Macau – The Vegas of Asia

A few fun facts about Macau: 

1. Almost half of the GDP of Macau is based on revenue from gambling. This equals about $45 billion per year, which is seven times higher than Las Vegas. Approximately 20% of people that live here work in the casino.

2. Known as the “Las Vegas of Asia”, Macau’s thriving tourism industry called for the construction of new hotel rooms at a rate of 16.4 a day until the year 2009.

3. Macau is a small place that has the same area as about 700 football pitches placed next to each other. This equals 28.82km. There’s just one city and Macau doesn’t have a specific capital. But, Macau has 600,000 residents according to a 2016 consensus. This makes it the most densely populated place in the world.

4. In 1999, Macau became a Special Administrative Region of China. This means that they’re allowed to keep their democracy and capitalism for 50 years until China has the right to complete control. But, Macau has its own borders and currency. And flights between them are considered international. Trips between Hong Kong and Macau are formal with immigration and customs.

5. Macau has the second highest life expectancy in the world. An average person lives upto 84.5 years old (2016). Clearly, with most of the city developed around casinos and clubs, we know what is the best way to stay happy & alive! 

Here is a photologue for all that’s beautiful about this little Vegas in Asia. 🙂




Goa is a state of mind

(Aug 10 – Aug 13, 2017)

1. Stay:

Narrow roads with rice paddies swaying on either side, the rustling of palm trees, chirping of birds and hornbills flying in pairs, stretch of backwaters with men fishing around, some on bicycles selling poi and pao from house to house, women hanging outside their homes in their nighties and saris, old abandoned Portuguese style houses,where peacocks dance in open meadows in the rains, locals gather at neighbourhood churches to pray and socialise, a light drizzle on your faces, a nip in the air, warm sunlight pouring through the dark clouds. That feeling of being in Goa.
It was early morning. Savio (My Goan host at Aldona, a hamlet in North Goa) and I were sitting beside the swimming pool, looking across the backwaters trying to find the hornbills when he said, “But why would I need more money? I have a roof to sleep under, enough food for the family, enough to have a vacation once a year, my kids are studying well, great neighbors who grow with us and then I have people like you who come over to stay with us. Life is good.” My stay with Savio and Pirkko made Goa complete for me. We did kayaking, fishing, ate together, spot the hornbills flying in pairs and watched the sunset. In between beautiful conversations about life, our cultures, our dreams and passions, I found my home in Goa.

Recommendations: Stay at the Olaulim Backyards or at the Cancio’s house to experience Aldona.

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Narrow lanes, rice paddies and thar

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2. Music & Dance:
As I enter the club, I see beautiful yellow lights spread across the area, covering the green plants and lighting up the white walls. As I move in, I see a group of around 30 beautifully dressed women in gowns and men in smart casuals tapping their feet together on a song (watch the small video clips below to tap your feet too). The ‘tap-tap-tap’ sound and the beautifully lit smiles were enough to make me jump on the floor. A band of old musicians were playing the classics. That moment, while trying to match my feet with the rest, and going 1-2-left and a 1-2-right, I didn’t realize when 3 hours passed away. I was there, at that very moment; and it was beautiful!
You know what was beautiful about the locals? The ease they were carrying, the confidence with which they would make everyone comfortable around themselves, ask people for a dance and have a sheer fun time! I took back a lot of freedom and simplicity that evening. Learning how to jive has definitely gone up in my learning list 😀

Recommendations: Cavala, Cohiba, Cantare, Calamari for the best musical evenings in Goa

<Click here (1), (2), (3) for a glimpse of the party>





3. Food:
As flavourful as Goa as a state is, the food here is equally flavourful! Most of the local food is primarily dependent of flavourful curries, beautiful in look and burst into multiple tastes. You talk about Xacutti, Cafreal, Tonak or Uddamethi, one bite and your mouth till head is full of different flavours. Trust me, it’s heavenly!

