours indulging ourselves in some splendid rounds of enacting and guessing movie names. We stopped by a hotel on the Gujarat border for tea and biscuits. And once again, we were in the bus playing what we knew best. I reached home at 10 pm, had a shower and engaged myself in the after-thoughts that the visit had given me.
This visit helped me satisfy all of my objectives. The first was obviously to make new friends and to have a real good time visiting a new place. We had so much fun that no amount of detailing and words can describe the intensity or the bonding that was experienced. I must thank each one of those present on the trip for gifting me memories that will stay with me for a long time. The second was about the learning involved. The visit to all the three plants has enriched my knowledge for sure. Something that is seen and experienced is learnt better. The knowledge will stay and grow.
The third aspect was more about Gujarat and its development. I saw a lot of construction work happening in Surat – roads, flyovers, industrial zones and commercial establishments. It seems that the city is in a high gear towards development. All the people we met at the various plants harped on the advantages Surat provides to businesses and industries. The most common phrase I heard in the praise for Gujarat was “Humare paas Modi hai”. It is one of the rare states which is a surplus power generator and provides electricity to most other states in India. I still am not certain whether what I saw is what I should believe, but I feel I have taken the first step towards conviction. Being in Gujarat and witnessing for myself the activity level, has added some weight to the conviction.
Finally this trip would not have been possible without two entities – Welingkar Institute and Trainathon. Ms. Kirti has taken a lot of efforts in giving the trip the shape it needed. I thank her for her efforts in getting it done. I also thank Ms. Poonam and Mr. Roshan for such a wonderful organization. They have some good thoughts for their firm and I wish them well.
Very soon, I will be publishing individual blogs on the plant visits to Donear, NTPC and Batliboi.
The gang at Surat – Devesh Fojdar, Poonam Bhatia, Bhushan Vyas, Pravesh Sharma, Yogesh Patil, Snehal Londe, Manish Pradhan, Hitesh Jalgaonkar, Tejas Tawde, Neeta Patel, Roshan Jha, Swapna Naik, Chitrang Sawant, Vaibhav Jadhav, Aamir Furniturewala, Ms. Kirti and Sachin Sadare.
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