After four days in incredible Udaipur, we boarded the plane for Mumbai, the biggest city in India. It was shrouded in smog like Shanghai and Beijing, even though there were signs for the airport advocating “being green”. I will say that it was MUCH cleaner than Udaipur. There were even street sweepers!
Serendipitously, (and with a lot of help from dad through our YPO friend in Monaco, who is from India and has friends in YPO Mumbai) we were invited to do one more session with the YPO chapter there. What fun we had after four days “on our own” and about six weeks for Tal and Anita (on their own) to be picked up and driven to a beautiful hotel complete with an fabulous breakfast buffet!
On our first night there we were picked up by a remarkable couple and their two sons and were treated to a fabulous Lebanese meal at the most famous hotel in India, The Taj, the site of the terrorist bombing in November 2008.
Incredibly, our hosts were in the hotel at the time the terrorist took stormed the building. As soon as they heard gunshots they were told to hide in a backroom where they listened to gunshots and small explosions for 9 hours! The terrorists were going from room to room, just shooting everyone in sight…men, women and children. Their boys (who were home and didn’t know their parents were there until it was over) said they lost two of their teachers from school and two of their friends also. At one point couples were told to separate presumably so that at least one of them would survive to take care of their families. Finally they were able to jump out a window to safety. The entire siege lasted for 48 hours!
After that horrific story they told us the delightful story of their “arranged marriage”! He was 36 and voted one of India’s “Most Eligible Bachelors” and she was 24 (and was recently voted one of the 30 most influential women in India). Her parents told her that if she hadn’t found someone to marry by the time she was 23, they were going to arrange a marriage…which they did. Interestingly, they both said that they knew they were destined to be together the minute they saw each other…and they do certainly seem to be a wonderful, compatible couple!
Talking to the kids was great fun also, but the 8 year old fell sound asleep half way through the main course.
What a fascinating and unforgettable evening!
The next morning, after a lovely breakfast, Tal, who has been fascinated with the Indian Baliwood movie stars, convinced us all to go to the latest movie mega-hit called “The Three Idiots”.
It was three hours in an old style theatre with blowing fans while we were desperately trying to figure out what was going on because it was all in Hindi (no English subtitles anywhere). In the end, we figured most of it out and I thought it was a fantastic study on the modern family in India. This guy on the left is a star beyond normal stardom all over the country. The newspaper claimed that 3 BILLION people have seen this movie (are there 3 billion people in the whole world?) Still, the kids from the night before said they had seen it three times.
Dad and Anita opted to go back and enjoy the hotel about half way through while Tal and I finished the movie and afterward we had some great Indian food and then walked down to the magnificent old Victorian Train Station, built by the British in their glory days.
The outside was beautiful…
But alas, it was only a facade. Inside we found only a massively crowded train station with advertisements for The Three Idiots…which Tal took a picture of anyway!
That night was again an unforgettable experience as we met 66 people who came with only one week’s notice and filled the chairs covered with white linen in an outdoor garden by the Arabian Sea to talk about “Raising Responsible Kids”. Tal and Anita were a terrific addition to the discussion and the parents were unusually bright and receptive. Many had already thought of the ideas we presented and everyone there had a fascinating story (many had also lost friends in the terrorist attack).
About the only picture we got at this really fun event is this one which is terribly hard to see. I’m hoping that Shawni or Josh can fix it in Lightroom when I get home.. It was just so dark and the guy taking the picture was far away but it’s a night we want to remember. Tal and Anita were a wonderful addition to the meeting as they added their insights! It's so fun to see them be just as comfortable with these great people as they are with their own friends in NYC!
Such a splendid evening! On to Rising Star!