Recommendations: Gunpowder (My favourite), Voltaire, Sanil’s for the best Goan thali and Andron Restaurant for fantastic curries and goan food

At the same time, Goa is also full of small cafes and bakeries which hold multiple stories untold. It was raining when we picked up our thar and began the drive. Driving through the narrow roads and crossing Aldona, we reached a beautiful yellow building which we could not resist climbing up. Benches and tables were spread in the verandah, with a view of hills, rain and a wind chime adding to the sound of the rain. We were welcomed by a dog who took us around and got us to our seat. That’s when Mritika came in. Whispering cafe is a small boutique cafe at the top of a hill near Mapusa, run by Mritika who moved from Mumbai a few ago, enticed by what Goa holds. Next few hours were spent talking about the 2 extreme world existing together in Goa (of alcohol and parties to the a peaceful unexplored Goa), of learning how to pronounce the places in Goa correctly and just getting present to another human being’s world. What a beautiful evening!

Recommendations: The Whispering Cafe, Ruta’s Roadhouse, Mum’s Kitchen. And don’t miss to try Poi at a traditional bakery

4. Sunsets and all things beautiful:
As far as you can see at the horizon, sky changing it’s color from orange to a hundred shades of pink to a dark navy blue, sun-rays dancing over the water, it’s mesmerizing. Times like these makes one realize of the little things that matter.
Other than the standard beach sunsets, my favourite is the drive from Panjim to Pomburpa. Rolling green meadows, stretch of backwaters on one side and old portugese houses on the other, local men selling poi and tea shops around. It’s a beautiful stretch if you take the inner route from Mapusa. Also, drive towards the Aguada fort from Candolim and stop anywhere in between. The view of a beautiful sunset will remain with you forever; like shades of red, orange, yellow and pink infusing into each other with time.

Recommendation: Here is my favourite route from Panjim to Pomburpa. It’s going to be worth it, I bet!

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5. A heritage walk to Portugal
By the late 15th century, upon the discovery of a new route to India by the bank of Portuguese adventurers, including Vasco de Gama, Goa became the ideal base for the seafaring Portuguese who determined to overcome the manipulation of the spice route from the East. Fontainhas (or Bairro das Fontainhas, in Portuguese) is an old Latin Quarter in Panjim, capital city of the state of Goa. It maintains its Portuguese influence, particularly through its architecture, which includes narrow and picturesque winding streets as found in many European cities, old villas and buildings with projecting balconies painted in the traditional tones of pale yellow, green, or blue, and roofs made of red coloured tiles. Fontainhas’ heritage ambience represents the traditional Portuguese influence in the area
I stayed at Mateus’. Mateus is a restored 1879 old Portuguese mansion within the boutique and restaurant lined area of Fontainhas. The moment you enter the house, the warmth of the space and the smell of flowers and beaten earth will take you on the journey back to the world of colors, warmth and everything old and beautiful.

Recommendation: Meet Raj at Mateus, the one who takes care of the place. One conversation with him and you will feel home, I promise!

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The world is a safe place – Excerpt 1 from my trip to Pondicherry

I was climbing the stairs to my room when my mobile phone vibrated. I took it out and saw an interaction in a couchsurfing whatsapp group that I am a part of but had never participated in. Not having booked any hotel for Pondicherry I was leaving for the next morning, I also dropped a message there asking for a place to stay at and got occupied in packing my bag. Little did I know what was in store for me.

