‘TREKKING IN AFRICA, WE SUDDENLY CAME UPON A FAMILY OF GORILLAS...’
ASHISH BHASIN, CHAIRMAN & CEO, SOUTH ASIA DENTSU AEGIS NETWORK
A WIDER PERSPECTIVE
Until liberalization happened, Indian managers were very inward-looking. In recent years, we have begun travelling widely and the globe has suddenly become our campus. At a professional level, travel helps me understand the finer nuances in various cultures, especially across South East Asia. There was a time when I travelled as much as 25 days a month on work but that only enriched my understanding of clients and customers across regions.
ON THE AFRICAN TRAIL
My family and I usually visit at least one new place every year, and our holidays are always special. One of my most memorable trips was an African holiday back in 2011, when we covered Rwanda, Tanzania and South
Africa. My standout memory from that trip was our encounter with a family of gorillas on the Rwanda-Congo border. We were trekking in the jungle there, a reasonably difficult trek with a guide who used a machete to cut through the dense foliage, so that we had a path to walk on. We suddenly came upon a family of four or five gorillas. Our guide actually spoke to them and encouraged them to accept and befriend us. Next thing I knew, I was sitting beside the patriarch of the family, a silverback! While it was an amazing experience, there was an element of risk since we were in their territory and not in a controlled environment like a zoo. Gorillas are so similar to humans in their behaviour, it’s remarkable!
We then went to see the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, where you find all the animals you could possibly think of. It was almost like the Garden of Eden, and for a while we felt like we were in the middle of The Lion King set. Such a surreal, wonderful experience! We stayed the night at a really nice hotel on the rim of the crater where we could hear the sounds of the animals in the distance. In fact, a huge tusker wandered into our hotel, though the locals said it was a fairly common occurrence. Another brilliant experience was seeing the Serengeti migration from Tanzania to Kenya – these are things you only see on National Geographic but to experience them first hand was something else. We stayed in comfortable, tented hotels on this trip, so we had luxury and champagne breakfasts on the one hand and on the other, we were in the middle of the African forest. I must say that the Rwanda government is doing a commendable job to protect the local ecology, unlike what we see in India.
NO FOOD LIKE INDIAN FOOD
I have visited more than 70 countries because of my job. Wherever I go, I make it a point to try the local cuisine. But I have to say there is no food like Indian food! Wherever I travel, I eat the local food for a few days but then crave good Punjabi food. I am also less adventurous with food - on our African holiday, my son tried the game meat, but I didn’t!