I have been travelling to India, on business and for leisure, since the late 1990s and was one of the earlier teachers at the India School of Business in Hyderabad. I have ridden the Maharaja Train, walked the slums of Mumbai and marvelled at the changes in Hyderabad Airport, which now feels more like Singapore, with its glass splendour and planted roads, than the small shed I used to arrive in.
For two heady years I was regional managing director India for Duke CE and still actively support our office there. And in that guise, I have just returned from another two week sojourn in Delhi and Mumbai with a quick four days in Sri Lanka squeezed in. Like many who have traveled to and in India, I marvel at the contrasts.
Extreme poverty perched on the edge of existence under a blue tarpaulin on the pavement outside Mukesh Ambani’s 27 floor, billion dollar home. The light, spirit and warmth of the Indian psyche, alongside maiming and disfiguration of children for the begging industry. Children in abject poverty, who never hold out their hand except to take yours, with a smile. A legacy of stultifying British bureaucracy overcome by business done on a handshake once a good relationship is built. Hard work and long hours alongside many colourful and extraordinary feasts and holidays, when lights are lit and kites are flown.
Exquisite and delicate food, that can delight and poison both the prepared and unprepared traveler. Warmth of spirit alongside a caste system that we don’t discuss but which even today limits social mobility, however hard you work. A passion for cricket in an under-exercised nation.