Friday, April 22, 2011

Brains, Rocks and Pandals in Kolkata.

This week I'm in Kolkata with our Mexican computer genius; Raul from our UK office.. I'm buying cotton and jute products, Raul is acquiring a different but equally prolific product of this town.. Brains.
Yes you read correctly we are buying brain. Not Hannibal Lecter style but putting those very cleaver Bengally chaps to work for AW.

In a nutshell we use a contact management and marketing software the mad Mexican Raul has been designing and refining for a few years. We thought of making it available for other companies but to recast it as generally useful, customisable and user friendly is a herculean task for one Mexican.. so we are hiring a whole team here.
kol5.JPG Sector Five - Salt Lake Kolkata.

Kolkata is chaotic and crazy at any time, but this week is the big festival called the Durga Puja where the whole city is involved in building Pandals - sort of temporary temples some of which are bigger than real temples and stunningly beautiful. There is no denying though that this is a dirty and disorganised place. But out of all the craziness, power cuts and traffic james comes a kind of energy distilled in the very studious and gentle Bengally character. This is why all the big software companies come here to a place called Sector Five in Salt Lake. It's brain factory central.
kol1.JPG Pandals at night.. kol6.JPG Building a Pandal. jodhpurpark_pandal.jpg Pandal Party.

I have to tell you a little story.. we have been staying in a (so called) boutique hotel.. called the Stadel it is claimed by the website to be 10km from the airport and a charming retreat. Both claims are 10km off mark. This hotel has been built beneath a monstrous crumbling concrete football stadium (hence the name). And like Kolkatta generally it's accident prone place. I kid you not.. while relaxing in my room late one evening. I'm reading a book on my bed when I'm shocked by a huge bang. The next thing I'm showered from above by plaster and small stones. Looking up a boulder shaped rock is protruding from the ceiling above me. I leap out of bed - get dressed and rush to reception waking Raul on the way. With in a few minutes I have the management and half the hotel staff in my room. Seems a chunk of concrete far above in the stadium has come loose and come crashing down. 
kol2.JPG kol3.JPG kol4.JPG That rock..

They were very apologetic and moved me to a new room with no charge and a bottle of good wine. This is India.. what can you do but smile?
More adventures next week.
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