I had a dream!
The day I took charge as Division Director for Division B, I determined to open a community club in the vicinity of financial and technology hub of India i.e. Gurgaon that will be proved to be the best club not only in the District but in the whole world.
We started working for the club with dedicated leaders of my team, TM Priyanka Keserwani, DTM Rupinder Singh and TM Pallavi Sana. With the same dream that I had, DTM Rupinder Singh rolled up his sleeves and determined to give the club a shape out of nothing. I remember how struggling it was during the initial days. We used to reach the venue every Sunday and conduct meeting with available members, sometimes even 3 or 4 members. The team struggled over six months in finding every right member, with never give up attitude. A lot of Toastmasters from Delhi and NCR helped the team in the journey especially TM Pallavi Sana. Finally, the day came where we found a team of 20 new members with the same spirits.
The team geared up so quickly that the District Team left the club on its own and the club was running independently by the enthusiasm of new members. The new team achieved many accolades. The new members performed well in the Division. Currently, all the new members are considered as a veteran Toastmasters within a short span of time of less than a year and the team is as competent that they are able to address any challenge independently that comes to the club.
I am so proud of being part of the founding process of the club. With the leaders like TM Sinjini Sengupta, TM Ajay Mathur, TM Aishwarya Khandelwal, TM Puneet Khandelwal, TM Anuj Gupta, TM Saransh, TM Damber, TM Dewaki and rest of the members, I need not to look to help them in problems, but I am confident that they will be best club, not only in the District but the whole world.
According to an article in the Mirror, an average person makes 27 decisions in a day, and will eventually regret about five of them. On a fateful day in 2009, I made one decision out of those five – I decided to not join Toastmasters, or rather, join Toastmasters next week. The next week soon became next month, the next month soon became next year, and the next year kept on moving from one year to the next, riding on my hope of joining next week.
May 19, 2015 – I decided no more next week, and I joined AMPOrator Toastmasters. I was the charter president of the club, and through a combination of unwavering dedication from club members, incredible support from the Toastmasters community, and some unimaginable luck, the club became President’s Distinguished.
The pattern was to repeat a year later, when I became the Area Director of Area B2 for the term 2016-17. This time there was unwavering dedication from my clubs (TCS Maitree, Embark, GLTC, Turning Point, and later GCTC), incredible support from a larger Toastmasters community (there is not enough space to list them all), and again, unimaginably ridiculous luck that saw my area become President’s Distinguished as well.
One of the strokes of fortune was the formation of the Gurgaon Champions Toastmasters Club, or GCTC. For someone like Sourindra Sir, opening a new club was a cakewalk – his area would expand by five clubs during his tenure. For me it was a peak to be conquered, the efforts of which could easily be a lesson in perseverance and patience from Mukesh Thakur, my Division Director. I had set myself a few principles – the club would be formed with new members keeping dual memberships to a minimum. It would be a club of the members, by the members, and for the members. I remember how someone gave me the idea that I simply cobble together a club, or merge it with one of my existing clubs that were not doing too well. I steadfastly refused to entertain any such thoughts, and was ably supported by Mukesh Thakur on this. We were making members by a trickle, and in the meanwhile, some members decided to go join other clubs. I remember how we would have joint meetings with the Gavels club, just so we could have a meeting.
Just when it seemed like the club would never get formed, a magical twist of fate happened. On a cold winter morning in November 2016, we held a joint meeting with Gurgaon Toastmasters club. The meeting started in near zero visibility, and in what was a very appropriate coincidence, the Sun broke out. The club gained six members that day. The support of the Toastmasters community manifested itself in the form of Pallavi Sana and Pragya Gandhi, along with contributions from SameekshaSahai, Udyan Srivastava, and the TCS Maitree Gurgaon Toastmasters club. They ensured that the club continued to have meetings in its fledgling moments. Then one day in December, Pragya was supposed to be the Toastmaster of the Day, but she got delayed thanks to me giving her bad directions. Just when I thought that she wouldn’t come and that the club formation would have to wait another week, she made her appearance. That day, she delivered what I thought was easily one of the best performances as a TMOD. We gained 11 members that day, and it meant that we were now 20, and that Gurgaon Champions Toastmasters Club now could be chartered.
Gurgaon Champion Toastmasters Club came into existence on December 11, 2016. Before December 31, the new EC was in place, headed by Sinjini Sengupta. Sinjini would go onto win more laurels for the club – she represented Division B in the District level championship for International Speech Contest. The club would attain Distinguished status, and it would come to be known as a club truly made of champions.
If there is one thing that I would want new clubs to take from GCTC, it is their never-give-in attitude. The club saw some difficult times, almost as difficult as its gestation, but each member of the club rose to the occasion to meet the challenges head on.
Today, GCTC is a thriving club. It has produced champions like Kiran, who made it to the Division level in the humorous speech contest despite having joined Toastmasters very recently. Go to one of their meetings, and you will realize what sets them apart. You will see it in the energy in the room. You will see it in the way club business is conducted. You will see it in the way guests are greeted. You will see it in how they work, and more importantly, how they party!
I may not be a part of GCTC anymore, but a part of me will always, and all ways, remain GCTC. It is a fitting testimony to the fact that the best things in life don’t come easy, but when they do, the level of satisfaction they provide is beyond measure.
GCTC meets every Sunday from 10am to 12pm. I encourage you to visit them, whether you are a Toastmaster or not. It is not a meeting, it is an experience; an experience that is as transforming as it is humbling. For me, it was the victory of unshakeable resolve over unrelenting skepticism – one of those moments when nice guys finished first.