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A Legacy Honoured Journey from Learning to Laughter by Avril Sule

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The transition from receiving ‘The Most Dedicated Student of The Year 1977 Award’ to being recognized as the ‘Pillar of IHM’ has been a superlative journey in which the Dadar Catering College has played an integral part.

My career path commenced with the exceptional ability to apply my knowledge and skills in the field of education. I acquired a Post-Diploma in Teacher Training from IHM-Mumbai in 1981 securing the highest marks in the examination. After a brief stint as a Management Trainee in Ambassador Hotel, I returned to teach at my Alma Mater at the request of the principal, Ms Thangam Philip (the pioneer of Hospitality Education in the country). Since then, I have spent nearly four decades in the Hospitality Industry educating young aspirants to the field, training trainers and educators and conducting training for senior officers in large corporate and government organizations.

Having studied and worked at the Institute of Hotel Management – Mumbai (then known as Catering College) has been a privilege and provided me a strong foundation for a career in Hospitality Education. I have thereafter been part of the start-up team of the Sheila Raheja Institute of Hotel Management in Mumbai before I retired in April 2017.

Despite having received many awards, I yearned for the recognition from my Alma Mater and when I retired, I thought that it was perhaps something that would not happen. This year when I was contacted to accept the award recognizing me as a ‘Pillar of IHM’, I felt that the universe was listening to my heart’s desires. Organized on a spectacular scale and implemented in a seamless sequence, the Platinum Jubilee Event held on 17th February 2024 encapsulated the glory of the Dadar Catering College and a chance to mingle with students who are now stalwarts in the hospitality industry and excelling in other chosen careers. Many of them shared memories on how I impacted their lives but most of them had funny stories to tell relating to my whacky sense of humour and some of them remembered me for bailing them out of trouble. The Principal, Dr Nisheeth Srivastava, and his team did a superlative job in orchestrating this event.

Walking onto the stage, was an exhilarating moment… amidst cheers, clapping and whistling for several moments, I scanned the audience looking at the students who were present. Knowing that your audience is your legacy is by far more rewarding than the award itself. The Chief Guest – Mrs Jai Shree Bhoj was quite amused at the ruckus and said to me, “You seem to have been a very popular teacher.” I was thinking that the word ‘unconventional’ would have been more appropriate.

I am forever grateful for having inherited some exceptional educator genes and to all the students who over the years have been the essence of my existence. Although I am now retired, I still do some training in and out of the country and have been invited as a speaker for events and as a judge for competitions.

My current designation is by far the best that I ever had… Professional Grandma to Aashrai!

As my time on this planet comes closer to the end, I know that when I reach the Pearly Gates and have to justify why I should be allowed in, I have only one thing to say – “I made people laugh.” And hopefully they will let me in.

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