I have an answer to the question which is my favorite place. But if asked for the favorite place other than your home town, the answer is Philippines.
I had a huge success in setting up the card business for Standard Chartered Bank in India and it’s system migration through an international project which I headed.
I was noticed!
Between offers within the bank for start up in Dubai and regular job in Hongkong, the bank thought about starting card business for its 134 year presence in Philippines. And yours truly was the obvious choice.
Airlifted with family, my wife was thrilled to see the short listed houses. An astute selector she managed to get probably the best house in the posh locality outside the bank’s shortlist but bargained the rent within limits.
The 8000 sq ft mansion in 15000 sq ft compound was a stunner. The 25 meter swimming pool, garden which could seat 150 around round tables and driveway accommodating 14 cars are incidental.
And then everything was provided for.. two live in maids, gardener and pool cleaner. But I refused the last one, a security guard,wielding guns. Guns, no way… I wouldn’t let another having superiority with the gun.
Office car with driver, personal car with personal driver … luxury at its peak. Wife called it ‘the golden days of the Guptas’.
Customary dinner at CEO residence created anxiety. Our house was 60% more bigger.. Oh no!
The challenge then- I have to live upto the reputation. Well I could set up the infrastructure in record (world record) time of 5and half months. I am good.
The one man army started recruiting. Selected 10. Oh well all women!! No, it won’t go well with wife. But assurance came from colleagues. That’s the way it is.
I had the most wonderful time of my life. Best of people, hearts full of love. My Facebook friends list has hundreds from those days. My wife addressed Philippines ‘your country’.
Philippines consists of over 7000 islands. A friend once told me.. On a high tide day we are just a few hundreds.
There are thousands of memories. Ironically the head of church in the catholic country was Cardinal Sin. I thought it was a sign.. Cardinal sin is okay.
Move around, hop islands, you will find some of the best places. Corals are beautifully colored with fish trying to outsmart in the color display.
One of the islands is Corregidor where the bitterest of the World War II battles were fought. General MacArthur left the island promising ‘I will return’
That’s enough for me to declare “I will return” when I left the island after a visit.
I have to return to the Philippines..