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Pandemic induced boredom was reaching a tipping point when Media Profile introduced its Work Away Benefit (WAB). It was a godsend for a person like me who likes to travel at every given opportunity.  The pandemic’s two-year-long restrictions meant that I couldn’t visit my extended family in India or indulge my passions for collecting rare books and visiting historic monuments.  

MP’s Work Away Benefit arrived just in time. My youngest cousin was getting married, and it was going to be a big fat Indian wedding with relatives coming from around the world. I immediately jumped on the opportunity and started planning the trip.  

Preparation was key to making this trip a success. I set my cell phone clock to display the time in both Toronto and Hyderabad (India), printed out time conversion sheets, prioritized urgent tasks, informed my team members of things I was working on, and started shopping for airline tickets and accommodation. This ensured I was able to work away without any hiccups.  

The family wedding was a grand affair spread out over three weeks. It was great to connect with many near and distant relatives—some of whom I had not seen in over 20 years. We reflected on the good old times with a promise to meet again more frequently.  

I have a long-standing interest in collecting hard to find books in Urdu and Persian languages with a focus on South Indian history. In 2020, I virtually connected with someone in a small town in India who was willing to sell books that I had been looking for. The only caveat was that he insisted I collect them in-person. Piggybacking on the wedding, I visited the bookseller and collected my 45 books. These books will now be digitized with the help of an academic collective in India and will be available online in the coming months.  This experience led me to new connections in the academic field and allowed me to begin planning future collaborations.  

Related to my passion for books are visits to and documentation of historic monuments. I specifically target lesserknown monuments and ones that may soon disappear. On this trip I restricted myself to the 500yearold city of Hyderabad. Accompanied by a local historian, and his poet friend, I was able to view the outer gates, which are not easily accessible. We had to walk a circuitous route and wade through bushes until we arrived at a magnificent scene: a giant doorway with frescos of battles and magical animals. 

We then climbed rocky terrain to the top of a hillock to arrive at another magnificent site – a vantage point which offered a panoramic view of the entire city. We took our time here, imagining what the scene might have been when the Qutb Shahi dynasty was at its zenith 400 years ago. This site also contained huge cannons from when the Mughals laid siege to the fort in 1687. We spent time studying and deciphering the ornate Persian calligraphy on these cannons.

As the sun set over the hill I made a list of everything I am thankful for. At the top of this list was family, followed closely by a caring employer.

Curious to learn more about MP’s adventures abroad? Stay tuned for future Our Take #PassportToMP blog posts where employees will share their work away experiences.

Ayub Khan
Communications & Community Liaison Officer

#PassportToMP: Four ways working away improved my mental health
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