“So, why are we in Cape Town?”

This is the first question thrown at you when you meet the winners of an India wide search of probable Ambassadors for Coca-Cola. I respond with an answer that probably does not satisfy the curious eyes or ears of these 10 winners and my co-travellers. This is my first interaction with them and I don’t have a good enough shot for their bouncer or a question.  So, I just duck and let it go.

The tour guide comes to my rescue and thankfully takes over in his quixotic accent. As the bus meanders across the city, its historical significance comes alive. Nelson Mandela and struggle against apartheid is at the heart of Cape Town.

Dinner is at a quaint Indian place and we get to taste ‘Indian’ food in South Africa, almost akin to ‘Chinese’ food in India. Conversation moves to generational Indians in South Africa and the tour guide surprisingly turns out to be a fourth Indian and Irish each and half  South African. He takes over the conversation with his love for Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and the movie dialogues he can remember. Night nears and tiredness of a long flight and long day finally takes over the guests and I am spared the question.

Next day morning is the long drive to a place that most of us study in text books. Cape of Good Hope. The two-hour long drive in a bus is punctuated with sight of ‘farmed ostrich’, postcard vistas and tireless runners running away to glory. As we take a funicular and climb up the mountain, the view of

Atlantic and Pacific oceans meeting each other greets us, the ‘Cape of Good Hope’ comes next.

We get down to finding the usual tourist rush and get our customary picture with Coke in hand. Day passes and the topic for dinner today is the ethereal beauty, the untouched foliage and how people don’t make the place dirty. We all come to a conclusion that ‘Swacch Bharat’ is very important for Indian cities if they have to look like this beautiful Cape Town.

Next morning, we head to the Table Mountain. As we wait in queue, I offer to answer any questions that the contest winners may have about us as a brand and company. After they hear me out, they realise that the brand Coca-Cola is doing far more among communities than what they get to hear about.

Soon we reach Table Mountain, which is like no other place. For the first time, travelers break rules and stay on for 90 mins more than scheduled because it was difficult to let the view go. The view from and of table mountain range had charmed everyone. Soon, we end up at ‘Waterfront’. Everyone just gathers pace and gets lost trying to find whatever they wanted.

Last day is special as we land at Peninsula Beverages, The Coca-Cola South Africa bottling partner. We are ushered into the plant where the senior leadership greets us in a room (that looks like a movie theatre). We are briefed on the work done by the bottlers in region nearby and guests can’t just stop applauding. After the briefing, the team then takes a tour of bottling plant and the warehouse facility. The details of the plant operations left the travellers’ eyebrows raised.

I notice a subtle but important change. They had started using ‘we’, as in ‘us and Coca-Cola = we’, in their sentences. We had now ambassadors for life. Cape Town has worked its charm and the bottling team added cream and cherry on top.

As I depart for airport, I thank everyone for joining us for the journey. And yes, no one asked anymore….. why Cape Town. They already had their answer in thousands of pictures and priceless memories.