The news that I was retiring was out already and I started receiving interesting post-retirement offers. Although I made it clear to my friends and well-wishers that I had no interest in a regular job in the private sector, I was being approached nonetheless. The General Manager of a major travel agency in Delhi called on me in New York and told me, ”Mr Seth, we want your full-time services to build our overseas tourism business. You name your price. My company has asked me to get you at any cost.” He was surprised when my response was negative. I did not want to bind my loyalties to one commercial company and lose my reputation as an India promoter. Within the travel industry, there was too much rivalry. If I joined one company, I lost the friendship and goodwill of others.

A few months before my retirement, Professor P. L. Malhotra who was the first Principal of the Vocational Training College (under the Delhi University umbrella) met me in New York. His College had established a Tourism Management degree and were starting a post-graduate programme in the same subject. He wanted me to take over as the Programme Director or Co-ordinator as and when I reached Delhi. They had a new building for the College close to Saket where I had already bought a flat from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on instalment basis. He promised to allot me an office in the new building where I could do my research on tourism and write more books. The idea appealed to me and I informally accepted the offer. It certainly helped me in making up my mind to come back to India.

An ethnic Indian weekly newspaper of New York, Overseas Times, had earlier asked me to stay back in USA as the editor of the paper and even offered me partnership in their paper. In addition, I had the offer of one-year contract from University of Hawaii to teach. The idea of staying back in the US on one pretext or another did not really appeal to me after having had the honour of heading of the India Tourism set up in the Americas for several years. I politely declined both.

I accepted the Overseas Times offer to write a column from Delhi from the angle of Non-Resident Indians in the United States. Indians abroad often wanted to be informed about the good things happening in their own country rather than the scandals and frauds committed by wheelers and dealers and politicians. This in a way was still promoting India and writing was something which came naturally to me and I really enjoyed it. Also, it would allow me to keep in touch with my friends in the US.

The owner of a prestigious New York based weekly travel magazine, Travel Trade, asked me to write a regular monthly column on the Indian travel industry from New Delhi. The Toronto-based Canadian Travel Press asked me to write for their special India supplements from time to time. I made no commitments but these offers were very much on top of my mind as I returned to India.

On reaching India, the President of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), Mahindra Sanghi, asked me to be their consultant on media relations. He told me I was not to attend any office. As and when they wanted, they will ask me to help in holding a Press Conference or drafting a memorandum for the Government. I accepted this request. Later, whenever they met a Minister and government officials or the Indian Airlines and Air India top brass, they took me along for advice and for further follow-up. It was a highly interesting assignment The interaction with the officials helped me updated with the happenings in all sectors of the travel industry – in fact, I had better information on tourism industry as a whole now than during my government years. This was obviously important in my new incarnation as a travel writer.

One day, I received a long-distance phone call from the American lady editor of Asia Travel Trade from Singapore asking me to write an article on the Indian travel industry on a given subject and to send it to her by fax. At that time fax machines were not common in India and I had to go to a major business hotel to fax the text to her. Thereafter, writing for Asia Travel Trade became a monthly affair. They paid so well that their one assignment was equal to six in India! It was a widely circulated magazine reaching every corner of Asia. It was already a twenty-year old publication when I started writing for them.


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