Thursday 28 May 2020

The Lockdown Diaries: Our Arrival

All things being normal, Uma and I would have been escorting a group of friends in Morocco as we speak! Today would have been Day 12 of the tour for Wendy and friends, starting from Dades, enjoying the views of Atlas Mountains and arriving at Marrakesh. As things stand, we are rescheduling the tour to May 2021.

Since we didn't catch the flight to Morocco, let's talk about another flight. This is probably the most important flight we ever took as a family, the one that bought us to New Zealand for a fresh start just 16 years ago.

June 2004 brought us our red-letter day in the form of an email from my friend Saravanan. He was living in New Zealand, working as SAP Specialist in the IT Department of Click Clack Limited - you know the company that made unbreakable food storage containers? He was asking me to apply for the position of IT Systems Administrator. 

I applied just for fun, not thinking too much about it. But then, to my surprise I was interviewed twice within a week and got my offer of employment! And on the 15th August 2004, when India was celebrating its independence day, Uma and I arrived in these shores with our 4-year old Sai. 

When we came out of Auckland International Terminal to catch the shuttle to Domestic, we had our first taste of Kiwi kindness. We had packed 14 pieces of luggage assuming naively that we wouldn't be able to get most Indian things here. It was spitting when we came out. We were all tired to the bones after a very long-haul journey. Sai was clinging to Uma. The shuttle bus arrived. Before we could blink our eyes, fellow travellers picked one of our luggage each with a smile and carried into the bus. I can assure you it was not just the rain that made my eyes wet.

And so began our life in New Zealand, in Palmerston North!

Thursday 21 May 2020

The Lockdown Diaries: Life after COVID as Tourism Operators in New Zealand

Most people switch on their apocalypse mode during when a crisis strikes. And then there are some, who see new opportunities. I guess Uma and I belong to the latter category. I wouldn't pretend that we were not rattled when COVID-19 situation escalated very rapidly. 

There was no known strategy to refer to. All the rulebooks and norms were thrown out of the window. Doors were closing in whichever direction you looked to. Revenue from our Tourism business not just became Zero, but it started going negative when clients started cancelling and we had to issue refunds. 


Meanwhile, the bills kept coming. Mortgage needed to be paid. Our 19-year old son Sai is studying Bachelor of Music (film music composition specialization) at Victoria University, Wellington. How do we pay his fees? 12-year old Aniruth is in Year 8. Will we still be able to spend $300 for his school camp in October, if at all it goes ahead? Questions. Lots of them. With blank answers.


Before I tell you how we went about finding some goals to work toward to, let me take you on a time travel back through our lives. Back to when I was a regular, routine-bound, employed man. Uma was discovering herself with a Web Design business, and then with her Uma's Indian Vegetarian Cooking Classes. Then in April 2013, both of us became entrepreneurs and partners-in-crime, starting our Tourism business in April 2013. Fasten your seat belts folks, because you are in for a rollercoaster ride!