Course at ONGC Academy, Dehradun, February 2017

Course at ONGC Academy, Dehradun, India, February 27th to March 3rd, 2017

After a long hiatus, this time I travelled to ONGC Academy, Dehradun, India, on February 24th, 2017, to deliver a 5-day in-house course on ‘Advanced 3D Seismic Data Interpretation’ there for the upcoming geoscientists. It was a cloudy afternoon, with a thin-layer of snow on the ground when our KLM flight took off from Calgary.

Soon the plane gained height and we were above the clouds and eventually reached a height of 36,000 ft.

The journey was smooth and the flight path took us along the great circle over the lower tip of Greenland to Amsterdam.

It was foggy as we approached Amsterdam, and as we descended further, it was raining heavily. Some pictures of the wet Amsterdam are included here, showing beaches, windmills, oil storage tanks, water channels. The plane found its parking slot in the KLM hub next to more blue airplanes.

Our next Jet Airways flight took off after a layover of 3 hours at Amsterdam. By now it had stopped raining and we saw the sun on gaining height.

Along the way somewhere over Georgia and Turkey, I saw a glimpse of the rugged topography below.

Our plane landed at Delhi at the right time (midnight), after a smooth and comfortable flight, with the outside temperature showing as 17oC. After waiting at the airport for a few hours took the metro rail ride to New Delhi railway station. The Shatabdi rail journey was very enjoyable and relaxing. I had a Dutchman sitting next to me, who told me about the charitable service he renders from a home in the outskirts of Dehradun for orphans and less privileged children from poverty-stricken families. I was impressed with the service and the free times that this man was devoting in his retirement. On reaching Dehradun, I was picked up by my very good friend Sanjeev Soni and after taking lunch at his place, checked into hotel LP Residency on Kaulagarh Road, and close to the ONGC establishments.

I was jet-lagged and so was up quite early the next morning.

But I realized later, as the hotel was by the side of busy Kaulagarh road, I could hear the traffic noise in my room. After the first couple of days, I would be woken up by the horns and the speeding trucks. On day one itself, I stepped outside the hotel for a quick glimpse of the scene outside. It was a familiar sight and brought back memories from long back. School children in a rush to their classes, working people on their scooters whizzing past, or proud car riders beating the morning traffic. This was not very different from what we see in the west, except that noise pollution (honking of horns) could get overwhelming at times. As I saw over the next few days, increase in urbanization has led to a substantial growth in the number of vehicles on the roads. The road networks have also expanded, what with new flyovers over many crossings, but the interesting thing is the various types of vehicles (bicycles, two-wheeler scooters and motor cycles, cars, minibuses, three-wheelers for public conveyance, buses and trucks) that ply the city roads. Looking at the traffic one can gauge the impatience of drivers, quickly accelerating and then stopping, flaunting traffic rules just to get ahead of the vehicle alongside. I immediately decided to not occupy the driver’s seat at any time during my stay in Dehradun.

The course at Dehradun went off well, where all the 17 participants were eager to learn more about making their seismic interpretation more effective. It is a special feeling when I go and conduct a course at ONGC, as this was the company that provided me a training ground in my formative years. ONGC employees come across to me as my own colleagues, with whom I am sharing information. My course coordinator, Anil Naithani, was a great help and ensured a smooth and cordial atmosphere all through the course.

The Society of Petroleum Geophysicists (SPG), India, the local geophysical society of which I was a founder member, had arranged my talk on Tuesday evening (March 1st, 2017) entitles ‘Aspiring towards successful seismic reservoir characterization’, at the ONGC Academy Auditorium. The talk was well-attended and seemed to have been received well by the audience. The thing that touched me the most the standing ovation extended to me after my talk. It was very gratifying meeting my ex-colleagues from ONGC who were very warm as usual, polite, and forthcoming in sharing all the news they had, discussing some positive, and others that they thought were not so positive. The camaraderie we experience in person always beats other distance interactions we have via the phone, email or social media. It was a great function which was organized well, and we finished the day by having some refreshments.

The course concluded on March 3rd, but this time I stayed back at Dehradun for a couple of extra days to attend to some personal work, and also to look after the renovations that have been going on to our house there. The weather was wonderful during my stay there – just like spring with clear blue sky and very comfortable temperatures in the mid 20s.

For my return journey, I took a road trip from Delhi to Dehradun.

The tall cedar trees on both sides of the road as we drove outside of Dehradun. Close to the tunnel at Laat Mata Devi temple, we were greeted by some monkeys.

This guy in the picture posed nicely for me to click his picture. The other guy was more jumpy.

The scenery on both sides of the road at Mohand looked nice with some bare trees as well as evergreen trees laden with leaves presenting a bright green look. Further along the way we saw fields with more greenery and sugarcane cultivation.

Sugarcane factory and some hutments preparing gur (jaggery) were seen along the way. Gur or jaggery is prepared by boiling sugarcane juice till it gets concentrated and solidifies.

At one point there were many brick kilns in close proximity probably suggesting that there were good clay deposits there suitable for brick making.

As the journey was long (7 hours), we stopped for some refreshments on the way at Cheetal, Khatauli. This place used to be a permanent fixture on our Delhi-Dehradun trips 20 years ago and was maintained as a beautiful picnic spot with some zoo type attractions. It has since changed what with two separate joints on opposite sides of the road, each giving incentives to drivers by offering free meals.

I had intended to meet my school mate and very good friend Bhupi at Gurgaon, before taking my return flight. We had lost touch soon after passing out of high school, and recently had connected through social media. It was very nice meeting him and his family, catching up and recalling old times. Bhupi is a qualified and experienced engineer and has done well for himself. He resides in a posh apartment at Gurgaon. As Bhupi and I have remarked, even after so many years (~40 plus) the warmth of our childhood relationship, the bonds that we shared then and the fun we had in our school days have not diminished. We all had a great time catching up on old memories. Besides recalling old memories, with such meetings we create and cherish more memories for the future. I enjoyed the time I spent at Bhupi’s place. As I write this, I realize I should have captured some pictures there; maybe next time.

After a nice sumptuous dinner and some more gossip, and thanking Bhupi and his wife for their warm hospitality, took leave and got dropped at the Indira Gandhi International Airport to begin my return journey.

As most of the international flights at Delhi take off in the early hours of the morning, I slept most of the way from Delhi to Amsterdam. We landed in Amsterdam at 7 am and it was again a cloudy morning but it was not raining.

The layover here was 5½ hours and so relaxed in the KLM lounge and caught up with my pending email. The next flight to Calgary was a KLM Dreamliner, which rose through the clouds to a height of 35,000 ft. in no time. It was a smooth flight. Watched a couple of movies on the way and checked out how we were doing occasionally. I took a couple of picturesque shots outside, when we were over Greenland. Nice snow-clad mountains rising above a sea of snow was picturesque.

Our airplane landed at cold Calgary, with temperatures lower (- 17oC) than when I left it. It was snowing as I took my ride back home in a taxi.

My trips to India are always very enjoyable and satisfying, and this time it was no different.

Was happy to get back home, and spent the next few days getting over the jet lag.