I have always been fascinated by the idea of couchsurfing. The idea of having a home wherever I go. Having an opportunity to host/stay with somebody absolutely unknown, in a new place, experiencing local food, people, cultures. Doesn’t it sound exciting? The whole idea brings along a possibility of a world being home and that’s beautiful. At the same time, it’s scary. I have no idea who the person is; what if something happens? I have my valuables, it’s an unknown place. No, I can’t trust this.
It was around 11PM. I was about to sleep when I saw a reply in that group addressing my request. It said something like, “I went to Pondicherry last year and stayed with a couchsurfer, Imran. His contact number is XXXXXXXXXX. Contact him and he will take care of you.” My heart was excited to see that; I would have someone there to take me around the new place. At the same time, my head said, “Are you mad? You do not know the person who has replied, you do not know the person she is referring to. Stop being stupid, stay in a hotel”. I dropped an sms to Imran letting him know that I coming to his town tomorrow before I slept that night.
I was at the airport when I received a call from an unknown number. The excited voice was of Imran. I didn’t have his number saved. You remember, when you were young and some relatives would come to your house, how you would take them around the whole house, showing them every toy you have? That was the kind of energy he had over that one small phone call. As if someone very own is coming to see him. As if we have known each other since ever. He informed me that he has booked a room in a guest house next to his house and will send someone to pick me up at Pondicherry bus stop.
My beautiful, little brain got functioning again. “Something is not okay. Why would he do all that for me, we don’t even know each other. He even said no to charge anything for the room. On top of that, he is even offering to send someone to pick me up? No, can’t be a coincidence”. I thanked him and told him that I will see him there. I was almost sure by now that I will never take a phone call again from this number.
I was about to reach Pondicherry when my phone rang. It was a message from him with name and contact number of the person who would come and pick me up. It also had an apology for not being able to come himself as he had some work, and an apology for the guy who would pick me up doesn’t know english and hindi much and I may have some trouble communicating. I decided that I will meet him. There was something about him which was stronger than my inhibitions and I had to meet him.
I reached Pondicherry in the afternoon and found his friend standing at the bus stop to receive me. He took me to the guest house. The room was already booked by my name and they handed the keys of the room to me. Ensuring that I am comfortable, his friend left. While I rested in my room for some time, I got a call from Imran, checking if I was comfortable and inviting me to meet him whenever it works for me. He stayed right next to the guest house. I went to meet him right then.
When I moved out of the guest house, I saw a tall, dark man standing outside the house with a wide smile. That was Imran. He welcomed me to his house and took me around this beautiful French house he stays in. The house had a verandah with rooms on all 4 sides. There were beautiful pillars in the house and old french windows, giving a touch of an ancient one. For the next few hours, we spoke about how his father who used to serve French army moved to India back in 1950s and their struggles then to find their living in India. Imran lives with his parents and wife and teaches French to make a living. Meeting people is what he enjoys the most (without a doubt!) and is passionate about astrology. Not only that, he helped me getting a transport to roam around, got me a map of the town, took me around the town and ensured I am comfortable. For the next 2 days when I was in his town, he called me thrice to check if I need something and if I am fine. Imran did not just call the place his home, it was his home.
Something moved that day. To me, that was a demonstration of the world being home. I could only wonder of the opportunities I would have missed so far only because I did not choose to trust another human being; of what the world can be if we begin from “The world is a safe place”.

Ek aur ghar mil gaya tha shayad. 🙂

*Name has been changed to maintain the identity of the person

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Coffee with the ‘Fab’ behind Fabindia

Like every other time, I was walking in Fabindia’s outlet in Connaught Place when I got stuck at what was written on the cover of a green colored book which said, “Making India Work”. This is 2 months ago. There was something about the statement that wasn’t allowing me to move ahead; the possibility sounded huge. I purchased the book that evening.

I have been this crazy Fabindia lover who would go to their outlet once in a while to smell the freshness that their stores withhold, the vibrant colors, the stories of a million artisans it communicates and for the celebration of what India is about. People who know me would call me a brand ambassador only! And so I wanted to meet the man himself – to experience who he is, to travel through his stories about India, to witness how he has created a blend of profitable business and a societal impact, and a lot more.

While reading “Making India work”, I could not stop myself any longer. It took me some time and a few extra actions to find his connect and I wrote to him. I told him what I love about them, why I want to meet them and why he should meet me. I poured my heart out in that mail. And just like we wake up after a sloshed night, I was sure that was all in excitement and I will never get a response. And the life continued the way it did.

A few days later, I get a reply from his assistant asking about who I am and why I want to meet him. Why would he meet me, I thought? Gathering my excitement, I distinguished and wrote back. And I told him everything I wanted to say. 14 days later, I was in class when I received an email that said, “Sir would love to meet you. Can you come to our office over lunch on 9th Sept.?” My happiness knew no bounds.

And here I was, right in front of their office at 12:30pm, exactly half an hour before the scheduled time. As I move in, I see a huge charkha on left, a very simple and elegant looking office, colorful pictures and quotations on hand made papers and some bright shining people. I was called inside his cabin after 10min. As I was moving in, an old lady with a broad smile greeted me and guided me to sir’s cabin. And what followed will remain with me forever.

