This was a visit planned for almost 2 years and finally it materialized. I was at INS Hamla for a guest lecture just the other day. I must explain the 2 years so that one can connect with my emotions and déjà vu moment. I was there two years ago on an assignment, assisting them with the Food and Nutrition national seminar as well as the food festival that was to follow in the evening. I visited the Logistics Training Establishment; unit of the Indian Navy to understand their operations and premises so that food festival could be planned around that. The first impression was fabulous as that’s what INS Hamla is – beautiful location, excellent campus and a great facility. The event turned out to be one of it’s kind having had 13 hotels participating in the festival. The learning opportunity and exposure to the Naval chefs and the Food and Beverage staff was tremendous. Everyone involved were delighted with their takeaways of the extremely successful and much appreciated event. The hotel chefs too expressed their satisfaction with the unique experience; that was cherished by each one of them.
For me it was double the delight as I come from the naval background, am married into a similar family and my husband is a Master Mariner. When I shared the experiences and the work that I got to do for the Navy, my dad sent me a message that oozed pride and gave me a feeling of having ‘arrived in life!’ That’s when I realized how important it was to be acknowledged for your abilities and whatever little knowledge you’ve gained was of use to the Armed Forces. I have received many accolades and appreciation from various organizations but nothing matched this one. It was an honour that my father was extremely proud of not that he didn’t like others. In fact he has been a very supportive parent who allowed his children to follow their dreams and has been there for us through all our ups and downs.
During that visit I met the Training Captain and his team. They invited me to deliver a guest lecture and I had agreed upon the same. Something or the other kept cropping up- an injury that kept me out of action for a long time, a visit to another country, travelling on work etc. Finally, we decided to close a date in the last week of July. I was to seek permission from my organization, just that day my elder one had to undergo a surgery; I couldn’t close that date as well. Once the son was discharged from the hospital, I checked with my boss for the lecture; he agreed and both of us decided to go for it. We covered two topics – Mr. Bhuvan doing trends and best practices and I taking up juxtapose past hospitality trends with an insight into the future. We conveyed our consent and the plan to the Training Captain; he reciprocated with an official invite. A letter very thoughtfully drafted, scanned and emailed to us in truly Navy style. We had only one day for the ‘D Day’; it was that close!
The day arrived and we were all set to leave for INS Hamla and the weather decided to play a spoil sport. It was raining cats and dogs from the previous night itself; turning our journey of 2 hours into the power of four! As it is rightly said that one has to wait for the good things in life! Both my boss and I live very close to our workplace; this was a perfect lesson for us to count our blessings. We saw the Mumbai during monsoons with its usual hustle and bustle.
The Logistics Training Establishment trains Officers and Sailors of the Indian Navy, the India Air Force, the Indian Army, the Indian Coast Guard, Friendly Foreign Navies and Naval Civilians in the following fields:
Commissioned as HMIS Hamlawar on 15 January 1946; during World War II, the present site was a part of the Combined Operation Training Centers around Mumbai and was known as the Landing Craft Wing. This location also accommodated the ‘Boys Training Establishment’ for a short while during post independence. The Culinary School as well as the Supply and Secretariat School were shifted from Kochi to this location in November 1953. The establishment was re commissioned and rechristened as INS Hamla on 06 January 1954. It has progressed by leaps and bounds over the years to it’s present state of being state of the art training centre.
The Guest Lecture
We reached with a little delay but it was all worth it. The Commanding Officer in fact offered that the weather being bad we could decide our course of action or choose another day. But we were there for a job and we had to do it. There are many things that our industry (hospitality) and the armed forces can find as common grounds – Deliver what you promise; among many others.
The session was good; the audience was the best that one could ask for- disciplined, well informed, eager and enthusiastic.
Then we broke for lunch, the commanding officer joined us and so did a few other officers from the batch. The food served was delicious and nutritious. Navy’s focus on health and nutrition aspects were quite evident. Post lunch we had the second part of the lecture and then it was time for us to head back home after a fond farewell. As we were in our car, many thoughts crossed my mind and also the lessons that I learnt from the Navy. Some impressions that I carried with me are:
Immaculate white uniforms: The washing power commercials on TV would fade in the whiteness of the uniforms; the officers- men and women carrying them with elan and looking dashing. Some were adorning the equally immaculate the Indian Army and Air Force colours.
Discipline: It is said that discipline is created within a unit by instilling a sense of confidence and responsibility in each individual and we were witness to that. It was a pleasure just being there in the classroom with the officers.
Perfect handshake: It is believed that the handshake used while greeting a person; seals the promise or the contract. It becomes the quickest and most effective way to establish rapport with another person. The faujis have perfected the art and I give them a perfect 10 for that.
Gracious hospitality: When the guests can sense the authenticity of our true desire to serve and exceed their expectations creating a ‘Wow’ moment for them; the hospitality becomes gracious. We experienced many such moments.
Chivalry: They display chivalry open heartedly and I was the honoured recipient! In the modern professional etiquette all are considered equal but chivalry can add to a beautiful experience. There are many supporters and admirers of the art.
Taking pride in traditions, history and heritage: The Indian Navy has a glorious history and rich traditions; it was an honour indeed to walk the hallways and get glimpses of the same. Each officer spoke with so much passion on the topics that were connected with the traditions, history and heritage of the services. It was nostalgia all the way!
Sustainability: They are the warriors of the seas and show equal responsibility towards sustainable and ecologically conscious efforts. We witnessed many of them and I shall try to incorporate them at our workplace; spread the message and get more people across the industry to follow the leaders. Some best practices that we saw were judicious use of water, restricted use of plastic, composting and having an organic kitchen garden.
Perseverance: It is one of the greatest human qualities as we owe our success to perseverance. We saw it in abundance, starting a class at 12 pm and breaking for lunch at 3 pm is not the general norm!
Culture of learning: The services have a strong culture of training, learning and development. On the job training is ongoing with strategically planned long courses so that each officer is equipped with the right knowledge and skill sets along with the perfect attitude to take up higher responsibilities.
Woman Power: It was so heartening to see many women in the group attending the courses. It is said that the 21st century is going to be the female leadership. It hasn’t got much to do with gender but with the qualities of nurturing, caring and mentoring. Leaders – both men and women will be required to posses these qualities. Women bring gender diversity and equity at work.
Universal brotherhood: The class had men and women from the three services, the Coast Guard and from the Navies of a few friendly countries. It was a perfect environment for ideating, knowledge and experience sharing; above all empowering each other!
Value best practices: Everyone was eager to know of the best practices in our industry and we were constantly asked to review their services and standards. Asking for critique is the first step towards self improvement.
Moving towards excellence: They value traditions but have moved with the times, keeping the perfect balance.
Creating benchmarks: The bar can and should always go higher; they don’t just love it in their wardrooms but work on ‘raising the bar’ constantly.
It was a wonderful day spent at a great learning centre; I look forward to more of them in future. It is rejuvenating to interact with people from diverse work cultures as it creates win wins for all. I had come for a guest lecture but I take back much more. I feel empowered as my organization is pro learning and development and we make huge investments on human capital. This is another aspect of my job that I love and shall always be grateful about.
Picture courtesy: Indian Navy, taken from it’s website with due credits.