|Chris at a rugby match in Manila, Philippines|
When I told people that I was leaving Mumbai, they assumed that one of the reasons was to escape the chaos and pollution. When I said that I was going to Manila, Philippines, “Out of the frying pan and into the fire” is a phrase that was used more than once.
Mumbai was my home. A place that despite all its problems and inconveniences has an addictive energy about it. A place thriving with people making a difference and getting sh#t done. I will miss that as well as the wonderful people that I met, from house maid to employees to expats.
But it was time to leave, both personally and professionally. It is a great sense of pride to see both Reality Tours and Reality Gives where they are today, but they both need people with more specialised skills to take us to that next level, and with both Steph and Summer, the two arms of the organisation are in safe hands. I will still be involved in an advisory capacity, as Chairman.
I’m very excited to be in Manila, a city at first glance not a million miles away from Bangkok with its big shopping malls and very friendly people. Scratch below the surface however and you will see pretty big problems and social inequality, not too dissimilar to Mumbai. I’m helping an NGO, called San Martin de Porres, with a slum tour which they first set up in 2011 (http://www.smokeymountaintours.blogspot.com), and which runs in the Smokey Mountain area of Tondo, where the majority of Manila’s slums are.
I will be helping with everything related to the tour- the information, routes, guide training, marketing and social media, website- as well as putting in quality control systems. I’m enjoying working again with a small team and I’m really excited to be able to use learnings from Mumbai to benefit San Martin and the community. We are also following the advice of the Responsibility Tourism panel- when we won the Awards last November, they told us that we should try and replicate our model elsewhere in the World.