Update: After I quit the accusations were still flying around, and some well wishers and naysayers informed me a few of them. Here are my clarifications.
- I am accused of lying – that I never told them web server space cost Rs. 15,000. Well to be honest, I lent THT the server space that I already owned and operated and I did not buy it specifically for THT. That is why I never told them there will be any cost to bear in the first year! If people cannot understand difference between lending and buying, I cannot help!
- I am still accused of my intent of making money from website – this time, conversely with the thought that I would have made money from the hosting space renewal that THT will be buying in the second year onwards. Here is an excerpt from the charter that I had created, where I was supposed to be signatory as well, but which was never signed for god knows what reason.
thehimalayantribe.net, thehimalayantribe.co.in are domains that are registered and owned by Hemal Shah. It is agreed with Hemal Shah, who registered the domains on behalf of The Himalayan Tribe founders and members, that he will lend the domains to be used by The Himalayan Tribe and will never be in the ability to use it for his personal gains. It is also agreed that in the unlikely and unfortunate event of Hemal Shah no longer being an active member on the part of The Himalayan Tribe, he will provide for change in ownership of both domains to the next chief or responsible representative of The Himalayan Tribe. It is also agreed that Hemal Shah will seek yearly charges “as is per the bill” of the cost of renewing domains from The Himalayan Tribe Treasurer.
http://thehimalayantribe.net is hosted on a web hosting server space owned by Hemal Shah. It is agreed with Hemal Shah, who hosted the website on behalf of The Himalayan Tribe founders and members, that he will lend the domains used by The Himalayan Tribe, and will never be in the ability to use it for his personal gains. It is further agreed that Hemal Shah will not be using the information hosted on the site by self, or in association with members or non-members to use personal information updated on the site for any business or non-business reasons without prior written approval of the Chiefs. It is also agreed, that in an unlikely and unfortunate event of Hemal Shah no longer be an active member or part of The Himalayan Tribe, he will transfer the hosted information, content, and images to the chief or responsible representative of The Himalayan Tribe. It is also agreed that Hemal Shah will seek yearly charges “as is per the bill” of cost of renewing hosting from The Himalayan Tribe Treasurer.
- If I had any real intentions of making money, I will not be writing the above in the charter I created, calling out my responsibilities in case I quit THT much before I knew I will be doing it this soon.
- It was me who pushed the Working Committee to get this charter printed on a legal instrument (a stamp paper worth Rs. 500) and get it notarized – which never happened. I was told that a simple signature will help to make this legally binding, but even that was not done.
- By that extension, since I have not signed to the charter yet, I could have just pulled the website down. But I never did, and chose to follow the words I endorsed at the start of my term in the working committee. I hope, I am clear on my stand.
I decided to quit the The Himalayan Tribe working committee, following series of issues that never got a satisfactory ending. I have also lost trust in admin and few other members leading the THT. Here is the message I am sending to the Working Committee, Chiefs and Marshals of The Himalayan Tribe.
Admin / Chief – Monish (Monty), Yogesh
Marshals – Angad, Dhaval, Renjith, Sanjay
Working Committee – Donowyn, Pooja, Nikhil, Vikrant, Ajinkya, Balaji, non-rider members Silky and Cathy
I have been thinking about my continued involvement in the THT Working Committee for past few days after I had quit twice, only to be added back on to the WhatsApp group. My conversation with Monty, Yogesh and Angad after the second time I quit in a week left a lot of questions open to be answered. Monty and Angad called for a meeting on Sunday to discuss these issues, which never happened because no one turned up.
Everyone does not have the time to travel to a place and discuss. I for one, certainly could not travel about 100kms back and forth for this meeting on a Sunday. However an alternative option of getting on call was not suggested at all. Non-Mumbai resident working committee members were not even invited (I always pushed for this to happen at all meetings, but the request fell on deaf ears).
Based on my call the other day with Monty and Angad, I had asked them to respond to the 17 point questions that I had raised (along with other Working Committee members) for the benefit of clarity and THT. I mentioned in clear terms that the response should be sent in the group. However, this never came by! As Donowyn has also mentioned in his last message, I have been subjected to bitching behind my back as well. Calling me egoistic and someone who is trying to make money of the website.
Fun fact is, I simply cannot make money from THT website that I designed and hosted, because I have not used any advertisements! More so, I have not even advertised my name anywhere – “Designed and Hosted by Hemal Shah or neouno.net”. And yes, no one from THT called up on me to help them with their businesses to make a website for which I may be able to make money, till date. I stopped free lancing almost 4 years ago, so I stopped hunting for new projects since.
Heck, I have lent THT hosting space that costs Rs. 15,000 a year, and bought domain names costing Rs. 1000 a year from my own money. I also paid $13 for the theme. I am losing my money I spent – not to mention the Rs. 2000 I contributed to register The Himalayan Tribe brand and logo with Registrar of Companies, Govt. of India.
(Working Committee contributions: 5k by Pooja, 3k Angad, 2k Hemal, 2k Donowyn, 1k by Vikrant. Do not remember how much Balaji contributed. Thing to note is 10k by Manoj Kumar, 3k by Bunty Dhiman, and unknown amount by Ankit Desai all of whom are not even part of the working committee. I do not think many of the working committee members know how much Monty finally contributed, but approximately 6k while Yogesh hasn’t contributed at all to my knowledge). Total cost for registering came to Rs. 32,000 approx. Brand and Trademark Logo is registered in the name of Monish K Patel only.
