Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Packing & Pre-Boarding

With hardly 2 days left to leave Hyderabad for Kenya, shopping, packing, weighing made up most of the agenda. It was a tough task to stick to the baggage limit, but did I have an option? So the iterations of packing, unpacking and weighing continue, probably would till the last minute. Appropriate clothing for work, for the weekend trips, to be able to manage during the monsoon in Kenya, had to be all taken into consideration.
I also wanted to pick some interesting souvenirs for my team and managed to get some real small, colorful and compact ones that could fit in my baggage.Neither did I miss picking up the very famous Karachi Biscuits of Hyderabad. I could definitely not take the more famous Hyderabadi Biryani from Paradise :))
Besides the packing chores, it was very good to meet colleagues, friends and family who came over to wish me good luck and a safe travel. Definitely a power-packed week. 2 more days to go!
Souvenirs from India

Friday, 25 April 2014

Project, Planning & Prep

A few weeks ago, we also came to know about the project that we would be working on - the much awaited part of the trip. Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) - the Social Pillar of Kenya Vision 2030, it is! How exciting is that! We also had an initial discussion with team from the WEF, before we meet them in person for a kick-off in early May. As such this project happens to be on the agenda of the Ministry of Planning & Devolution of the Government of Kenya.
The excitement didn't end there. Africa, being known for the grasslands and animals, we definitely didn't want to miss the famous game drives at the Maasai Mara Reserve. Other attractions were Lake Natron, Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Hells Gate and many more. We were quick enough to plan for the 4 weekends and visit as many places as we could. 

Listed below are some trusted agents who could help plan your trip to Maasai Mara.
Masai Mara Sentrim Camp: www.sentrimhotels.net
Masai Mara Sopa Lodge: www.sopalodges.com  
Masai Mara Serena: www.serenahotels.com

We are most likely to pick JK Mara to travel by road from Nairobi to Masai Mara for a long weekend - 3 days and 2 nights trip. There are many other agents that offer packages at different rates, some of them even allow you to fly from Nairobi to Masai Mara, but we preferred the road trip, since we didn't want to miss the beautiful landscape (heard from a lot of people) en-route the reserve.

Then the travel and the carrier. While, I would be flying Qatar Airways, there are many other options and combined packages which are worth a try. MakeMyTrip offers some fantastic packages and some real exciting deals for travelers to Kenya.

Project is known, planning is ongoing, preparation in full swing. Boarding is next!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Tick Tock Twelve

Kenya 8 - The Team - 15 of us, representing 12 different nationalities. Our first virtual meeting was amazing and it was nice reading through the participant profiles. Preparatory work kicked off and was planned to extend for a period of 12 weeks starting February. Topics ranging from health, travel, logistics and safety to cultural adaptability, consulting and collaboration were discussed. Supplemented with some very good learning material and activities, the prep sessions seemed to be very helpful.
As each week wafted past, the understanding gained a new level, the preparation gained a new pace and collaboration scored a cent percent. The most awaited moment during the 12 weeks was to allow the fat injection hit my arm - The Yellow Fever Vaccine, a mandatory shot. It was hard on my body for atleast 2 weeks, but worth the little yellow booklet. Oral Polio Vaccine was also mandated for all Indian Travelers. Look up this page for more health related information if you are traveling to Kenya. Also, International SOS offers travel assistance and heath services for travelers.
The effort to be part of this program that started with the application close to an year ago, was now at the stage of finishing mandatory tasks, planning travel and doing some extensive research on various topics. The clock ticked close to 12 weeks in no time.      

Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate
The certificate is actually a booklet

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Excitement+ Begins

It was late in 2013, when I got a confirmation that I have been accepted to the prestigious IBM Corporate Service Corps Program. I was very much excited about this once-in-a-life-time opportunity and was eagerly waiting for my country of assignment. The African Continent was my preferred choice and there you go, Kenya ended up being my assignment country! Who would not be excited! I was thrilled not just by the fact that I would be traveling to Kenya, but also by the fact that my first international visit will be to Africa. 
Then the word spreads and there is a frown on most faces on hearing Kenya as against the US or the UK as a corporate travel destination. But that is IBM CSC - solving issues in emerging markets. And I feel so very privileged to be onboard this very selective and effective program. Soon, book suggestions such as 'The Rough Guide to First-Time Africa', 'Nat-Geo Kenya', 'The Masai and the Masai Mara' started flowing in, travel ideas were dominating my mailbox and tips pertaining to health, food and weather came in abundantly. Thanks to everybody that shared valuable information. The excitement had already begun, but there was much more in terms of planning and preparation coming up soon. Excitement+ on its way!

CSC Kenya 8
Kenyan Flag