Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Indian Trip

Jeremy Baines was a 32 year old businessman who had recently taken over from his father as the Managing Director of their £ 500 mn family business based out of Southampton, England. Baines Textiles Co. manufactured clothes under the brand name of YOUNG which was a Semi premium clothing brand & was considered among the best in this segment in the United Kingdom. Jeremy was a commerce graduate who went on to do his MBA from Cambridge University, just like his father. There family business was now 45 years old. It was started by Jeremy’s grandfather Thomas Baines at a local level, taken to a national level by his father Colin & Jeremy aimed to take this business international. Baines’ were already getting their clothes manufactured from Ludhiana in India, which was known for its textiles industry. Hence, Jeremy thought that it would be a good idea to start his international experiment from India, since India was an upcoming economy with people constantly shifting towards branded clothing, there was huge business potential in the country.

For this purpose, Jeremy thought of entering into an alliance with an Indian company which could market the clothes in India as the Indian market couldn’t be handled the same way as it was being done in England. He decided to go and personally meet the two companies that had been shortlisted by the marketing department of the company. Jeremy was being assisted by Rajat Malhotra, an Indian friend who had been of great help while finalising the Indian manufacturing contracts as well. As Baines Co were also in the process of finalising possible alliances in US and Canada as well, Jeremy made sure that the meetings took place on the same day so that he had to spend minimum time out of office. Both the shortlisted companies were based out of Bombay so his meetings were scheduled on the same day, one on both sides of lunch.

Jeremy’s wife, Trish and 6 year old daughter, Stacy were very excited with Jeremy’s India trip and Jeremy agreed to take them along. The Baines landed in India the night before the meetings were scheduled. The return flights were booked for 3 days later. They were to put up in Hotel JW Marriot in Bandra, where the meetings were also scheduled to take place.

Jeremy’s first meeting started at 1000 and in the meanwhile Trish & Stacy left to have a look at the city they had all heard so much about. Stacy was particularly excited about visiting the Gateway of India which she had recently read about in her history books. They were accompanied by Rajat’s wife, Anjali. They spent most of the morning in and around Bandra. They went to Bandra Bandstand and to Juhu beach. They were particularly surprised by the number of people standing outside the houses of Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Bachhan. Anjali explained to them the reason for this hoard of people outsides the houses. They ofcourse had heard the names but had no idea how big they were. Stacy put into perspective when she said, “So, they are like the Beckhams of India.” Anjali had to agree but added, “Maybe more. Atleast in India!”

At about 5 pm, Jeremy called Trish to inform her that he had decided to award the contract to Arvind Textiles but it will take him another couple of hours to finalise the contract and some other formalities. Since, Jeremy knew about Stacy’s excitement towards visiting the Gateway of India, he fixed a date with his wife and daughter to catch them for dinner at the Taj Mahal Palace at 8 p.m. In the meanwhile, Anjali decided to take the mother-daughter pair for a trip to the south of Mumbai. The resemblance this part of the city had to the English style and architecture was almost impossible to miss. Trish was surprised by how different this country and city was from what all she had read and saw. She had a totally different mental image of the city after recently having seen Slumdog Millionaire, which was currently a huge hit in Britain. But, she was also surprised by how much variety this city had to offer, where some parts of the city were full of slums and filth, another part of the city looked like the home to the elite. It was a city where you could find a group of burqa clad women walking next to a group of women walking in their ultra modern attire and no one seemed too shocked or surprised looking at the other. She felt she had already learnt more about India than she ever could from books and movies. She decided to convince Jeremy for a full fledged vacation in India next time around. Stacy on the other hand was having an experience of her own. Having been brought up in the calm and relaxed environment of Southampton, she was enjoying the mad rush of the city. Where her mother was despising the traffic, she loved it whenever there car stopped at a traffic signal and a line of cars would soon queue up behind them.

At 8:10 p.m., Trish and Stacy reached the Taj Mahal Palace along with Anjali and were greeted by Jeremy and Rajat in the lobby itself. Rajat and Anjali excused themselves citing prior commitments despite a lot of persuasion from Jeremy and Trish. They headed towards the restaurant Rajat had recommended after seeing them off. Trish had always taken a lot of interest in the business so Jeremy updated Trish about all that took place that day. He was rather satisfied with how it had gone. Stacy was getting bored with all the business talk. So it was her chance to explain to her father what all she did during the day and what all she found interesting about the city. Jeremy was also getting excited to learn more about the city. He was glad when Trish proposed the idea about visiting India their next vacation.

They asked for the cheque as the clock struck 10. Stacy was still not satisfied as her wish of visiting the gateway had still not been fulfilled. As they came down to the lobby, Stacy got super excited as she got a glimpse of the Gateway. Jeremy asked Trish to go after Stacy as he went to the washroom.

As Trish and Stacy crossed to the road, and were moving towards the Gateway, they heard gun shots. Trish turned towards the hotel entrance and saw some men entering the hotel with guns in hand. Stacy was crying, Trish had no idea what to do but she knew she had to get her act together. She took Stacy and hid behind the Shivaji Statue in front of the Gateway of India. One of the terrorists who had attacked the hotel noticed them while entering the hotel and came back and shot in their direction. The Maratha Warrior was there to save the mother-daughter duo. As the terrorist moved back in, Trish’s first reaction was to grab her phone and call Jeremy but she just couldn’t reach him. She again tried calling Jeremy but the same result. She tried again and the operator informed her that the phone is switched off. She was panicked and afraid. It had been 15 minutes now that she had been hiding behind the statue. She saw a rush of police vehicles followed by Press Vehicles arrive. She wanted to talk to someone to get some information about Jeremy but didn’t want to move as Stacy was also in danger. She couldn’t leave her alone as she was in no position to stay here by herself. She had been crying from the moment this started. She decided to wait. Her wait went on and it had been an hour when a couple of reporters came towards her to set up there station. She waved frantically as she was still afraid to make noise. One of the reporters saw her and they came running towards her. She explained the situation to them. They told her that its impossible to get inside the hotel but they will try to get any information if possible. Just when her hopes were dying down, she saw a group of 5 men come running out of the Hotel’s front entrance. She saw him running out in his black suit. A look from 100 metres far was still enough to spot him. As Stacy saw her father, she made a run for him but Trish was quick to catch her. She still couldn’t take the risk of letting her daughter run free in that situation. But she couldn’t stop Stacy from shouting, “DAD.” This was enough for Jeremy to spot his daughter. He came running towards his wife and daughter. He came and hugged both of them. This was the
first time after her birth that Jeremy was happy to see his daughter cry as he knew it could have been worse.

The Baines did return for their Indian holiday.They were the first to check into the hotel after Taj Mahal Palace reopened two years later.

A work of fiction,inspired from a real incident

*Dedicated to the 166 men & women who lost their lives in 26/11 terror attacksin Mumbai*

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