Same Stuff, Different Continent
"Chandigarh Micro-Brewery and Gastro Pub"... Nooo... But yes! I had not seen a hint of such "development" in New Delhi or Jakarta, but here it was. We pass the other more usual American suspects: KFC, Pizza Hut, Mc Ds in what appears to be a strip mall. The buildings looked new and very popular. In the time Sunil had started his business, based 100% on foreign revenue, the city had turned into an unlikely location for what I coined: Mini-Merica'. My tummy could not be more thankful. Traffic flowed, horns were still audible and traffic lines were still not in used, but this place could not be more different than Delhi.
Upon hotel arrival, we clear the typical car bomb check, as is customary in India and Indonesia, with flying colors. Engine compartment checked, trunk: nope. We could not have looked more harmless. Smiles all around. Sunil walks me into the hotel and all the way to the counter to see me through the checkout process and probably would have walked me to the room, had I not pushed back. The hotel lounge music enters my ears and we observe for a second the massive ceilings, marble everything, and new everything. I look over my right shoulder and there is a hotel worker, "How is everything Mr. John?"
Macro-cultural judgement in full effect, I start my dangerous compare and contrast thinking as I later survey my hotel room... My American default "Western" position is that "They" are trying to be more like "Us." Not in the arena of religion or politics, but in technology and consumption in general. iPhones, internet, cars, homes, buffets, and the like... Everyone surely wants that, save for a few remaining ascetics bathing in that one Ganga river. Viva Las India consumption Vegas, in Chandigarh: Mini-Merica.' I am remote as it seemingly gets, but if I woke up after being blindfolded, I would guess I was at the Bellagio or the W. My bathroom is comparable to the square footage of my San Francisco abode, equipped with spa and glass window overlooking the suite. Not since my best friend’s bachelor party, have I enjoyed such potentially salacious surrounds. But this trip was all business! You can tell, because there is a very large desk, which sits my laptop - an aura of legitimacy. The other window overlooks the Olympic sized pool. Further along the horizon I spot a FIAT dealership... agricultural fields dot other parts of the landscape, where I spy a dark man surveying the land in a wrapped underwear-like bottom. He is skinny.
For what is lost in the subtle foot-faults in cloning luxury American culture, like, microwaving a crescent, blinds which don't close smoothly, or over use of salt... all things which I also experience in USA (I am a diva) - are made up with over the top customer attention, almost to the extreme. At the high end of the Indian market, every worker really cares and aims to please. I am asked how everything is from the server, to chef, and then management comes in to ask, the same. A busboy comes by to ensure the unused utensils (too many provided in the first place) are in alignment. Too much for me, but likely just another step in evolution towards a service and business culture that competes with the world’s best. What subtle service elements are culturally lost, like when to interrupt a meal, will be overpowered by sheer quantity of caring and capable workers. India rising.