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October 02, 2006

Mumbai Guy


Just returned from a few days in Mumbai. What a mind-expanding experience! I was there to speak for an IBM conference for middleware vendors and customers.

  1. The contrast in living conditions for the very rich and the very poor is eye-opening—and I didn’t see the absolute extremes of either.

  2. I’ve never seen such vivid colors in all aspects of dress, decor, etc.—even the money is pretty.

  3. “Traffic safety” is an oxymoron. Luggage isn’t tied down on roof racks. People ride on top of trucks. I saw a family of four on a motorcycle. Having said this, I saw no accidents.

  4. Speaking of traffic, it can take two hours to travel fifteen kilometers there. If you have a choice, try to arrive on Saturday or Sunday. Speaking of arrival, I’ve never been to an airport that’s jam packed at 2:00 am.

  5. Computer connectivity is very good. Furthermore, I was amazed that my Verizon phone worked without a hitch. EVDO did not work, but it was only because of the lack of a roaming agreement.

  6. The food was fabulous. For example, I’ve had many a set-up day, pre-show, backstage meal, but nothing as good as what was at IBM’s conference the day before it opened. There was even a curry chef who would make curry to spec.

  7. I loved Indian pricing strategy: for example, 10 rupees for residents and 300 rupees for tourists at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum.

  8. I also appreciated the Indian carpet-sales strategy: “Come in and have a seat; I will get you some tea; let me show you a few carpets; we can fold these up so small that they will fit in your suitcase (and they really could have); these are made in Kashmir; everything is washable; they will not wear out; I’ll give you a special price...”

  9. IBM India has 43,000 employees. The conference was very well run and attended. It felt like a TIE event in Silicon Valley except that the food at TIE events isn’t as good because TIE inexplicably usually serves American cuisine like rubberized chicken.

  10. The place that most impressed me was Dhobi Ghat. This is an area where laundry workers wash and dry clothes. I can’t quite explain why it had such a profound effect on me. It was just surrealistic: bright colors in dark washing pens and flogging stones.

  11. India has its own version of Amazon.com. At two intersections, kids came up to the car to sell us paperback versions of current business books. We bought a copy of The World Is Flat for $3. Not sure if I should be happy or depressed, but The Art of the Start was not available.

If you’d like to see pictures from my trip, click here.


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» Guy Kawasakis Mumbai Trip from DesiPundit
Popular blogger and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki was in Mumbai recently and he has some observations based on what he experienced in Mumbai: 4. Speaking of traffic, it can take two hours to travel fifteen kilometers there. If you have a choice, try... [Read More]

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Guy Kawasaki, a famous entrepreneur and blogger notes a few points of observation during his trip to Mumbai. Computer connectivity is very good. Furthermore, I was amazed that my Verizon phone worked without a hitch. EVDO did not work, but... [Read More]

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Review of Mumbai by Guy Kawasaki posted at IndianPad.com [Read More]

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» Guy Kawasaki on Mumbai ! from Humdigg
Kawasaki a VC, visited Mumabi and lists out the his view on the City. eg: "Traffic safety” is an oxymoron. Luggage isn’t tied down on roof racks. People ride on top of trucks. I saw a family of four on a motorcycle. Having said this, I saw no ac [Read More]


an update to the caption of photo 52: running the Lotus devision of IBM was Ambuj Goyal's previous job. In 2005 he was appointed as General Manager, Information Management Software, taking over from Janet Perna.

best regards, -- stefan

A 1998 photo by Robb Kendrick that I came across today suggests those large pipes carry fresh clean water to the haves of Bombay and pass through the slums where have-nots live..

Man, don't the Indians just love you? But then again you are probably one of the best ambassadors for the American dream and all that it is imagined to be made of, although I must say speaking at an IBM conference wearing a tie is a little like a liberal (Democrat), who gets mugged once and turns conservative (Republican) in his middle age.. 8-)

Your pictures appear to suggest that you are probably more a traveller than a tourist.