As I moved in, a tall, young looking man welcomed me with a broadest possible smile. Yes, that was him! The table was laid in front of us with cutlery when he opens a very Indian tiffin packed from his home. The simplicity of food and the very thought of getting food from home for us set a lot of things in place. As we started talking, we talked about my family, my passion, Fabindia, Fabindia’s visions, Indian politics and it took him just a few seconds to make me be at home. Such tasty food, amazing coffee and wonderful chocolates I had! He would suddenly get up in excitement; put forward his radical thoughts on how we can actually make India work and sit down again. The charisma, the sparkle in his eyes and the purity in his smile said a lot of things. He was listening to me as if I am the only person he is interested in listening to and he said what he said with equal authority. This wasn’t a usual meeting. He has given project to work on till we meet next.

From being humble enough to respond to my mail and calling me over lunch, to getting lunch packed from home, from the wonderful conversations we had  to him knowing my past on fingertips from what I had shared in mail, from the excitement he carried to share to the simplicity with which he would put his radical thoughts, from the vibrancy of colors at the minutest of places to the smiling faces all around starting from the bhaiya at reception to every employee, I was mesmerized. No wonder Fabindia is what it is!

This one experience has broken multiple barriers for me today. So put off all the reasons and create what you want, take that extra action that produces results, say what your heart says, and do what you believe in; for life does exist in language and life is too short to live with “What if I did?!”!

Responsibility I am taking on:

Taking away the struggle of individual survival from people and giving them an opportunity to create their self expression in work. Inclusive growth is the possibility.”

The thought is, when there are so many people in the world and there are enough resources for each, why do people have to struggle for individual survival?

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Lights will guide you home

It was 2 years ago. I left home on a sunny day with a bag full of confidence, a bundle of beliefs and eye set on a vision. Carrying these armaments, I jumped on my ship and left. What a pleasant day it was! Bright sun shining, birds chirping in the sky, the helmsman was enjoying steering the ship,  we were a group of people riding together to reach a common island. Working, partying, celebrating, socializing I didn’t realize and a year passed. But then, I started to get bored. I wanted to do something adventurous, something more fun. I wanted to steer the ship now.

I had an idea of what it takes to be a helmsman. It looked so fancy. I wanted to experience that freedom, that power. So I jumped. Jumped into the sea, boarded a dinghy and rode. It took a while to get the balance but I kept trying. I had moved far. I didn’t know where I was going but I had an anchor which kept me going. I was riding slowly but I was moving.  I was still learning to sail. I realized very soon that the competition was tough. There were many other dinghies around, ready to ride over each other, fighting to push the other one down but I kept riding. I think I sailed through because I wasn’t focusing on the ones around. And in almost 6 months, I reached a small island. It was the first destination. We celebrated. Had to, right? What a journey it had been.

Excited to conquer the next island, I sailed ahead. Been just a while that I lost control. I couldn’t move ahead. I didn’t know what was stopping. I tried, and tried again but couldn’t move. I started to get restless. The clouds started to get dark. It was about to rain. What a loud thunder it was! The food that I had got from the ship and what I had gathered from the island started to finish. There was water everywhere but not a drop to drink. I got so scared, so scared! My heartbeat started to rush and I was sweating in the sea.  In that moment, the only way I could see to survive was jumping into the sea. So I jumped again. I swam to find a base. I didn’t know if there was a base around, if was then how far was it. I kept swimming. I think I was escaping. What if I stayed there and fought to take the boat out? But I escaped. I kept swimming for 2 months before I came back to my dinghy. Following are the learning from the 2 most difficult months of my life so far:

  1. Entrepreneurship is a function of being, not doing

To be an entrepreneur, it is not necessary to do entrepreneurship. What I mean by that is that it’s not necessary to quit a job, force to get a team, rush to build an idea and hurry to work things out. One can be an entrepreneur wherever he/she is. It is a function of being. What is important is to cause things like an entrepreneur, to make things happen at a face of no agreement. Be an entrepreneur, don’t do it.

  1. It is important to acknowledge yourself

It is critical to acknowledge oneself. In the world of cut throat competition and struggle to survive, it is important that one acknowledges who he/she is and who he/she isn’t and stand at a space of appreciation of oneself. To be aware of one’s own strengths and weaknesses and to be in appreciation of however way we are, it will work is probably the most wonderful experience. This is what makes you win because this is what makes one keep learning.

