If you need someone to blame, then it has to be George Dominic. He was the very first person I met to do with India. It was at a trade event in London back in 1997 or 8. We were in the process of setting up Partnership Travel, operating under Colours of India and had decided on south India as a starting point. His were the first hotels I stayed in, at a time when they only had Casino Hotel, Spice Village, Coconut Lagoon and Bangaram. How much they have achieved since then and I am incredibly lucky to be able to call him colleague, friend and occasional mentor!
George was born into a planter family in Kerala & went to boarding school run by French priests in The Shevroy Mountains in South India. University in Loyola Collee and then to Hotel School. He did a short internship with Welcome Group in Delhi and then joined the family business founded by his father. Along with his brothers, from just one hotel in Cochin they expanded it to 20 properties and from Casino Hotels, re-branded as CGH Earth which was later separated into CGH Leisure and CGH Wellness. George is theDirector Sales and Marketing.
He also started CAFS (Casino Air Catering and Flight Services) which has grown to become the largest Airline Catering Network in the country. He is keenly involved in several local social activities and has been the Commodore of The Cochin Yacht Club for several years, an active member of the Rotary Club of Cochin and passionately involved in LIA ( Love in Action ) trying to help homeless children and fight against child trafficking. He loves travelling and exploring food across the world. Loves to cook and enjoy the odd G&T (!) Red wine and Single Malt. His wife Rosemary has survived 35 odd years with him and they have a son and daughter Joseph and Rashmi and two grand- children George and Anusha.
- Who you are (naturally!)
At first glance, question looks very simple, but answering this one is a little tricky. I am different for each person who knows me. But at heart I am an easy going, fun loving sort of guy…….. Extremely passionate with what- ever I do.
- What inspired you to join your business?
It was the most natural thing to do, just joined Dad in his family business.
- An anecdote which epitomizes your India?
I recall a situation in which, had I been in any other country, I would have been lynched. An Ambassador taxi from my hotel in Calcutta, cruising down Park Street in my Tuxedo for a Black Tie event. My driver just blacked out and there was poor me sitting in the rear seat trying to steer through’ the crazy traffic of Calcutta at peak hour. The poor soul had his feet on the accelerator flooring it. Hit every vehicle that came in my way, Tram, bus, pick-up truck, Tukuk, bikes, whatever and finally hit an hydrant and stopped. A million people, screaming and shouting in Bengali, which for me could have been Chinese. In less than 50 seconds someone flagged a taxi and sent me on my way for the black tie evening, I could only stop the shivering with a couple of stiff drinks. The next morning I get a call from the reception at the hotel I was staying in, there were some people downstairs to meet me. Bearing in mind, I do not know a single soul in this City of Joy. The shivering returned, but gathering courage, I went down stairs, to be greeted by my driver of the previous evening along with some other people. My driver touched my feet and apologized for the unfortunate incident. He also had a box of Bengali sweets for me. It was unbelievable, a poor taxi driver who collapsed on me from pure fatigue, his car a wreck and there he was offering me sweets and apologies. I estimated his loss to be around Rs. 10,000 which I tried to give him, but for love of God, he refused. It’s the spirit of India that makes me believe in Humanity.
- One thing that you can’t live without?
Gin & Tonic.
- One thing that you hate?
People….. who are dishonest.
- If you could change one thing about India what would it be?
The politics, they should have to have a degree from a top university to become a politican, and must quit at 60.
- Who is your greatest inspiration?
- What is your favourite quote?
“ Ask not what the government can do for you, but what you can do for the country “ JFK
- I have noticed huge changes in India over the last few years but what is the biggest change you have noticed in India over the last 10 years?
India too has had it’s share of issues that are universal, religious intolerance is on the rise, especially in the northern states. But there is also a growing educated young generation that is changing the colonial mind-set. This I believe will be the game changer.
- What do you think are the biggest challenges India faces over the next ten years?
Corruption, Racism, Intolerance, I Hope we can overcome these evils that politics thrive on.
- Which is the destination at the top of your bucket list?
- What is the one place you visited that you have NO desire to return to?
- Book or Movie?
Fountain Head by Ayn Rand
- Just for fun! I am doing a survey to find India’s most popular breakfast, what is yours?
Crispy Masala Dosa with Coconut Chutney and Sambar with a Vada on the side and a strong South Indian Filter Coffee.
- In retrospect, what is the one thing you wish you could have told your 20 year-old self?
Just go for it! Life has plenty of surprises. Take failures in your stride.
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