March 10, 2012 and we've made it to Mumbai. But getting here wasn't without it's challenges. Our original travel itinerary had a group of us meeting in London to catch the 10:15 a.m. connecting flight to Mumbai. We individually arrived in London to find out that the flight had been cancelled due to mechanical problems. Without cell service, it was difficult to coordinate a game plan with the others. I ended up taking the 1:00 p.m. Air India flight which arrived at 4:00 a.m. The others took a 6:30 p.m. British Airways flight, placing them in Mumbai at 9:00 a.m. this morning.
We're staying at the beautiful Taj President hotel in Mumbai. The staff is so very polite and the service has been great thus far. We met in the lobby around noon to grab a bite to eat. We were all craving a taste of Indian cuisine. There are several restaurants in the lobby, so Adam points at one and says "That's the Indian restaurant". So we go in and grab a table. Upon surveying the menu we realize that it's actually a Thai restaurant... the THAI PAVILION! How did we miss that? Nevertheless the food was pretty good. Everyone initially gravitated to the Pad Thai but then we each decided to do something different for a change. Everything was great!
Afterwards Seema grabbed a street map and led us down to Colaba for a little shopping. I personally needed a few things as one of my suitcases had been lost by the airline. Luckily I have the one that had all of my business wear for the site visits, but I'm totally down on the essentials (read between the lines). We walked about 2 kilometers and hit a variety of shops. Man, I have to tell you... Indian retail sales people are SERIOUS!! Every time we stopped to purchase something, they'd pull out multiple items. After you picked an item, they'd try to sell you something else. They were constantly up-selling. I purchased a few scarves as gifts. Then the salesman pulls out silver figurines. Ok... I gave in a purchased a small silver panther. Then he starts pushing me on RUGS!!! How'd we get from silver figurines to rugs???? Ring me up, already!
I've seen pictures of the retail environment in India before but it was really interesting to see up close and in person. These small shops operate in a very small foot print and typically specialize in a category e.g. personal care products, men's clothing, women's clothing, jewelry. There was one retail store devoted solely to cookies! It got me thinking about how we devote so much space to creating the right shopping environment and experience for U.S. shoppers. I wondered if this no frills, small footprint, highly specialized approach could work in the U.S., particularly in underserved communities that are looking for businesses to come in. Is there something to be learned here that could be applied to small business in the U.S.??
Well, I found all of the things I needed. Back to the hotel!