Course at ONGC Academy, Dehradun, April 2019

Course at ONGC Academy, Dehradun, 1st to 5th April, 2019

Before arriving in Canada towards the end of 1997, I had worked for ONGC, the leading national oil company of India, for close to 14 years. After having taught courses at ONGC Academy, Dehradun for the last six years or so, whenever an opportunity for teaching a course there comes my way, it is always a very exciting and satisfying experience for me. This time it was no different and I was invited to teach a course on ‘Advanced seismic attribute analysis and reservoir characterization’ from April 1st to 5th, 2019. I patronized KLM airline this time, flying the blue airline from Calgary to Amsterdam to Mumbai and back from Delhi to Calgary via Amsterdam. The Amsterdam to Mumbai flight was operated by Jet Airways. It so happened that the incoming aircraft got a bird hit, and so the engineers were still working on the affected right engine, when I arrived at the gate. After a delay of over 2 hours, the flight was eventually cancelled. The KLM service staff was quite patient and considerate, and after the various options they had for me to reach Mumbai did not work, they advised me to take the same flight the following day. Though KLM put me up at a hotel close to the airport, and I was able to board the Jet Airways flight the following day, the very purpose of visiting Mumbai to meet my younger brother and his family was defeated. My brother was at the airport to receive me at 12:30 am the following day, and after getting back home and catching up with some family news, I relaxed a bit, freshened up, had breakfast and was dropped again at the airport to catch my next Jet Airways flight to Dehradun. I was again dreading the cancellation of the Dehradun flight, as my brother had forewarned me that the airline had been in the news over the last several weeks for not being in very good shape and many flights were being cancelled. This time I was fortunate, as announcements were made at the airport for cancellation of seven other Jet Airways flights that morning, but the Dehradun flight was not amongst them. Travel disruptions, though unavoidable at times, do upset the meetings planned with family members. My brother was disappointed as I was left with spending just a few hours at his place.

Anyhow, the Dehradun flight scheduled for 10:20 am took off on time and reached its destination after 2 hours. I spent the evening meeting with my good friend and his family there, came back to the hotel after that and was ready the following morning to start teaching my course. The course participants were ONGC geophysicists from different centers, with two geologists, a petrophysicist and an engineer as well. This was an encouraging mix of participants as I see in other oil companies around the world. The participants were eager to learn and had some searching questions for me, which make the course lively and interesting.

Sitting (L to R): M. S. Panwar, Satinder Chopra, Abanish Majumdar Standing 1st row (L to R): Shyamsunder A. Rao Patana, O. P. Arya, Y. Murali Babu, Veena Bir, Jyoti Singh, Sairum Hussaini Standing 2nd row (L to R): Rajiv Mahanta, Ajay Kumar Verma, V. Satayanarayana Yallanki, H. K. P. Nair, G. Sanyasi Naidu, Mrinmoy Sharma, Rohit, Manish Kumar Gupta, Himanshu Martoila.

As I was trying to settle down in the hotel on the first day, I received an email from my friend, Manav from India that he is visiting Calgary and would like to come see me and drop a copy of the book entitled ‘ONGC- An Untold Story’, that his father, Mr. Raj Kanwar, had just published. I had to express my regrets, but he suggested that I visit his father who resides at Dehradun and pick up an autographed copy of his book. So, one evening I visited Mr. Kanwar and over a cup of tea we chatted over our experiences at ONGC and other news. It was an evening well-spent.

Again, midweek, my good friend and former colleague at the Geodata Processing and Interpretation Center (GEOPIC), ONGC, Bir Singh Bisht, visited me at the Academy and requested me to give a talk at the Graphic Era University, Dehradun, where he is serving as a professor, after his retirement from ONGC last December. As it was difficult for me to turn down his request, I gave him my nod for giving a talk on Friday during the lunch hour. I was already scheduled to give a talk on the SPG (Society of Petroleum Geophysicists), India platform in the evening the same day. As it turned out, Friday was a long day for me, teaching my class in the morning, sneaking out for my talk at Graphic Era University, coming back and resuming my lectures in the afternoon, winding up the course by 4:30 pm, only to resume my talk at SPG half an hour later.

The arrangements for my talk at the SPG platform was made at the Mini auditorium on the ONGC campus and was attended by close to 250 people. The talk went off well and I guess the Q & A session after that was quite interesting as well. There was high tea arrangement after the talk, which was a good chance to meet with old friends and colleagues as well as mingle with upcoming geoscientists, who are full of energy and enthusiasm.

Speaking for virtually the whole day did take a toll on my throat that evening as I had to stop during my talk due to irritation in my vocal chords. Sipping water and sucking on a lozenge helped me see it through. As I had skipped lunch that day, a well-prepared dinner at my friend’s place was very welcome and satisfying. Makki ki roti and sarson ka saag, accompanied with fresh butter, vegetable soup and dessert served as a sumptuous meal. After a well-deserved night’s rest, I was ready for my train ride to Delhi the following afternoon, and then for my flights back to Calgary via Amsterdam. Interestingly, the incoming KLM flight from Amsterdam to Delhi arrived late as the Pakistani air space was closed, and the aircraft had to detour. So, the return flight to Amsterdam took off late from Delhi, and again took longer due to the detour which in turn curtailed the layover time there. I was left with 45 minutes to go over from one terminal to another and through security, but still was able to board my next flight on time. When I reached Calgary, I was told that my 2 pieces of luggage had not been uploaded on the aircraft and would arrive the following day. Fortunately, they did arrive, but I was deprived, of the excitement of unpacking of the shopped material and sharing that with my family. I could say that the excitement was delayed, but it is not the same thing.