An Incentive trip to India

January 8, 2016

I believe that choosing India as a destination for a large group incentive was a real leap of faith for our client. He had never been there and in all honesty had never had it in his radar - in his words, he just did not fancy it - and I get that. But I will tell you what I told him. And he trusted my opinion - and everyone was glad he did.

I adore India both personally and professionally. There is nowhere like it on earth, nowhere that assaults the senses like India and nowhere so diverse. It will not be for everyone. I hate the "marmite" analogy but it could not be more appropriate for India, you do either love it or hate it - and I can fully understand why. The heat, the noise, the poverty and the constant worry about the condition of your tummy can put people right off! But only if you let it. If you focus on the colour (so much colour), the noise (in a good way), the smiles (everyone, I mean everyone will give you a smile), the food (it's fab) and understand that India has dealt millions of people a bad hand but there is nothing you can do about it, you certainly have no right to judge it, then India can be so enriching. The only way to approach India, especially the first time you visit is to leave all your comforts and expectations at home. The only thing you need to take with you is an open mind so that you can take in all that you see, hear and smell without any pre-conceptions or comparison. Let India charm you and you will fall in love with it. On this incentive trip, we took a group of 160 guests to Delhi and Jaipur with a trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal in between. Actually "seeing" the Taj Mahal is an understatement without comparison. You don't see the Taj Mahal, you experience it, you behold it and you breathe it in. Your eyes are merely the vehicle to embrace what is simply extraordinary. The ultimate token of love that puts a bunch of flowers into real perspective! I've been there twice and cannot wait to go again. If you ever get the chance, go and enjoy this most spectacular of iconic global landmarks. There is not a lot else in Agra, but then there doesn't have to be if you've got the Taj Mahal.

Delhi and Jaipur are vastly different cities. Both charming in their own way. Delhi really is a city of two halves. New Delhi houses luxury hotels, good restaurants, expensive houses and green lawns. Old Delhi doesn't! Old Delhi transports you straight into manic India. Rickshaws, car horns, monkeys hanging from wiring, people, traffic, markets, a man selling ice in 45 degree heat from the back of his bike with no refrigeration (talk about your profits slipping through your hands!), more people, roadside food stalls (you wouldn't touch them with a barge pole!) and smiles. As always, there is smiles. Love it.

Jaipur is Cornwall compared to Delhi's London - within reason! It hasn't got the cityscape of Delhi or the infrastructure but it is ker-azy! Road markings, what road markings?! Close your eyes, put your foot down and pray you don't hit any of the following (and I've seen them all roaming the streets) - cows (obviously), elephants, pigs, boars, monkeys, dogs and donkeys - and if that's not enough, on roundabouts, you don't give way to the right, it is down to any oncoming traffic or cows to miss you - whoaa! Still, it's all good fun. The pink city of Jaipur is wonderful. Busy, lively, noisy and not pink (slightly more terracotta) but all in all, just great.

Running a group event in India is a challenge. You need to be strong physically, as the heat is sapping, the programme is full on and sleep is of a premium. But you also need to be strong mentally, and you need to know how the system works. As mentioned earlier, the smiles that emanate from everyone you meet, also translate in a desire to say "yes" - to absolutely everything - even if the answer is "no"! An in-grained desire to please can be a hurdle. Every request is met with a positive reply and after a few "are you sure's", you will get there in the end. It can be hard work, second guessing can be exhausting, but if you know how to work the system, and you have a network in place that you can trust, all will be well. If you don't have either of these - good luck!

I started off this blog with "I" adore India, but after this incentive, I know that there is 150+ that now love it, and they include the team at Ulterior. The film is about our work. It is hard work but it is all wonderful. An enthralling country, enchanting people and a joy to visit every time. I cannot wait to go back.

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