Back in India

1990. my first venture into network marketing was with “skybiz.”  the product was a computer education package. i was never convinced how legit the product was, but being a consummate devourer of new knowledge i decided to have a crack at it, if only to learn about network marketing. i learnt a lot.

after working the business in nz for a while, in 1991, several of us decided to try it in india. they were, a fellow new zealander stuart hintz, and scotsman will thomson. stuart is one hell of a guy, and we had a marvellous time there. he is very intelligent and a lot of fun.  having also been a missionary in india for some years, he spoke six indian dialects.

will, our leader, was another kettle of fish, and good at the job.

having been in india before, i wasn’t too surprised at mumbai, this vast maelstrom of humanity, so different to what we are used to back in our white, quiet, benevolent society. what a chance to experience and accept difference. the main reason i travel.

we three all met in mumbai airport and our first taste of indian ways happened. will said “i have ordered a taxi to our hotel and it only costs 150 pounds. the knowledgeable stuart exploded, “you mug, it is only about three hundred yards and should cost about one hundred rupees (two pounds). also, the hotel will had randomly booked was awful, so stuart got on the phone.

what luck, stuart’s brother had played cricket for nz and stuart actually knew john wright who was the current coach of the indian cricket team, ( the then world champions). through him, we managed to get us a members card, and a room inside the cricket club of india in the posh district of churchgate. this is one of the foremost clubs in india and it really was a privilege to stay there. as stuart would say “these very large, very very rich arrogant memsabs, who frequented the club did so look down on these three humble colonials. stuart and i loved all of that. will found it hard to fit in and got angry. it was such a privilege, the place was over the top classy, with a swimming pool, (will is a good swimmer as i am not, so he gave me some lessons which was great).  the food, of course, was amazing, we met some interesting and influential people, and i learnt about cricket when stuart and i watched all the games – for free as we were part of the place.

so,to the business. we split the day with running group seminars in a large room we hired, having invited business people from around town, and walking the streets separately, cold talking to people. i became quite proud of the fact that i could convince the astute indian public, and realised that if i could do it there i could do it anywhere. indians are largely astute and intelligent, so this is where, in network marketing, integrity comes in, as you want them to believe in you.

i hardly knew stuart before india, and we became good friends, hanging out in this vast city together. we dined at a different place mosts nights, and with his knowledge of languages, food, and indian ways, it was a boon for me.

the president of the club was a sikh and of course a very classy guy. his wife was also a lovely, beautiful dame who i got to know quite well. we got them interested in the business, so they asked us to their palatial home up on millionaires row looking down on “the queen’s necklace” which are the lights that line the sweep of the bay of mumbai. quite a sight. stewart and i weren’t serious about the business with them.  we were just pleased to be asked to their house, but all will thought about was the business, and we thought he made an ass of himself there. i spent some time with the lady at one of the cricket games, then another time i was visiting the round pencil like shaped nero ctr. building where the gandhi exhibition is on the central pillar and you walk around it. it was so moving i was crying before i finished.mrs ceo (sikh) was big in woman’s affairs. that day she was chairing a group of woman dealing with the trafficking of women, in her office on a floor above. still not dry eyed she asked me in and introduced me to the gathering of gorgeous women. that level of indian women have so much dignity.

i got to know a lot of middle class people within the business. several asked me along to a landmark meeting (which i had done in nz).  it was good to see it working in another country.

after about a month, stuart had to fly home and left me with will. we got separate digs then so i teamed up with an indian woman i knew in a flat in a high rise building which happened to be near “bollywood” where we occasionally bumped into the famous film stars. though i wasn’t in the least interested romantically in my flat mate, the local committee told me it was indecent an unmarried man and woman in the same flat and i must  leave! what a laugh. i then got a little pent house on top of a building back near churchgate which was better, and no woman problems. in between i had a room with a family of missionaries (friends of stuart), where the boy not being the man’s son was  a bit sad, so i took him swimming each day as i felt he was left out in the family.

about this time there was a massive earthquake up north in gujarat. some of the missionaries  i was working with felt bound to go and help. i worked hard to get myself included in their number, and was successful. like all train rides, for me, this one was a delight. wending our way thru every culture imaginable. rice fields, dryland farming, forests, towns, on mostly flatlands. arriving at ahmadbad the capital of gujarat, we changed trains and chugged on going slower as we reached our destination as the rails were upset by the earthquake. eventually we sidled into the town of gandidam. there was chaos, not the people, they were calm, but all the buildings had subsided down into the ground. they only build up to three stories, i guess because of earthquakes, but mostly one or two levels had subsided below the ground, the top story peeping out tilted on an angle. from that day i have known this would happen in christchurch some time with the silty substructure, but didn’t dream it would happen in my life.  they were so pleased to see us, so we got to work. most of the accessible bodies were out, but we did a bit of that gruesome work. mostly we built temporary toilets and shelters out of poles and sacking. in the middle of all this was this amazing hospital train. the medecins sans frontieres (msf) hospital, doctors, without boundary’s” that goes to places where there is dire need because of things like earthquakes and war. this hospital had everything – including a surgery and many beds. it was full to the gunnels of people with no legs, arms and terrible wounds.

we were a group of volunteers from all over the world and at nights we would walk the train playing music, singing and did seem to cheer them up. we created quite a stir having to even front up and speak to tv india, as our group was made up of so many nationalities. we showered in an old fertiliser works building where the doors wouldn’t shut and cracks abound. not much fun with frequent after shocks, scary ay. we slept in a big marque out on the lawn.

the biggest impact on us was the spirit of the people. with all that pain, they were so brave, supportive of each other and loving to us.

we had done all we could and it was time to go and, as our train eventually pulled slowly away from the site, there was nary a dry eye.

back in mumbai, having met lots of people with the business, i got invited to many houses with people of  many different spiritual sects, including several women i became friendly with.

After around four months it was time to say goodbye from that wonderful experience with great people and “one hell of a country.