The 17 point questionnaire issue
Among the 17 points, there were the push to get answers for was topics about Marshals, Chapters, Charter and Transparency. Quite a few issues there:
- Because the actions I took, finally, the Working Committee and Marshals were announced in the Mumbai chapter.
(It is disheartening that I had to take an extreme step to enable this to happen, while it was still inconclusive, because of points 2 and 3 below)
- Donowyn is the assigned to be the spokesperson for THT, and he should have been told to share the message everywhere, but was not entrusted with this responsibility.
(I was told that I was wrong in asking Satya to move to Forums, which should be done by a Marshal, and I only have the responsibility for website. So much for the hierarchy / roles to be followed eh?)
- This announcement was not made on Band, THT Maharashtra WhatsApp group, The Himalayan Tribe WhatsApp Group and THT Kerala WhatsApp group. There are a few other groups where I do not have visibility.
- Why should working committee be anonymous to other groups? But why will working committee continue to work in the background when the world outside does not know who is working? The time everyone in working committee spends is for the passion, and they do not get paid. To have recognition of efforts put is the best reward!
- The announcement happened even before I was called / added back into the working committee. I had to respond to in the Mumbai Group that “I am no longer the point of contact for website” to make them even speak to me!
- “What is not Transparent” was constantly questioned – and I had clearly told Angad and Monty what is not. There are two levels, one within the working committee and other among chapters – no one knows what others are doing.There were calls to bring clarity on the merchandise within the working committee, however the only thing we ever heard was – vendor has not been finalized. There was no clarity on the cost they are offering and what quality difference are looking at.
- I was told to forget the charter on my face, which I had nursed and curated so much to ensure the group does not fall into tough times and we have guiding instrument for our group to successes. There was no remorse, whatsoever to the fact that I spent 3 days in full time to come up with it.
- THT Bengal is a disputed chapter – and I was told that action was to be taken by Donowyn because he had interacted with Sumanto Banerjee. But Surprise! Donowyn did not know he was supposed to do that! I think it should have been Yogesh or Monty, who should get this done ideally?
- Even after repeated request and reminders, no action taken to ensure the website managed by Amber (ex-THT member) is taken down – thehimalayantribe.in still is alive, it tops the search results. Such a bad situation, easy for anyone to understand! Amber is even making little money with his advertisements pushed into the website on the back of brand THT, while I get accused of making money. Wah!
Even though it was stated that in the meeting we will discuss all of this, I felt there was no effort put to douse the fire in everyone’s belly about the list of issues when meeting did not happen.
My push for forums was not an egoistic approach. 7 out of 10 active members including two Kerala Admins (excluding inactive – Anjinkya, Yogesh, Balaji and non-rider members Silky, Cathy of the total 15 working committee WhatsApp members) were rooting for it repeatedly. While the ones who opposed never even tested the website/forum when it was made available exclusive for Working Committee. Monty, Yogesh and Angad’s defence was that B’lore chapter never wanted to move to Band (an app that many do not like as much – I hardly used it) and it was just next to impossible for them to move.
Granted, it is supremely difficult, but then you will get the best from the rest, filtering out the pranksters, on the forum. It cannot happen overnight, and will take time but an action should have been taken as soon as possible. A cleaner group, focused on the one thing that we all love should have been the target.
Though it was agreed that we can try website forum and consider it, I had to quit twice to even them to agree to test. But what let me down was this:
While on the call, Angad and Monty said that the whole working committee to test the forums for a week. I told them that “everyone else tested it except for you three guys”. Seems they forgot the entire conversation, because I never saw them testing anything on the website or forum.
I quit. Period.
It has come to a point where my wife gets irritated and questioned my continued involvement. One cannot be selfless beyond a point, and I am no Mahatma Gandhi. I prodded enough, reminded constantly and pushed around. I sometimes lose patience over things, and look at it anyway you may wish, but intentions was to clear the air soon and march ahead!
I have decided, this time with no revert. I quit the working committee, I quit THT WhatsApp groups in Mumbai, Maharastra and Pan India. I quit THT on Band. I quit THT from Facebook (don’t forget to remove me as Admin as well for the FB page). At request from THT Kerala admin from last time I quit, and my love for their passion, I will remain in that group – Kerala admins are free to throw me out if they feel so. And yes, please do not call me to discuss this. Do not make me ignore calls – I am not that person.
I will hold the website thehimalayantribe.net / thehimalayantribe.co.in and domains alive till 15th of April, 2017. Beyond that, I will have them shut down. I am happy to transfer the website content to anyone THT Working Committee appoints. Subject to the following:
- Website Theme – I paid $13 for the theme, it is not a free theme. Pay me that amount and you can have it. Else, theme does not get transfered.
- APIs used to connect Facebook, Instagram, Akismet and Google Analytics connected to my accounts – and cannot be transferred, given any cost! You do not want me to control these points after I quit. 🙂
- Domains can be transferred upon payment of Rs.1,032.70, the amount I paid to register them.
- Knowhow how to set up a new website and organize content – I charge hourly for my consulting practice at the rate of Rs. 1450 / hour. Yes, that is how much people pay me for my time.
- Content Backup: I will zip all the Image content, list of plug-ins used and export an XML for text content – any content that is not mine but belongs to THT members. Including account logins of users, because it is not their fault.
If any of the above are not met, you will still get is this content back up – only because I have some humility still left in me.
Remember that I am still not asking the money I paid for registration – yes, I gave a word that I will not expect that and will hold true to my words.