I joined the Total Access Communications (TAC) project in Bangkok on 26-Jun-1997 to develop complete software for Telecom Billing and Customer Care end-to-end. The software was deployed in production 12-Sep-1998. More than 120 professionals worked on this development during this period. This was the first instance in the South East Asia a Telecom Operator had developed a complete IT Solution entirely in-house. We had lots of adventure during the development of the software. I will tell that story in another write-up to be published soon – The TAC story. The launch of the software was very smooth and did not face any hiccups. So, we were all very happy.
The first major party after the launch of the software was the Christmas Party in the last week of Dec-1998. Suthira, who was my partner in the TAC project and I was assigned to her team as a resource (though I was the Manager for the 30-odd NIIT resources placed on the project), explained me the rules of the Christmas party. The rule was simple. Everybody attending the party needed carrying a gift according to his/her ability and choice. The gift would have to be appropriately wrapped so that what it was would not be apparent.
So, I purchased a gift from the Central Departmental Store in Lardprao and had it wrapped and went for the party. On entering the party hall, I handed over my gift to the coordinator, who placed it in between all the other gifts, which others had carried to the party. There was lot of music and cultural programs. While all this fun was going on, I learnt from Aum (as we called Suthira) that soon they would stop the music and start distributing the gifts. The rules were simple. They would pick up an employee’s name at random and then pick up a gift at random and give it to the employee. Whatever was the luck of the employee, he would get that kind of gift. However, every attending employee would get a gift.
Soon after the elaborate dinner, the gift distribution started. After many names had been called out, the announcer called my name. I went to the dais. As was the rule, they picked up a gift and gave it to me. I carried my gift and came back to my seat and sat down. After a while Khun Panida, who was the General Manager responsible for the development, came to me. She enquired why I had not opened my gift. I said I would go home and open it as it was so neatly packed. She insisted that I should see my gift right then. So, I unwrapped my gift. Out came a toilet paper holder and 2 rolls of toilet paper and a small towel, which was neatly wrapped. Khun Panida laughed at my gift and said that I was so unlucky. I said that it was okay and I liked it. Khun Panida told me to open the wrapper of the toilet paper roll. I asked whether it was necessary and she insisted. So, I did so. As soon as I had torn open the wrapper, something fell on the ground. I apologized and picked it up. It was a beautiful gold chain from Prima Gold (Prima Gold ornaments are all 24 carats). I was astonished. She then told me to unwrap the other toilet paper roll. I did so, a bit more carefully. Out came a beautiful set of ear rings from Prima Gold. I was flabbergasted. Khun Panida said that my wife was very lucky, but I was not. She told me to unwrap the towel. I did so and out came a beautiful pair of gold cufflinks from Prima Gold. Khun Panida smiled and walked away and disappeared in the party.
The Thais had been extremely kind to me throughout my stay in Thailand. And now, I was just astonished at the style of the top-level executives. Whether this incidence was set up or not, I will never know. However, I was never given such a huge gift in my life ever before.