Get on the sunshine cycle
SADDLE UP And get an experience of a lifetime Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

How would you like to be a chef in a star hotel for a day? Or would you rather fly and plane and then come down to earth to celebrate it over some champagne? Take a helicopter sortie over Bangalore, maybe? Okay so every one has their fantasy but now there's one fairy godmother who can do some of these things for you with the swish of her magic wand.

Only, this 31-year-old fairy godmother comes riding a yellow bicycle and is a mean organiser. In an age when you have money and the desire to open up your senses to new and exotic experiences, you can be assured there's someone to answer to that call (and make a career out of it).

Meet Neha Arora, an experience gifter, CEO of The Yellow Cycle. Savvy title huh? But it was a savvy idea she hit upon when she was holidaying with the hubby in Singapore. “While I was there, I realised everything was designed as an experience — like if you go on the night safari, it starts at the point where you buy your ticket — and so you end up remembering everything. That's when I realised I want a career in experiences, and that I want to do it here in my own country,” says Neha. So after some research of her own (and a lot of gut feeling that she went by) she quit her job as a corporate communications executive in an IT company and set up The Yellow Cycle. “I decided I'll design and retail experiences, and enhance these experiences...” Having been in corp comm for over eight years, she did have experience organising events for employees.

“The company name comes from the fact that our experiences are unhurried journeys. And what better vehicle than a cycle, to savour such moments as you slow down? Yellow is the colour of happy sunshine…” she explains.

The company, that took off in October last year has been organising around seven experiences every month either for corporates or individuals, says Neha. Some of the more popular experiences include — a wine tasting and picnic in a vineyard, an aphrodisiac evening, flying a microlight plane, and being a chef for a day. Others include a rockstar's experience at the studio (and cutting your own album), private dance lessons with a celebrity choreographer, a 9-course European fine-dining experience, a wild and wicked bachelorette… the list definitely goes on.

“The idea is that you don't have to rack your brain for anything — organising food, throwing in a basket of goodies… the whole pain…you don't have to do it,” grins Neha. For the aphrodisiac evening, for example, she says, everything has to happen “at the right moment” — the chocolate and the strawberries have to materialise in the customised transport and at the spa on time. (The couple spa, bath, dinner for two and aphrodisiac goodies galore set you back by a neat Rs. 22,500!) If you want to take a spin over the city's skyline in a chopper, you'll be chauffer driven to the helipad, there will be a photographer to capture the moment for you and frame it. A wine and cheese evening awaits you after you land, to celebrate the occasion — so it's not just a helicopter ride, Neha points out. Of course, this will cost you another cool Rs. 11,500. “The idea is to make it a luxurious Donald Trump experience,” smiles Neha.

When you “buy” an experience from her company, Neha (or sometimes even her husband! Because she doesn't believe any “delivery boy” will do) go and deliver a festooned basket with an “experience ticket” to the person who's been gifted. It's then for the person to decide when they want to experience it and fix up a date and book it.

For corporates who wish to award their employees for their performance, an “experience” is any day better than gifting them a watch or iPad, says Neha. “The whole idea is that you talk about an experience. Experiences give you stories, and these stories and memories last much longer than an object.”

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This column features those who veer off the beaten track.

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