  1. Work and purpose of life can be in 2 different plates

I was struggling. It had been 2 years that I was working. Either I was struggling to find the expression of who I am at work or I was struggling to make enough money. And I kept trying to identify how to put both of them on the same plate. It took me a while to discover that these two can be on two different plates. They can certainly be one but there is no point in forcing them to be on one. If they have to, it will happen.

  1. It’s people who matter at the end of the day. Really.

Believe in your people.  Not everyone will stand by you at these times but those who do, will always do. Cherish them, appreciate them, hold on to them. These are the ones it’s worth fighting for. As I always say, a single person can make a relationship work; what’s is important is to distinguish if the relationship is worth fighting for!

  1. Money is a need to survive:

All this while, I was resigned about money. I have always said that I don’t need money and I kept making myself right. It was difficult to accept but I needed money. And when I realized this, I wanted a lot of it. The 2 months made me realize that a lot of money isn’t required but it is definitely needed.

The weather is still not completely clear. I can see a light at a distance and I am all set with my armaments to fight to reach to that beautiful island. Infact, I got some new armaments on the way. I may struggle again, may lose the way as well, but I am sure I will find a way.


The dilemma of this or that

I am lost in the contrasting thoughts.

One part asks me to stay with family, support them, be with them and cause work around; the other part asks me to move out of my small town and work hard so that I can take their responsibility.  Is work the centre of life?

One part makes me wonder about simple life in a small town, everything available easily, no time waste in travel and focus on people; the other part makes me wonder of the difficult life at a city, lessons it would teach, recreation in holds, friends it has accommodated.  I know I will have to make a choice.

One part asks me to focus on what I want to do, make myself happy and only then will I be able to make others happy; the other part asks me to focus on supporting people around, take them along, and win together. Am I stuck in the vicious circle of right and wrong?

One part asks me to take up any job and manage my survival, and keep doing what I want alongside; the other part says to identify what I want to do and make it living. Am I being too significant and idealistic?

Actions are missing. Or sensitivity is overloaded. I am sure lights will guide me home.the-road-less-traveled

I am lost

It has been over a month that I have been on this rollercoaster of emotions. Life doesn’t seem to be working out. 2 years since I graduated and the exploration continues. A job that paid money every month but couldn’t pay wholeness, a startup experience that paid a new paradigm of awareness but could not pay money and here I am today, sitting in a train, escaping from these arrays of fears, anxieties and expectations to the land of adventure in a hope to find my answers.  What am I looking for?

This age of 20 something is so weird. The heart says, “Go explore the most you can. Travel. Meet people.  Take risks. Go beyond the fears. Discover yourself.” The head says, “What are you doing? This is the foundation of your career. Focus on work. Spend sleepless nights developing your skills. Get that masters degree. How will you take care of the responsibilities?” And I find myself lost in the contrasts, the extremes, the fears and anxieties. What do I do?

The adventurous, the rebel, the entrepreneurial  me wants me to develop independent skills, start building a blog, develop myself as a coach, get skilled at designing and learn basic technology so that the survival is taken care and I move out travelling the world, experiencing people and places, supporting people in developing their potential for atleast coming 3 years. I am sure that’s gonna make me more skilled than what an MBA would give. While discovering myself in these years, create a company and be at the source of designing the life the way I want. The insecure, full of fears and anxieties me says, be practical Archit. Take up a job, polish your skills, save money. Don’t escape from the responsibilities. Keep figuring out what you want while being at job, get safe first.

Is that what life is about? Is it about working so that I can take care of myself and my family? Or is it about achieving/doing what I want in life? Or is it about something more? Something more holistic, more inclusive? What am I here for? Am I complicating my life by focusing on self and work? Is there any other way to survive? Infact why to survive? In this search of answers and expressions, I am lost.

Nothing wrong about it but I am lost.


On the road less traveled

How easily did I thank all that being a Montfortian gave me in my 13 years with the institution during my farewell speech in 2010; little did I realize then what it actually means to be one. I think it’s a process of continuous encounter; I still fill with gratitude everytime I witness this moment of truth.

With high hopes and many dreams that moving to a metro city brings along, I moved to Delhi, the capital city of our country to do my graduation in Mathematics from Hansraj college, University of Delhi. Hansraj had some of the most amazing people, interesting conversations and oodles of energy for me in store. I had the best days of my life there. With some relationships for the lifetime, experiences to build upon and skills developed in the 3 years of graduation, I started working for ‘The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Delhi-NCR, a global organization that fosters entrepreneurship globally. 1 year at TiE was like a mini MBA program for me.