Here are some thoughts that came to me as I saw your photos:
Photo 11- I think they are sewage pipes..

Photo 15 - you think THIS is bad? I know of several IIT and IIM graduates who will admit to travelling on the top of trains for a lark.. Some don't want their parents to know.

Photo 22 - It is the Police Headquarters, not just the department, hence the grandeur..

Photo 24 - did you know that Indians believe that hanging a peacock feather in your room will keep lizards away? And the thought of the animal's dusty colour and slimy look makes me want to hope this is true..

Photo 28 - Ah! The deep philosophical question is whether it was la vache sacrée (an ordinary sacred cow, physically speaking) or la sacrée vache (or the idiomatic sacred cow that symbolises the interesting undercurrent of religion in Bombay Politics?)

Photo 36 - Come on be fair about pricing strategies, Guy! Although you photo-shopped a big red circle, it appears to me that if you are a foreigner with ID you can get a discounted ticket too.

Photo 43 - Nice t-shirt!

Photo 56 - Did you notice that two of the women posing with you are wearing vermillion (red plumbic oxide powder) in their hair-partings? That 'red light' means they were married so any suitors better stop.. Another juxtaposition of the ancient versus the modern in India!

PS: What a way to spend Saturday morning - to be commenting on your blog when I could be working on mine (Shameless plug alert - after all YOU said never shy of promoting your blog:

Hopefully, HTML works.
Quoting Bob:

How can a country this poor steal high tech jobs from the richest nation in the universe? That is absurd!

Think price arbitrage. It isn't stealing, it's just the free market in action.

The World is Flat is $17 at Amazon, and $3 in Mumbai. Just think how much a C# or JavaEE book costs in the bootleg world of Mumbai. Maybe $5. In the US, it is an average of $50.

Legitimate copies of books are available for between 20% to 40% of the price of US books. They are printed on lower quality paper, and are not meant for sale outside India. They are made available about 6 months to a year after the release of the corresponding US edition.

So, please, how in the world can us Americans compete?
Your cost of living has to come down. The energy usage of American citizens is horrendous.

Either that, or reskill into highly qualified technical jobs or management jobs.


That should gladden your heart as well.
Quoting from the article:
"User-interface people are in short supply in India," he said. "I have to actually transport people from here over there," he said of the need to send U.S. workers to India.

How can a country this poor steal high tech jobs from the richest nation in the universe? That is absurd!

The World is Flat is $17 at Amazon, and $3 in Mumbai. Just think how much a C# or JavaEE book costs in the bootleg world of Mumbai. Maybe $5. In the US, it is an average of $50.

So, please, how in the world can us Americans compete?

Anush, I own 'The Art of the Start'. Feel free to borrow it from me.

Oh, and it is available at the Strand. I love Strand sales (I bought the book for ~ 10 USD, not 20). Turn green everyone who didn't.

See Google earth forum "Huge and Unique" for the pipeline in your photos.
Mumbai pipeline

Yeah.. "Art of the Start" is not available on ths streets. I stay in Bangalore. I couldn't find it in any bookstore either :(

About the pricing of these books, if you know how to bargain you can pick up any book for as low as $1. The books are priced on how many pages the book contains and the demand for the book.


I don't think an Indian edition of Art of the Start has been released. But, among people I know, the TiE Art of the Start video is quite popular. After reading the first chapter at Creative Commons - I had to hunt multiple Delhi bookstores to find a copy for $20 (which by Indian standards is expensive - I am talking legal buys here). You should ask your publisher to do an Indian release - rest assured, there will be enough buyers.

Darn. I should've become an IBM reseller or whatever it takes...anyhow, good photos, Guy!

You know, there's that denseness of population in Mumbai and then places like this: http://www.deepakshenoy.com/gallery/displayimage.php?album=2&pos=5 where there's nothingness for miles! It's a constrast not explainable by bad roads alone.

