Course at ONGC Academy, Dehradun, February 2018
Last week, I travelled from Calgary to Dehradun, India, to conduct a course at ONGC Academy, from February 19th (Monday) to 23rd (Friday), 2018. This time I flew British Airways (BA), my first experience in BA business class. I was a bit apprehensive that the 1 hour and 10 minutes layover at London may be rather short for me to go through security and reach the gate on time for my next flight from London to Delhi. But I must say that it was a smooth transition (partly because both, the incoming and outgoing flights were from Terminal 5, the BA hub), and I was able to spend some 40 minutes in the BA lounge, before boarding my next flight. The ground staff at Terminal 5 greets you with a smile, and very politely provides directions or guidance that you may be looking for. There were no excessively long queues. Terminal 5 as such is nice and bright, and it is usually quiet in there. The business class seats on the BA Dreamliner are spacious and comfortable, with the food and drinks services carried out professionally. I could catch up a bit on my sleep on all four legs of my journey, considering that I sleep poorly in the air. The two different BA lounges that I visited (one while going and the other while coming) at Heathrow airport were some of the best ones I have been to, what with their stock of drinks, variety of refreshments, reading material and comfortable sofas.
However, there was a hiccup in that on reaching Delhi I found out that my two pieces of luggage had not arrived. As we were told, there was a malfunction in a conveyor belt at Heathrow, and 43 bags could not be loaded on to our flight to Delhi, two of which happened to be mine. So, I had to travel from Delhi to Dehradun with my laptop bag only. But I must add that the professional service rendered by BA is commendable in that both suitcases were sent from Delhi to Dehradun by overnight bus service via a courier, who hand-delivered them to me the following early morning at the hotel where I was putting up, and well before I was to get ready to go to ONGC Academy. That I thought was handled very well.
The weather at Dehradun was very pleasant, and it was very welcome especially in that I went from -30 degrees at Calgary to 18-20 degrees. It remained pleasant during the week, except on the day I was to leave, i.e. Saturday, when there were some light showers.
At ONGC Academy, I had a class of 19 participants for my 5-day course on ‘Advanced 3D seismic data interpretation’, all from different work centers of ONGC, with a good mix of experience and youth. The one single thing that stands out wherever I teach in India is the warmth, regard, respect and hospitality that is effortlessly on display, and I experience it each time. It is a cultural thing, and this time it was no different. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning, because I cherish it on each of my visits.
Apparently, my course went off well as I was told at its completion, based on the feedback provided by the participants. I like to have a positive and an engaging atmosphere in my class, because not only is it good for the participants, but it keeps me motivated throughout to try and explain various aspects of problems, and their possible solutions. This in turn keeps up the interest on the broad topics being discussed. All 19 participants were eager and enthusiastic, and I did ease their initial hesitation to encourage them to ask questions, and participate in discussions. This seemed to work well. All arrangements for the course were organized well, for which the organizer, Mr. Anil Kumar Naithani deserves appreciation.
Midweek, I was invited to give a talk on the Society of Petroleum Geophysicists (SPG), India platform, which I accepted. I delivered a talk on ‘Advances in some reservoir characterization techniques’, on Wednesday evening. It was well-attended and it was nice meeting some of my old ONGC colleagues there. The question and answer session that followed was interesting too. Being a founder member of SPG, India, any such event is close to my heart.
The SPG organizers did a great job in putting up this event at short notice, together with making arrangements for tea and refreshments.
Another invitation that I received during the week was to interact with geophysicists working at KDMIPE, ONGC on Friday evening after completion of my course at the ONGC Academy. It was probably the first time when I was formally honoured with a shawl on reception. I have only seen such things on TV being done with politicians, as for example Indian Prime Minister Modi has been presented many times. It was a very satisfying and interesting experience, meeting and chatting with some of the young minds at ONGC
The younger geophysicists are very anxious and inquisitive, which I think is very good. They had some interesting questions which I tried to answer up to the best of my ability.
Similarly, my return flights were smooth and comfortable. I got back home on Sunday afternoon, with the weather having improved quite a bit.