Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Up in the air

Or at least I wish I was. Is it just me or has air travel in the US becoming more difficult and unpleasant? I am back here doing the usual 10 cities in 10 days bit. So I have the pleasure of experiencing the worst. Thought I would share some of my misery with you.

I was on my way from Raleigh to West Palm Beach via Charlotte. When I arrived into Charlotte, I discovered that the flight from Charlotte to West Palm Beach has been cancelled. The next flight is oversold and so is the one after that - which happens to be the last flight of the day. The US Airways agent suggested that I fly into Fort Lauderdale and take a train to West Palm. It was unlikely that my luggage was going to follow me - but that was ok. I reached Ft. Lauderdale to find out that the last train for the day had already left for West Palm. So I now needed to rent a car ($100+) and drive an hour. Usually this would not be an issue but after you have flown over 24 hours and are still recovering from jet lag, it is not a cool thing.

As expected, my bag did not make it and I asked the airline to deliver it to the hotel, which predictably they did not. I checked out of the hotel in the morning and called the baggage handling call center to request that the bag be sent to the West Palm airport where I would pick it up in the afternoon as I was leaving for Nashville. I arrived at the airport and go to the baggage office. My bag was sitting there but none of the staff was available. I could not track anybody down for 10 minutes and my flight was scheduled to leave in 35 minutes. I simply walked out of the office with my bag and NOBODY STOPPED ME! That should give us a lot of confidence in the security system at our airports.

Of course, my travel blues did not end there. I am now sitting at the Nashville airport where my flight to Atlanta has now been delayed twice. Oh .. how I wish I was up in the air.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentines Day

Valentine's day is here again! This is the third valentine's day in Bangalore and I am literally seeing this day of love evolve in front of my eyes. It is fascinating to see new traditions take hold in a culture in real time.

I am not sure when Valentine's day became mainstream in India. Twenty years ago, the concept was non-existent here. Today - it is completely integrated into the traditions and festivals of the country. The collective marketing genius of commercial business was probably the source and catalyst for the introduction, acceptance and adoption of Valentine's Day in India. This is a perfect event to popularize in a country where the population of the young in their late teens and twenties is in the hundreds of millions. Most of these young work in the high growth sectors of industry and can boast of high disposable incomes. Perfect consumers for romantic dinners at Rs. 2000/- ($50) per head, dozen roses starting at Rs. 1000/- ($25) and a host of other gifts ranging from jewelry to chocolates. For those who are willing and able to indulge more, choices range from spa vacations and massages to personal barbeque chefs and vacations to Paris.

In the media, the spotlight is on love. All aspects of love and relationships are being written about in every major newspaper and magazine in the country this week. Interviews with relationship experts and movie stars on the topic of love cover the pages of today's papers.

And of course, you have the anti-Valentine's Day campaign that is also in full swing. This includes the traditionalists who feel that such a commercial and public expression of a private emotion goes against the strong culture and traditions of the country. On the extreme end is the moral police who is ready to find young couples out celebrating love and send them home packing.

Meanwhile, love rules and continues to march on!