Oh, if you didnt already know the Indian version of Amazon is probably www.fabmall.com, and in true Indian fashion they also sell jewellery.

And guess what, they have differential pricing (locals vs. foreigners) for hotel room rates; the Reserve Bank of India recently banned that practise and their strategy to "recover lost revenue" is to raise the "local" rates to match. Btw, Disneyland and Versailles have differential pricing too.

- Deepak

Guy, your insight on the Indian landscape are on the dot both in words and pictures. Your reaction of the Dhobi Ghat is reminiscent of Henri Cartier Bresson's black and white prints.(1966, Ahmedabad)

BTW: even before you headed to Mumbai with your mantra. You've been quite a legend with your inspiring books and yes they can be found on the streets of India... I picked up my copy of "Rules for Revolutionaries" during one of my travels home.

Also, we need more Mac evangelists present there the devotion to all things Microsoft is unbelievable. Of course my retort to them is what will tech support/call centers do if everyone used Apples... and I just get blank looks.

Prahlad Kakkar (the ad guy in your pictures) is another legend and yes has a good likeness to Woz.

Thank you for bringing your lens on India. Spend more time there next time.

The pipes carry water to Mumbai city. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mumbai%27s_water_sources

The Art of the Start is available in Mumbai book shops. I saw it in CrossWords - a book store in western suburbs in Mumbai. It costs about $20 though. :)

Dear Guy,

Have been an aderent fan of yours ever since i saw your TIE Video on The Art of The Start. Please let us know when you'd be next in India. Can we arrange a conference for the young tech enthusiasts?

Entrepreneurially yours,

Aadil Bandukwala

Nice to read this post,
This is actually a request, If it is possible that you will visit India again and where people can attend a conference or some thing like that I would love to attend and meet you.
Also how can these things be arranged? I mean if it is possible we can arrange some thing @Hyderabad (India).

Hi Guy,

Don't forget to travel to any of the villages when you visit India next time. There is another face of India which you have not seen.

Hi Guy,
Thanks for posting the pics. You were true to your word. I am the one with you in pic # 47 :)

Hi Guy,
Mumbai is a city of contradictions and you truely captured it.

Regarding point 11, "The art of start" or any of your titles are tough to get even in brick and mortar stores as there are no Indian editions. If possible, can you talk with your publisher on this?

I am sure.. a generation in India is waiting to read your books. I am definitely one of them!

Sounds like trip to my country was real fun. Thanks for putting all things is such wonderful perspective. Go around to places like Hyderabad, Kolkata and Bangalore, to get to know more about the real India. Its a wonderful Place.
Being in IBM India myself, I found it very strange that i never knew about this event. I would have surely made it to Mumbai, this was a oppotunity i would never have missed. Maybe next time...

You should've visited and written about the famed "Dabbawallas" of Mumbai..


Thanks for writing so positively about India. Did you get a chance to visit Bangalore, the tech capital of India?



Welcome to India is all I can say after seeing those pictures. You have captured the vivid colors of the country very well. My kudos to you.

If Mumbai has captivated you, then may be you should drop into Bangalore next! :)


Guy, I love the pictures. They reminded me of my hometown and made me slightly home-sick too!
Anyway, for more bright colors, you must visit places like the TajMahal and Jaipur!

Thanks for the travelogue, Guy. Now I don't have to go.


You wrote:

What do you expect from a Guy who doesn't know who Beck is?



Touché! Hey, at least your example was of a jazz musician. Don't worry, once your kids get bigger you be innundated with music info, hopefully some of it tolerable to you.... ;-)

You also wrote:

I use dumb apostrophes and dashes because RSS feeds turn smart ones and em dashes into garbage. It offends me, typographically, that this is so.



Thanks. That's actually good to know. I don't know if it is still true, but iTunes used to mess up smart quotes, etc., in its display of track info (at least for streaming music).



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