Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Drive through @ McDonalds Velachery - Your burger served in less than 5 minutes


23rd September (Sunday) - I was driving with my friend to Velachery. We were running late for a meeting. We decided to have a quick snack/meal somewhere on the way. We were in the Velachery area, and we saw McDonalds near Velachery MRTS. We decided to stop there and grab a burger to eat on the way. I hardly found any parking lot in front of McDonalds and decided to go to a different restaurant. When we were about to leave the place, we were pleasantly surprised when we saw the "Drive through" sign board.

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For a moment, I couldn't believe what I saw. This is the first time, I'm seeing a drive through restaurant in Chennai (for that  matter, in India). I decided to check whether it is really true. I drove my car through the "drive through" zone. We saw a menu board outside. We choose to have McVeggie Meal. We placed the order and paid at the first window. We drove to the 2nd window to pick up the order. I thought it is going to be a long wait for them to process the order. In fact, I had my own doubts on whether they know that there is a guy with the car waiting for his order to be served. To my surprise, our order was served in less than 3 minutes.

"Wow!" ... This is the feeling that I got when I used the "drive through" system in India for the first time at McDonalds in Velachery. It saved a lot of time for us and the experience was also very pleasant.

(Also read: Plastic Ban in India - Gaining momentum)

I wish we soon get the "drive through" system in our Saravana Bhavans also :)


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

1 year as Division Governor (Tamilnadu) for Toastmasters International


Imagine that you are in the beach, admiring the beauty of the sea and enjoying the waves that come to the shore, to drench your feet. Suddenly, you were thrown into the water and that too into the middle of the sea. You don't know how to swim. You are beginning to sink. The fear of death urges you to flap your hands and legs very fast. You notice that you are starting to come to the top of the water. Within moments, you realize that you are beginning to float. You try harder and start flapping your hands and legs faster, with a little focus. You realize that you are able to swim. You begin to advance to the shore with every wave that pops up from the middle of the sea. In no time, you come to the shore. Wow! That is unbelievable. There was a bigger surprise waiting for you at the shore. You see an army of people gathered at the shore, cheering you ... and congratulating you for the record that you've set in crossing the sea. This is exactly what happened in the last 1 year.

I was not thrown into the waters. But, I took up a major leadership role in Toastmasters International. I was literally thrown into the role and I learned to live as a leader of a large organization. I enjoyed everybit of the role. A role that taught me several leadership lessons, which ... even my MBA degree didn't teach. I served as the Division G Governor for all the toastmasters clubs in Tamilnadu from July 2011 to June 2012.

Looking back, I couldn't believe what I accomplished, together with my team of toastmasters, in the last 1 year. The following are some highlights of my term as the Division Governor of the toastmasters clubs in Tamilnadu:


  1. Division G was the best performing division in the whole of District 82 (which includes all the clubs in South India and Srilanka)
  2. We grew the number of clubs in Tamilnadu from just 21 to 35 (60% growth in a year)
  3. We increased the membership from nearly 600 toastmasters to 900+ toastmasters (50% growth in a year)
  4. We started a Gavel's club in Sri Sankara Senior Secondary School (for toastmasters under age 18)
  5. We conducted 2 Youth Leadership Programs (YLP) for training young students in school on communication & leadership
  6. We conducted 2 division conferences which was attended by record number of 275 toastmasters
  7. We created a 650+ members strong Facebook community for Tamilnadu toastmasters
  8. 7 out of the top 10 clubs in District 82 are from Tamilnadu (based on educational awards/membership)
  9. 25% of the educational awards in District 82 were produced by Division G (District 82 had 9 different divisions)
  10. We set new records in membership, educational awards, and new clubs creation thereby achieving the #1 status in the whole of District 82


Now you can imagine what I was doing during my weekends and at times, during my weekday evenings. When somebody says, "I don't have time, it means that they haven't prioritized a particular activity. They might've had time, but they would've used it for something else". I wasn't able to write even a single blog post in the last 1 year, because I didn't have time :) I was spending most of my spare time for toastmasters activities.

I got a unique opportunity to meet 1000s of people and deliver speeches in front of audience of varying sizes / age groups. The skills that I developed in a year couldn't be acquired even if I spend a million dollar in academic institutions. Thanks to Toastmasters International for offering me a platform to develop my skills and thanks to my fellow toastmasters for helping me in my leadership journey.

Now, I'm back to my good old days, doing my good old favorite activity - blogging ! You can expect to see regular blog posts from me on subjects related to R2I and my experience in India.