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Of Taxis, Cows & Sprawling Business

Wednesday, June 8

India continues to be a mystery. While over 600 million supposedly speak English, one wonders where they are. Educated people clearly have a capacity in the language, but when encountering people on the street the story is different. Taxi drivers – here the taxis are modified Vespas with seats for three behind the driver – can handle numbers, but only when they are high. To negotiate down from R100, let’s say, is another challenge.

As part of the internship we have been visiting several hi-tech companies. These companies have in  common a strong sense of a social contract – something we seem to be losing in the U.S.A. The motto of one company reads as follows: “Determined to Win, Action with Sensitivity, Unyielding Integrity.” How can one not admire that?

Visiting the companies has not only opened our eyes to the business opportunities here in India, but also to the strengths of these companies and what they offer to their U.S clients. The last company we visited, WIPRO, is quoted on the New York Stock Exchange and includes among its clients Sears and GE.

The NDC interns have been within a stone's throw of a Bengal tiger.
The NDC interns have been within a stone's throw of a Bengal tiger.

Over the weekend we visited some national landmarks. If you are interested in the famous Bengal tiger, we have been within a stone’s throw of one. The same applies to a white tiger, something I have not seen before. Bulls are worshiped here and the temples have large statues of glorious bulls. Not too much like Fernando.

Bangalore’s population continues to grow as the city is known as one of the best opportunity centers in the country. Urban sprawl takes on a new meaning here. Roads are cluttered with street vendors to the far outstretches. Only in large U.S. cities, such as New York, are we accustomed to seeing such masses.

The lack of space causes Indians to be very tolerant of one another. While there are crushing masses, there is not anger or animosity. People do not queue, rather they slip and slide ahead of each other, and no one gets upset. Rarely does one hear an outraged cry.

We have all read about the sacredness of cows in India. Indeed, they have the run of the land, whether on dry land, streets or highways. It is a mystery about who owns or cares for the cows as clearly the females must be milked from time to time.

Nearby is a hotel known as the Taj West End. It is truly an oasis built by the British way back when. Located in the middle of the city, it occupies 18 acres of tall tropical trees, lawns, a swimming pool and luxurious service. How do we know? A glass of club soda costs R100 or $2.

The Sisters continue to treat us as royalty, which is altogether excessive and delusionary. With little over one week to go, we look forward to the remaining exciting adventures awaiting us.

- Steve Hotchkiss