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24 Hours Later...

12427-1203047-thumbnail.jpgAs the photo proves, we arrived safe and sound in Mumbai. For those coming from the States, the trip is long. Between airport security, a lay-over at Heathrow and customs, it took us about 23 hours to reach the hotel. Not bad, I suppose, considering that we're half-way around the globe.

First impressions of India match my reading: it's a study in contrast. How's this for starters? We arrived in a modern, comfortable airport, yet the walk to the hotel's car was punctuated by homeless people sleeping in vacant parking spaces, begging children and a hoard of people asking to help with our limited baggage.

Two children, in particular, remain a lingering memory: a five and two year old pair who's only communication to me were sad, hopeful smiles and the question "English coin?" Not having currency of the crown, we shared rupees; they were not as well recieved as I had expected. Seems, at least in this respect, the British are still very much a factor in the Indian economy.


Doing Homework

In%20Spite%20of%20the%20Gods.gifIn preparation for the trip, I took time to do some reading about Indian history, society and politics.  The best book I found was In Spite of the Gods: The Rise of Modern India, by Edward Luce.  I enjoyed the style and readability of this book and the contents were very useful indeed.

Until 2006, Luce was the South Asia Bureau Chief, based in New Dehli, of the Financial Times.  As it turns out, he's also married a woman from India, so has a very personal understanding of Indian culture.

The book offers vignettes from Indian history spanning from independence from Britain (August 15, 2007) until now.  From the Synopsis:

"Above all, In Spite of the Gods is an enlightening study of the forces shaping India as it tries to balance the stubborn traditions of the past with an unevenly modernizing present. Deeply informed by scholarship and history, leavened by humor and rich in anecdote, it shows that India has huge opportunities as well as tremendous challenges that make the future 'hers to lose.' "

 That about says it all.  Pick up a copy at your favorite bookstore or library before you go!


Off to India!

marine-drive-mumbai.jpgSoon I leave on my first trip to India.  Principally, I'll be in and around Mumbai.  Exciting!  Given the fact the trip is for business, I am looking forward to learning more about the business practices in India and how to best work with companies located there.  That said, I'm also excited about carving some time out to, as Lisa Lindblad once advised me, "get under the skin of a place".  We'll have to see how much cultural immersion will be possible in such a short trip, but at least it's a start.  Wish me luck!

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