Life was good in Delhi; interesting work, many friends, weekend parties. In between all these jazzy things, something was missing. What was wrong? There was no time to think about this question either. I kept struggling with the question.

Then I got introduced to ‘The Landmark Education’ and ‘The Boundaryless Initiative’, the sources of some of the most profound conversations of my life. I could identify the ambiguity in my thoughts, words and actions. With support of my people, drawing inspiration of being an entrepreneur and in search of the answers, I finally decided to go back and check with the roots itself.

I have moved back to Roorkee now, my small town near the foothills of the Himalayas. It was a decision taken by the heart. I wanted all the time in the world to do things I would like to do -watching sunsets, learning music, reading, going to the mountains, sitting beside flowing rivers, playing chess or a game of billiards, cooking for myself, writing, painting, listening to music and being child-like, once again. I wanted these beautiful things to be part of my day-to-day life, not something stacked for holidays only.

In search of answers, taking actions to expand my awareness and passionate to build Uttarakhand, I have started working in education sector. Under Oxyzen Learnings, we conduct Management and Behavioural Training programs committed to igniting individual and collective intelligences. Through National Management Development Foundation, we focus on creating quality environment through various educational initiatives. Transcending boundaries, both geographical and psychological, NMDF’s platform coalesces leaders in education domain to interact, introspect, explore and disseminate the best practices.

Our first project is an International Conference of Schools from all across India, “Education for Tomorrow” at Patanjali Yogpeeth, Haridwar. The dates of the conference are December 21, 22, 23 2014. It will be a unique mix of Power of Technology and Energy of Vedic, Yogic and Meditative Sciences. Through this movement, we are committed to redefining education system by taking best practices from Ancient Education System, Incorporate technology and evolve the purpose and process of education for Tomorrow.

It has been almost 6 months that I have shifted and it is nothing less than a journey. I have more time to create an organization of my dreams, expenditures have gone drastically down, I spend less time in traffic and more time with family, I work for longer hours without worrying about reaching home late and arranging dinner, I am more open to receiving beautiful pleasures that Roorkee offers – as simple as an early morning walk beside ganga. I am not sure of what being an entrepreneur will bring along and what shifting back to Roorkee has in store for me but I am sure it’s going to be a journey of inclusive growth and constantly simplifying life. I am excited to explore new horizons!


From the known to the unknown -1 : The mysteries of my people

Sitting in my small new office, sipping over a cup of coffee and attempting to focus on the new project I was working on, something happened. I sensed a drop of sweat on my hand in that AC room. My head was paining. I did not know what it was all about! May be about the charm of what it used to be, or may be about the excitement of the journey I have set myself on or may be about the mystery of how it will unfold. And there I was, exasperated at the instant, right before the feeling of strange belief and thrill hit me. I wasn’t sure what was happening. I wanted to cry. I was smiling instead. It was the 3rd day since I shifted to my small town.

Strange things were happening around. I came back to my home, just like I have thousands of times before. But this time it was different. I think everyone wanted some answers from me. There were awkward stares and smiles; may be because I had left my job and came back home to start my own company.  I woke up the next day right at the time I was getting up for the past 1 year; for my job. Getting back to senses on finding parents around instead of friends, I slept again. Was I trying to avoid something? I got up late and went to meet the people I was going to work with. And unexpectedly, we started working the same day. I was amazed at their orientation towards taking actions ‘now’ than ‘soon’. There was a pinch of inspiration at that moment. I went back home late that night. We were working.  At home, I could again sense those awkward smiles waiting for me to answer something. I think they were not prepared for me to get back home that late.  Leaving office by 6pm and reaching home by 8pm was what they remembered from the big city, I should have been home by 6:05pm in my small town by that reference. It took them almost a month to understand I wasn’t in a job now, I was creating my own company and it took me even more to understand that this was not easy for them. Nobody was leaving their jobs, some were shifting; nobody was shifting to lesser financial earnings, mostly were going up in that context; nobody was going to a smaller town, all were craving for the bigger ones. It really took us time before things got settled, but I am happy they did.  🙂