Our Mission Singapore had humble beginnings, originating as a mild aspiration, fueled in part by the constant eyeshare of x,xxx* airfare+hotel+sightseeing offers in the dailies, our retired elders travel grapevine. And partly that perhaps we had been static too long, and wanted some change from the urban ruralscape that Bangalore was fast becoming. So what would fit a foreign trip on a reasonable budget, we made our mind.

As a bit of a sales guy, I know my thing around bids, quotes, RFPs and so. Competitive bidding for the best is then again a norm regardless. So I put in my inquiries all over the web 3-4 web portals, 2-3 independent agents and visited 2 physical stores. Ample bidders in the game, first step successful. Next step, headcount. At the start count we were 2 young men , 2 young ladies, 1 mom and 2 very young ladies, range of age 2 to 62. As the trip information flowed down the family grapevine, we became 2 young men, 2 young ladies, 2 moms, 1 pop and 2 very young ladies. Range of age 2 to 60. Me one of the young men within the median. As date would be a primary parameter, I meticulously went about planning dates and had everyone to sign off on one, 20th Dec. It was a date worked out after heavy working around professional commitments of the group, discussions down to the level of assigning official resources over which I had no control whatsoever.

As you might guess, the holistic feel when managing the aspirations of such a group is more like managing a country, where you have people from diverse backgrounds, age groups and professions. Secondly who carries the luggage and the kids when the coolies aren’t around, the 2 young men of course. So degree of mobility is constrained too. And too top it up travel in the peak holiday season. Challenges come in many flavours apart from projects like Delhi metro. And then when young man of the two, and that was not me had constraints with his work,  guess who had to taken the mantle of responsibility and power… well that’s me.

So I had an election manifesto, created with what we felt would work best, and would keep us mobile and keep our blood pressures low. As the first principle of good governance, my rule was to decide on an agenda based on what I feel will work and then communicate, communicate and communicate to the rest until all understood. A leader must display conviction at all times even when he changes his decision 3 times in a day and then again is able to convince the electorate either which way. And which I truly demonstrated with success, within a short span of time, I managed to convince my electorate along the feasibility and equal unfeasibility of all the following combinations

Langkawi+KL+Singapore on 20th Dec 5,6 or 7 nights
Langkawi+Singapore on 20th Dec 5,6 or 7 nights
Singapore+KL on 20th Dec 5,6 or 7 nights
Singapore+Cruise on 20th Dec 5,6 or 7 nights
Singapore+Bin tan on 20th Dec 5,6 or 7 nights
Singapore on 20th Dec, 5 nights
Singapore on 20th Dec, 4 nights

And then after all this, to my amazement, I managed to convince everyone later to the above options for the 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 20th as well, for that matter any date so long as we would go.

While this was happening, my mind a fertile ground around travel and exploration was heavy working out the logistics of each day, each hour and planning out strateges, maps and , Hotel A, not close to metro, No, Hotel B, right next to freeway, No. Hotel C, so many bad reviews (that I felt like adding one more), Hotel E opening onto an expensive shopping area, (with 4 ladies gunning for malls, you need to be discreetly parsimonious) ,No.

I had with me four different hour by hour theme based itinaries off VisitSingapore.com, currency exchange rates for trans-asia, and MRT travel details down to the 6 lines… and mental maps on how to keep each one of my electorate smiling 24×7.
Flights, in a span of 1 week I took on blockings and cancellations on Indian Airlines, Jet, Thai, Malaysian, SriLankan and Singapore airlines. No mean achievement especially even before you have traveled.

A lot of my thinking and excitement of the trip was guided around by an impression lingering on from the summer of June 2000 AD, when I spent 1 hour transit time  in a bright sunny Singapore on Clarke quay….I thought that’s how it would be even now, until I read up a statistic….December is peak monsoon time in Singapore.

Within the next few hours I was all over met records, yahoo answers chatting up with Singaporeans and checking up with my office colleagues based in Singapore. Net result, yes it would be monsoon, but what heck, it rains everyday in Singapore anyway, so just come!

Some thoughts… and then perhaps the momentum of all above – keep planning the attack…

Day 4 the inquiries start yielding fruit. I get a call from Simran Makemytrip, I put down my phone its Anjali from Yatra, and then again, its Sonakshi from a local travel agent, before I know its Rohit from SOTC, and then of course Balwinder from Ekido.

A minor complication that I did not mention here was that that my electorate spans Bangalore and Chandigarh (two of the cities that I love most in this country) and fortunately my family is based almost entirely within these two places too. So while I was floating RFPs around, one young lady, my sibling that is, also did her due diligence in visiting a travel operator there by the name of Ekido. My first impressions on hearing the name were impressions a la Japanese, and then perfection and promise of quality of everything Japanese (Trap)….

So some analysis and mental magic quadrants later I give go ahead with Messrs Ekido and we pay a fair advance. Some web navigations later it turns out that Messrs Ekido is a Global tour operator based in India, with its Global operations based in 1 city in India and in 1 office in such city, and a .com address that displayed “website under construction” . Feels exactly like a heavy brass bell dropping on your toe…

As things stand this is where we are right now…at the mercy of Amadeuses and Galileos of the travel world…and perhpas victimized by our own over blockings all over the place…
Well,  if destiny favours travel we will. As of the moment the competitive bidding is still on and heated, my electorate is excited an anticipating, cutting weight, pre-shopping for “The shopping” and by the way are also booked into 4 airlines and 3 hotels in 3 cities on 3 different dates. Courtesy their leader, who sits here updating his blog, and awaiting the destiny of his nation to be revealed…