I am not sure if the road to Munnar can be compared to the famous North American Shore drive, Cabot Trail, but this past weekend, there was surely some Cabot in the air at Munnar where our team headed out for a fun team building trip. The trip has been long in the planning and the last delay is attributed to me and the team waited patiently for me to join the organization and then go on the trip. There was only one objective for the trip, to take a break from the digital world of bits and bytes and to take in some nature and recharge our batteries. Of course, that and much more was achieved in the trip, keeping in line with the Cabot tradition of delivering beyond the expectations :) It was a pleasant surprise when our bus actually left the office at 7:10 AM. We were only delayed by 10 minutes from our planned departure of 7! Whoever said that Indian Standard Time is always two hours late, obviously didn’t know Jithin, our coordinator who was rumoured to be on the phone almost entire night making sure none of the passengers overslept and delayed the trip ! The first item on the agenda was, like any other bus trip, stop and get some lemons and sick bags. Even though I took a lemon in my hand, I did not have to use the sick bag. Jithin started off the proceedings with an ‘introductory’ game.  Team members were divided into groups of two and the first member had to introduce the second member and vice versa.  Of course, we all knew what each other did at work etc, so the catch was to introduce the team mate with some information that was not public knowledge. It was a fun game and we all came to know about the many different phone calls received by the folks and lots of guess work about who the caller might be. Even though the game had the potential  for doing some real damage, everyone kept a cool demeanor and maintained professional standards and no names were revealed :) Followed by the game was a song written and composed by the ‘light and sound’ of Cabot, Jinsy. Modelled after the famous Malayalam boat race song ‘ Kuttanaadan punjayille… ‘ Jinsy’s version dealt with all employees of Cabot and their roles. Great work Jinsy ! I am yet to get  a copy of that song and perhaps one day it can be published in our blog ! By that time, we had exhausted all our energies and we stopped to get some breakfast. By looking at the busy restaurant, we could already imagine the crowd that would be waiting for us at the top of the mountain. I guess we were lucky to get some breakfast as I could see the restaurant turning some people down as we were leaving the place to continue our trip. Second half of our trip was Anthaakshari time, the popular movie song game where teams sing songs that start with the last letter of the song that the other team sings. There were two teams and after a good one hour of singing, there were no winners or losers and by that time we were close to Munnar. Our first destination was Mattupetty, some 12 kms from Munnar. So we went right through Munnar and proceeded to Mattupetty. Of course, we stopped enroute to catch a glimpse of the tea estates and taste some mangoes. Jinsy and Geethu managed to get a horse ride in as well, even though their original plan of both of them riding in a single horse didn’t work out so well as they planned. We walked along the Mattupetty dam and enjoyed the cool breeze from the lake beneath. All the boys were fascinated by the gun wielding little boy who challenged them to get four out of five shots for a petty gift of a ragged doll. Bananth was unanimously voted to be our first volunteer because of his one time attempt to become a police officer. Of course, he proved why he didn’t become one as all five of his shots missed not just the balloons but the entire stand J Mejat wanted to show how it was done and if I recollect correctly he was close to a balloon or two, but he did not break anything, at least not the balloons that he was supposed to anyway. Shibu showed some courage and took the gun next and with some luck, managed to hit a balloon in his first shot! The next four shots are nothing to write about. All along this, our fearless leader Naveen was commenting on how one should allow for the wind speed and direction and shoot accordingly etc. He was the next one to take the gun and he must have made some terrible miscalculations with the wind speed because no balloons were popped! Varghese chettan showed off some of his old school training by hitting three balloons in his five shots and received great cheers ! It was getting late for our lunch appointment at Munnar and we decided to make it a short visit of Mattupetty and get back to Munnar for lunch. But there was a problem. All along the mattupetty dam were street vendors selling bracelets, hats, make up stuff etc and our female co-workers found some solace in them since they didn’t participate in the violent balloon shooting incidents. When we sent Jithin to distract them and get them on to the bus, he too joined them and helped them get more dust collectors for their houses ! Lunch at Munnar Inn was good and there were lots of happy faces after the lunch. It was close to 4 PM by the time lunch was over and we could not get into the Rajamalai forest as it was closed at that time. So our trip back home started and we decided to play some dumb charades to keep ourselves from dozing off. It was then that we realized that we are all lucky to have day jobs other than acting! Memorable acting was presented by Mejat who ran inside the bus for almost a km and his team had no clue what he was trying to say ! Of course, he was trying to say ‘Sammanam’ (gift or trophy) that one would get when they win a running race ! Well, at least he is looking fit on the Monday ! We all had a great time and everyone enjoyed the trip. I personally learned a lot about the Cabot family. It would be remiss to end the blog without thanking Jithin who worked very hard to coordinate and execute this wonderful trip! Thanks Jithin !

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