Jose Thomas

My Blog

Sunday 16th May, 2010



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As I begin my dream of blogging I seek the blessings of the Almighty to grant me the strength, wisdom and confidence to bring this to fruition. My mind raced through 37 years of life experiences and I didn’t know where to begin. Suddenly my mind got drawn into this true story that touched and changed my life. Let me share that with you….

On Oct 31st, 2000 my VP Shipping and I were in Singapore for a meeting with my principals. This was a challenging period for me as I had just made a decision to launch our own retail brand ‘Tastee Choice’ across the United States, stepping out of our conventional way of doing business. I often combined business trips to save time and this was one such. I was onward to New York via L.A.

In the wee hours of the morning, 31st October 2000, my VP and I landed at Changi airport, 5.30 am, if my memory serves me right. My VP who is also my nephew shared a close bond with me. Enroute to the hotel I told my nephew that I was having a strange, indescribable feeling, which was making me uneasy. He quickly brushed it aside and told me to focus on the task at hand. After a shower we set off for the scheduled meeting in Singapore. On the way, I spoke again of my feeling of unease and said I’d like to cancel my trip and go back home (Cochin, India). However, in the evening, driven by my commitments I found myself in a cab headed back to Changi Airport.

I was booked on business class SQ006 leaving Singapore for L.A via Taipei at around 6pm (Singapore time). I reached the airport, checked in and got my boarding pass. I was allotted a front seat on the upper deck. I had no check in baggage.

I settled down in the lounge nursing a Scotch, sifting through my myriad thoughts. I watched flight after flight taxi for takeoff, people flitting about in the throes of long haul journeys, the ebb and flow of conversation in the lounge. My mind threw up many questions and as I sat there stirring my drink, it hit me, “why go?” At that moment. I swiftly got up, walked to the counter, handed in my boarding pass and said, “Please off load me from the aircraft, Thank you”. I rebooked to Chennai, India for the same evening. The Chennai flight was scheduled for 8.30pm (Singapore time).

I then returned to the lounge and continued to enjoy my Scotch. Through the large glass windows I saw the Boeing 747 pull out of the gate, ready for taxi. By the way I’m a diehard lover of flying and have duly clocked my hours as a student pilot. I was very particular of the airline I chose for my travel. Out of my 4 best world airline choices, Singapore Airlines was and still is, my most preferred carrier because of their top quality service and safety record.

I saw SQ006, beautiful graphics on its body, push back, taxi and disappear.

My Chennai flight was announced and as I proceeded to board I called Mrs. Prakash, VP of Travel Division and asked her to inform the New York office of the change in plan. Upon landing in Chennai I was met by the VP of my Chennai office along with some of my classmates who were customs officers. They looked visibly shaken. Sensing something was amiss I feared for my family and my children. They took me aside, offered me coffee and broke the news that the plane I was to take to L.A. crashed on takeoff from Taipei, killing 82 people on board including the passengers on the upper deck where I was to be seated

A chill ran down my spine. I was speechless!

Random thoughts crowded my mind in a rush. Was this written the day I was born? Or else why would I cancel my trip to the U.S.? I would’ve been one among the dead. A mere statistic in the death toll!

I saw this as a rebirth. There must be some reason that God Almighty allowed me to live, some work left unfinished that He wanted me to complete. I thought back to my wife, my youngest twins who were just 8 years old, my oldest only 16.

Five children, a wife and the Choice Group- I don’t think they were ready for my exit.

Back at home in Cochin, India I was greeted by my family, friends and staff with an overwhelming reception at the Choice Factory. As I was finishing my thanksgiving address, one of my employees interrupted me, “Sir, why don’t you use this as a sign from God and quit smoking”. Those were the days I ploughed through 2 packets of Benson & Hedges a day. I was caught off guard, thought for a moment, looked down into my pocket, picked out my pack of B&H, tossed it aside and said “ yes, why not?” and I quit!

I now consider myself 10 years of age, committed to this life because I have a purpose to do so, and duties to deliver. What did I learn from this? Sometimes you just have to go by your gut feeling even if it defies logic and that there is a higher power watching over you-God Almighty!
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Responses to
 Sinjini says:
Your dream had to be fulfilled sir... n so god saved u... appreciate n admire ur courage n strong will to quit smoking at one shot.. not many can do this.
I really appreciate your courage.Your blog is going to be of great help to new businessmen. ALL THE BEST FOR THE FUTURE. Regards Dr.John M.George principal Bishop Jerome Institute Kollam.