I was disappointed in not being able to meet you, but I understood completely why this did not work out. Hopefully next time we will meet.
Im sorry I did not send you an email sooner and without prompts from you. I came back to the US and the demands of my job and hit the ground running here. It is hard to believe that over two weeks have passed since returning home.
Sharad the trip was outstanding. From beginning to end we were able to accomplish our purposes. You have an attentive and responsive staff. Manjeet was an effective companion throughout our time in India. He was so much more than a representative of your company or guide. He became one of us. His involvement enriched the trip in ways that I could not have anticipated in advance. His willingness to become part of our group was a crucial ingredient to making the trip as special as it was. Manjeet was expert at reading the personalities of the groups faculty leaders and discerning the kinds of experiences that we wanted our students to have. I was able to talk with him about how we were trying to design experiences to enrich student learning and develop country competence, and he was unquestionably responsive. He got it and became a true partner in helping us achieve what we sought out to achieve on both the macro and micro levels. My impression was that Manjeet was sincerely interested in the success of our trip and sincerely interested in the welfare of each member of our group.
We only had Harmeet on the last day of the trip, but he was equal to Manjeet in his attentiveness and responsiveness. Both showed a sincere interest in ensuring that we would have the kind of experience that we were looking for. Harmeet had the particularly difficult task of helping us with two students who were sick and several others who werent feeling well. He was responsive and competent. He acted with confidence and in a way that helped everyone manage both personal struggles and program needs.
Sharad, we had a very clear vision of what I wanted to happen going into this trip. I dont mean the itinerary in that we would see this and then see that, but that we would have a collection of experiences that would elicit reflection and result in intellectual and emotional learning that would be transformative. We wanted students to learn about culture by having interactions with Indian culture and by having their own cultural assumptions challenged on a deeply personal level. We wanted students to interact with India, not only from a comfortable distance as a tourist would but up close and personal. Your staff, both Manjeet and Harmeet, were true partners in making sure that we were able to do this. They were active participants, working to accomplish our purposes. Never did I feel that this was a canned or packaged tour. I felt that it was our trip, accomplishing our purposes, in our way. It was truly personalized to meet our needs. I have been on similar trips before where I have felt a tension between the me and the company representatives as I have been trying to design experiences to meet my objectives and the company representatives have been trying to design experiences differently. I didnt feel this tension when interacting with either Manjeet or Harmeet. They were always our advocates and partners, attentive and responsive, invested in ensuring that we would have the kind of experience that we wanted to have and that would be in our best interest.
We had good local guides. Especially outstanding was Sanjay in Aurungabad. His knowledge of and passion for the Ellora and Anjanta Caves was amazing and he had a personality and approach that fit well with our group. All of us were captivated by his stories and information. It went beyond the caves. He also taught us a great deal about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, and marriage and family, education, career, caste, and life in India. We asked a lot of questions and he gave frank, unbiased answers.
Our drivers were excellent. They were friendly and helped us feel safe on the roads. The driver we had through from Jaipur through the end of our trip was an amazing driver. He could navigate his large bus through what seemed to me to be impossible situations. I enjoyed watching him do this with confidence and finesse.
Our itinerary was outstanding. We had a nice balance of activities that helped us get a taste of the breadth and cultural depth of India. The accommodations were comfortable, and in some cases exceeded our expectations. We especially enjoyed the Lemon Tree and the Tiger Den.
Thank you so much for such an outstanding trip. Next time we will meet and I will be able to thank you in person.
Sincerely and with Best Regards,
Richard Bischoff, Ph.D.