Tea with Zee – an informal chat with our Editor.
Zarine Wadia, the Editor of the “Tidings” has been with the magazine since its inception. We caught up with her to ask about her journey with the “Tidings”, and what the transition to “PULSE” means to her.
When you say you have been the Editor of the “Tidings” almost from the beginning, how long would that be?
In 1981, I was approached by Mr. K.B. Sarwal, Senior Director, Thomas Cook, through my friend Gita Choksi, General Manager-Inbound Tours and Conferences, to ‘fill in’ temporarily as Editor for the magazine, since the previous editor had left after just one issue. Because it was just a Quarterly, I reluctantly agreed, on condition that it was as a free-lancer, as, with young children, I did not want a full time job. That was 35 years ago… and I am still here!
Your association with Thomas Cook must be a strong one, since you are still with us!
Indeed, it has been a long and very happy association. Although I am technically not an employee, I have always been considered very much a part of the Thomas Cook family. I am fiercely loyal to the company and take proprietary pride in all its achievements. Here, I must express my gratitude to Madhavan whose encouragement and appreciation has kept me going in spite of difficult deadlines and juggling home commitments! I also have super support and guidance from Abraham and my Editorial Board. They are always there to watch my back!
None of this would have been possible had it not been for the constant support of my husband Aspi, and all my children. They understood my commitment to the magazine and tolerated the times when I had to give it precedence, specially when tryng to meet deadlines.
Tell us a bit about the background. What was it like in those days?
The “Tidings” started off as a 4-page newsletter printed in black-and white, using the Letterpress technique of relief printing. Being the pre-internet era, I started out typing each manuscript on an old manual Remington typewriter, then upgraded to an Olivetti electric one. In days when ‘cut & paste” didn’t come in a ‘drop-down menu’, we used scissors and glue to make the dummy for the press to copy…. A laborious process! Later, when computers invaded us, we learned to ‘think’ in “Word”, what excitement there was when the company could afford its first coloured edition! Along with the company, the “Tidings” has grown in size and stature through the years. It has received recognition winning an ICE Award for three consecutive years, and also an ABCI award, when it was in print. (You can see me proudly clutching one in the picture!)
What were some of the mile-stones along the way, some stand-out moments?
The “Tidings” was always a harbinger of good news, and past issues consistently chronicled important events which became a part of the history of the Company.
1983: One remembers the excitement when, on the 18th of February, Thomas Cook India Limited was born. The Rs.10/- share was oversubscribed 21 times. It was the first company in Thomas Cook’s history to have equity participation with the general public. After the “Indianisation”, Thomas Cook overseas owned 40%, the State Bank of India 15%, the employees 4.7% and the general public 40.3%.
1987: The commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. A special “Empress of India” tour culminated in a Victorian Ball in Delhi, with great pomp and show, for 203 British Tourists who had come with their ball gowns and tuxedos, specially for the occasion.
1989: On the 21st of March, Thomas Cook India became automated, and got its first computers. The IT department was opened by Colin Pettit- Director, UK. The Data General machine known as the PCS.4000 was installed. It could support 64 terminals, but started with just 32 terminals.
1990: We went On-Line on 2nd April. Robert Stanton, Head of Project Support & Control, Information Technology-TC UK, came down specially to inaugurate it. The average time per contact was reduced from 15 minutes to 5 minutes, at the Head Office! We were the first travel company in India to computerize all its operations from any given location. New software application for FE, Travel, Tours and CAO.
1999: 1st January, the birth of the Euro, the advent of a single currency to be used by 11 countries of the European Union. Thomas Cook India was ready on the very first day to issue the currency and the travellers cheques. Our first transaction was on 4th January!
2000: 5th January, we launch our own website, www.thomascook.co.in
2001: Thomas Cook AG worldwide changed the famous red and white logo to the blue and gold one.
2006: Thomas Cook India celebrated the 125th anniversary of Thomas Cook’s existence in India, with many special events.
These are just a few of the moments that we recorded and shared with our staff and clients through the years.
As you know, we had a competition asking our staff to suggest an appropriate name and “PULSE” was the winner. It is symbolic in many ways. Right from birth, our ‘pulse’ is the rhythm of life. Just as Thomas Cook India has evolved from a single company to a global player, similarly, the “Tidings” has metamorphosed from a humble 4-page newsletter to “PULSE”– an online magazine that will incorporate inputs from all the new companies of the Thomas Cook Group. It will reflect the rhythm of our company; the ‘heartbeat’– its news, its achievements, its progress.
How would you define the role of the new magazine, and are you happy about the new avatar?
With the world going digital, digital publishing is the future, so our new on-line version can be accessed on a PC, a laptop or a smart phone, with a format to suit every device. It is there for you with just a click. We hope you will enjoy the new version. We also aspire to improve with each edition, and look forward to suggestions and feedback.
The role of the magazine is to promote, through this informal medium, bonding between the staff. …sharing news and information across all our companies and businesses.. In times of change, “PULSE” will be a reassuring and sturdy anchor, a beacon that keeps the flow of communication going, and giving each employee a sense of belonging, loyalty and pride. 13th. December will be exactly 35 years since I joined Thomas Cook, and I am excited and delighted to be a part of this new movement!
Different looks through the years!