Monday, December 14, 2009


I’m in Ludhiana after being in Chandigarh for a number of days. I’m doing more workshops, refining, doing my best to help others, to build capacity in their organisations. It’s slow work and people get it, but will they carry it through or just learn and then leave behind their learnings? What more can I do to help? I give it my all everyday, until I’m exhausted. I can do it for them, but what good is that as it won’t last if there is no buy-in and people don’t make the ideas their own.

I realize more and more how important “fish” ( is and want to keep teaching it and also realize that I must treat others the way in which I want to be treated. I was a little put off tonight, only my ego, as my host excused me to the Parker House, where I’m staying and said that I could eat dinner there. (I realized after later conversation that the degree of interaction may be something that was not expected. I ended up eating breakfast and lunch at my host’s and became friends with my host’s children. It was all wonderful and is more about building relationships than anything else, as we all have our own ways of doing this). But this place wasn’t really for me. On a college campus PAU and the room has a big water splotch on one of the walls. I walked in the canteen today, but it didn’t look that appetizing either.

As I walked in downtown Ludhiana I came upon a pretty good Indian restaurant, and after eating I decided to walk a bit to see more of this town. I’ve been told that there is nothing to see in Ludhiana and it appears that this may be the truth.

I walked to a mall and there I saw a McD’s, a KFC and a Baskin Robbins. I walked into the mall and it was like any other mall, anywhere, nothing Indian about it. To some extent this is depressing to me, as India loses its identity in becoming modern. It’s about globalization and the ability to turn people into consumers of products that have no special value, except that they are enjoyed in the “west”. I have to say that I did go into a McDonalds’s with my hosts in Chandigarh, Capt. Kohli and his wife Dr. Kohli, but they were the ones who wanted to eat there for a light snack. I had a veggie burger, fries and a soda for 85 rupees, ok so I can’t get this in the US and it was tasty.

The point and sadness for me is seeing the Golden Arches and Col. Saunders in a place where they should never have been invited, where they should have been stopped at the border. It takes away from the magic of India. It’s anywhere USA, the middle of nowhere, but yet it’s in Ludhiana and Chandigarh. It’s globalization at its worse, no exceptions. Young and middle class Indians “enjoying” the “best” (worst) of what I grew up with.

I’m not really sure how to deal with this part of globalization. Yes it creates some jobs and hopefully teaches something about customer service, which is something that is important in India, but it also somehow makes the landscape much uglier than it might be.

One might argue that the location of these restaurants, mainly in malls, brightens things up and that these areas are neat and clean, something that one doesn’t find much of, except in the most plush places. (Chandigarh was quite an exception to this, a clean, somewhat green city. It was a welcome contrast to Delhi and most of the other cities that I’ve visited. People even seemed to drive with some civility). But it also creates plasticity, the homogeneity, which makes the west, less alive and uninteresting, with some exceptions.

Like the dire poverty that is so omnipresent, and one really can’t do much about, the further coming of globalization and it’s sameness is something that most likely can’t be stopped unless developing countries governments put a stop sign up. But is any government going to stop a McD’s or KFC from coming to their country? I haven’t seen a Wal*Mart yet, but who will stop them from coming once they start digging in adn finding markets for their products. As the superstore occurs in developing countries and people’s ways of shopping change this will continue to destroy the magic that is so prevalent.

I do suppose that even the cows will be moved out of Delhi at some point. But then again maybe not.

1 comment:

len said...

Uh-oh, you probably won't enjoy Bangalore then.