Just returned from a few days in Mumbai. What a mind-expanding experience! I was there to speak for an IBM conference for middleware vendors and customers.

  1. The contrast in living conditions for the very rich and the very poor is eye-opening—and I didn’t see the absolute extremes of either.

  2. I’ve never seen such vivid colors in all aspects of dress, decor, etc.—even the money is pretty.

  3. “Traffic safety” is an oxymoron. Luggage isn’t tied down on roof racks. People ride on top of trucks. I saw a family of four on a motorcycle. Having said this, I saw no accidents.

  4. Speaking of traffic, it can take two hours to travel fifteen kilometers there. If you have a choice, try to arrive on Saturday or Sunday. Speaking of arrival, I’ve never been to an airport that’s jam packed at 2:00 am.

  5. Computer connectivity is very good. Furthermore, I was amazed that my Verizon phone worked without a hitch. EVDO did not work, but it was only because of the lack of a roaming agreement.

  6. The food was fabulous. For example, I’ve had many a set-up day, pre-show, backstage meal, but nothing as good as what was at IBM’s conference the day before it opened. There was even a curry chef who would make curry to spec.

  7. I loved Indian pricing strategy: for example, 10 rupees for residents and 300 rupees for tourists at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum.

  8. I also appreciated the Indian carpet-sales strategy: “Come in and have a seat; I will get you some tea; let me show you a few carpets; we can fold these up so small that they will fit in your suitcase (and they really could have); these are made in Kashmir; everything is washable; they will not wear out; I’ll give you a special price…”

  9. IBM India has 43,000 employees. The conference was very well run and attended. It felt like a TIE event in Silicon Valley except that the food at TIE events isn’t as good because TIE inexplicably usually serves American cuisine like rubberized chicken.

  10. The place that most impressed me was Dhobi Ghat. This is an area where laundry workers wash and dry clothes. I can’t quite explain why it had such a profound effect on me. It was just surrealistic: bright colors in dark washing pens and flogging stones.

  11. India has its own version of At two intersections, kids came up to the car to sell us paperback versions of current business books. We bought a copy of The World Is Flat for $3. Not sure if I should be happy or depressed, but The Art of the Start was not available.

If you’d like to see pictures from my trip, click here.